“Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship,” (Romans 12:1, NASB). This is a passage that is fairly familiar among followers of Jesus, but what does it really mean to offer up our bodies as a living and holy sacrifice and how does this relate to our worship? To help better understand this passage, it is important to remember that Paul is making a reference to the Old Testament sacrificial system, and thus a careful look at the Levitical law is necessary.
The book of Leviticus describes five main types of sacrifices, but the one that is important to Romans 12 is the burnt offering. Chapter 1 of Leviticus details the required animals and the method by which the worshiper and the priests were to present these animals as a burnt offering to the LORD. One of the defining factors of this specific sacrifice is that the animal is to be wholly consumed by the fire from the altar (Lev 1:9, 13, 17). This act bears a resemblance to Paul urging believers that it is our whole bodies that are to be consumed fully by God (Rom 12:1).
Another significant aspect of these sacrifices is noted in the specific responsibilities given to the priests for carrying out their part of the burnt offerings. Leviticus 6:8-13 states that the priests were required to keep the fire of the altar going at all times to ensure that the worship would be uninterrupted as it was to be a daily act for the Israelites. Worship was never expected to be a “once a week” sacrifice, but something that was given continuously every day.
Often times, followers of Jesus will define worship as solely being the “musical portion” of our Sunday gatherings, and while that is a vital part to our corporate worship, it neglects to see the full picture of biblical worship. Paul’s words on spiritual worship in Romans 12 do not mention anything about music, instead he says that we should offer up our whole bodies to God, meaning that everything we do becomes an act of worship. Furthermore, it is not a “once a week” act but it something we should do every day. Hebrews 13:15 provides more clarity to this idea as the author writes, “Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God,” (NASB). Notice that the emphasis on the word continually, as once again our worship to God is a continual act. Continuing in the passage, the author expounds upon the two different types of worship we should offer, which are: “the fruit of lips that give thanks to [confess] His name. And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased,” (Heb 13:15-16, NASB). This passage is stunning as it says that whether we are worshiping through the praise of our lips, or we are offering up our actions as worship to God, we must do both daily.
Here are four points of application:
1. We should commit to worshiping through both praise music as well as our actions.
2. We should commit to worshiping God daily.
3. We should pray that we will begin to surrender our whole bodies as a form of worship to God.
4. Lastly, I might be beneficial to write in a journal or notebook of the various ways you can start offering up worship throughout your daily life.
Let us rejoice in the beauty that God desires our whole lives to be an act of worship towards him.
Brett Carey – Worship Pastor