Sacrifices for Today|
Under the Old Law of Moses, Israel was occupied with continual sacrifices for sins, but Christ ended the need for those sacrifices when He died on the cross. Consider Hebrews 10:11-14:
Unlike the insufficient sacrifices under the Old Law, Christ's single sacrifice was effective to take away sins for all. "Once for all" is the theme concerning Christ's sacrifice throughout the ninth and tenth chapters of Hebrews (Heb. 9:12, 26-28; 10:10, 12, 14). Thank God for this blessed act of love, mercy, and grace!
Because of Christ's fully atoning sacrifice, Christians have no need to offer sacrifices for sins, but this does not mean that there are no sacrifices for us to make. In Romans 12:1, Paul wrote, "Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship." Most of the sacrifices of the Old Law and Christ's own sacrifice were characterized by bloodshed and death, but now the Lord calls upon us to make living sacrifices. Moreover, 1Peter 2:5 says that Christians "as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ." Again, we see a contrast between the Old Law's sacrifices and those required of us now, for the former sacrifices were physical and material in nature, but our sacrifices are to be spiritual.
What are the living, spiritual sacrifices of a Christian? For an answer, consider Hebrews 13:15-16:
Praise to God and thanksgiving are sacrifices that every Christian can make every day and in every place. These can take the form of prayers, songs, or ordinary spoken words. "The fruit of the lips" makes the mouth and tongue instruments for offerings, and those instruments and their offerings should be holy and acceptable to God. Prayer in particular is described in the likeness of incense to be offered on the altar of God (Ps. 141:2; Rev. 5:8; 8:3-4).
Doing good and sharing are also living, spiritual sacrifices for Christians that please God. These can take many forms and are exemplified by people such as Barnabas (Acts 4:36-37), Dorcas (Acts 9:36, 39), and the Christians of Macedonia (2Cor. 8:1-5). This sacrifice is not merely a matter of giving material possessions, but it even more so requires us to help others bear their burdens in the likeness of the good Samaritan (Luke 10:29-37). In Galatians 6:10, we are told, "So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith."
Such sacrifices are worthy offerings, for there is great value in them. A living sacrifice is a gift of effort, time, thought, possessions, and self. Christians should offer sacrifices with the attitude shown by David, who recognized that sacrifices must incur cost to the giver. When Araunah offered to give David the items for his sacrifice, David said, "No, but I will surely buy it from you for a price, for I will not offer burnt offerings to the LORD my God which cost me nothing" (2Sam. 24:24). David paid Araunah for the necessary items and thus made his sacrifice of value to him.
Indeed, sacrifices that cost nothing are worth nothing, and they are hardly sacrifices at all. If we offer only that which is leftover -- spare time, spare money, spare effort, useless items -- then it is tantamount to the Jews offering the sick, blind, and lame for their sacrifices. These were unacceptable, and God considered it robbery (Mal. 3:8). Notice Malachi 1:8:
Likewise, if we offer to God that which we would not give to our families, friends, employers, or governments, then we have robbed Him.
Therefore, let us resolve to present our bodies as living, spiritual sacrifices to God. These sacrifices are not offered in atonement for our sin, for Jesus has already taken away sin by His own sacrifice once for all. Rather, these sacrifices are our spiritual service of worship. We owe it to God to continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name, and to do good and share in the name of Jesus. Such costly sacrifices are valuable to us as givers, and God accepts them as faithful offerings. By making such sacrifices, we bring glory and honor to God and make ourselves to be useful servants to Him.
Stacey E. Durham
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