Summary: The "what, how and why" of the living sacrifice God expects from His people.
A Living Sacrifice Rom. 12:1, 2
INTRO.: God expects sacrifice where sin is involved and men have always felt some price is required when they commit a wrong. So, most religions, even those dreamed up by men require some kind of sacrifice as an expression of sorrow and repentance for sin.
The Old Testament records the stories of many blood sacrifices. God made the first when He killed and skinned an animal to cover the shame of Adam’s sin. Gen. 3:21. Then there were Cain’s and Abel’s famous sacrifices. Abraham would have sacrificed his son. Gen. 22:13.
The largest sacrifice recorded is Solomon’s in I Kings 8:62, 63. At the dedication of the temple, he sacrificed 22,000 oxen and 120,000 sheep.
Of course, Jesus made the final blood sacrifice to pay the debt of guilt for our sins. Yet, there are sacrifices the Christian is called upon to make for God. Rather than expressions of guilt and repentance, they are expressions of gratitude for what God has done in Christ. I. E.: Phil. 4:18, Heb. 13:15, I Pet. 2:5
Then there is the text before us, which entreats the people of God to offer their bodies as a living sacrifice. Let’s examine the idea a little more closely.
I. The sacrifice described:
A. First, let’s look at the word “offer:”
1. It is a word borrowed from Old Testament temple worship.
2. Luke 2:22 - Jesus was offered (“presented”) to the Lord. The same word is used in the Greek.
3. Because God killed every firstborn male in Egypt in freeing the Israelites and spared the Israelites firstborn, God said He owned every firstborn male, man and beast. Ex. 13:2
4. Every firstborn male calf, lamb, etc. had to be killed on the altar.
5. Every firstborn son had to be presented to God and redeemed with a blood sacrifice.
6. So, this is not a matter of making God an offer He might refuse. It is giving our selves to God.
B. The sacrifice must be:
1. “Living” - the body must be complete with soul and spirit.
2. “Holy” - set aside for the Lord’s use. Consecrated to Him.
3. “Acceptable to God” - OT sacrifices were to be top quality, unblemished animals. God does not want us if we are marred and scarred by sin.
C. We can only offer this sacrifice aright in Christ:
1. If not in Christ, we are not living: Eph. 2:1-5
2. If not in Christ, we aren’t holy: Heb 10:10 “And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”
3. We are made acceptable in Christ. Paul is an example. I Tim. 1:12-15
II. Directions for offering the sacrifice:
A. Do not conform to the world:
1. “Conform” is an outward process. No one will ever question your sincerity.
2. No one will ever ask if you really believe in drunkenness, lying, or stealing.
3. In fact, they won’t even notice you.
4. In fact, you can even be religious as long as you don’t bother anyone else with your religion.
B. Don’t let the world call your shots. Be transformed:
1. Transformation is an inward process. The mind and heart are changed.
2. This is often a gradual process taking years.
3. God’s promise: Ezek 36:26 “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you;”
4. Sometimes we slip back into the old mind set and the mind must be renewed often.
C. Two elements are important to our renewal:
1. Humility: we must not think too highly of ourselves and become complacent. v. 2.
2. Service to others: fulfill your place in the Body of Christ.
3. These two things along with prayer, Bible study, worship will enable God’s Spirit to create within us a new mind.
III. The reasons given for such a sacrifice:
A. It is reasonable service:
1. In the light of God’s mercy.
2. God only asks what is good for us. It is in our best interest.
3. Jesus gave His life for us. Should we not be willing to give our lives to Him?
B. It is spiritual worship:
1. The word translated “reasonable” (NIV) can also be rendered “spiritual.” (ASV) and we don’t need to choose between the two. Both are true.
2. It is, after all, the life of the spirit in which we are primarily interested.
3. So, we worship our spiritual Father using the physical means He provides, just as Jesus did. Hebrews 10:5
C. By it we test and approve God’s will:
1. We will learn when we truly surrender to God that His will is best for us.
2. You will live the happiest life by living the life God wants you to live.