As we go through the book of Romans, we’re beginning chapter 12. This is where Paul starts his concluding remarks.
What we have to realize is that you can’t understand this section properly, without a grasp of what he taught in chapters 4-8. We need to walk by the spirit to receive the power to fulfill what he’s about to bring to us.
The last chapters of Romans can never be accomplished in our own strength. But, first, Paul summarizes what he’s talked about so far.
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship.
This is one of those verses that we wished wasn’t in the Bible. But it is, so we have to follow it. It says that there’s something we can do that’s holy and well pleasing to God.
The word offer means to stand beside your body. Paul is talking about something that can only be done in the spirit.
In the spirit I can stand next to myself and look at my flesh as the enemy – my greatest weakness. Only then can I offer it to God on His altar.
The original Greek says that it’s a burnt offering, living, holy, and to God – well pleasing. Wait a minute; we are to be a living burnt offering? Yes! There’s really no other way to say it.
Pleasing God requires sacrifice. But what exactly does that mean to us? Most people use the word sacrifice to mean they’ll try harder. They think it tells them to fast on holidays, eat according to the Old Testament food laws, dress like the 1940’s, and talk King James English.
That’s not what God is looking for. If you read the epistle to the Romans, you find that Paul writes about the walk of the spirit. If that’s in place, then you will not fulfill the desires of the flesh. But how do we get there?
We need the fire of God to consume the sacrifice. In the book of Acts we see tongues of fire on the heads of those praying in the upper room. We’re also told (I Thessalonians 5:19) not to quench the Holy Spirit’s fire. Paul told his spiritual son, Timothy, to fan into flame the gift that was within him (II Timothy 1:6).
Paul was a man who had a rich experience of prayer in the spirit. He assumed that those he was writing to also knew how to pray in the spirit. When you pray in the spirit, you’re standing beside your body as a burnt offering.
The last part of the verse in Romans could be modernized as, logically – this is what you signed up for. We’re living out a spiritual walk. You can try harder, stumbling around in the flesh without Christ. But if I’m to be well pleasing, it will require a spiritual work.
In the first part of Romans, Paul showed us that righteousness could only be achieved by a walk in the spirit. That’s accomplished through a rich prayer life of praying in the spirit. As I pray in the spirit, I stand beside the burnt offering.
Remember, I’m not talking about whether or not you’re saved, or even acceptable to God. You’re all those things, and more, in Christ. I’m talking about going beyond acceptable and into the realm of well-pleasing to God.
This should be our desire if we want to see a move of God in our lifetime.
Question: Why do some believers find this sacrifice so difficult?
© 2021 Nick Zaccardi