One of the running themes we have at The Barnabas Group is the idea of faith at work, inseparability of our faith and our work. It is critical that we intentionally begin to see these two areas of life as one. No matter our chosen line of work, we are commanded in scripture to work as for the Lord. In this post we're looking at a section of Paul's letter to the Romans wherein he outlines what it is to live a holy and acceptable life.
I love what Paul writes in Romans 12:1-2.
“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (ESV)
Romans 12 verses 1 and 2 is a turning point in the Epistles of Romans. Paul has now spent eleven chapters in Romans laying out the fundamentals of the Christian faith and theology. And now, from Chapter 12 onward, it's application time. Paul begins the verses with the word "Therefore." “Therefore” is a preposition and is the connector between what he is teaching in Chapter 1 - 11 and from Chapter 12 to the end of the book odf Romans.
Because of what Paul has laid out in the first twelve chapters in Romans, he is encouraging and challenging us to present our bodies as a living sacrifice. It's as if Paul is coming alongside us as a brother or a friend, putting his arm around us, and encouraging us to present our whole bodies or lives as a result of everything God has done for us. It's an active role that we play.
Notice the word “present” in the ESV translation. “Present” is an action verb. It’s something we do. It’s a choice that we have to make. The term “living sacrifice” is understood in Paul's culture because of the sacrifices that the Israelites had to make each year as an offering to God. Therefore the believer presents his body or entire life as a sacrifice. The conditions are that our sacrifice is holy and acceptable to God much like a sacrifice made at that time had to be without blemish and imperfection. This concept of presenting our whole life is worship in itself.
"Holy and acceptable" is important to understand in this context because as believers our life is not “ours” anymore. It belongs to God and as we come before the cross, the decisions that we make have to be in line with what God finds as acceptable. This is laid out in the pages of Scripture. As believers, we cannot make decisions that benefit us but rather what the Lord calls us to do. That is one of the marks of a believer. It is not that we are perfect but we are striving to grow in our understanding of what is acceptable to God and improve in those areas.
I love what Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us to do. Ephesians 2:8 tells us that it is by grace we have been saved and it is not by ourselves. What is the result of that grace? We are therefore His workmanship created in Him to do good works.
How can we become more like Christ as we continue to work and journey with Him? Is our life and our body "holy and acceptable to God?"
In all that we do let us strive to do good works so that we may glorify our Father in Heaven.