“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” Romans 12:1 (KJV)
Romans Twelve verse one is a verse well known by many in Christian circles. Some that I have spoken to have sought to use this verse to refute the Regulative Principle of Worship. However, I believe this verse addresses our everyday life. This text is an interesting, and somewhat difficult text to understand. In order to truly grasp this passage we must ask; what is a “living sacrifice”? There is one example in Scripture of a living sacrifice. Amazing, I know! It is found in Numbers chapter eight beginning in verse three. The eighth chapter of Numbers records the cleansing and setting apart of the Levites for work in the tabernacle. This is important because it is the only instance of a living sacrifice and thus it gives a better understanding of what Paul was driving at.
The Levites were offered before the Lord “that they may execute the service of the Lord.” So we can see that a living sacrifice is a setting apart for the Lord. Since Paul essentially had a PhD in Old Testament, we can be rather certain that he was alluding to this passage as he wrote Romans 12. Paul is not arguing that we are free to worship God however we want. Rather, Paul is telling us that we, as Christians are to live our lives as ones set apart by God. We are to live mindful of what He requires of us (Jn. 14:15), and mindful of the work that He has accomplished for us. We must never think that ourselves to be better than someone, especially an unbeliever for it was not of any good in us that we have been brought to the Light, but only due to God extending His mercy and grace to us.