What does Romans 12:1 mean? 8 Lessons to Learn

In this post, discover the amazing and deep meaning of Romans 12:1 by learning the powerful lessons we can derive from it.

Romans 12:1 devotional gives us a powerful insight into what it means to be a servant of God. However, a lot of Christians have missed its important and crucial message. That’s why, today, I want to discuss with you the deep meaning of Romans 12:1 by sharing with you the 8 lessons we can learn from it.

Watch what it means to be a living sacrifice

This is the deep meaning of Romans 12:1, what does it means to be a living sacrifice?

What is Romans 12:1?

Romans 12:1 tells us:

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.

Romans 12:1 is a concluding statement of what was discussed by Paul’s letter beginning in Romans 1:16. In Romans 12:1, Paul is now transitioning from his argumentative and conceptual discussion to more practical and didactic discussion.

After Paul talked about faith, righteousness, the Law, judgment, Israel, and Christ’s sacrifice for us all, he is now going to talk about what we must do in response to what was already mentioned.

This is where Romans 12:1 comes in. 

Romans 12:1 gives us an overview of what a true servant and follower of God should be.

Let us now go through the powerful lessons from Romans 12:1.

What does Romans 12:1 mean?

The 8 Lessons we can learn from Romans 12:1

  1. Be compassionate
  2. God is merciful
  3. We must be merciful
  4. Let God be your final authority
  5. Become a living sacrifice
  6. Become holy
  7. Be pleasing to God
  8. Worship God

Lesson no. 1: Be compassionate

Paul is no doubt a person of authority in God’s church. He is someone who is looked up to by some. He has been personally trained by Jesus Christ or Yahshua (Galatians 1:12). He has God’s stamp of approval and by men’s standards, he is above most people in the body of Christ (Messiah).

However, notice how Paul wrote to the brethren in Rome. He started Romans 12:1 with the words, “I beseech you therefore, brethren.”

The Greek word of “beseech” here is “parakaleo.” Thayer’s Bible Dictionary defines parakaleo as admonish, exhort, beg, entreat, appeal, console, encourage, strengthen, and comfort.

As you can see, Paul here is showing soft love to Rome. Yes, there’s a time when it’s fit to show tough love, but in Romans 12:1, Paul chose the word, “beseech” instead of “command,” “force,” or “require.” Instead, Paul is trying to comfort, encourage, and exhort the Christians in Rome through his words.

Notice what he called the church members in Rome. He called them, “Brethren.” He used an endearing term to express his desire to be in a deeper relationship with them. 

For Paul, the Roman Christians are not just his friends, but they are his spiritual family. He knows that these people have the potential to be his spiritual brothers and sisters in the family of God.

We should follow the example of Paul in Romans 12:1. We are to exhort, comfort, and encourage one another.

Most importantly, we must treat them as our brothers and sisters. We don’t see them as other groups of people, but rather, they must be treated like family.

Lesson no. 2: God is merciful

Paul wrote in Romans 12:1, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God…”

Paul here is appealing and exhorting us through the mercies of God. Paul was saying that he is NOT encouraging us through his own abilities and strength. He is NOT encouraging us through any authority existing in his day. He is NOT encouraging us through any other means.

However, he is encouraging us by the MERCIES of God. That is where our comfort should come from.

Some people, because of the trials and difficulties in their lives, can easily forget that God is merciful. Because they are going through the fiery testing of their faith, they doubt God’s mercy.

This should not be the case for us.

We must not forget how God’s mercy led Him to sacrifice His only begotten Son (John 3:16). Can you imagine sacrificing your own child for other people? That’s something every parent might not be able to do. 

Yet, God the Father did it for us!

Luke 6:36 confirmed that the Father is merciful. Hebrews 4:16 tells us that we can approach God’s throne of grace and readily obtain mercy. Notice how King David described God’s mercy:

8 The LORD is merciful and gracious,
Slow to anger, and ABOUNDING in mercy…
11 For as the heavens are high above the earth,
So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him;
12 As far as the east is from the west,
So far has He removed our transgressions from us…
17 But the mercy of the LORD is from EVERLASTING TO EVERLASTING  on those who fear Him,
And His righteousness to children’s children,
18 To such as keep His covenant,
And to those who remember His commandments to do them.
(Psalms 103:8, 11-12, 17-18)

That’s a powerful statement and testimony of God’s mercy!

Because of God’s mercy and the sacrifice of Jesus Christ (Yahshua Messiah), we don’t need to present an animal sacrifice. Our sacrifice is not all about atoning about sins because Christ did that for us.

Our sacrifice is now a form of worship, something that we do every day as the right response to God’s mercy.

Lesson no. 3: We must be merciful

Because God is merciful, we must also be merciful. And because we are merciful, we will also obtain mercy.

Yahshua or Jesus Christ said:

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. (Matthew 5:7)

Being merciful is that we stop being filled with hatred. 

Instead of cursing, we bless. 

Instead of fighting, we make peace. 

Instead of destroying, we build.

Being merciful means that we tap into the mercy of God. We try to establish our roots in God’s mercy and as a result, His mercy flows through us toward other people. 

We must be merciful to the point that people will also experience God’s mercy and eventually, this will lead them closer to the Almighty.

Lesson no. 4: Let God be your final Authority

Paul wrote in Romans 12:1:

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies…

The carnal mind will tell you that you own your body. It tells you that the source of your life is yourself. No one owns you but yourself. It’s all about yourself. Thus, no one has the right to tell you what you should or should not do.

