Lesson 1 – A Sacrificial Life

A Sacrificial Life

Lesson Aim:     To preview Romans chapters 12-16 by summarizing the mercies of God from the first eleven chapters.


I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.  Romans 12:1 

Christians have been born again.  We are children of Abraham and God (Gal. 3:26-29).  We do not view the material world or our physical attributes as the reality of our lives; however, we are still confined to our fleshly house – our bodies (II Cor. 4:7; 5:4).  The Apostle Paul urged us to respond to God’s mercies with a sacrificial life during our remaining time on earth.  He means we should use our bodies “as instruments of righteousness.”  Rom. 6:13.  We are slaves to the obedience of our faith (Rom. 1:5; 6:16). 

Now if we are children, then we are heirs – heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in His sufferings in that we may also share in His glory.  Rom. 8:17  

In chapters 12 through 16, Christians are directed to curtail “self pride” by each serving as a member in a body of believers.  This is the spiritual body of Christ (Rom. 12:5).  Paul identified these believers by greeting the saints in Rome with “the churches of Christ salute you.”  Rom. 16:16.  KJV   Please note the “c” as in churches has not been translated in a capitol form.  This means Paul did not use the term “church of Christ” as the proper name of the church Jesus built and is building (Matt. 16:18).  We are to serve the other members of Jesus’ body by giving them honor over our own physical interests.

 Christians are to live a sanctified life to God in the strictest sense.  We are to become slaves to God’s righteousness by literally using our bodies as slaves to others.  This includes those who are still living “in Adam” in the world.  We have been made free from Law such as the Law of Moses.  At the same time, we do recognize and honor State authorities as being ordained by God.  We recognize they may not always be just and perfect; however, our service is another sacrifice we make while we remain in our earthly house (Romans, chapter 13; I Cor. 6:1).  The mercies of God “in Christ” allow the weak and strong to serve one another.  We can have fellowship in spite of our differences (chapters 14 and 15).

Paul warned the church to “watch out for” and to “keep away from” smooth talking people in the “religious business.”   Their main interest is to satisfy “their own appetites.”  Rom. 16:18.  These are some of the teachings that will surface as we continue our study in the last section of this great letter.  However, unless we are first convicted we should present our bodies as a sacrifice, we will not enjoy the study of these last five chapters. 


The true concept of God’s kingdom will be brought to light in Christians when we offer the service of our bodies as a living and holy sacrifice.  It will be an act of righteousness accepted by God as an act of worship (Matt. 6:1; Rom. 12:1).  The result is righteousness, peace, and joy as we use our bodies as instruments of righteousness.  The Holy Spirit leads us in our sanctification while we, simultaneously, put to death the deeds of our bodies.  We are slaves to Christ rather than our own appetites.  Christ reigns as king over our lives. 

People are not willing to sacrifice without a just cause.  What is the cause in the case of Christian suffering?   Upon what premise did Paul urge us to present our bodies as a living sacrifice?  One answer is “by the mercies of God.”  The first eleven chapters of this letter have been about the mercies of God for Christians “in Christ.”  The word “therefore,” translated from the Greek word “ouv,” in Romans 12:1 may encompasses all of the mercies of God we have been made aware of up to this point in Paul’s letter.  On the other hand, therefore, could refer to the preceding declaration; “For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things.  To Him be the glory forever!  Amen.”  Romans 11:36.  This is reason enough for us to present our bodies as a sacrifice when God calls upon us for service.  However, as we review the first eleven chapters of Romans, we will find God’s mercy preceded His call for sacrifice.  People were the ones who had suppressed the truth and made the created things their god.  They developed their “selves” far different from the kind of people they were created to be (chapter one).  God’s kindness, forbearance and patience led us to repentance (Rom. 2:4).  Our condition “in Adam” in the world has been described as follows: 

There is no distinction; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.  Rom. 3:22, 23

For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.  Rom. 5:6

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.  Rom.  5:8

True, it was Adam’s fault mankind received the knowledge of good and evil and all have become sinners at the time of their maturity.  However, it is the fault of these people if they remain dead to God and continue to let sin reigns over them.  Long before Christ came to educate mankind about the law of life and die on the cross for our sins, God had made promises for us.  They were made to Abraham in such a way we would be sure to receive them.  The promises were offered through the law of faith rather than the law of works (Rom. 4:16).  These promises gave us both the Christ and the Holy Spirit.

Why should Christians accept the urging of the scriptures to present our bodies a living sacrifice?  Because we were under the sentence of death as sinners before Christ died for us.  The love of Christ should control our actions while we live in our physical bodies.

You see, just at the right time, when were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.  Rom. 5:6

For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, that they who live should no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.  II Cor. 5:14, 15

Christ died for us; however, according to God’s law of sin and death, it was still necessary for us to die.  But God made it so easy for Christians after we developed faith and repentance.  In our baptisms there was a death of our old selves, a quick circumcision, and a glorious resurrection (Col. 2:11).  There was a new birth accomplished for us by God’s mercy.  All it required on our part was faith and a humble heart to become a slave to obedience.  See Romans 6:3-16.

