A Living Sacrifice

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

The word “sacrifice” occurs frequently in the Bible. Notably, in this passage, it refers to our body, our entire being. When we are born again, Jesus comes into our heart and makes it His dwelling place. The life of sin is behind us, and the fruit of the Spirit begins to manifest. Instead of living in sin as before, the born-again believer now follows the Lord Jesus. The believer has died to sin and received new life through Jesus Christ.

Now, we are to present our body, in which new spiritual life resides, as a living sacrifice to God. This is not only a glorious privilege but also an obligation of the born-again believer. It is our “spiritual worship”. God requires the offering of ourselves, yes, our entire lives, on His altar and to submit our will entirely to Him.

No one can maintain living in holiness without obeying this solemn exhortation of the Apostle Paul. In Romans 12:2, Paul says, “that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” The one who makes this complete surrender, as Paul states in the first verse of this 12th chapter of Romans, will experience that it is God’s will to sanctify us completely.

Do you, dear reader, have any doubts regarding the work or experience of entire sanctification? Since this experience is so crucial for the child of God, and the success of a Christian life depends on obtaining it, let us consider what kind of sacrifice we must offer to be sanctified.

We are told that our sacrifice must be pleasing to God. It is our responsibility to ensure that when we lay it on the altar, it is such that God can be pleased with it and accept it. For this reason, it must be a holy sacrifice, meaning free from sin. Even the Psalmist cries out, “Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord! Blessed are those who keep His testimonies, who seek Him with the whole heart! They also do no iniquity; they walk in His ways” (Psalm 119:1-3).

In Romans 6:19, Paul says, “I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness.” This shows us the kind of sacrifice Paul had in mind: all our members, all our gifts and abilities, must be dedicated to the service of God.

We must not seek sanctification in order to break with sin and unrighteousness. No, if we have not yet broken with all sin and unrighteousness, we are not in a state to be sanctified. Only when we have we been redeemed from sin and have turned away from it, can we surrender our bodies to God as a living sacrifice.

The Israelites were required to bring a sacrifice when they made a vow, and only if they fulfilled it was their vow pleasing to the Lord. “Speak to Aaron and his sons, and to all the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘Whatever man of the house of Israel, or of the strangers in Israel, who offers his sacrifice for any of his vows or for any of his freewill offerings, which they offer to the Lord as a burnt offering— you shall offer of your own free will a male without blemish from the cattle, from the sheep, or from the goats. Whatever has a defect, you shall not offer, for it shall not be acceptable on your behalf. And whoever offers a sacrifice of a peace offering to the Lord, to fulfill his vow, or a freewill offering from the cattle or the sheep, it must be perfect to be accepted; there shall be no defect in it’” (Leviticus 22:18-21).

We see that God would not have accepted this sacrifice if there had been any flaw in it. So, our sacrifice must also be perfect. In John 15:2, we read, “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.” Therefore, we must offer to God a sacrifice that already bears fruit.

If you seek sanctification, examine yourself to see if you already bear fruit. “But the fruit of the Spirit” (which must be evident to some extent before we can present ourselves as a living sacrifice to God) “is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22). If we do not bear these fruits, the sacrifice we lay on the altar of God is not complete, not perfect, and therefore not pleasing to Him.

If you have tried in the past to attain sanctification and failed, do not be discouraged but examine yourself and then come with boldness and confidence to the altar. The way to the Most Holy Place is open, and if you are justified by faith, you can obtain the grace and the experience of sanctification.

C.E. Hunter

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