However, Paul was saying here that we must not think that way. Instead, we must present our bodies to God. It means that we offer up our lives to Him. This is a simple and powerful recognition that God owns our lives and therefore, we must yield to His will and purpose.

Paul wrote to the Galatians:

“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).

We are all supposed to be dead already. It is Christ who should already be alive in us!

Because of God’s mercy, sacrifice, and grace, we are not to live on our own anymore. We must live by the purpose and will of the Almighty.

It is like when we ride a car, it is not us who is in the driver’s seat. God is in the driver’s seat and we are His passenger. We are to completely trust God and let Him direct our path.

In short, He is the final Authority in our lives. We are not to follow our will anymore, but the will of the Father.

Lesson no. 5: Become a living sacrifice

Now, here’s something mind-blowing. In the Old Covenant, the sacrifice is killed. Yet, Paul is telling us to become a sacrifice, not as a dead sacrifice, but a living one!

Seems contradictory, but it is a powerful illustration of what we are supposed to be as Christians.

So, many people hate to make sacrifices. They want the easy way out. They want to instantly get something without sacrificing anything.

That’s the type of world we are living in.

Yet, the Scripture tells us that our whole life should be a sacrifice. If you want to follow Christ, you are expected to go through a lot of difficulties in life. It’s never an easy calling and task.

Christ said you have to pick up your cross or stake and carry it every day (Luke 9:23). You have to carry your stake and partake of the suffering of Jesus Christ (Yahshua the Messiah).

We must realize that being a living sacrifice does not mean you suffer without any purpose. You suffer and become a sacrifice for the greater good. Sacrificing yourself should be done to achieve God’s greater purpose for you.

So, what does it mean to be a living sacrifice?

It means you offer your life to God. You offer all that you are and all that you have. You offer every part of your body for God’s glory. You use your hands, ears, eyes, legs, and yes, even your sexuality, you offer it to God.

You also offer your intellect, gift, skills, knowledge, and abilities to Him. You don’t use it for your glory, but for God’s glory.

The more you offer yourself to God, the less of yourself you offer to sin. The more you become a living sacrifice, the less you become a dead person in sin.

Lesson no. 6: Become holy

Being holy doesn’t mean that you move slowly so that you don’t hurt anyone. It doesn’t mean you have to be a priest, minister, or pope. It doesn’t mean that you can’t have fun.

Being holy means to be set apart and that’s part of Paul’s instruction in Romans 12:1:

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy

Your body shouldn’t be just a living sacrifice but also holy. Being holy means that we are set apart for a better purpose.

So, to be holy, you must separate yourself from the things of this world:

16 For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world (1 John 2:16).

We must do our best to separate ourselves from the lust of the flesh and eyes and the pride of life. Not only that, but Paul told us:

14 Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? (2 Corinthians 6:14)

Another way for us to be holy is not to learn the ways of the unbelievers. We may interact with them, but we must not let their beliefs and habits corrupt our principles and character.

Let us take seriously this admonition to be holy. Why? Because God is holy and those who follow Him must also strive to be holy:

15 “But as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:15-16)

Lesson no. 7: Be pleasing to God

The Apostle Paul continues:

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God

If you look into the Greek word of “acceptable,” it’s “euarestos.” It means to be pleasing or accepting.

What this means is that your body as a sacrifice must be acceptable to God. It is easy to provide a sacrifice, but we must be sure that it is acceptable at the same time.

You see, it is possible to give an offering that is NOT pleasing to God. Remember the story of Abel and Cain? Both Abel and Cain gave an offering to Yahweh. However, only Abel’s sacrifice was accepted.

Why? We read:

4 Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. And the LORD respected Abel and his offering, 5 but He did not respect Cain and his offering. (Genesis 4:4-5)

The problem is not just the offering of Cain. The problem lies primarily in the character of Cain. As we read, God didn’t just accept the offering of Cain, but God didn’t accept Cain himself!

So, how can we be sure that our body as an offering to God and a living sacrifice become acceptable and pleasing to God?

In I Samuel 15:22 we read: 

So Samuel said: “Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, As in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams.

For God, if you don’t obey Him, no matter how much sacrifice you make and offering you present, they will all be in vain. You need to obey and listen to God first before you can bring an acceptable offering to Him.

So, to be pleasing means to obey God and that’s part of our higher calling as Christians.

Lesson no. 8: Worship God

Romans 12:1 tells us:

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.

Because of God’s mercy, love, and grace, the Apostle Paul is telling us that the only logical, reasonable, and correct response is to present ourselves to God.

That’s the PROPER response to the overwhelming mercy and unending love of the Almighty.

It is quite interesting that the phrase “reasonable service” in this verse can also be translated, “spiritual worship.” Paul is saying that we worship God by presenting ourselves as a living, holy, and acceptable sacrifice to Him.

Remember, presenting an animal sacrifice in the Old Covenant was a form of worship. Now, in the New Testament, we worship God by transforming our lives into a living sacrifice.

Paul was saying that everything that we think, say, and do should be used to worship God. He was saying that we worship God through our life and not simply by just singing hymns and praying to Him.

In short, we worship God in everything that we do.

That’s the kind of life Christians should have!

That’s the level of worship we all must aim for.

Final words for Romans 12:1 Message

Do you now see the magnitude and deep meaning of Romans 12:1? The meaning is so profound that it should cause you and me to stop and examine ourselves whether we are seriously taking this instruction of Paul or not.

With that, I hope that the eight Romans 12:1 lessons have helped you do the will of God. It is my sincerest hope that these lessons will not just stay in your mind, but also be applied in your daily life.

So, let us all strive to present ourselves to God as a living, holy, and acceptable sacrifice.

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