“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.”
Explanation and Commentary of Romans 12:1The Christian life is not merely assenting to a proposition. It also comes with a life change. God is merciful, he has saved his people by the blood of Jesus Christ, and not by the law, not by works, and not by our own strength. When we could not save ourselves and were enemies with God, he saved us. Why? Because of his great mercy, his great love. Our proper response is to give our lives to him.
The irony is that only by giving oneself over completely to God, offering him our very selves, can we truly live. We can attempt to give everything to him, but what we find when we do is that he cannot be out given. When we give our lives, laying them down, taking up our cross daily (Luke 9:23), we find our lives, abundant life in him.
God is glorified in this and we are blessed beyond what we could have imagined. We truly have nothing else to give but ourselves, and this is what the Apostle is urging.
Breaking Down the Key Parts of Romans 12:1
#1 “There, I urge you,”
What follows comes out of Paul’s compulsion in the final verses of Chapter eleven to stop and offer Doxology. Paul was overcome with the awesome mysteries of God, particularly concerning the salvation of the Gentiles by the temporary hardening of the Jews to the message of the Gospel. Along with praise, this led to Paul urging the Romans toward what comes next.
#2 “brothers and sisters,”
Paul is speaking to the whole church in Rome and beyond, to everyone who will ever read this letter. The Greek word is only “brothers,” but the translation to brothers and sisters, while not literal, is proper. What Paul says in the entire book of Romans applies to women as well as men.
#3 “in view of God’s mercy,”
This could qualify anything we do in our Christian lives. We serve him in view of his mercy after being saved in his mercy. We pray to him, worship him, live for him in view of his great mercy, which he proved for us by forgiving us and sending his only Son, Jesus Christ to die for us on the cross so that whoever believes in him will not die, but have life everlasting (John 3:16).
#4 “to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God…”
Christians are called a royal and holy priesthood, saved in order to proclaim the excellencies of the God who saved us. Priests offer sacrifices, but we already have had the ultimate sacrifice for us in Jesus Christ. What is left but to offer up our bodies, our very lives as a living sacrifice. Why living? Because, unlike the sheep, bull, or pigeon, we have no need to literally die, since we died in Christ. Now it is for us to live in Christ and for God.
#5 “Holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.”
This is holy and pleasing God. He enjoys it and is glorified by it, which is why it is worship. It is true and proper because it can only be done in “spirit and in truth” like the true worshipers God is seeking, as Jesus informed the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4).