Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A Living Sacrifice - Part 3

Is Your Sacrifice Holy and Pleasing?
(Please consider reading the previous posts on the subject before continuing with this one. Thank you for your indulgence.)

“…offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God-this is your spiritual act of worship.” (Romans 12:1)

“Who may ascend the hill of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to an idol or swear by what is false.” (Ps. 24:3, 4)

“How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word.” (Ps. 119:9)

“Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure.” 1 John 3:2, 3)

     In Part 1 on this topic I touched on the fact that God was very specific in laying out the laws of Israel in reference to sacrifices that would be acceptable and pleasing unto him. Under the new covenant, he is equally specific but in a different way. We are under grace and he doesn’t expel us from the family of God or judge and kill us outright if we violate this principle of a holy sacrifice (The immediate death of Ananias and Sapphire were extreme examples to the early church to set the tone of the seriousness of holy sacrifices before God). If it wasn’t for God’s grace we’d all be dead. The law was our teacher (See Part 1 and Part 2 for relative passages as well as 1 John chapter 3).

     Thank God for his grace and mercy. Thank God for Jesus, the sacrificial Lamb of God. This week we are celebrating Easter or Resurrection Day. We are celebrating what Jesus did for us on the cross and yes, every Sunday we celebrate Resurrection Sunday. However, as I’ve been reviewing this topic of God wanting us to be “living sacrifices,” God’s expectation is that EVERY day, in view of His mercy, that we pick up our cross and give our lives as living sacrifices. We are no longer our own, we were bought with a price (1 Cor. 6:19, 20), not just on Sunday or Saturday, whichever day you set aside as holy unto God. EVERY day is his and to be set aside for him. We are now sacrificing our lives daily. Every day, as the temple of God, for now he dwells in temples not made of hands but our bodies, therefore, every day is his. What was being foretold by the rituals and sacrifices of old, are now fulfilled in Christ and to be lived out every single day in our lives. God wants us to be holy and acceptable sacrifices not just on Sunday or Saturday, but every day. (Please do not take this to mean that I am advocating in any way that we need not still keep a day of rest. The new heaven and new earth has not yet come when the lion and the lamb will lie down together and we will realize the day of complete rest. Everything is still pointing to a time that is still yet to come 1 Thessalonians 4:4:13-5:11; Isaiah 11:6-11.)

     Now how can we offer ourselves as sacrifices that are holy and pleasing, for God will not accept just any sacrifice. We are encouraged to examine ourselves (2 Cor. 13:5). Some believe that they are guaranteed entrance into the kingdom of God as long as they have at one point confessed with their mouths and believed in their hearts that God raised (Christ) from the dead, (they) are saved (Romans 10:9, 10). The word of God is true. However, I recommend that you juxtapose that passage with all the other passages such as Matt. 7:21 wherein Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven“ or Hebrews 12:14, “Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.” God is not mocked. (Gal. 5:13-6:9) There are numerous scriptures that warn and instruct us on holy living which flows out of love and obedience to the Word of God – several of which I’ve already referenced in this study.

     How does your sacrifice measure up? Do you think God is pleased? Do you think based on scripture that your daily sacrifice (for the most part) honors or reverences God? After all, as Paul said, “it is our reasonable” or “spiritual act of worship.” (Romans 12:1) Are we consecrating ourselves, our sacrifice, every day through prayer and the Word of God? Are we walking in obedience to his Word and his will? Because it’s continuous, it’s a little more challenging. Because it’s living, it’s dynamic and not static. It’s easier to be religious and ritualistic in our obedience, that is, to go through the motions thereof than to engage with every part of our being via a dynamic, responsive relationship with God. What do I mean by that? As human beings we naturally develop habits- some good and some bad, but nonetheless, we are habitual creatures. Some of us do the same thing every day of our lives without thinking and hate change.

     We sit in the same pew every Sabbath or Sunday. We drive the same route to work everyday. We’re habitually early or habitually late. We have to have our coffee or tea before work… We wake up and say a couple prayers, maybe read the Bible, maybe not, depending on our habit. We pretty much say the same prayers or type of prayers daily – we have our various daily routines for during the week and different routines on the weekend. Some are good, some are not so good. We should examine ourselves in light of God’s Word and prayerfully discern which are good and godly habits that lead to spiritual and personal growth and which are not and put them before the Lord.

     It took me years to change some of my habits. For example I wanted to be able to get up at 5:00 am every morning for a time of prayer and study before I left for my office. It took me about 4-5 years before I was able to consistently do that. (I’m a late owl.) The Holy Spirit is still dealing with me years later on getting to bed by 11pm. It’s the hardest thing for me to do, even harder than it was to train myself to wake up at 5am in the morning. I had to train myself to drink more water and eat more fruit until it became a habit. I believe we go through the following conscious stages in our spiritual and personal development: 1) Awareness, 2) Decision-making, 3) Habit-forming, 4) Ritualistic or routine and 5) Building Stages.

     First, you have to become aware of what you’re doing and what needs to be done.

     Second, you have to make some prayerful decisions. Do you need to change, do you want to change and if so, what will you change and how.

     Third, is the habit forming stage – applying the “how to”. In the case of my drinking more water, I would eat something very sweet that made me want to drink water to dilute it. I hated apples, but I found I could eat them with peanut butter. After a while I didn’t need the sweets to drink the water or the peanut butter to eat the apples. Those are just a couple simple examples. It took me much longer to train my body to get up at 5am after going to bed at 12 or 1:00 am and it’s taking me what seems like a life time to work on going to bed by 11pm. (I’m a work in progress.)

     Fourth, is the ritualistic stage. After awhile some of the habits we consciously or unconsciously develop become routine. We do them automatically without much thought or emotion. Sadly, that’s how some of us treat things of the spirit, that’s how we become religious. We go through routines and rituals without engaging our minds and emotions. We jump up in the morning, and like we would pour a cup of coffee and grab a bagel as we run out the door to work, we thank God for the day or pray for a couple minutes, read a Psalm or a Proverb, a devotional book reading or anything to suffice our conscience that we read something Bible related and we’re on our way. Is this truly an acceptable sacrifice? It’s a start however.

(To be concluded in Part IV on Living Sacrifice)


  1. Hi Beverly -

    This is a potent piece with scriptural evidence.
    There is no better truth than scripture in context. Thank you for your labor of love for our Lord, and His people.

    Recently, our Lord has led me to Hebrews 12:14-KJV on more than one day. It says, "Follow peace with all men, and holiness, wthout which no man shall see the Lord."

    You expressed, "...Because it’s continuous, it’s a little more challenging. Because it’s living, it’s dynamic and not static. It’s easier to be religious and ritualistic in our obedience, that is, to go through the motions thereof than to engage with every part of our being via a dynamic, responsive relationship with God."

    Excellent, Beverly...


  2. Thank you Sandra. I truly enjoyed this study. It was education and spiritually revelational to me. As well as I knew the text of Romans 12:1,2, what the Lord showed me through this study was nothing short of revolutional to me.

    Isn't the Word of God exciting?! To God be the all the glory! The Holy Spirit is the best teacher ever! Thanks for going along for the ride with me.

    God bless you richly.