Offer Your Body as a Living Sacrifice

Our Bible Study group recently finished up a study of Romans by Tim Keller (it was excellent!)  During our discussion, someone asked me to write a blog post on being a “living sacrifice” based on Romans 12:1. What did Paul mean when he said to “offer your body as a living sacrifice?” 

I’m so grateful for curious minds and the opportunity to dig deeper into this Scripture!  And in the true faithfulness of God, I “just happened” to have an empty slot in my calendar for this week.  This topic couldn’t be more relevant!

offer your body as a living sacrifice- what does that mean?- male hand reaching out on brown background

Romans 12:1

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God- this is your spiritual act of worship.” (NIV).

Romans 12 begins a change in Paul’s discussion.  He had filled the chapters leading up to this with the riches of God’s mercy on His people.  He spoke of the forgiveness of God and how our faith in Jesus brings us a new life.

My Bible gives this new chapter a headline of “personal responsibility.”  Paul moves from what we believe into how we live in a broken world.

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers (and sisters), in view of God’s mercy…”

In the Greek, “I urge” translates as “I appeal”.  Paul wasn’t commanding us to do anything, but gently appealing to us with the same mercy and love God has shown us.

Present Your Bodies as a Living Sacrifice

“… to offer your bodies as living sacrifices…”

“Offering our bodies” was Paul’s way of explaining that as a redeemed people, we surrender our lives back to Jesus in thanksgiving for all He has done.

Jesus offered Himself as a onetime, for all time, single sacrifice and atoned for all our sin.  There is nothing we can add to this.  The only thing to “do” is to believe and trust in Him.

Why Do We Need to Sacrifice for God? 

God doesn’t need us to sacrifice for Him.  He does, however, give us the opportunity to sacrifice as a “living” way to express our love and gratitude for all He has done.

But why even give us the opportunity?

Think about the sacrifices we make.  Are you the Mom who eats the burnt piece of toast?  Maybe you are the friend who goes all out creating a perfect party or shower?  Are you the teacher who stays after school to get those lessons exactly right for their students?

We frequently make sacrifices of our time, money, and energy to show our love and care for others.  We turn our love and care into action.

God is giving us an outlet for us to do the same for Him.  He NEEDS nothing, but we express our love for Him through our living sacrifices to Him.  Considering God’s tremendous love and mercy, what should our response look like?

What Is a Living Sacrifice?

A living sacrifice must have sounded odd to those who were hearing Paul’s words too.  They were used to bringing a live animal to the priest who would kill the animal as the sacrifice; atoning for their sin.

Paul says because of Christ, we no longer have to bring a sacrifice, we become one. We’re not a burnt offering, we are a living one!

We come before God and offer our complete self in gratitude and thanksgiving.  We offer all the parts of our bodies- eyes, ears, lips, hands, feet, heart, mind, etc.- in service to Him and doing His will.

stone altar with simple cross - outside with view of mountain

Full surrender to God can be difficult.  We want freedom and control of certain parts of our lives.  The things we say, look at, and listen to are not always in His will. Our ambitions and possessions can become more important to us. We don’t always want to sacrifice; we crawl away.

Sacrifice to God

This is where our hearts and minds come in.

Offering ourselves as living sacrifices is to choose daily to lay down our own desires and to live our lives honoring and obeying Him.  It is trusting in the perfect plans He has for us.

God has given us the best resources to achieve our goal- His written Word and the Holy Spirit!  Paul continues in verse 2, telling us to “be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”  That transformation is to include our entire body; beginning in the mind.  The more time spent in His Word, the greater the transformation.

The Holy Spirit lives within to convict and guide us.  The more you know of Him, the greater His voice rings out.

To be a living sacrifice is to desire to belong entirely to Him.  He knows our human weakness will interfere with our best intentions- always.  That’s when we trust in His grace, mercy, and forgiveness and begin anew.

Offer your body as a living sacrifice- wooden altar with cross and pot of yellow flowers on it

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Qualities of a Living Sacrifice

“… holy and pleasing to God…”

Well, that sounds intimidating! When I think of “holy”, I think of pure, without blemish, Jesus.  But we see the Scriptures are designated as “holy”, and Jesus died for the church to make it holy.  Holiness is an attribute of God He gives to things and people dedicated to His service.  Holiness intertwines with purity and righteousness- which we (amazingly) receive as a free gift from Jesus.

“He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace.” (2 Timothy 1:9 NIV.)

When we dedicate our acts of sacrifice to His glory, He sees them as holy.

When we strive to show others His mercy, love, and peace, He sees those acts as holy.

And if that is not astonishing enough, when we offer ourselves to Him, it pleases Him! It is all because when He sees us; He sees Jesus.

When we do our best to live for Him with sincere hearts, we can hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant!”

“…Spiritual Act of Worship…”

The Greek translation of this phrase is “rational service.”  In other words, “Offer your body to God in service because it is the rational thing to do.”  Living our lives in service to God is the only reasonable or rational response for all He has done for us!

