“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.”
After the Israelites crossed the Jordan River on dry land into the Promised Land, God told Joshua to circumcise all of the men. This was done in front of their enemies. The men remained still for three days healing from that circumcision. This circumcision was an act of obedience to God’s Word (see Joshua 5:1-9). One cannot help but wonder if Joshua considered what had happened to the men of Shechem (see Genesis 34). Nevertheless, Joshua obeyed God’s Word. God then allowed the Israelites to defeat the city of Jericho (see Joshua 6). “So the LORD was with Joshua; and his fame was noised throughout all the country” (Joshua 6:27). Joshua then proceeded to lead the people to conquer the land of Canaan (the land promised to Abraham and his descendants). “So Joshua took the whole land, according to all that the LORD said unto Moses; and Joshua gave it for an inheritance unto Israel according to their divisions by their tribes. And the land rested from war” (Joshua 11:23).
What does this have to do with Christians today?
Consider how this relates to a Christian and their ability to walk a conquered Christian life. First, we are to understand that the Promised Land is a picture of a Christian’s life here on earth. The crossing of the Jordan into the Promised Land, is much like a picture of one’s death, burial, and resurrection when they are saved. “Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4). Just as the Israelites were “dying” to their old life in the wilderness, they were beginning a new life in the Promised Land. One who becomes a Christian must die to their old life of sin, becoming a new creature in Christ. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
When the men were circumcised on the enemies’ side of the Jordan, obeying God’s Word, it was as if they were a “living sacrifice” before God (see Romans 12:1: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service”). This had to be done as a first act of faith before they began the conquering of the land. They had to have wondered if the enemies would come and try to defeat them in a weakened state. It was this act of faith (recognizing God’s protection before their enemies at their weakest point), that enabled them not to conform to the way the world does things. They followed God’s Word, allowing their minds to be “transformed” proving the will of God. “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:2).
This is a physical picture of what a Christian must do spiritually. A Christian must present his or her self to God, obeying God’s Word. This act of faith reveals the understanding that obedience to God’s Word is required before one can live a successful Christian life. Remember that Christians’ lives are not their own, for we have been bought with a price! “For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Corinthians 6:20). It is then that a Christian is enabled to live a life, not like the rest of the world, but different from the world! This reveals the transformation of the mind that is required to “prove” (means “by implication to approve; to allow, discern”) God’s will in one’s life. Once a Christian has discerned and allowed God’s will to guide one’s life, God will help defeat all opposition. Just as God helped Joshua as he led God’s people to conquer the Promised Land. When they failed, they sought God, and God corrected. God will do the same thing in a Christian’s life.
If Romans 12:1-2 does not happen immediately after one becomes born again, it will be almost impossible to live a successful Christian life.
Have you presented your life to God as a living sacrifice, ready to prove God’s will in your life?