I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
This idea of the living sacrifice creates a different question regarding death. Jesus showed us the example of what it means to live according to the will and plan of another. He spoke on multiple occasions regarding his desire to follow only the will of his Father in heaven. His prayer in the garden of Gethsemane solidified this picture for us. While it might have been his desire to fulfill his Father’s plan any other way, He still yielded to the Father’s will regarding the method used to accomplish that plan. [Mt. 26:39] He lived his life as one dead to self, and He calls us to do the same thing. In many ways, this is a much more difficult kind of death to handle.
Physical death takes us from this order of things to another. If death is the result of martyrdom, it is a last act of obedience. Once the body dies, nothing more is required of us. That death brings us to the perfection through resurrection which is our hope. Dying to self while still living, on the other hand, comes with the challenge of remaining in this state of imperfection. This is a death that happens not once but daily. To die to self is to yield not only the body but the mind and more. To be living sacrifices requires continual and repeated relinquishing of the things we are taught are inherently ours. Our bodies, our minds, our emotions, our everything is to be submitted in the face of every temptation to do otherwise.
When God requests our life, He is requesting our death. The options are to live for him or live for self. If we live for self, we are dead to him. If we die to self, then we are alive in him. Jesus died to give us life, but that life is ours only through our death. This death by sacrificial living is nothing if not challenging because of the continued temptation to live for self once more. We face that temptation daily, and we must rise to the challenge daily. Life for the Christian is not about living until we die. It is about dying while we live. Father, help us to live as true living sacrifices, yielding to You and your will as your Son yielded.