When we love and worship God, we serve Him.  We will do whatever He needs done.  To have a servant’s heart means saying, “Yes Lord, whatever you need or want, I will do”.  I’ll take that piece of burnt toast.  I’ll stay late for you. Tell me what arrangements to make, and I will carry them out.

Any act of service we offer back to God is an act of worship.

Service as Worship

Service to Christ is following His will for your life.  To be a living sacrifice is to jump wholeheartedly into serving and obeying Him!  He wants us to conform to His image and be fruitful in our service.

Yielding to God gives us His power to help in our transformation.  Jesus turned to His Father to seek His will all the time, and He is God!  Should we do any less?

Elements of a Living Sacrifice

We offer ourselves as living sacrifices out of love and thanksgiving. Not because we have to, but because we want to. Loving God is our motivation for giving Him our best- in time, talents, and treasure.

Where do we start?

Where you are!

Whatever you are doing, do it for the Lord.  You serve God right where you are by doing your best. It should become our lifestyle!  Sometimes I get discouraged or overwhelmed in living out this appeal from Paul.  But I hear His still small voice tell me, “Just do your best.”  He knows our hearts!

Live by the Spirit

Paul offers many ways to offer your body as a living sacrifice, remembering we all have unique gifts:

Serving, teaching, encouraging, generous giving, leadership, cheerful mercy, and hospitality.  This is only a partial list, of course.  (Remember that none of us can do all these things well.)

Paul asks us to “keep in step with the Spirit” and grow His attributes in our own lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.

What God wants is all of you, all the time, for your entire life.  He wants the mundane parts of your life, the tough spots, the joyful ones, and the mediocre. Even though our world is far from the Garden of Eden right now, walk with Him daily anyway!  Come joyfully before Him and place your life as a living sacrifice before Him.

“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Colossians 3:17 NIV.



Related Post∼ Can One Person Make a Difference?

Photo Credit: Pixabay

52 thoughts on “Offer Your Body as a Living Sacrifice”

  1. I am so blessed. I have recently started STUDYING the bible and some places I get stuck because I know there is more to what has been written there but don’t understand what it means. You have been of great help… God bless you❤️

    1. This is so great to hear! God bless you, Jasmine as you really try to understand His wisdom and guidance! I’ve been “studying” the Bible for 30+ years and I learn something new all the time! It will be a wonderful journey for you 🙂 I’m grateful to be of any help to you. If there is something you want me to write about, just let me know! I also have a “search” box in my website that you can use to find topics to read about.

  2. Thank you very much for the explanation I was asking myself if we still need to do sacrifices, God. Because Jesus has died for us, by sacrificing his life.

    1. You are so welcome! I loved exploring Scripture for clarification into what Paul meant. Just sweet surrender in thanksgiving to Him, and in love, show Him to others. God bless you and thanks for reading!

    1. Thank you Samuel! I learned a lot too, from writing this post. Our small group was studying Romans and this question came up. God bless!

  3. Wow! Just wow! I googled living sacrifice and this was the first in the list that popped up. I didn’t have to look any further. You explained that verse so beautifully! I have been a Christian for many years but have been digging deeper into God’s Word for the past couple of years and want to serve Him more . I desire to have sound biblical resources that help me understand and are relatable. You fit that perfectly! Thank you for being a servant of God. I signed up for your newsletter!


    1. Wow Lisa! What an encouragement for me! Thank you so much. This was why I began my blog in the first place- to make the Bible a place of encouragement and hope by digging into the verses, understanding their content, and trying to explain them in a way that relates to our everyday lives. Your comment actually gave me goosebumps. This particular blog came about from a question from a friend, so if you ever have something you want me to delve into, let me know! Welcome to our community of women who seek to love and serve God in our everyday busy lives! God bless you!

  4. Thank you for this powerful , detailed but concise commentary. It was the highlight of my week. God Bless you. Will be following more of your posts .

    1. You are welcome- I’m glad you found it so helpful! Please let me know if there are any topics you would like me to write about. You can follow me on Facebook or subscribe (you get one email per week with the blog post link included) if that would help us stay in touch! God bless you!

  5. I recently had an impression in my heart while in prayer that “God is preparing us as a lovely sacrifice for Him” I did not know the meaning of that. I wondered “what does this mean?” and I found myself googling this thus landing on this article. It was eye opening and insightful. I pray more grace for us to live this.

    1. That is beautiful Stella. I love how God leads us, even in our sleep! I’m praying right along with you for more grace to live this out. God bless you!

  6. I had this question on my heart after I opened the Bible app on my phone and read the verse that came up for today….. a living sacrifice.
    I searched the question and your “response” came! I just wish to Thank You for helping me understand what God meant in such a clear and kind way. God Bless! 🙏🏼

    1. That’s so awesome Dana! See, we are never alone in our questions, and I think God loves to hear and answer them! Thank you for encouraging me by letting me know. You are a blessing to me!

    1. Thank you- your comment is so encouraging to me! I trust His Word does not come back void, but produce the fruit He has planned! You are an example of that. God bless you!

