“Present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God,
which is your spiritual worship.”
The word “worship” comes from the Saxon word “weorthscype” which later transitioned into “worthship”. I think this is an excellent way to view the act of worship overall. It is ascribing the proper worth to God. We worship God because he is immensely worthy of all praise. “Worship” in Greek is “proskyneo.” The first definition given at blueletterbible.org is “to kiss the hand…in token of reverence.” This reminds me of Psalm 2:12: “Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled.” Jesus, the Son, is to be worshipped. If your life does not exist for this purpose, you will perish under his wrath.
This leads well into Romans 12:1: “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.” What is our “spiritual worship”? To give our whole bodies as a living sacrifice to God. Why does this make sense? We know there is a reason given because Paul uses the word “therefore”. So we must look back to what he is referring to. I would assert that Paul is referring to everything he has already written in this letter to the Roman Church, for us that is Chapters 1 – 11. In these, Paul laid out the wickedness of humankind, the wrath of God against unrighteousness, the gift of grace from God, the means of salvation through faith in Jesus alone, the freedom we have in the Spirit, God’s everlasting love for us, and God’s perfect sovereignty (in a nutshell, the gospel).
What do we do with this knowledge? We do Romans 12:1. It is the ONLY reasonable response to what God has done (see also KJV and ESV footnote). We give our entire selves over to Christ. We surrender everything to him because he has purchased us. We don’t kill animal flesh in sacrifice; we kill our own flesh and live for Christ. That is worship and it is the only logical response to the work of Jesus.
In light of this we should understand how all-consuming and life-saturating worship should be. It is not an activity we engage in for a few songs on a Sunday morning or when the mood hits us. It is how we should live every moment, giving ourselves over to God’s will and not our own. In this way worship is a unique discipline, it is both a means and an end in itself. All the disciplines we engage in (prayer, Bible reading, good works, using our gifts) will lead us to more worship of God. Yet, when we discipline ourselves to worship properly, it will also increase our godliness.
Who worshiped God perfectly? God himself in the man of Jesus Christ. As Jesus said, “But the hour is coming and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.” John 4:23. Keeping it simple, to worship “in spirit” means that we are to worship everywhere, we are no longer confined to worship only in Jerusalem at the temple. To worship God “in truth” means we must know God and have a right understanding of who he is. Worship should not be done in naivety or ignorance, but should flow forth from a heart and mind well informed about the focus of our praise. That being Jesus Christ our Lord. True worship occurs from the inside to the outside.
Once again, all of this steers us directly to God’s Word, as everything should. You must read and study the Bible so that you know who it is you are worshiping. As your understanding of God and his ways increases, your worship of him will too. When you find your worship lacking, whether on your own, with your family or within a congregation, it will be because your understanding of God is lacking. Dive in to his Word and refresh your soul there.
Ladies, sincere worship does not happen by accident or just when a good song comes on the radio. True worship occurs when we have a right understanding of God and a Spirit-born desire to give our entire selves over to him. Worship should be the lifestyle of every Christian, displayed in all that we do and say. Take some time to examine yourself in this area and then begin to work at cultivating a life of true worship. Our God is worthy.