"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." (NKJV)
"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." (NIV)
I posted it in NIV because I loved how it put a certain part of the verse, "in view of God's mercy," now couple that with the NKJV which has mercy as "mercies" and quickly we see that the word mercy is plural. Additionally, the word mercy here in the greek is plural in the present tense, which is to say then that in view of God's current mercies. Current mercies? All of us have within ourselves a story. This story, typically called our testimony, is essentially the story of how it is you came to know Christ. Some have the more elaborate story of addictions and destruction, others have the more subtle testimony, the "vanilla" testimony as I like to call it. Whatever the case, every single one of us in Christ have a story that is ultimately His. It's a story of God's grace, a story that ultimately glorifies Him, or as Paul put it, "15 This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. 16 However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life." (1 Tim 1:15-16)
Our stories are all beautiful in their own way, because each as I said is but another example of God's grace. Some of us Peter, others Thomas (me), Paul, James, Joseph, Moses, Abraham, Joshua, Elijah, Solomon, David, each a testimony, each different, however, one central theme, His love, mercy and grace. So it's clear our pasts are stories, but what about our present? I already said that the word mercies in Romans 12:1 is one used in present tense, so then what does that mean to us? It means that our stories aren't finished. It means His mercies are renewed every morning (Lam 3:22-23). And it is in view of this fact that we ought be living sacrifices.
What mercies in the present are new? Well to start, you did wake up this morning (Psalm 3:5). As you read this post, you are breathing, you haven't died, and you most likely have a bible within arm's distance of you, a liberty few people in other countries could claim right now. What about your current sin. The bible is clear that none are good no not one, but what about post salvation, the answer is simple:
1 John 1:10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.
Ecclesiastes 7:20 For there is not a just man on earth who does good and does not sin.
However, while it is clear that even post salvation we will sin, there does come with that, a promise.
1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Isaiah 55:7 Let the wicked forsake his way, And the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let him return to the LORD, And He will have mercy on him; And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon.
We have forgiveness in Christ. God WILL pardon the one who needs pardoning and "He WILL have mercy on him." Why do I say this? Because I wan't to emphasize something that we often times forget. Our stories are never over, our testimonies are never finished. Sure we have our testimony on how we came to Christ, however, more importantly, we have our daily lives as testimonies. Our lives are packed full of His mercies. We may not always notice it, but we sin . Sometimes our sins are giant in our eyes, other times, they are subtle and don't always show themselves without further searching and surgery. Whatever the sin, whatever the case, your story isn't over. We will all stumble, we will all fall, all of us are at some point going to face trials we wish we could hide from. The Christian isn't a person who is now sinless because of Christ, however, through sanctification and spiritual growth, we will sin less.
Let's face it, we all screw up at some point or another. All of us give ourselves over to something that causes us to then feel shame, why? We are human and as humans we tend to hurt ourselves more than we know, but in comes in the beauty of Christ. Sure there are scars that often times run deeper than we wish, but His grace, His love, His mercies, they are all greater than even the deepest wound. Our stories, often times written in wounds, blood, sweat, and tears, are His, written in His blood, because of our self-inflicted wounds and while that doesn't sound like something you may want to hear, I, like Paul, hope it does in some way offend you, not because I wan't you to leave hear condemned, but because I hope it breaks you, because that what it should do, it should break you, to the point where you fall face first on the ground in complete surrender to God. In this surrender, you'll thirst, you'll hunger, you'll mourn, you'll be broken and He'll feed you, comfort you, replenish you and ultimately piece you back together the way He wants you to be pieced.
I thank God every day that He forgets my sins. The cool part about that word forget is that it isn't what we think it is. When the bible says God forgets our sins, it isn't that God forgot about it in the way we think of forget, it is that God does not hold it against us, He disregards it's existence. He knows it's there, but the price for it has been paid, the blood has been spilled, the veil has been torn, and you're reborn. Live like it. Be a living sacrifice for Him. At work, in school, at home, in your relationships, in your encounters, in your churches, your worship, your every day mundane activities that you would otherwise look over, live for Him. Place your life in the altar and live life on your knees. Often times we make our greatest blunders come when we get off our knees and try to stand on our own.
You are free in Christ. James tells us to live our lives according the the perfect law of liberty (James 2:12). This isn't a feel good post, it's a call. 1 Tim 1:11 makes it clear the gospel was trusted to Paul, and in the same way to us, don't take that lightly. Your story is being written right now, you're breathing, what story are you telling those around you with each breath?