ODJ: dying for Jesus?

January 10, 2013 

READ: Romans 12:1-2 

I plead with you to give your bodies to God. . . . Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind He will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship Him (v.1).

The director at a missions conference challenged the participants to consider fulltime missionary work—calling for those who were willing to die for Jesus to stand up and to receive prayer. No one did. Discouraged, he complained to the senior pastor. The pastor said, “Don’t fret if no one is willing to die for Jesus. Worry if no one is wanting to live for Jesus!”

In Romans 12 Paul makes a call for radical commitment. “I plead with you to give your bodies to God” (v.1). Paul wasn’t telling us to die for Jesus. He told us to do the reverse—to live for Him! “Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind [God] will find acceptable” (v.1).

In the Old Testament, propitiatory sacrifices (Leviticus 1:4-5) were offered to atone for sin, “making that person right with the Lord” (7:7); and dedicatory sacrifices (Leviticus 2–3) were voluntarily offered “as an expression of thanksgiving . . . as a gift to the Lord” (7:12-14).

Jesus offered Himself as the atoning sacrifice (2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 John 2:2). His physical body was broken for us (Romans 8:3, Colossians 1:22). In response we are often exhorted to give our hearts to Jesus. But here Paul is asking us to offer our physical bodies as dedicatory sacrifices—as thanksgiving offerings to God. They are to be “a living sacrifice”. If you’re grateful, you’ll “give your bodies to God because of all He has done for you” (Romans 12:1).

The demand of discipleship isn’t to die for Jesus but to die to sin and self! (Romans 6:2,10-11, 8:12-13; Colossians 3:5; 1 Peter 2:24). Jesus died to give us new life (Rom. 6:4; 2 Corinthians 5:17). “Those who receive His new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ” (5:15). —K.T. Sim

How do you die to sin and self in order to live for Christ? (Romans 6:1-14; Colossians 3:1-10). How do you “honour God with your body”? (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
In practical terms, what does it mean for you to offer yourself as a “living and holy sacrifice” that is acceptable to Christ? How does Jesus’ sacrifice inspire you to serve Him?