Romans 12:1-2

Living Sacrifices to God

1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

What has God done for us? Let’s start at the beginning – God created the universe, our galaxy, our solar system, and our planet. He’s put all of the laws of physics into place and set everything into motion. He’s created the oceans, the forests, the valleys, and the mountains. He’s created the flowers, the trees, the animals, and the people. He’s created self-replicating systems with the ability to repair themselves and interwoven the whole of His creation together into one large living organism. The animals breathe in oxygen nitrogen from the air, some of the nitrogen is absorbed while the oxygen is converted into carbon dioxide which is exhaled. The plants convert the carbon dioxide into oxygen and our bodies, when we die, rot and break into our base chemicals which include the nitrogen which helps the plants to thrive. God has placed all of this onto His planet and He has set one of His own creations over all of it by granting that creation self awareness and intelligence – mankind. We, unlike all the rest of His creation, were made in His image and with some of His attributes. He has placed into us His law (Jer 31:33; Heb 8:10; Heb 10:16), we understand justice and retribution because He has programmed it into our psyche. We have been programmed not to look at our life here as our final destination but to look beyond the grave for the life to come (Ecc. 3:11). As Psalm 139 says:

For You formed my inward parts;
You covered me in my mother’s womb.
I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well.

~ Psalm 139:13-14

God has shown Himself to us through His creation so that no one is without excuse (Rom 1:18-32). When we failed before Him through Adam in the Garden of Eden, He could have wiped us out and started over, but He knew it was coming and then started His work of reconciliation with His creation. The plan has two parts and four steps but is wholly dependent on God for both to work. In the first part, God in the Garden, sacrificed the first animal to create clothing for Adam and Eve – this was for a COVERING of their sins and this was the first explanation of what was required from God – a blood sacrifice of the innocent to cover for the sins of the guilty. God, knowing that an unwilling and dumb sacrifice could never account for the willful and wanton sins of mankind, He promised that He would send Another – a Son of Man to take away the sins of the world. The second step of the first part is the trust in God to send His promised Messiah. Through the time leading up to this promise, God built a nation of people who was to be wholly devoted to Him and presented them with His standards for entry into His paradise upon death. That was given in the Ten Commandments (Exo. 20:1-17) and it stands even now as a mirror to those who think they’re good enough to go into Heaven. It shows people their true condition before God and declares their need for God’s Savior to come. When God sent His own Son as the promised Messiah, this ended the first part and began the second. No longer do we trust in the Messiah to come, because we have Him with us today. The blood sacrifices ended here as well when Jesus, who lived a perfect life with no sin in thought, word, or deed, walked willingly into the hands of the Pharisees and Sadducees whom He knew were coming and had stated this repeatedly to His disciples. Those religious leaders beat Him, and accused Him of false charges which they knew to be lies – then they delivered Him to the Romans and demanded His execution. Even after the Roman governor tried unsuccessfully to push Him off to other people, and even after having Him scourged to try to appease them, he finally admitted that he saw no wrong in Jesus but surrendered Him for public execution as they had requested. On the way to His execution, Jesus was mocked, hit, spat upon, beaten, had His beard ripped out from His face, and finally nailed onto a cross and hung to die. While He was on that cross, God applied the sins of all of those who would trust in His sacrifice to save them. Under the weight of this sin and the condemnation of His Father, Jesus forgave His captors, pled for His Father to forgive them as well, made sure that His mother was taken care of, promised salvation to a sinner, and when it became too much for Him to lift His body up on the nails to breathe – His heart ruptured and He died. A Roman soldier, shocked that it only took six hours for Him to die, took his spear and drove it into His body, releasing fluid from His lungs, and blood from His heart (John 19:33-35). Three days later, Jesus rose from the dead, signifying that His sacrifice had been received as the full payment for the sins of His elect. That’s what God has done for us. It is our reasonable service to give God our lives to do with as He pleases. We are to offer ourselves to Him for His own purpose. We are to be a beacon to the world of what God has done for us and what He will do for other people as well.

What does “the elect” mean? God doesn’t tell us who He has elected to save, but only that He has elected some. We, those who have been saved by God, make it our purpose to go out into the world and reach others with this message. God, in His wisdom, knew if He had told us who He had elected for salvation that we’d focus only on those people and ignore the rest. The great part is that every person who is elected, before their conversion, has no idea that God has chosen to save them. That’s what makes “fishing” fun – every person you talk to could be a brother or sister in Christ and neither of you know it yet. It’s up to God to do the work in their heart, though, so if you do go out and preach the Gospel to the unsaved and never see any fruit, just remember that God is the one who sees it through to the end. We merely plant seeds and allow God to water and bring growth to their desire for Him.