Sacrifice

As we continue to address the characteristics of a mature Christian walk, as we focus this year on growing into spiritual maturity, today we are going to talk about a topic that is related to last week’s sermon on church not being about our comfort, and today’s topic is sacrifice.

The word “sacrifice” (Greek, thusia) comes from the root verb meaning “to kill or slaughter for a purpose.”

I am not talking about the regime of five sacrifices, or offerings, in the Old Testament, sacrifices laid down in Leviticus involving butchered animals, bloodletting and scapegoats. These were the burnt offering, the grain offering, the peace offering, the sin offering, and the trespass offering but I am not talking about those.

 I am not talking about Jesus’ sacrifice for us.

Hebrews 9:12 12 He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption.

I am not even talking about the ultimate sacrifice of laying down one’s life for another.

John 15:13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends.

But rather I am speaking about our sacrifice in service of Him.

Spiritual maturity is always determined by our willingness to sacrifice our own desires for the interests of the kingdom or for the sake of others.[1]

I think most of us struggle with the concept of sacrifice. It’s hard to love your enemies, to return kindness for insults, of dying to yourself and helping someone to climb higher than you can.

We are called to continually offer ourselves in service to God.[2]

I want to talk about 3 faces of this sacrifice:

The first is offering ourselves as a living sacrifice

Romans 12:1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.

Prior to this passage Paul has urged us to “present” our bodies as slaves to God, slaves to obedience and slaves to righteousness (6:13, 16, 19).

present your members to God as instruments of righteousness...you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness...present your members as slaves to righteousness for sanctification.

Now he says we should choose to present our bodies for the service of a greater “body,” the body of Christ with whom we have been united (12:4–5). In other words surrender our own will in order to advance the will of others.

When we offer ourselves as sacrifices, we imitate Jesus whilst we live. We are to offer up our bodies as a sacrifice described by three adjectives: “living,” “holy,” and “acceptable” or “pleasing.” [3]

As Wyn Fountain, a Christian businessman from Auckland wrote: We should be living in the world, a living sacrifice, as priests of God daily, and coming back to the assembly to corporate worship to praise God first, to offer sacrifices of praise, then secondly to mutually strengthen one another and encourage the weaker brethren.[4]

We are to sacrifice our wants and our priorities in order to live for others.

DL Moody quipped that the problem with living sacrifices is that they tend to crawl off the altar, which is perhaps why Paul also told us, a little earlier in Romans, that we should consider ourselves dead to sin, dead to this world, and only alive as we relate to Christ (Romans 6:11)

In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

 

Surrendering ourselves fully to God is an essential key to how we “glorify God and enjoy Him forever”. It isn’t in some act of heroism or great sacrifice; those are few and far between. Rather, it is in choosing each day to use our bodies as befits children of God, new creatures in Christ, members of the kingdom of God. And this is possible through the indwelling Holy Spirit.[5]

The second face of sacrifice is a sacrifice of praise

Hebrews 13:15 Through him, then, let us continually offer a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that confess his name. 16 Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.

Praise often requires that we “kill” our pride, fear, or laziness—anything that threatens to diminish or interfere with our worship of the Lord. 

To praise God in the good times is easy, but to praise God in difficult times requires personal sacrifice. It takes an act of the will to lay our all on the altar before a God we don't understand.

When we bring a "sacrifice of praise," we choose to believe that, even though life is not going as we think it should, God is still good and can be trusted

 

Psalm 135:1-3 Praise the LORD! Praise the name of the LORD;    give praise, O servants of the LORD, you that stand in the house of the LORD, in the courts of the house of our God. 3      Praise the LORD, for the LORD is good; sing to his name, for he is gracious.

Nahum 1:7     The LORD is good, a stronghold in a day of trouble; he protects those who take refuge in him,

When we choose to praise God in spite of the storms, He is honoured, and our faith grows

Job 13:15 15      Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him;

Again, when we offer a sacrifice of praise, it takes the focus off us and onto others.

When we praise God, we exhibit to others around us our faith and trust in God.

The third facet is a sacrifice of thanksgiving

 Psalm 50:14   Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and pay your vows to the Most High

Psalm 116:17 I will offer you a sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the LORD.

The more we grow in our experience of God’s grace, the more we discover that thanksgiving isn’t simply something we say to God, but a way of living each day.

Our thank you to God is not in the same tone as thanking grandma for the knitted jersey with Santa on the front.

Our “thank offerings” take the form of faithfulness as we seek to honour the Lord in all that we do. We learn to delight in his goodness of each day, offering ourselves as living sacrifices, living “thank offerings” to our gracious God.

Prayer and sacrifice work together. Where there is no sacrifice, there will eventually turn out to be no prayer, and vice versa.[6]

Again, when we offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving, it takes the focus off us and onto others.

Again, when we thank God, we exhibit to others around us our faith and trust in God.

All these 3 types of sacrifices are not a sacrifice that we give in order to make an atonement, but a sacrifice that we give because an atonement has been made for us. To be a Christian means to live a life of sacrifice, a life of presentation, making a gift of ourselves to God. [7]

George McDonald wrote: The self is given to us that we may sacrifice it. It is ours that we like Christ may have somewhat to offer – not that we should torment it but that we should deny it, not that we should cross it but that we should abandon it utterly.[8]

Hard call:  to abandon any and every claim to ownership of ourselves, and give it all to God.  Our service to others is worship to God.

Satan's way to thrones and Dominion is by the assertion of self for self-realisation; God's way is by the surrender of self on the altar of sacrifice. [9]

Picking up on the Catherine Booth analogy of the church being a barracks for soldiers to prepare, J D Jones writes: All the calls of the gospel are calls to hardship, to sacrifice, to battle. Christ would have no one follow him under the delusion that they were going to have an easy time of it.[10]

Mother Theresa of Calcutta says for a sacrifice to be real, it must cost, it must hurt, it must empty ourselves.

A tough ask.

God created us for love and not selfishness, for hospitality and not isolation, for generosity and not stinginess, for service and sacrifice, goodness and grace.[11]

Sacrifice is a key component of mature Christianity.  To use the words of the sermon last week: it is not about me, it is not about us, it is about God.

Victory is won through sacrifice[12]

Victory of the Gospel over the kingdom of darkness

Victory over the falsehood of the self-important life

Victory over the need to make ourselves first.

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, I ask for Your forgiveness for the times I have failed to place myself and remain on the altar. I want a lifestyle that is pleasing to You and brings glory to Your name. Show me how to offer my body as a living sacrifice today—a sacrifice that is “holy and pleasing” to You. Renew my mind today so that I may discern what is good. Amen.

 

 

 

 

 



[1] Rick Joyner The Final Quest 73

[2] Faithlife Study Bible (Ro 12:1).

[3] Keener, C. S. Romans (pp. 142–143).

[4] Wyn Fountain “Thy Kingdom Come in the Other Hundred Hours 74

[5] http://www.cslewisinstitute.org/What_God_Wants_from_You_page2

[6] Thomas Merton Contemplative prayer 74

[7] Sproul, R. C The Gospel of God: An Exposition of Romans (p. 195).

[8] George MacDonald Your Life in Christ, 101

[9] Samuel Chadwick The Way To Pentecost 62

[10] Warren Wiersbe 50 People Every Christian Should Know 289

[11] Marva Dawn Joy in Divine Wisdom: practices of discernment from other cultures and Christian traditions 138

[12] Marva Dawn Joy in our Weakness:  105