What does the living sacrifice mean in Romans 12:1?
The Old Testament counterpart of Romans 12:1 is found in the whole of chapter 1 of Leviticus: the burnt offering. This sacrifice is NOT compulsory.
Burnt means to arrest the carnal passions.
This sacrifice must be unfermented or unleavened (without sin).
It must be baked (to prevent the leaven or sin within the soul from rising).
Fine wheat flour is symbolic of refined revelations. We must chew or ruminate on divine revelations.
Split hooves speak of two Testaments, the donkey (OT) and the colt (NT).
The oil is symbolic of the anointing of the Holy Spirit.
Leviticus 11:2-3 Berean Study Bible
“Say to the Israelites, ‘Of all the beasts of the earth, you may eat any animal with split hooves and that chews the cud.
Jesus recommended that a good biblical teacher should align foundational revelations with new covenant revelations.
Matthew 13:52 (NKJV)
"Then He said to them, “Therefore every scribe (teacher) instructed concerning the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out of his treasure things new (New Testament) and old (Old Testament).”
Excerpts from Origen Adamantius "Man of Steel", Leviticus Homily 1
- Therefore, at the beginning of Leviticus, it says, "The Lord called Moses and spoke to him from the Tent of Meeting" that he should publicly announce to the sons of Israel the laws of sacrifices and offerings. It says, "If a person should bring an offering to the Lord, then he should make the offering from cattle or sheep;" that is, from lambs or goats. "But if from birds, then turtledoves or young doves."
(2) "But if' not a person but "the soul should bring an offering to God," it says, "it should offer unleavened bread baked from fine wheat flour in an oven, or at least fine wheat flour covered in a pan with oil or at least turned in oil from a small griddle."
(3) Then we are taught that nothing at all "fermented" ought to be offered at the altar of God. Neither is "honey" to be mixed with the sacrifices in any way. Rather, the entire sacrifice or offering is to be salted with salt.
(4) In the second place, it taught about "sacrifices of first-fruits" which it commands to be offered to the Lord "fresh, cooked and well cleansed.
(5) After these things, under the same classes of law concerning "salutary sacrifices," we are commanded to offer first "from calves," second, "from sheep." Among these either "lambs" or "goats," "males" or "females" may be offered. And it prescribes that besides these animals nothing is to be offered in the salutary sacrifices.
(6) But let us go back a little and see first of all what it means when it says, "If a person should present an offering as if someone other than a person could offer something. And, in any case, it should have been sufficient to say, "If any of you should bring an offering," but now it says, "If a person brings an offering"; and in the following, it says, "But if a soul presents an offering.
Farther on, in the things that come next, when the Lord now speaks to Moses a second time and commands concerning the sacrifices to be offered for sin, he speaks thus: "If the high priest sins, he will offer this and that. Or, "if the entire synagogue sins" or "if the prince sins" or "if a single soul sins, it is commanded to each and everyone what they will offer. Why therefore do we think this distinction of persons to be unimportant so that indeed one is commanded to offer under the name of "a person," another under that of "a soul," another under that of "a high priest," but another under that of "synagogue," even another under that of "a prince," or under the surname of "a single soul"?
I myself, meanwhile, in my humble understanding, think that, whom he called "a person" in this place and placed first among all for the making of a sacrifice to God, is to be understood as the whole human race and that that one is called "a person" who offers "a calf without blemish from the herd as a whole burnt offering.
(7) Moreover, see if this "calf without blemish" is not that "fatted calf' which the father, who had lost his son who "had squandered all his substance," killed for that one who had returned and was restored to him; and he made a great feast and had great joy, so that also, "the angels in heaven rejoice over one sinner who repents." This person who "had been lost and was found" since he had nothing of his own substance that he could offer for "he had squandered all things living luxuriously, found this calf which was indeed sent from heaven, but coming from the order of the patriarchs and following from the succeeding generations of Abraham.
Therefore, it did not say "calf' and stop, as if it might appear that just any calf whatever was commanded, but "a calf from bulls"; that is, one that came from the generation of the patriarchs.
(8) Moreover, it is "a male without blemish. It is truly "a male" which does not know the sin which is of female fragility. Therefore, only that "male," only he is "without blemish," who "did not sin and guile was not found in his mouth, and who "acceptable before the Lord," is offered "at the door of the tabernacle. "At the door of the tabernacle" is not inside the door but outside the door. For Jesus was outside the door, "for he came to his own and his own did not receive him. Therefore, he did not enter into that tabernacle to which he had come but "at the door of it" he was offered for a whole burnt offering since he suffered "outside the camp.
(2) I myself think that the priest who removes the hide "of the calf' offered as "a whole burnt offering" and pulls away the skin with which its limbs are covered is the one who removes the veil of the letter from the word of God and uncovers its interior parts which are members of spiritual understanding. He does not put these members of the Word which are known inwardly in some base place but in a high and holy one, that is, he places it "upon the altar" when he explains the divine mysteries not for unworthy men who are leading a base and earthly life but to those who are the altar of God, in whom the divine fire always burns and the flesh is always consumed.
