"... Christ also has loved us
and given Himself for us an offering
and a sacrifice to God," Ephesians 5'2.
One sacrifice is above all the other sacrifices that have ever been or ever will be. By the giving of Himself the Lord Jesus Christ put the New Covenant into place and established the present Kingdom of God.
It is the only sacrifice that has the power to make eternal difference to earthly human beings. The Lord showed, and taught, that acts of sacrifice include the offering of one's own self or some thing or things that belong to oneself.
As Peter says:
"For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps," 1 Peter 2'21.
Believers live in the centre of God's awesome love because of Him. Paul talked gratefully of Jesus as "the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me," Galatians 2'20.
The apostle John expressed grateful praise for the powerful understandings that resulted from the Lord's sacrifice:
"To Him who loved us
and washed us from our sins in His own blood,
and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father,
to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever.
Amen." Revelation 1'5-6.
A PARTICULAR SACRIFICE
There is a sacrifice that God calls for. And His expectation is that men lead the way in offering it:
"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God,
that you present your bodies a living sacrifice,
holy, acceptable to God,
which is your reasonable service.
And do not be conformed to this world,
but be transformed by the renewing of your mind,
that you may prove what is that good and acceptable
and perfect will of God,"
This appeal is made "by the mercies of God". Mercy is at the heart of the grace of God by which Believers can be sure that sacrifices offered in Jesus' name will be accepted.
This sacrifice of presenting one's body to God and its bodily activities means practising the understandings that are symbolised by immersion in water.
Some of these great immersional understandings are set out Romans 6'3-14. The Believer's whole body disappearing in total immersion signifies the total death and burial of the old nature that was unacceptable to God.
That done, the Believer is lifted up out of the water by another Believer. The symbolism is that, by the Holy Spirit, a Believer emerges from the new birth renewed to begin living in newness of life.
And there's always great blessing in being reminded of the understandings:
"... do you not know that as many of us as were immersed into Christ Jesus were immersed into His death?
Therefore we were buried with Him through immersion into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection,
knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.
For he who has died has been freed from sin.
Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him,
knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him.
For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.
Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts.
And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.
For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace".
Believers are privileged to have these Kingdom understandings to activated in our daily lives.
Where do Believers make this once in a lifetime sacrifice of presenting their bodies to God? Where does a Believer go to their heavenly Father to offer Him this sacrifice?
Jesus said: "... when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place," Matthew 6'6.
Also Paul said: "For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ," Ephesians 3'14.
Take time. Meditate on Romans 12'1-2. Talk with your heavenly Father and tell Him you want to do His will. Present the members of your body to Him in Jesus' name.
And then walk in the newness of Christ and the Kingdom every day.
Believers are are encouraged to offer spiritual sacrifices daily:
" ... as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious,
Coming to him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious".
"... you also, as living stones,
are being built up a spiritual house,
a holy priesthood,
to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ".
Saints make these sacrifices in the knowledge of what we are in Christ and what these sacrifices are for:
"... you are a chosen generation,
a royal priesthood,
a holy nation,
His own special people,
that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you
out of darkness into His marvellous light," 1 Peter 2'2-5,9.
Whether among Believers or unbelievers God encourages His People to offer up sacrifices. As with many of the things of God, the doing of them seems to activate the Lord's promise: "give and it shall be given to you".
In the challenges of living in the world Believers can know that "If God be for us who can be against us" (Romans 8'31). Such assurance from the Spirit lifts Believers to offer sacrifices to the Lord joyfully every day.
After revealing what Christ had done for them, the writer to the Hebrew Believers encourages them, and us (13'15,16,20-21):
"Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God,
that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name."
"But do not forget to do good and to share,
for with such sacrifices God is well pleased."
"Now may the God of peace
who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead,
that great Shepherd of the sheep,
through the blood of the everlasting covenant,
make you complete in every good work to do His will,
working in you what is well pleasing in His sight,
through Jesus Christ,
to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen."
Prayer. Heavenly Father, thank you for the all-sufficient sacrifice of your Son. And for the great privilege of being able to offer you spiritual sacrifices.
And thank you, too, for the gracious power of the Holy Spirit in assisting Believers to have new dispositions to renew their minds and live transformed Christ-like lives.
In Jesus' name. Amen.