“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service.” (Romans 12:1 ASV).
God is a Sovereign or Supreme Ruler. He is also a Gentle and Loving Father. Under this present dispensation of grace, God is not compelling anyone to love, obey, worship or serve Him, or to surrender and submit to His authority. But, at the end of this dispensation of grace, God will completely crush and subdue every rebellion against His authority, and every knee will bow to God.
The Scripture states, “For it is written: “As I live, says the LORD, every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” (Rom. 14:11 NKJV).
“Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power.” (1 Cor. 15:24 NKJV).
As a Loving Father, God does not want any of His children to love, obey, worship or serve Him impulsively, forcefully, or grudgingly. The Scripture prohibits and warns against serving God grudgingly or reluctantly, without joy and gladness of heart.
Under the Old Covenant, serving God grudgingly or half-heartedly always attracts a curse.
The Scripture states in Deuteronomy 28:
47 “Because you did not serve the LORD your God with joy and gladness of heart, for the abundance of everything,
48 “therefore you shall serve your enemies, whom the LORD will send against you, in hunger, in thirst, in nakedness, and in need of everything; and He will put a yoke of iron on your neck until He has destroyed you. (NKJV).
“Let him be cursed who does the Lord’s work half-heartedly…” (Jer. 48:10 BBE).
When God commanded Moses to build Him a Sanctuary in the wilderness so that He may dwell among the children of Israel, God specifically instructed Moses, saying, “Speak to the children of Israel, that they bring Me an offering. From everyone who gives it willingly with his heart you shall take My offering.” (Exo. 25:2 NKJV).
Unfortunately, many servants of God today only care about what the people give or bring as an offering, but not about how they give or present it to God. While God’s emphasis is on bringing your offering willingly with a cheerful heart, however, the emphasis of greedy and carnal servants of God today is mainly on bringing your rich, fat or robust offerings to them regardless of your disposition.
Salvation is purely the gift of God. It is not the wages of your good works. You can never love, obey, worship or serve God well enough to earn, merit or deserve God’s love, acceptance, favour, or blessing.
The Scripture clearly states, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” (Eph. 2:8-9 NKJV).
You can never be justified before God by your good works or performance. Faith in your self-righteousness, good performance, or religious works cannot secure for you a loving, intimate and eternal relationship with God. It is only by faith in the person and finished work of Jesus Christ that you can be justified and saved.
Paul testifies, “knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.” (Gal. 2:16 NKJV).
While it is absolutely true that salvation is purely the gift of God, yet good works are a primary evidence or fruit of salvation. While we are saved by faith in Jesus Christ and not by our works, yet saving faith is never alone. The Scripture plainly testifies that faith without works is dead, useless, or unprofitable.
“Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. (Jam. 2:17 NKJV).
“For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” (Jam. 2:26 NKJV).
Therefore, it is a contradiction to claim to be saved by faith in Jesus Christ and yet without any desire for good works or without bearing the fruit of good works. The new creation in Christ is created for good works. It is the nature of the new creation to do good works – to love, obey, worship and serve God.
It is a contradiction in terms to be a born again believer and not do good works.
The Scripture states that Jesus Christ “gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.” (Titus 2:14 NKJV).
The born-again believers are created in Christ for good works.
The Scripture reveals, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” (Eph. 2:10 NKJV).
Apostle Paul writes, “This is a faithful saying, and these things I want you to affirm constantly, that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men.” (Tit. 3:8 NKJV).
“And let our people also learn to maintain good works, to meet urgent needs, that they may not be unfruitful.” (Tit. 3:14 NKJV).
Having become justified and regenerated by faith in the person and finished work of Jesus Christ, it is expected of you to gladly seek to love, obey, worship and serve the Lord Jesus and to become zealous for good works. This is what the Scripture refers to as your “spiritual or reasonable service.
Paul admonishes, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service.” (Rom. 12:1 ASV).
“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.” (Rom. 12:1 NKJV).
Having been redeemed from the slavery of Sin and Satan by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross, it is your spiritual and reasonable service to present, devote, or offer yourself to the Lord Jesus Christ as a living sacrifice.
Any believer in Christ who continues to live for himself is simply a carnal, unreasonable, insensible or unintelligent person.
The early Disciples of Christ cheerfully and wholeheartedly devoted themselves and their resources to Christ and His Kingdom because they were able to reason well.
Apostle Paul reasoned thus and said in 2 Corinthians 5:
14 For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died;
15 and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again. (NKJV).
Beloved, as a born-again believer, your love, obedience, worship or service to the Lord Jesus should no longer be a mere religious obligation or duty, but a loving, grateful or thankful response to the pure, selfless, and unconditional love which Jesus Christ demonstrated towards you by willingly offering Himself as an atoning sacrifice for your sins on the cross (John 10:17-18, 1 John 4:9-10).
Discover the basic nature of a spiritual or reasonable service in second part of this piece!
Prayer: My Dear Lord Jesus, thank You for redeeming me by Your precious blood. In loving response to Your pure, selfless and unconditional love for me, I consecrate today my whole life willingly, cheerfully, wholeheartedly and continually to You, in Jesus’ name. Amen.