September 14, 2018

A Living Sacrifice

Romans 12:1–8

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A Living Sacrifice

I appeal to you therefore, brothers,1 by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.2 Do not be conformed to this world,3 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.4

Gifts of Grace

For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members,5 and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads,6 with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.


[1] 12:1 Or brothers and sisters
[2] 12:1 Or your rational service
[3] 12:2 Greek age
[4] 12:2 Or what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God
[5] 12:4 Greek parts; also verse 5
[6] 12:8 Or gives aid

A Living Sacrifice

Bio | Jennifer Bundren

Howdy, y'all, I'm Jennifer Bundren! I have been attending Watermark for about 10 years now and serve in Watermark's young adult (The Porch) and student ministries. I work on the Finance team at Watermark, and I love getting to serve the body in that capacity. I am passionate about traveling and have been blessed to see lots of the world. My most recent adventure was on a Journeys of Paul trip to Greece and Turkey. If you see me around, ask me about it! GIG'EM AGGIES!

Central Truth

The hard part about being a LIVING sacrifice is that we are prone to crawl off the altar. Every day, it is a constant battle to live according to God's Word and Spirit and not according to the desires of the flesh (Galatians 5:16-17).

Devotional | Romans 12:1–8

I grew up in a private Christian school where I had to memorize Romans 12 in the fifth grade. These verses have made a tremendous impact in my life. Paul is appealing to us, that considering all he has said the...

I grew up in a private Christian school where I had to memorize Romans 12 in the fifth grade. These verses have made a tremendous impact in my life. Paul is appealing to us, that considering all he has said the past 11 chapters, we should offer our lives as a living sacrifice in a way that is holy and acceptable to God. Romans 12:1 (NIV) begins, "I urge you, brothers and sisters . . . ." Paul did not command the Roman believers to do these things. Rather, he encouraged them to live their lives as a holy sacrifice in light of what God had done for them. What does it mean to present your bodies as a living sacrifice? Paul answers that question in the rest of Romans 12.

Paul tells us in Romans 12:2 to "not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind . . . ." One of the most effective ways to transform our minds is to dwell on the things of the Lord (Philippians 4:8-9) and to memorize Scripture. David in Psalm 119:9-11 tells us that the way to keep our path pure is to store up God's Word in our hearts so that we do not wander away from God's commandments.

In Romans 12:3-8, Paul tells us to "not think of yourself more highly than you ought" and to serve others. Each of us has been given a gift from the Lord. I am sometimes tempted to wish that I had been given different gifts, but the Lord has uniquely gifted each of us for a specific purpose and reason (see 1 Corinthians 12:12-25). So we are challenged to use our gifts for His glory.

Even though I have had Romans 12 memorized since I was 10 years old, there have been too many times when I did not heed its wisdom. That has never worked out well for me. The hard part about being a LIVING sacrifice is that we are prone to crawl off the altar. Every day, it is a constant battle to live according to God's Word and Spirit and not according to the desires of the flesh (Galatians 5:16-17). But by God's grace and instruction, it is possible to be a living sacrifice, constantly choosing to wage war against the flesh (Romans 7:21-25). God's Word, His Spirit, and His people are God's provisions to help us live sacrificial lives that are "holy and acceptable" to Him.

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Discussion Questions

1. How has God transformed your mind by His Word and Spirit? Are there any areas in your life where you are resisting transformation?

2. How should you be thinking less of yourself and more of others?

3. What are the gifts the Lord has given you? How are you using them to serve His people?

4. Are you lacking any of God's provisions in your life (His Word, His Spirit, and His people)? If so, what needs to change in your life for you to experience His provisions?

7 Comments available

greg jones 10 months ago

Oh man this central truth really hit home for me today! I love the wisdom of tying it to Galatians 5:16-17. As I read Galatians 5 with your central truth in mind I saw loving my neighbor as myself (Galatians 5:14) as the key to being a living sacrifice. Why should that be so hard for me? Personally I think it has something to do with Galatians 5:19-21. Those dudes are so many of my neighbors! They kill my love, joy, peace, patience…kindness, goodness, faithfulness and gentleness, if it wasn’t for self control I’d be just like them. Agitators! All of them, Galatians 5:12. He said tongue in cheek.

Thank you Jennifer for not modeling that kind of struggle.

Joel Holyoak 10 months ago

Thanks for the devotional. Yes, GIG’EM. I am class of '73. When I think of living sacrifice, I think of how I can serve in such a way as to encourage the unbeliever to ask “what does he have that I should want.” You are right that it is a constant battle to live according to God’s Word and Spirit. When we fail, the unbeliever says “see they are just like us.”

Michael Scaman 10 months ago

Maybe we shouldn’t read this as two very different paragraphs. In the first half we present our bodies as living sacrifice and in the second we are all part of a body

Hope Harris 10 months ago

Gm friends, I recently read “God and the Transgender Debate”, by Andrew Miller. A great book to gain a sound Biblical approach to the issue. I have this quote written by this weeks passage: “With a renewed mind it becomes possible to rightly evaluate our emotions and the opinions of culture. God reorders how we reason.” Lord continue to reorder my mind and heart

Sue Bohlin 10 months ago

Bless you, Jennifer, for your excellent devo. I’m sure there are hundreds, if not thousands, of JTJ readers being exposed for the first time to the image of a living sacrifice crawling off the altar!

As I think about Paul’s exhortation not to think of ourselves more highly than we ought, I’m remembering observing two arguments where someone with no actual theological training escalated their viewpoint against someone with far more experience, getting upset for not being agreed with. In both cases, the rude one thought more highly of himself than he should have, and everyone around them saw how foolish they appeared. Paul knew what he was talking about! What a great invitation to address a blind spot.

Hugh Stephenson 10 months ago

GM Jennifer. Love your juxtapositions. Amy reminds me, “We have an audience of One”.

Today I am reflecting on the word in verse 1 “appeal” (parakaleō). Synonyms are beseech, entreat and even beg. Paul is BEGGING me! He was taken up into Heaven, was struck down by Jesus and he is begging me to surrender and submit. He knows it’s the key to my joy. He explains everything I need to know and more in chapters 1-11 then he still begs me to accept Christ and surrender my will to His. Wow.

He references ultimate obedience in Isaac (Genesis 22) and Jesus (Luke 22:42).

Why beg? Paul knows my will is so strong that he needs to beg me. He knows how easily I can relapse.

Wiersbe edifies “If the world controls your thinking, you are a conformer; if God controls your thinking, you are a transformer. “

Bobby Crotty 10 months ago

Excellent devo, Jen! Many thanks for your insights into this passage and for all the ways you serve at Watermark. Your central truth captures both the challenge and the goal of our walk with Christ. Grateful for the provisions you highlight that God gives us for the daily battle. Well done, friend.

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