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The Bible Teacher's Commentary

Paul J. Bucknell

The Bible Teacher's Commentary

Romans 12:1-2

Living on the Altar

Romans 12:1-8 Bible Study Questions
Introduction Romans 1-3:20: Read |Audio mp3 | Video
Introduction Romans 3:21-8: Read | Audio mp3 | Video
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Living on the Altar is an exposition on Romans 12:1-2. In light of His great mercy and grace (Romans 11:33-36), we want to open wide our hearts to such a magnificent and compassionate God. In order to seek His full blessing, and live out God’s holy will, there lie before us three things.

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Romans 12:1-2

In contrast the hardening of the Israelites to the Word of God (chapters 9-11), we want to seek and follow the Lord. Dedication ROmans 12:1-2In light of His great mercy and grace (11:33-36), we want to open wide our hearts to such a magnificent and compassionate God. In order to seek His full blessing and live out God’s holy will, three things lay before us.

“I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship."

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:1-2).

  1. Dedicated - be a living sacrifice. (Romans 12:1)

  2. Turn away - do not be conformed to the world, (Romans 12:2)

  3. Meditative - Renewing the mind; constant transformation of our thoughts by the Word of God. (Romans 12:2)

These meditations are only on part 1, the dedication of our lives.

Romans 12:1 Renew Your Mind

By the mercies of God

When we come before Him on that altar, we come not in self confidence but in the mercy of God. We cannot think that we would like to go and consecrate ourselves on that altar because it seems a rather good thing to do. Presumption before God even to do holy work and activity is sin.

Only God’s mercy brings us sufficiently humbly before His throne so that we do not suggest the things we will do for Him, but simply offer our lives in service.

commentary on the Book of Romans

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May we forever put aside the qualifications we put on our service and time and persistently reject placing demands on the conditions of our service.

Either we live in total dedication, or we are feeding our flesh. It is sin to say ‘no’ to His command as well as to presume we are not able to do something He wishes under His almighty empowering. God’s mercy enables we sinners to come to His altar lest we be singed as we touch it.

There is unequivocally no better place to be than on the altar of God. Consecrated, committed and content. Indeed it is only by God’s amazing love and grace that we could ever, for even a slight moment, present ourselves as a consecrated offering. And only God’s consistent, powerful and overwhelming grace keeps us there on that altar in service to His great Name.

To present

Some pretend that their decision is not involved in consecration. God is sovereign. But this is only another shade of our pride.Obedience to His commands require a resolve of our wills. We must respond either in the affirmative or the negative. We must be willing to go or to stay. In this case the command is demanding us to present our bodies as a living and holy sacrifice to God. We will respond by saying “yes” or “no.” We will either commit ourselves or not.

As for me, I find myself, if not once many times a day, presenting myself as a sacrifice on His altar. There is no greater place to be than in harmony with the person and will of God. To think or ignore the fact that it requires our will would be foolish.

Instead, in light of the mercy of God, we humbly present our bodies before Him. We give to Him what He desires to shape and use. The pot offers itself back to the potter. I present myself to my Master by my own will to serve Him as He desires.

My strength in service derives from the clarity I have by which I commit myself to Him and the persistence I use in fulfilling the tasks He sets me to. As I present myself to my Master, I see myself as a wrapped gift lifted up through God’s grace to the Lord who needs nothing but desires my heart.

Your bodies

We perhaps are quite surprised that it is our bodies which we are to offer to our Lord. We have failed in so many ways because of the inclinations of our bodies, and yet it is our bodies that the Lord wants presented to Himself. Some give up on their bodies as being wholly unholy.

As a result they reject this world and live out a monastic life, rejecting what has to do with the body. They emphasize the spiritual; this was the Gnostic’s problem.

He is unwilling for us to give up on the body. He redeemed it and therefore asks that we dedicate it to His service. What used to say profane things is now to say nice things. What once the hand struck now that same hand is used to help someone. The Lord wants control over our bodies. He wants to use them like they should be used.

The application is so apparent. I must use my mouth, my voice, my eyes, my hands, my feet, my mind to glorify God. I am not to think that the Lord will use me apart from my body but with my body. No wonder that the Lord requires godliness before we serve. Our bodies have to be constrained by His will if we would serve our mighty King.

Living and holy sacrifice

The sacrifice quickly reminds us where we are to present ourselves. A sacrifice needs an altar. An altar needs a sacrifice, a dedicated and offered up object that through some means pacifies or pleases the one who owns the altar. Once sacrificed, the object no longer belongs to the to the who made the offering. spiritual sacrificesThe ownership transfers from his hands into the owner of the altar. When we offer up our bodies to the Lord, we instantly lose our bodies. They become the possession of another.

“For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.” (2 Corinthians 4:11).

In this case we see that the offering is both “living and holy.” The “living” sense encourages us to remember that when we offer up ourselves, we must not first have our life taken from our bodies. He wants us now while we live. He wants them alive so that He can use them the way He sees fit.

This idea of sacrificing a living object points to the heart and mind of man which subjects itself to the mighty will of God. The “holy” sacrifice reminds us that our bodies are to live in a manner that portrays the glory of God.

He is holy and we are to be like Him. The sacrifice must be both “living and holy.” The Lord wants to consume us while we are alive. All this powerfully speaks of the merciful way God redeems us for His own purpose. Holiness refers to the absolute penetration of God’s plan and purpose into our own lives.

I am the Lord’s. Being the very nature that I am alive as I sacrifice myself to the Lord, I find that I must daily dedicate myself to my Master and let Him always and in any way rule my life.

Acceptable to God

When we think of our bodies, we think of those things that are not pleasing to God. We have sinned with our bodies including our mouths, hands and feet. Our faces turn sour when we do not get our own wills. But now, our bodies are dedicated to another purpose and that is to do the will of God.

We are to please Him. That which has done many unpleasing things now becomes a vessel for pleasing God. These very acts of our body, once dedicated to the Lord’s purpose, become instruments of praise. We must not think God only wants our minds and hearts. He wants our bodies and to make our bodies as honored vessels to serve Him.


I thank you Lord from the bottom of my heart that you were able and willing to change me. I know my old selfish person and marvel at your hand of change over my life. I am dedicated to using my body to glorify you today and each moment of my remaining minutes straight into eternity. It is my highest pleasure to please you with my body.

Your Spiritual service of worship

We are surprised when we find that He can fill us and use our bodies to please Him. This point is equally astounding. Our bodies when dedicated to the Lord and to His service become a spiritual act of service.

Romans 12:1-2 - Life lessons for the New Believer

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This service in turns becomes an act of worship. This reminds me of Jesus’ words, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” (John 14:15). Love is far more than a feeling. Genuine love commands our whole attention.

We can be confident of our worship when we are obeying His commands with our physical bodies. We, for an example, act as a servant helping and caring for others.

Our bodies then conform to the purpose and will of the almighty God and these acts become worship. We must understand that worship occurs not only when we gather together praising Him but when we constrain our bodies to do what He says.


As for me, I have dedicated myself to do all of God’s will all of the time. Waking up with the baby or tenderly caring for my wife are acts of worship as much as leading songs at a worship service. May God fill me with His Spirit that all the more I may command my body to do all His will.

Romans 12:2 continues on speaking about the reason God has so called us to serve Him. We are to prove or test His will (Romans 12:2). God wants to use us as His instrument in completing His good, acceptable and perfect will. Praise God!

Continue on to Romans 12:1-8 Bible study questions or | Handout or | Roman's index

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