Read: Romans 12:1
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.
Let’s study this passage of scripture.
Aim: In this passage, the Bible gives Christians a command to follow King Jesus as a disciple and to love in the way that he loves.
- Brothers and Sisters: This is a common reference to all those who identify themselves as followers of Christ or “disciples.”
- In view of God’s Mercy: This phrase is alluding to God’s Grace – which might simply be described as his supernatural forgiveness and help. It sends the message, “You can’t do this in your own strength and power. You must receive supernatural help from God.”
- Offer your Bodies: This phrase does not mean to literally offer your actual physical body in sacrifice. It means to offer your “every day walking around life.” The emphasis here is “not just part of your life” but “all of your life.”
- Living Sacrifice (Love): This phrase alludes to the biblical meaning of the word “love” – unpacked a few verses later in Romans 1:9.
- Agape – The New Testament was originally written in Greek. The Greek word for God’s kind of love is “agapē” – pronounced “Ah-gah-pay.“
- Ahavah – The Old Testament was written in Hebrew where the word for God’s kind of love is “ahavah” – pronounced “Ah-ha-vah.”
- Definition – The word “agape” – as it relates to the word “ahavah” in the Old Testament – means to “give self-sacrificially to another person for their benefit.” This is the kind of love that King Jesus expressed for us when he gave his life as a sacrifice to pay for our sins.
1) In light of the background information above, who is being addressed in Romans 12:1? What does the Bible command these people to do with their lives?
2) In Matthew 16:24-25 Jesus says, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.”
How does Jesus’ words affirm the command in Romans 12:1? What does it tell us about a disciple of Jesus?
3) In John 15:13, Jesus says, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
How does this affirm the meaning of “agape” love?
4) What does it mean to be a “living sacrifice?” Does “giving one’s life sacrificially” always mean physical death? Do you think this command is meant to be understood as a one time event or an ongoing lifestyle?
5) The Bible says that this lifestyle of love is the way that God wants to be worshiped. How does it describe this kind of worship? What is God’s response to this kind of worship?
6) If self-sacrificial love is “true worship” that pleases God, how does this broaden and deepen your understanding of the term “worship?”
7) In light of God’s command to love sacrificially, what is the significance of the phrase “in view of God’s mercies?”
8) How does this phrase “in view of God’s mercies” connect to what we learned in the previous lesson about being “in the yoke” with King Jesus?
Consider: In this passage, the Bible gives Christians a command to:
1) To follow King Jesus as a disciple and to love in the way that he loves.
2) To love by the “mercies of God.”
3) To love as a living sacrifice
4) That loving in God’s way is what is meant by true worship
5) That loving in this way is what really pleases God.
When King Jesus calls us to follow him as disciples, he is calling us to a life of self-sacrificial love. In no way are our souls shaped to be able to obey this call. Self sacrificial love is counter to all of our natural impulses. We are all naturally self-centered, self-promoting, and self-protective.
Therefore, we cannot obey this command given to us by King Jesus in our own natural strength and power. We can only begin to obey this command through “God’s mercies” of grace, which come by depending on our Union with Christ.
For Further Reflection: “Ahavah” – The Old Testament word for “Love”. Watch the video below from the awesome folks at “The Gospel Project.”