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)
Living sacrifice – I’ve always loved these words and work them often into my own prayers. A living sacrifice has been something I’ve strived to become. I figured in order to be a living sacrifice, I had to follow Paul’s instruction and be holy and acceptable to God. And while Paul’s words were metaphorically beautiful, I never realized this phrase embraced a common cultural Hebraic event, and that I had already been classified as a living sacrifice many years back. But this wasn’t obvious until a study of the sacrificial system was commenced.
According to the sacrificial system, a person was to bring a perfect, unblemished animal for an offering to God. It was the priest’s obligation to inspect the animal prior to the sacrifice. At times the priest would find the animal unworthy due to a blemish. So what would happen? Accordingly this animal could not be killed, but it couldn’t be returned back to the herd or flock because it had already been separated for God. It was already holy, which in Hebrew means separated – even with its blemish. The animal became what Paul calls a living sacrifice – an animal unworthy for sacrifice due to a blemish, but called out and separated for God. It is still acceptable, but just for another purpose.
This is what Paul is referring to here. A living sacrifice isn’t something we can achieve on our own. It’s not something we do, but rather it’s what YHWH has already done for us. He has already separated us from the world through his calling. And because of that, we can never go back and return to the world. But unfortunately we are all blemished with sin, so He cannot use us to fulfill any sacrificial offering for the greater good. There was only one who was unblemished, the Son of God, Yeshua, our Messiah. So we become a living sacrifice and He uses us for another purpose.
Paul instructs us to present ourselves as this imperfect, but separated being for the purpose of God’s will. Not by our own merit, but by His calling. You see, it’s our mistakes, our sin, that classifies us this way, not our good works. So present yourself… show up when God calls you. He has a purpose for you to fulfill, do you know what it is? Are you familiar with your talents, or your gifts of the Spirit? Are you wearing His armor and ready for battle?