I remember as a younger believer being exhorted to obey Romans 12:1 - and it was taught as a one-time act of dedication. You know, first you get saved, and then somewhere down the road you give yourself wholly to the Lord. These are the two main decisions that you need to make spiritually. (Obviously salvation is THE most important decision.)
But I was just thinking about that mentality - it almost brings a dangerous complacency. "Yeah, I gave my all on the altar 10 years ago (though I've since taken back some areas...)."
Rather, I think rather the exhortation is to give ourselves daily, to daily present our bodies? Not just a one-time act of dedication, but continual acts of dedication? We know other passages deal with dying daily - but what did the apostle Paul have in mind here?
The Lord certainly works through me more when I present myself to Him daily, when I seek to daily lay aside my will - rather than rely on one decision I made in the past. I do believe that the first time we do give ourselves wholly to Him is a major decision - but I do not believe it is intended to be a one-time act, but ongoing.
Like someone has so eloquently stated: "The bad thing about a living sacrifice is that it keeps getting up off the altar!"
Some other verses along this theme:
Luke 9:23-25 And He said to them all, If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for My sake, the same shall save it. For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away?
1 Corinthians 15:31 I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.
Philippians 3:10 That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death;
When I was meditating on this last verse this summer, I was really impressed with the fact that it uses a different form of the same word as Romans 12:2 - comformable. Being conformed to Christ's death, dying to sin and self daily, and having His resurrection power for daily living and service.
Romans 6:6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.
Galatians 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me.
The above verses deals with our positional stand in Christ - but one that we need to reckon and carry out in our daily lives!
Romans 6:11-13 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.
Romans 6:16-18 Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.
Jesus was the perfect example of seeking to do God the Father's will everyday:
Matthew 26:39 And He went a little further, and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, O My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me: nevertheless not as I will, but as Thou wilt.
Hebrews 10:7 Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of Me,) to do Thy will, O God.
Just like Jesus, we need to die to ourselves daily, and daily seek the Father's will. An often overlooked part of the Lord's prayer that He was teaching His disciples:
Matthew 6:9-13 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.
It is dealing with our daily bread and daily petitions, and includes seeking to do God's will daily. How many times have we prayed this prayer - or merely meditated on it - without focussing on that phrase I bolded above? We often petition the Lord for our daily needs and forgiveness, even for Him to lead us away from temptation (prevent us from wandering into it) - BUT do we really pray not only for the Lord to do His will in our lives, but plead for His grace and wisdom so that we may DO His will?
While the context of the following verse is dealing with doing right while suffering, rather than specifically seeking the Father's will or dying daily, we can glean the principle of following Jesus' example even in these areas of our lives:
1 Peter 2:21 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow His steps:
Wow, what a rich subject in the Scriptures!