I recently listened to a sermon by John Piper on Romans 12:1: "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."
I wanted to share with you some of my favorite snippets from this sermon. He closely examines four words in these verses. (To listen to or read the entire sermon click here.)
In the Bible the body is not significant because of the way it looks, but because of the way it acts. The body is given to us to make visible the beauty of Christ. And Christ, at the hour of his greatest beauty, was repulsive to look at. Isaiah 53:2-3 describes him: “He had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejectedby men; a man of sorrows,and acquainted withgrief.” The beauty of Christ is the beauty of love, not the beauty of looks. His beauty was the beauty of sacrifice, not skin.
Let every act of your body in living be an act of worship. That is, let every act of your living body be a demonstration that God is your treasure. Let every act of your living body show that Christ is more precious to you than anything else. Let every act of your living body be a death to all that dishonors Christ.
“Present a living holy body to God” means give your members—your eyes, your tongue, your hands and feet—give your body to do righteousness, not sin. That's what would make a body holy. A body is holy not because of what it looks like, or what shape it's in, but because of what it does.
Acceptable to God
If the sacrifice of our bodily life is holy, then it is acceptable to God. So what do these words add? They add God. They make God explicit. They remind us that the reason holiness matters is because of God. They remind us that all of these words are describing an act of worship—“which is your spiritual worship”—and God is the center of worship.
Piper ends with these words:
Romans 12 is a call to live a merciful life, it is a call to live a worshipful life. Or better: In calling us to live a merciful life (built on the mercy of God in Christ), the aim is that it be a worshipful life. The aim of showing mercy is showing God. The aim of having bodies is to make the glory of God more visible. And he does not shine through our muscles and curves, but through our merciful behavior.
In the actual sermon (not the typed manuscript), Piper says "worship is both the fuel and the goal." That is a neat concept: the fuel for being a living sacrifice is worship and the reason we are to be a living sacrifice is to worship.
Worship is the center of all our human sacrifice because Christ made the greatest sacrifice of all.
My own two cents: If I am sacrificing by living in Taiwan, but if I am not drawing others into the worship of Christ, my sacrifice is pointless; it is not really merciful. What benefit is it for my students to speak good English in hell? I must constantly be about my Father's business telling those who have never heard the good news of Christ's ultimate sacrifice so they can join me in worshiping Him.
The same is true for you. If you are making sacrifices, they are not really worth it unless the fuel and the goal is worship of the Lord Jesus Christ.
This post was submitted to the Carnival of Beauty sponsored by Sallie at A Gracious Home. This week the theme is The Beauty of Sacrifice and is hosted by Renee at Of Nobel Character . Join us next week for The Beauty of Autumn over at The Autumn Rain.