Our Reasonable Service
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
When the southern kingdom of Judah had fallen into the lowest depths of depravity, parents offered their own children as burnt offerings unto the idol Baal. This was abomination to God. Far be it from God to ask for a dead human sacrifice.
They have built also the high places of Baal,
to burn their sons with fire for burnt offerings unto Baal,
which I commanded not, nor spake it, neither came it into my mind:
God pleads with (“beseeches”) those of us who have been born again to present our bodies a living sacrifice to him. The Greek word translated “bodies” in this verse in Romans can refer to a body literally or figuratively. It means a “whole” or the entirety of something. In the context of the verses that we are considering today, it refers to our whole selves – all that we are. Most people who claim to be Christians today consider this to be an unreasonable request and yet God says that it is reasonable. Does God have the right to make such a request? Yes he does. After all, he has bought us with a great price:
For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.
I Corinthians 6:20
Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men.
I Corinthians 7:23
Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:
I Peter 1:18-19
Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.
God has every right to demand that we sacrifice our entire lives in service for him because he owns us, and yet he does not demand this of us – instead he pleads with us by his mercies to do so. What a wonderful God!
What does it mean to become a living sacrifice in service to him? Does it mean that you must sell everything that you possess and travel to a foreign country to minister to the primitive people there? No, not unless that is what he specifically asks you to do. It means to submit yourself to live in a manner that pleases him - to serve him in whatever way that he chooses, even in the mundane things of life. Our service takes place within our own heart, the home, the workplace, the church, and society. Our service is not to be done in conformance to our own way of thinking, but in a manner that is holy and acceptable to him. Holiness is spiritual cleanness and purity. How do we determine what is holy and acceptable to God?
The Holy Spirit will reveal this to his own through God’s word:
Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.
And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.
We are to prove (test) this by not being conformed to this world but by being transformed by the renewing of our mind. In other words, we are not to act, talk, look like, and live in the worldly ways that lost people do. We are also to compare our own thoughts to the word of God and then change them. This is revolutionary! But it is not so difficult when we love God and want to follow him.
Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;
II Corinthians 10:5
The old nature and the devil will put up a desperate fight against us if we begin to live this way, but if we sincerely love God, God will help us and bring us joy.
For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.
I John 5:3