  7. Thank you for this post!! Holy Spirit brought me to this blog as I was cooking. I heard a small voice say Busy Blesses Making Money. I kept hearing it over and over again, soooo I went to GOOGLE and typed in Busy Blessed Making Money and I saw your post. It jumped out at me. Usually I am sooo busy but GOD allowed me to have time tonight to sit quietly and DIGEST this learning and WOW!!!! WOW 👏 😮

    I am understanding what I have heard so many times before..A Living Sacrifice but with clarity and explanation around it through the HOLY SPIRIT!! This is so on time as I am yearning to live in Kingdom ways here on Earth 🌎 🙏 🙌 ✨.

    I am truly moved and excited to put this into practice. Thank you!! GOD BLESS ❤

    1. Praise God for His Holy Word reaching you! Thank you for commenting and encouraging me. I always pray each post reaches one person who really needs it. He has been so faithful- God bless you! All the glory and honor to Him who is the Name above all Names! I am so glad we connected!

  8. Found you because I too was looking for clarity on “offer your body as a living sacrifice.” Very much appreciate your thoughts and will return with future questions. I love how this thought was born in November 2020 and continues to live; the comments are few, but steady. Thank you Ann Marie, Linda

    1. I’m so glad we connected and that this post was helpful! Hopefully I can bring clarity and encouragement to you in the future as well. It always amazes me that His Word goes out and connects with people who seek it! All the glory and honor to Him!

  9. STELLA kyasiimire

    You have quenched my thirst about this. I don’t know who you are, am in Uganda, but God bless you more and more with the eternal kingdom knowledge and wisdom.

    1. Thank you so much- I could not write this blog without His constant guidance, direction, and wisdom! All praise, honor, and glory to our God! I am so glad His Word found you all the way in Uganda! I live in Minnesota, USA, but am thankful for the technology that unites us!

  10. Joyce Jennings

    Hi I have really enjoyed these inspiring words on being the sacrifice and being my best for God in all I do. Thank you very much and keep up the good work you are a blessing for the women of God. My name is Joyce

    1. Hi Joyce! I’m so glad you took the time to write and encourage me with what you learned from His Word! He led me to this work, and by His grace, I have no plans to stop! He gives me the strength and guidance to continue. You are a blessing to me!

  11. As a child of God I am so encouraged. I serve as a minister on on the worship team at my church right here in the Caribbean. I am a full time working single mom and these das it’s challenging balancing my time.

    We have two services at our church and I’ve been asked this weekend to do the two days. Both Saturday and sunday. I was exhausted but heard the Lord saying it’s for me l. Do it for me. I ended up sitting out because I feel somewhat physically drained. Reading this gives me a muh better perspective on my service not just to my pastor or worship director, but to God. To be more faithful and obedient. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thanks so much Nelia, for taking the time to share your story! I’ve been a full time working single mom- I know the struggles! I so appreciate you sharing them with me and reading my post. May you be bountifully blessed! P.S.- I love the Caribbean! We’ve been to several islands, and it is such a welcoming and beautiful place!

      1. Thanks am mary from kenya am happy for this educative words from you,i have been serving God in many ways through singing, preaching and many other ways, but today i have learned something that Jesus knew his father and Jesus was God but He would always go to his father so that he can do his will,waa thanks i will offer myself as a living sacrifice,am now pursuing theology here in our country so as to become what God want me to be

        1. That is wonderful Mary! I wish you all the best in pursuing your degree and serving Him! The concept of a living sacrifice was something I needed clarification on as well. His Word is always so encouraging!

  12. Joanne L Liston

    This post popped up when I was searching “living sacrifice “. It was very helpful in my study. God bless you for your faithfulness to Him.

    1. Thank you so much Joanne for letting me know! It is such an encouragement to me. God is so good- He has helped me every step of the way in this blog- I count on His wisdom and guidance and give Him all the glory!

  13. I came across your blog because of searching for “living sacrifice”. I’m doing a study called “Unlimited Service” in the YouVersion Bible app and this concept was featured there and I wanted more of a definition.
    Thank you and I’ll see if I can share this with the group I’m studying with.

    1. That’s awesome Tina! I’m so glad it was helpful. Let me know if you have any problems sharing, I can probably help!

  14. Thank you for that bless word it help me to really see what it really means to be a living sacrifice for God

    1. Thank you so much for your encouragement! I’m grateful God’s Word found it’s way to you! Blessings!

    1. Thank you for your encouraging comment! I loved digging in to this Scripture. His love, forgiveness, and desire to be in relationship with us is sometimes overwhelming, but makes me love Him more each day!

  15. Thanks for doing a study on being a living sacrifice, Ann. It was so good. I love having our very own Bible scholar in our group! You are doing an amazing job with your blog. I’m sure many are being blessed by it! Praying for the word to get out and that many more will sign up!

    1. Thank you Cindy! It was awesome to have a topic to write on that I knew someone would be interested in! 🙂 I’m just continuing to trust that God is working this all out for His good!

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