Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:1-2)
What is Paul urging or pleading with us to do? Offer up our bodies as living sacrifices. Now most of you reading this are very familiar with this passage of scripture. You can recite it; it easily rolls of your tongues. But practically, how many of you can say you continually, day in and day out, offer up your bodies as living sacrifices? This is also what Paul is addressing in Philippians 2:12, “Therefore… continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling.”
So back to the plea of being living sacrifices. The obvious picture is that of Christ, and that is the example that Paul was referring to. However, I’d like to work my way back up to that picture. I want to go a little further back to Abraham and Isaac first, then hopefully take a look at the sacrificial laws and rituals of the Torah to the ultimate sacrifice of The Lamb of God – Jesus Christ and end with our sacrifice. I will be using “offering” and “sacrifice” interchangeably.
Presenting offerings go back to the beginning when Adam and Eve’s sons (Cain and Abel) brought first fruit offerings unto the Lord in Genesis chapter 4. So pretty much from the dawn of time, sacrifices have been offered to God in thanksgiving and worship. Let’s fast forward to the command God gave Abraham to sacrifice his son of promise on an altar to God. God did not normally accept “human” sacrifices, in fact as will see throughout the Old Covenant, human sacrifices were denounced by God. Yet, he uncharacteristically commanded Abraham to offer up the son God promised him, Isaac, as sacrificial offering; “Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about” (Gen. 22:2). This was highly uncharacteristic of God, but I think it noteworthy to reflect on the preceding verse which reads, “Some time later God tested Abraham…” It was a test to see who came first in Abraham’s life, the gift or the giver of the gift. (The message of the how God tests to see which comes first in our lives, the Giver of the gift or the gift itself will be further explored later on in this study.)
The command to offer up Isaac was a special command and a typology of Christ. In obedience and without hesitation, Abraham obeyed God. He gave God his heart through his son, no questions asked. Paul, in Romans chapter 4:22-25 says, “This is why ‘it was credited to him as righteousness.’ The words, ‘it was credited to him (Abraham)’ were written not for him alone, but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness – for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.”