Summary: A challenge present your life a living sacrifice denying the world's attraction and living 24/7 for Christ.
A LIVING SACRIFICE - Romans 12:1-3
When you hear the word "sacrifice," what comes to your mind? Some words one might associate with "sacrifice" are forfeiting, giving up, giving away, letting go, losing. The word sacrifice doesn't exactly give us the warm fuzzies, does it? Our natural instinct is not to want to sacrifice anything. But what exactly does it mean to sacrifice? In biblical times, priests offered animal and grain sacrifices — as thanksgiving or to seek forgiveness for sin. Sacrifice meant the death of that which was being offered up to God. One dictionary definition of sacrifice says: Sacrifice is the surrender or destruction of something prized or desirable for the sake of something considered as having a higher claim. First Peter 2:5 says to believers that “you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood to offer up spiritual sacrifices."
Paul in the first 11 chapters of Romans provides us with a complete systematic theology of all that God has done for us. Then in chapter 12, Paul lays out a challenge to us that involves both an immediate and ongoing commitment.
I. The Challenge - Present yourselves a living sacrifice
A. We are called to make a personal sacrifice - "yourselves"
1. The Old Testament worshiper brought animals to the temple, to be killed and laid on the altar. Paul reversed the imagery. Bring yourself to the altar.
2. 1 Samuel 15:22 "Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams”
3. "The sacrifices of God,” says Psalm 51:17, “are a broken spirit and a contrite heart
4. Take my life, and let it be consecrated, Lord, to Thee.
Take my moments and my days; let them flow in ceaseless praise.
Take my hands, and let them move at the impulse of Thy love.
Take my feet, and let them be swift and beautiful for Thee.
Take my voice, and let me sing always, only, for my King.
Take my lips, and let them be filled with messages from Thee.
Take my silver and my gold; not a mite would I withhold.
Take my intellect, and use every power as Thou shalt choose.
Take my will, and make it Thine; it shall be no longer mine.
Take my heart, it is Thine own; it shall be Thy royal throne.
Take my love, my Lord, I pour at Thy feet its treasure store.
Take myself, and I will be ever, only, all for Thee.
B. We are called to make a perpetual sacrifice - "present...a living sacrifice"
1. Present (paristemi - from para = beside or near + histemi = set) literally means to place or set beside or near hence to place at someone's disposal.
2. Romans 6:13 "and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God (place yourselves at God's disposal) as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God."
3. The Old Testament worshiper brought animals to the temple, to be killed and laid on the altar. Paul reversed the imagery. Bring yourself to the altar. But do not DIE for God: LIVE for Him!
4. One Sunday morning during a service, a 2,000 member congregation was surprised to see two men enter, both covered from head to toe in black and carrying sub-machine guns. One of the men proclaimed, "Anyone willing to take a bullet for Christ, remain where you are." Immediately, the choir fled, the deacons fled, and most of the congregation fled. Out of the 2,000 there only remained around twenty. The man who had spoken took off his hood, looked at the preacher and said, "Okay pastor, I got rid of all the hypocrites. Now you may begin your service. Have a nice day!" And the two men turned and walked out. I wonder how many of the twenty remaining though willing to die for Christ were willing to live for Him.- copied
5. It is one thing to say I'll die for you. It is far more difficult to say I will live for you.
6. A living sacrifice is dead to self, dead to my desires, my agenda. I am to live sacrificially for God. I am alive, but I live for God; I am dead to myself, but alive to God.
C. We are called to make a proper sacrifice - "holy and acceptable"
1. First, only the true Christian who has been saved by the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ can respond to this call to offer “a holy and acceptable sacrifice.” Jesus Christ offered to God the one perfect sacrifice for sins once and for all. There is therefore no need for any other atoning sacrifice for sin, and there can't be any other atoning sacrifice because we are sinners. Only the perfect life of Christ would ever be acceptable to a holy and righteous God. God has dealt with our sin problem once and for all, and all that is required of the sinner is to genuinely repent of his/her sin and to believe on Christ as his Savior and Lord.