Spiritual Worship: A Presenting of a Sacrifice to God
First, Paul says it is a presenting of a sacrifice to God. “Present your bodies as a sacrifice . . . to God.” This is the language of worship from the Old Testament. In coming to God the worshipper brought a sheep or a bull or a pigeon and sacrificed it on the altar as an offering to God. There were different kinds of sacrifices but at the heart of it was that sin demanded punishment, and the slain animal represented God’s willingness to accept a substitute so that the worshipper might live and have an ongoing relationship of forgiveness and joy with God.
But all the Old Testament believers knew that the blood of bulls and goats cannot take away sin (Hebrews 10:4). They pointed beyond themselves to Christ, who was the final sacrifice for sin. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 5:7, “Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.” That was the final sacrifice for sin, because it was perfect and sufficient for all who believe. Most clearly of all Hebrews 10:12 says, “When Christhad offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God.” So Christ brought to an end the Old Testament sacrifices for sin. He finished the great work of atonement. His death cannot be improved on. All we have to do now is trust him for that great work. We do not add to it.
So when Paul says that our worship is to present our bodies as a sacrifice he does not mean that we die and atone for our sins. Well what does he mean? Let’s take the four words he gives and see what each contributes to understanding a lifestyle of daily worship: bodies, living, holy, acceptable to God.