Timothy Keller on Romans 12

Every good endeavor

In the Bible, the very definition of passion – think of Christ’s Passion – is to sacrifice your freedom for someone else. Romans 12 addresses this truth at a practical level. Paul starts this way: ‘I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifice’ (Romans 12:). Paul is using temple language; he’s leading us to think about a worshipper coming with an offering. But he’s not talking about a sin offering, where you’ve sinned and are now reconciling with God. Rather, he’s talking about a burnt offering, which had to be a choice animal from your flock – a strong one, without blemish. The burnt offering was offered as a way of showing your absolute commitment to God, as if to say, ‘Everything I have is yours, with no reservations.’ In other words, it was an expression of passion.

In fact, the term ‘living sacrifice’ is deliberately paradoxical because sacrifices were dead. That’s part of what it means to be a sacrifice. To say to God’s people, ‘I want you to be living slain thing,’ is meant to be a jolt; it’s a way of saying you have to continually be in the rhythm of dying to your own interests and living for God. That’s the passion God asks of you (233).

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