A Sacrifice Alive
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Romans 12:1f (Holman) …as a living sacrifice…
A sacrifice alive, a sacrifice that lives–the animal offered on an Old Testament altar could do no further service, but our offering never ceases. It is to be the continual, prevailing habit of our lives.
We present ourselves anew everyday, constantly repeating, “Here am I, send me.” Every portion of every day should be consecrated to the service of God.
The expectation is to climb up on an altar every day, and die to our own desires that we might live solely for God. The cleansing fire must never wane. We must serve Him with utter abandon.
Sacrifice, the master-word for Christian living, is an awesome term. None of us has every seen a temple sacrifice, but the first readers of Romans knew well the imagery Paul was evoking.
Sacrifice entails pain. It prepares us for the fact of a somewhat uncomfortable life. Christians must ever see themselves as dead to certain things. They have to walk away from various pleasures and leave behind certain desires. Some things have to be given up.
“Sacrifice” also sets before us the image of a body though which fire is passing. To believers, the image of fire evokes the power and purging wrought within us by the Holy Spirit.
We want power from God, but balk at the purging which must necessarily accompany it. Power surges through us only after our dross has been purged.
It is a painful, but necessary, process. The Heavenly flame must be allowed to consume our base passions.
A blacksmith can do beautiful things with iron, but it has to be heated first. It has to be made moldable. The iron must be melted to the point of being willing to be re-shaped. In the same way, God wants to remake us. He wants to mold us into a Divine form, but this requires purging fire.
For some believers this inward fire is the one thing they absolutely refuse to accept. They will not tolerate it. They want to do whatever they want to do whenever they want to do it. This is a dangerous philosophy. As Nadab and Abihu learned, playing with God’s fire can get us seriously burned. Allow God to burn within us. Divine fire is what we need.
Romans 12:1g …holy…
“Living” denotes continuity; “holy” implies completeness. Being wholly and exclusively God’s requires our remaining as free from sin as possible. God demands our all. Nothing less can satisfy Him. God’s fire comes down on whole sacrifices, not partial ones.
Romans 12:1h …and pleasing to God;…This means something in which God delights. “Living” bespoke continuity, “holiness” completeness, “pleasing to God” points to quality. God receives only the best. Old Testament sacrifices had to be the best of their kind. Anything less than the best was (and is) offensive to God.
We demonstrate our desire to please God by yielding to Him our bodies, which are our only means of contact with the world. Decisions for or against God are ultimately made in the heart, but the warfare is waged in the body. It is the front line. The battle between the heart and the world gets down to trench warfare at the body.
The body is the means whereby our desires and lusts are stimulated. Indulge it long enough, and it will become our master. Learn to say “No!” to self. Be content with what we have. Let’s learn to eat our meat with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God (Acts 2:46).
Ours is a culture bent on excessive luxury. We have an exaggerated desire for intemperance. An absorption in material pursuits drowns out spiritual desires.
Make sure spiritual concerns have a priority in our life. A German schoolmaster used to say to his body, “I go with you three times a day to eat; you must come with me three times a day to pray.” Subjugate the physical to the spiritual.
Protect yourself by guarding the body. It is the receiver of impressions from without. The body is where consecration must begin. Do not allow garbage in the first place. Guard the five senses. Refuse entrance to things unholy.
If our eye allows lustful scenes to enter, our heart will eventually succumb to temptation. If we let your ear be inundated with vile speech, eventually our tongue will be tempted to use it, also.
May God grant us an eye so pure that when it sees sin it immediately closes as if smitten in the pupil with hot iron. May our ears be as repulsed by profanity as our eardrum is by ice water. The greatest protection against sin is to be always shocked by it.
Do not compromise yourself into a position of spiritual complacency. Yield your all to the Lord. Consecrate each of the five senses. Hold nothing back.
Romans 12:1i …this is your spiritual worship.
The King James Bible translated this as “your reasonable service”. This is not an absurd request. There is nothing abnormal about expecting the creature to serve the Creator. In light of all He has bestowed upon us, we ought to live for Him gladly. Grace calls for duty, deliverance requires obedience.
A life of obedient service is the only logical response to God’s grace. Wisdom is the fear of the Lord, keeping His commandments, hating sin. Sin is folly, foolishness. It is unreasonable to refuse to yield ourselves to God.
Angels refused to yield and were cast out of Heaven. Adam and Eve refused to yield and were cast out of Eden. Cain refused to yield and was cast out into exile. Jacob refused to yield and was cast out of the home. Israel refused to yield and was cast out of Canaan. Jonah refused to yield and was cast out of a boat.
To sin against mercy is suicidal. It is the condemning sin. Abused grace eventually turns to everlasting retribution.
Be wise. Do the reasonable thing. Yield your body to Jesus. This is the very reason for your continued existence here on earth. You are to please God, to bring glory and honor unto Him. This is our ultimate purpose. Holiness of life is the supreme evidence to the world that God lives within us.
Holiness is not peripheral. It is not merely something to label what we are or to prove that we are alive in Christ. It is the reason for our existence. Apples on a tree confirm its species and prove it is alive, but a sign on the trunk could tell us the species, and leaves prove it lives. The first is more than a label or evidence of life, it is the purpose for which the tree exists. Even so your holiness is your reason to live. You must glorify your heavenly Father. Others must see Him through you.
God is infinitely good, and therefore deserves to be glorified. He should be loved with all our soul, mind, and strength. We should joyfully offer our entire services to Him as our exclusive owner. We belong to Him by the right of redemption. He has purchased us with the blood of His Son.
Be grateful for your body. It provides the means whereby we are able to sacrifice. Jesus demonstrated this truth Himself. He loved us from eternity, but to sacrifice Himself for us, He took a body. He gave His all for us. It is this prior ministry of Jesus that makes it possible for us to give ourselves to God. Jesus offered Himself as a dying sacrifice in order that we might be able to present ourselves a living sacrifice.