Romans 12:1 — I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.
therefore — If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them (John 13:17).
The "therefore" of our text in this study builds on all the truth that has been presented in the 315 verses of the first eleven chapters. Without this foundation, the ethics of the end chapters float in the sky like a roof without support. With this foundation, the life that is demanded from those who have believed in Christ is seen to be the logical development of the work of redemption. — Donald Grey Barnhouse, God's Discipline, page 1-2.
Mercies — Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: For Your sake we are killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:35-39).
When Jesus Christ died on the cross, all the work of God for man's salvation passed out of the realm of prophecy and became historical fact. God has now had mercy upon us. For any one to pray, "God have mercy on me," is the equivalent of asking Him to repeat the sacrifice of Christ. All the mercy that God ever will have on man, He has already had when Christ died. This is the totality of mercy. There could not be any more. — Barnhouse, page 4
present — same word as "yield" — 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 (Romans 6:13).
living sacrifice — in contrast to dead animal sacrifices required in the Old Testament — also that it be continual
What is it to present our bodies to God as a living sacrifice? First of all, it must be realized that we have contact with this world only by means of our bodies. We can communicate with God through our minds and hearts, but we can communicate with the world about us only through our five senses.
This being the case, it is very important that our spiritual life have control over our physical life. Only when the body is dominated by the spirit can there be the life which is pleasing to God and, thus, satisfying to man himself. It is the teaching of the Word of God and also the teaching of experiance that misuse of any of the bodily functions ultimately causes ill to the one who misuses them. — Barnhouse, page 12.
holy = set apart
service = priestly work
reasonable — of the reason, intelligent, not ritualistic
I beseech — as opposed to "I command" — apart from the Law
bodies — entire being — soul, spirit and body
The practical appeal of the closing chapters brings to a conclusion the series of logical arguments that comprise the epistle. These arguments are presented progressively in the following steps:
- Therefore thou are inexcusable (2:1)
- Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in His sight (3:20)
- Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith, without the deeds of the law (3:28)
- Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (5:1)
- There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus (8:1)
- I beseech you therefore … that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God (12:1) — C.R. Stam, The Epistle of Paul to the Romans, page 289