Though after Christ’s sacrificial death there was no more need for animal sacrifices,
the New Testament does talk about the need for another kind of sacrifice instead.
Terminology from the sacrificial system worked very well in describing the early Christian concept of what it meant to live a life totally consecrated to God. In fact, even when Paul was thinking about his martyrdom, he described himself as a drink offering (Phil. 2:17, 2 Tim. 4:6).
What specific message is given us in Romans 12:1? In what ways are we to manifest this truth in our own lives?
A “living sacrifice” means that the entire person is given to God. It includes the dedication of the body (Rom. 12:1) as well as the transformation of the inner being (vs. 2). We are to be set apart (“holy”) for the sole purpose of serving the Lord. Christians will present themselves wholly to the Lord because of the “mercies of God,”as described in Romans 12:1–11, which present Christ as our sacrifice, the means of our salvation.
In this context, Paul’s appeal is for Christians to imitate Christ. A true understanding of God’s grace leads to a life consecrated to God and to a loving service for others. Surrender of self and the desires of self to the will of God is the only reasonable response to Christ’s ultimate sacrifice for us.
In the end, there has to be a harmony between our understanding of spiritual and doctrinal truth and our service to others. Every aspect of life should express the believer’s genuine commitment to God. True worship is never only inward and spiritual; it must encompass outward acts of selfless service. After all, think about what our Lord has done for us.