April 13 (Reading for April 11-17: Romans 12, NASB. This devotional is a day early, as it is Part 1 (12:1-2). Part 2 (12:3-21) will be posted tomorrow. Today we talk about celebrating Christ’s resurrection by offering our body as “a living sacrifice.”
We read about victory over the PENALTY of sin: “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1). We also read about victory over the POWER of sin: “Since we have been united with Him in His death, we will also be raised to life as He was. We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. For when we died with Christ, we were set free from the power of sin” (Rom. 6:5-7, New Living Translation). This is our song of victory—sin no longer has any power over us!
Now, in Romans 12:1, we read about how we can have victory in the PRESENCE of sin: Therefore I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.” (NKJV says, “this is your reasonable service”). Even in the present reality of sin in our world, living a sacrificial life, being holy, doing what pleases God—this is our spiritual and reasonable service!
We need to understand “a living sacrifice” in the context of Jesus’s resurrection. His resurrection presents a truth that we must not overlook. Hear what Jesus said in John 14:16-18: “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, so that He may be with you forever; the Helper is the Spirit of truth…you know Him because He remains with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I am coming to you.” Jesus spoke of the Holy Spirit being with us, then He said, “I will come to you.” The Holy Spirit IN US is the reality of Jesus being WITH US!
(John 16:7) “But I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I am leaving; for if I do not leave, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.” Jesus said we would do even greater works than He did, through prayer, because of the Holy Spirit in us and working through us. And this could only happen after His resurrection, when He would go back to the Father and the Holy Spirit would come and live in those who receive Jesus as Savior and Lord!
The words “living sacrifice” are appropriate because before one can live for Christ, one must first die to self. Paul talked about that in verse 2: “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” The way of the world is conformity. J.B. Phillips translation says: “Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mold, but let God re-mold your minds from within.” Satan’s plan for Christians is to reform the sinful nature to conform to the world’s standard. We conform to just get along—to survive—to not make waves.
But look at Christ’s plan: not reformation but transformation! We have been transformed by the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, and we do not just survive—we thrive! Victory is often won or lost in the mind. Remember the story of the little train getting over the mountain. It kept repeating, “I think I can; I think I can,” until it finally said, “I thought I could!” That may sound like legalism, but not when our minds are renewed by the Holy Spirit. Because of His work in our life, and because of the promises of Jesus, we can live positively—we can, by the filling of the Holy Spirit and His full expression through us, thrive in a world order that is totally sold out to sin.
– Al Gary