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. (Romans 12:1a)
Sacrifice requires the surrender of our life and thus control of it. What impressions we allow to be made upon our senses, the indulgences we grant our appetites, the satisfactions we seek for our needs, and the activities we engage in through this fearfully and wonderfully made instrument must now be controlled according to God's standards. Apostle Paul writes,
"He who sows to his flesh will . . . reap corruption" (Galatians 6:8),
as well as,
"I discipline my body and bring it into subjection" (I Corinthians 9:27).
When viewed carnally, self-control—especially when linked with self-denial and self-sacrifice—seems to be essentially negative. However, when confronted with a true understanding of what human nature produces, we can see that the fruit of self-control is entirely positive.
Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified. I Corinthians 9:24-27
Jesus says: "
Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness" (Matthew 6:33).
Here, the issue is single-mindedness. James writes,
"He who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. . . .
He is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways" (James 1:6, 8).
Controlling our focus can go a long way toward making the run successful. Apostle Paul then says the victorious runner sets Christians an example of rigid self-control:
"Everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things." (1 Corinthians 9:25)
It is not only a matter of concentrating while he is racing, but in all areas of life because his whole life impacts on the race. The runner religiously follows a rigorous program within a rigid schedule each day: He rises at a certain hour, eats a breakfast of certain foods, fills his morning with exercises and works on his technique. After a planned lunch, he continues training, eats a third planned meal and goes to bed at a specified hour. Throughout, he not only avoids sensuous indulgences, he must also abstain from many perfectly legitimate things that simply do not fit into his program. An athlete who is serious about excelling in his chosen sport must live this way, or he will not succeed except against inferior competitors. He will suffer defeat by those who do follow them.
Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us. (Hebrews 12:1)
Narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it" (Matthew 7:14)
Apostle Paul writes:
"You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier" (II Timothy 2:3-4)
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (Romans 12:1-2)
By this, Apostle Paul demonstrates that Christian living is inseparably bound to belief in God's truth. Faith without works is dead, and works without the correct belief system is vanity. Wrong thinking cannot lead to right doing. Thus, outwardly and inwardly he will be on his way toward God's will for human conduct. All the virtues produced from this change will begin to grow and manifest themselves in his life.