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. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind… For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them… Romans 12:1-6
A living sacrifice is something that has died, yet it is alive.
Paul’s comment in Romans 12 is the logical conclusion of his teaching in chapter 6 of the same letter: Christ died and was resurrected, and we died with him and were raised with him. We are to “reckon ourselves dead unto sin and alive unto God” (Romans 6:11.)
We are to think of ourselves as living sacrifices, in other words.
This is what the “renewal of the mind” is all about. We need to align our minds with the historical reality of our co-death and resurrection with Jesus Christ. If we do so, our lives will be transformed accordingly.
But Paul does not stop there. This new type of thinking is further elaborated on in verse 3. We many no longer think “higher of ourselves than we ought to.” The illusions of grandeur that were entertained by the old self are no longer allowed. We are now to think of ourselves “according to the measure of faith that God has assigned” to us. This measure is determined by our membership in our new family, that is, the body of Christ.
Our calling in life is not to live up to some projected image of the idealized self. Neither is it to try and eradicate the self in order to become nothing.
No, it is to understand the measure and calling of the new resurrected self, as it fits into the body of Christ, and to live according thereto.