Worship: The Supreme Act of Offering Ourselves to the Merciful God
This is my message yesterday for Jzone Payatas youth group. It’s about worship. I’m again thankful to their leadership for inviting me to preach God’s word, helping the people understand, that they may have joy (Nehemiah 8:12).
We hear the word worship a lot of times. We think it is a kind of music; thus, we have praise and worship songs. But that is not what worship means.
We do worship before and after the preacher gives the sermon. It’s the time we sing songs to the Lord. We may be worshipping through songs, but it’s not limited to that.
We worship every Sunday. It’s the time when we go to the local church, sing songs, listen to the preacher, and give our tithes, usually lasting 2 hours. Yes, that could be worship, but it’s also not limited to that.
What then is worship?
Worship is a broad topic, and I can say a lot of things about it. But let me just turn to Romans 12:1:
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. (Romans 12:1, NIV1984)
So what is our spiritual act of worship? It is to “offer [our] bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God.” But why are we to do that? Because we are urged to do so, “in view of God’s mercy.” This is the root of our worship.
The Root: The Mercies of God
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy…
At the beginning of the verse, we encounter the word therefore. We know that if we see this word, we must consider the preceding statements. In this case, we must consider what was written in the first eleven chapters of Romans.
Romans 1-3:20 talk about the sinfulness of humanity and God’s wrath and judgment.
21For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. (1:21)
29They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips,30slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32Though they know God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them. (1:29-32)
10…”None is righteous, no, not one; 11no one understands; no one seeks for God. 12All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” (3:10-12)
5But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed. (2:5)
8but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. 9There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek. (2:8-9)
But the following verses are amazing statements. We “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (3:23), but by faith in Jesus Christ (3:22), we are “justified by his grace as a gift” (3:24). In Jesus we have redemption (3:24). He was “put forward as a propitiation by his blood” (3:25).
We are justified, meaning, we are not declared guilty of the sins we committed. We are redeemed, meaning, we are set free from our sins. We are justified and redeemed because Christ died in our place, paying for the penalty of our sins. That’s what we call propitiation.
God is indeed merciful. Consider the following as well:
In Christ Jesus, we have peace with God:
1Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. (5:1)
In Christ Jesus, we are dead to sin but alive:
11So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. (6:11)
In Christ Jesus, we have eternal life:
23For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (6:23)
In Christ Jesus, we are no longer condemned:
1There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (8:1)
We are adopted and have become children of God:
15For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God. (8:15-16)
We know that God is working for our good:
28And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (8:28)
We are conformed to the likeness of Jesus:
29For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. (8:29)
We can’t be separated from the love of God:
38For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (8:38-39)
All these, and along with other things we have in God, are the mercies of God. This is root of our worship. We need to have a firm understanding of these so that we’ll know how to rightly respond. So how do we respond? We respond by offering our bodies, or ourselves, as living sacrifices.
The Response: The Offering of Ourselves
…to offer your bodies as living sacrifices…
Our bodies represent all our human faculties. And we are to offer it as a living sacrifice. But what is a living sacrifice? Let’s start with sacrifice.
In the Old Testament times, people would sacrifice animals in seeking forgiveness from God and restoring their relationship with Him. Symbolically, the animal took the place of the sinner, paying for the penalty of his or her sins. It also represented a life given so that another life could be saved.
Of course, it is not the animal that God wants. He wants us. He wants us to offer ourselves, with hearts broken over sin. David says in one of his Psalms:
16For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. 17The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. (Psalm 51:16-17)
In the old times, the priest would kill the animal, cut it into pieces, and offer it on the altar. Does this mean that in offering our bodies as sacrifices, we have to kill ourselves? Of course not! That’s why the apostle Paul adds the word living. We are to be living sacrifices. Worship is a lifestyle. It is a lifestyle of offering ourselves to God. It is a lifestyle of denying ourselves, taking up our crosses daily, and following Jesus (Luke 9:23). It is a lifestyle; therefore, in everything that we do, we must worship.
The Reason: The Pleasure of God
…holy and pleasing to God…
We are to offer holy bodies to God. To explain this concept, let’s go to Romans 6:12-13:
12Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. 13Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness.
A holy body is a body where sin does not reign. A holy body does not obey the body’s passions. A holy body is a body whose members—eyes, tongue, hands, feet—are presented God as “instruments for righteousness.” Are you offering your members for unrighteousness?
Anything that is holy is pleasing to God; a holy body is pleasing to God. This is the reason of our worship: To please God.
We view ourselves in light of the mercies of God. We offer our bodies as living sacrifices. We present our bodies holy. Why? Because we want to please God. Worship is all about who God is. Worship is all about what He has done, namely, His mercies. Worship is all about God; He is the reason of our worship.
Why I Call Offering Ourselves a Supreme Act?
Our lives are our greatest earthly possession. We want our lives to be comfortable, safe, and secured. It’s human nature. And offering it requires tremendous strength, will, and courage. Therefore, it is a supreme act. (Of course, we can’t offer it on our own ability; we need the help of the Holy Spirit).
And unless we offer ourselves as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing, to the merciful God, unless we do this supreme act, all our acts of worship become meaningless. All our singing, corporate worship, and other acts of worship conceivable, are in vain.
God wants us. He wants not our lip-service, or any other act of worship, but our hearts (Isaiah 29:13). He wants us to worship in spirit and in truth (John 4:23-24). He wants us to offer ourselves as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing, to Him who is merciful. This is our spiritual act of worship.