Romans 12:1 (ESV)
“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.”
Paul urges the Romans, as he does to us, to offer our bodies, the whole of ourselves, to God. In the first few chapters of Romans, he describes humankind as sinful and condemned, then God showing mercy through Jesus, and going on to explain how faith in Jesus frees us from the law and sin, living through the Holy Spirit, and now arrives here. I believe the last few verses of chapter 11 are also great precursors to Paul’s appeal. (Romans 11:33-36 – Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counsellor? Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid? For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.)
Why should we offer ourselves to God? Paul says to consider the mercies of God. It is by God’s mercies that we can be free of God’s wrath. Some might scoff and say – “Why would God have to save mankind from his own wrath?” We change, God does not. He is righteous and holy. God does not change, and we read in Romans 2 that God’s wrath comes rightly down onto sinners.
We are all sinners who have fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23 – for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God). We sin. We have a burdening sinful nature which personally makes it a pretty easy thing to think, say, act, and exist in ways which are against God, and we live in this fallen world and its decaying environment, among other sinners who are in desperate need of a relationship with God. If the effects of sin and the rebellion against God aren’t seen right in front of us, we only need to look a little further to the terrible actions of violence and chaos around the world currently. All have sinned, and we have all fallen very far from God’s glory. I was reminded about this on Friday night as some of us lads talked about sin coming through Adam – and forever marking the human race.
As sinners, the biggest problem we have is not with bad people but the wrath of God. (John 3:36 – Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him). I’m under God’s wrath, and what can I do? Nothing. But God puts forward His Son as a substitute, it’s propitiation, someone taking the place of another. Jesus came forward as a wrath-appeaser, a punishment-taker, a saviour. God’s wrath was on us and Christ stepped in and absorbed it on Calvary.
In a way, I think the gospel breaks us. It breaks our own concepts of saving ourselves, or of reaching a mark – we cannot strut our charity, our likeability, knowledge, theology, or classy worship. Propitiation is so precious. (Romans 5:9 – Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God). For Christians, there will never be a day from now until eternity when God will have one bit of wrath toward us. He does discipline His children, but He does not have one little bit of wrath toward us. How precious is that.
(Romans 6:23 – For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord). So, as Paul says. Let’s consider the mercies of God and our substitute for His wrath, Jesus. Committing the whole of ourselves to Him in spiritual worship. Because of what He has done for us.