Romans 12:1-5 NIV
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.
So what exactly does it mean to be a living sacrifice? First, a sacrifice is anything consecrated or offered to God. Since Jesus became the sacrifice for us, no longer is there a need to offer dead animals to God as a sacrifice, instead we become a living sacrifice by offering ourselves to Him totally. So the next issue is how do we do that? Paul says we do that by not conforming to the ways of the world but by becoming transformed by the renewing of our minds. We either walk in the flesh, doing things that please ourselves and act the way the world which has rejected God acts, or we walk in the Spirit, doing the things that please God.
In renewing my mind I've realized the first thing I must do is to understand who I am, what is my true identity. For years I struggled with thinking my identity was either how others saw me and I would try to live in a way I thought I should in order to be accepted by them, trying to talk and dress and act like the people I wanted to be identified by. Or I would look at others and when I saw someone I didn't want to be like I would make sure I didn't do any of the things they did so I wouldn't be identified by who they were. I was so busy struggling with my identity, trying to decide who I was, I was walking in the flesh trying to meet the world's standards of who I thought I was. A few weeks ago, my good friend Denny gave me a book called "Stop Trying", a book about finding out who we are in Christ rather than who we are busy trying to be. We are simply children of God. Our identity is in Him. A couple weeks later I was having coffee with another good friend, Neal. He had a book which he carried around to read while he was out and about, waiting for someone. I asked him what he was reading and he told me it was called "Victory Over Darkness" by Neil Anderson. He told me it was about finding your identity, imagine that. I don't think this was an accident. I believe God is trying to bring some real change in my life and help me to understand who I am and exactly what it is to be that living sacrifice that I sincerely desire to be.
There are a couple practical ways that I think also help us to be that living sacrifice. One is to learn the differences between the world's ways and God's ways by reading and studying His word. Also studying the Bible with other believers and learning together what His word is saying. A third way is by being in a solid church that, rather than being about religion, teaches about the good news of Jesus. I am so grateful to God and believe He has blessed me with all three of these things. My real desire is to be, as His child, a living sacrifice.
by Ken Edgerly