We are now alive to God but it was not accomplished by our own power.  Dead men have no power.   The power is in the gospel.  The gospel is the good news of the mercies of God.  The mercies of God put us in our present position “in Christ.”  Is there any reason why Christians should not be willing to sacrifice our bodies in holiness?  It is an easy question to answer but hard to do.  Because it is hard, the mercies of God continue to work for us in the doctrine of justification by faith.  This doctrine, when activated for us by our faith, gives us peace with God.  This helps us to be more willing to serve Him with our bodies – even to the point of sacrifice.  Let us recall our dual nature.  We have been removed from the “world realm” but we still have the same body.  It was our inner man who was born again.

Thanks be to God – through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.  Rom. 7:25

 God through Christ has established a new realm in this world specially designed for people with this nature.  The “in Christ” realm is designed for people who want to get their minds in charge of their bodies.  It was designed for people who joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but who have a different law in the members of our bodies.  Christians have this nature; consequently we will always need justification (Rom 5:18).  This is the scenario of all Christians.  Christ provides justification of life.

Him who was delivered up because of our transgression, and was raised because of our justification.  Rom. 4:25

What does it mean to have justification?  It means, in spite of our sins of ignorance and weakness, we still have peace with God.  It means we are counted as righteous when indeed, we are not.  It means we are alive when we deserve to be dead.  Justification is the only way we can enjoy the presence of the Holy Spirit because it is the only way we can be 100% righteous in God’s sight (I John 1:7; 3:7).  Jesus Christ died for our transgressions.  He was raised to lead us as our King and serve us as our High Priest.  We must have justification as long as we live in our fleshly body.  We have been freed from the Law of Moses for the same reasons; that is, because of our dual nature.  If Christians were under this category of law, we would be condemned as sinners.

For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.  Rom. 6:14

But why must we present our bodies as a living sacrifice?  Is it because God needs us to work for Him?  Yes, He wants us to serve Him; however, there are other reasons.  It is for us personally.  Again, it goes back to our present dual situation.  Our inner man joyfully concurs with the law of God; however, there is “another law at work in the members of my body.”  Rom. 7:23.   By law Paul speaks of that which describes what is happening in the Adam nature.  This is the sinful nature Christians must not seek to gratify (Rom. 13:14).  We joyfully concur with the law of God in Christ.  Should our inner man not win this war, we will become slaves to sin. 

Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness?  Rom. 6:16

Christians maintain control over and use our bodies.  We do allow our bodies to use our minds and hearts.  The “in Christ” realm is so well outfitted with the mercies of God that each Christian can put to death the deeds of his or her body.  We are free.  We are free to follow the law of life and remain free from the law of sin and of death.  The Holy Spirit leads us and helps apply the laws of life “in Christ.”   We are free to develop as sons of God and serve Him (Rom. 8:12-15).

God’s purpose in creating us is for us to be His children.  His choice for carrying out His purpose is to shut up all mature people in disobedience, so He might have mercy upon all (Rom. 9:16; 11:32).  God’s choice in carrying out His purpose also calls for us to suffer with Christ now.  We will be glorified later.  Since this glory involves the resurrection of our present body in power after our physical deaths, we should not be afraid to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice for God’s glory.  We cannot save our bodies from physical death, and indeed, we do not want to, because this is the process by which we are redeemed from this body of sin (Rom. 8:23).

Yes, God does want us to serve Him in this world.  He wants us to serve Him as His sons.  He asks us to give up serving our bodies and use our bodies as instruments of righteousness (Luke 9:57-62).  He knows if we do not use our bodies for righteousness, we will use them for sin.  The result; we will become slaves to sin.  Therefore, the mercies of God allow us to remain free by using our bodies as a living and holy sacrifice.  This becomes our spiritual service of worship to our God who has shown so much mercy and love for us.

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?  Rom. 8:35

God has not asked us to give up the life of our inner man.  He might ask us to give up the life of our outer man (Heb. 10:32-39).  If we understand God’s purposes, choices, promises and mercies for us, we will rejoice for the opportunity of sacrificing our time and energy for righteousness sake.  If people hear and believe but do not have faith in what they understand, they will refuse to serve Christ in the way He has asked us to do in these last five chapters of the Roman letter.

Let us decide to have faith in the mercies revealed in the first eleven chapters.  Then, we will have the spiritual strength necessary to use our bodies in the sacrificial service suggested in the last five chapters.  This final program of developing sons of God has been a mystery; kept secret since the world began but now fully revealed.  It has now been manifested to us that we might be led to obedience of faith.  We are established by this gospel (Rom. 16:25-27).  

Questions for Discussion

  1. What should lead Christians to offer our bodies as living sacrifices?
  2. List some of the ways we will be asked to sacrifice in the last five chapters of Romans.
  3. What must we first be convicted of before we will enjoy these last five chapters?
  4. What does the word “therefore” possibly refer to in Romans 12:1?
  5. List some of the outstanding mercies of God from the first eleven chapters of Romans.
  6. Why must the mercies of God continue to work for Christians after we have been born again?
  7. Why must a Christian be free from the Law God gave to Moses?
  8. List the various reasons why God asks us to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice.
  9. What does happen to a Christian right now, if we do not offer our bodies as a sacrifice?
  10. What has God never asked His children to give up?       


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