(3) Upon such as these, the "calf of the whole burnt offering" which was divided limb by limb is placed. For he divides "the calf limb by limb" who can explain in order and speak with proper distinction what advantage there was "to touch the hem" of Christ; "to have washed his feet with tears and to have wiped them clean with the hairs of her head; and how much more (an advantage) it should be "to have anointed his head with ointment"; but also "to have reclined on his breast which has preeminence. Therefore, to discuss the causes of these individual things and to accommodate some, indeed, to those who are beginning; some to those who now are progressing in the faith of Christ; and some to those who are already perfect in his knowledge and love-this is "to have divided the calf limb by limb."
(4) But also he knows how to show what the principles of the Law were, what progress was added in the Prophets but what completion is found in the fullness of the Gospels; or who can teach with what "milk" of the word "the little children in Christ are to be fed," and with what food those "who are weakened in the faith" must be restored, and even what is the "solid and strong food, with which the athletes of Christ must be "made fat"; he who knows how to separate such diverse things with spiritual reason, such a teacher can be seen as the priest who "places the whole burnt offering that was divided limb by limb upon the altar."
(5) And he who adds "firewood on the altar by which the fire is lighted and burns, is the one whose word treats not only the bodily virtues of Christ but also his divinity. For the divinity of Christ is from above by which this fire is inflamed. Suitably, therefore, the heavenly fire consumed all these things which were done in the body by the Saviour and restored all things to the nature of his divinity. However, this fire is kindled by the wood that is brought to it; for the suffering of Christ in the flesh was right up to the "wood." For when he was suspended on the wood, the dispensation of the flesh was finished; rising from the dead, he ascended to heaven where again his fiery nature is evident. And from this place, the Apostle said, "Even if we have known Christ according to the flesh, now we no longer know him thus. For indeed, the whole burnt offering of his flesh which was offered through the wood of the cross united the earthly with the heavenly, the human with the divine.
(6) The word of instruction commands "the inner parts together with the feet to be washed with water, announcing the sacrament of baptism by a figurative prophecy. For he who cleanses his conscience washes "the internal parts"; he washes his feet who receive the fullness of the sacrament and knows that "whoever is clean needs nothing except to wash his feet, and that "no one is able to have a part with Jesus unless he shall have washed his feet.
5. But if you wish to understand these things in the moral sense, then you have "a calf' which you ought to offer. The "calf' is your flesh and it is indeed exceedingly proud. If you wish to present it as an offering to the Lord, then you keep it spotless and pure, bring it "to the door of the Tent," that is, where it can hear the divine books. Your offering should be "a male." It should not know a female; it should avoid concupiscence; it should shun weakness. It should require nothing dissolute or perverted. And also, "place your hand upon your offering" that it may be acceptable to the Lord.
Kill it "before the Lord, that is, place a bridle of continence on it and do not remove the hand of discipline from it just as that one placed the hand on his own flesh, that one who said, "I torture my body and subject it to slavery lest, perchance, when 1 have preached to others, 1 should myself become reprobate. And kill it "before the Lord" mortifying without wavering your "limbs" "which are upon the earth. And "the sons of Aaron the priest" should offer its blood. The priest and his sons are in you the mind which is also its understanding in you who are rightly called a priest and "sons of a priest," for they are the only ones who perceive God and are capable of the knowledge of God. Therefore, the divine word desires that you offer your flesh to God in purity with reasonable understanding, as the Apostle says, "A living offering, holy, pleasing to God, your reasonable service. To offer blood on the altar through the priest or the sons of the priest is to be made pure both in body and spirit.
(2) For there are also others who offer their flesh as a whole burnt offering but not through the ministry of the priest. They offer neither knowingly nor according to the Law which is in the mouth of the priest. They are indeed pure in body but are found to be impure in spirit. For either they are defiled with the concupiscence of human glory, or they are polluted with the lust of greed, or they grow filthy by the misfortune of jealousy and malice, or they are tormented by being mad with hatred and with an excess of rage. It is possible for such to be pure in body. Yet, they do not offer their whole burnt offerings through the hands and ministry of the priest. For they do not have in them the counsel and the prudence with which to perform the priestly function in the presence of God. They are like those "five foolish virgins" who certainly were kept virgins and had the purity of body. But they did not know how to store up the "oil" of charity and peace and the remaining virtues "in their vases"; and therefore they were excluded from the marriage chamber of the bridegroom. Hence, the continence of the flesh alone is not able to reach the altar of the Lord if it is lacking the remaining virtues and the priestly ministry.
(3) And therefore, we who read or hear these things should attend to both parts to be pure in body, upright in mind, pure in heart, reformed in our habits. We should strive to make progress in deeds, be vigilant in knowledge, faith, and actions, and be perfect in deeds and understanding in order that we may be worthy to be conformed to the likeness of Christ's offering, through our Lord Jesus Christ himself, through whom to God the Almighty Father with the Holy Spirit be "glory and power forever and ever. Amen.