Our Reasonable Service
Present Your Bodies

In a Brief Survey of the Epistle of Paul to the Romans
Based on sermons preached in PCC Worship Services, July 2003 to Sep 2005
Part 58b of 83

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).

[We began in the previous issue to study this most sublime and yet practical statement in the epistle by the apostle. We considered how Paul would have us to live the Christian life upon the basis of the mercies of God as presented in the previous eleven chapters. In the second instalment we must consider the exhortation to present our bodies a living sacrifice. —JJL]

2.  Present Your Bodies

Paul says:

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice.”

We will talk about what he means by “a living sacrifice” in our next point. But for now, what does he mean by calling us to present our bodies?                                            

Well, in the first place, we must understand that the apostle is not merely requiring us to be present at worship services! The word ‘service’ in this verse may indeed be translated as ‘worship,’ but it is quite clear from the context that Paul is not speaking only about formal acts of worship. He is concerned about our life or our Christian walk, not just our attendance at worship services!

In the second place, in speaking about presenting our bodies, Paul is literally speaking about presenting all parts of our bodies for the Lord’s use. He says in Romans 6:13—

“Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.”

We have already studied this verse, and we noted that the 2 words rendered ‘yield’ in this verse are the same as the word ‘present’ in our text. In fact, the two verses essentially convey the same idea. So presenting our bodies is to yield all the members of our body unto God.

What Paul is teaching us is that we must use our hands, and feet, and eyes, and ears, and brain, and tongue, etc, etc for the glory of God.

But why does Paul speak about presenting our bodies to God, rather than presenting our souls? Isn’t our soul more precious than our body? After all, our body will not only grow old and weak but is the source of many temptations?

Well, we must understand that by speaking about presenting our bodies, the apostle is not excluding our souls.

Calvin puts it well when asserts that, Paul uses the word ‘bodies’ “that he might more fully designate all that we are, for the members of the body are the instruments by which we carry out our purposes.”

That is to say: Paul speaks about presenting our bodies because we cannot serve God except with the members of bodies. Paul is therefore calling us to active service for the Lord.

It is as if he is saying: “I am not interested in mere contemplation and meditation. Yes, you should praise God in your minds; but that is not sufficient. Neither am I interested only in your monetary gifts, for God owns the cattle upon a thousand hills. All that you have belongs to Him. What I am asking you to do is to present your whole body unto the Lord. Your whole life must be presented to the Lord. All your members: your hands, feet, eyes, ears, tongues must be presented unto the Lord!”

Will you be obedient to the apostle’s call, dear reader? Obedience may require a change in your way of life. It will require a consistent and active use of your time and energy to serve the Lord.

Can you say that you are already living for the Lord? If not, you are simply disobedient to the word of God.

Present your bodies!

Paul does not leave us with an uncertain command so that we are not sure whether we are obeying or not obeying. His instruction is clear. Obedience involves physical energy and actual use of time. Merely thinking about it or merely using your tongues to praise the Lord is not what the apostle has in mind.

Indeed, we must present our bodies a living sacrifice…  

…to be Continued Next Issue

—JJ Lim