I want to give you this warning up front. This post is for meat-eaters! If you want milk you won’t find it here. This is for serious believers only!
Romans 12:1 “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God–this is your true and proper worship.”
I often try to re write the meaning of a verse to try to make it apply to me. I would write something like this in my journal after meditating on this verse: Because God has had so much mercy on me, I will follow Paul’s urging to worship God by giving myself completely to God dying daily to myself, I hereby dedicate it all, including my body which encompasses my mind, will, my time, my energy and emotions, from this day on are hereby sacrificed to God and his purpose.
Then I would pat myself on my spiritual back thinking of what a great moment that was only to later discover that it is much easier to read about, and journal about, than it is to do. To follow this “living sacrifice thing” out to its logical conclusion means a death has to occur. Don’t worry! God isn’t asking for you to die a physical death. No, He is asking for more than that. He is asking for a continual dying to oneself from this point on. It means that I must willingly and continually die to what I want, in order to be able to live continually for what He wants. If anyone thinks this is easy, you aren’t being honest.
When I was at North Central Bible College, I heard these words for the first time. “The only thing wrong with a living sacrifice is that it crawls off the altar.” Images of animal sacrifices come before those of us who have studied the Old Testament. I have a great imagination. I see an old school altar made of stone. I imagine God looking and observing in the distance. I can see something crawling from off the altar moving away as if ready to run. But as I take a closer look in my mind, to my chagrin, I realize the one slithering off the altar is me.
OK! I admit it. I have jumped up and volunteered fsoor Jesus, and then have complained about how much work it was. I have sang the song, “I surrender all” in church on a Sunday and thought I meant every word. And then on Monday I discover myself slithering off the altar. (You may think I am suffering from some sort of neurotic guilt. I am not. I am simply being honest.)
So what’s the solution? How can I stay on the altar? How I can I become a living sacrifice. I know! I will tie myself to the altar. It is even a biblical concept.
Psalm 118:27 “God is the Lord, And He has given us light; Bind the sacrifice with cords to the horns of the altar.”
I want you to become a living sacrifice!
I want to give you four cords that will bind you to the altar:
- Cord 1: Viewing God’s mercy to me on a daily basis
The writer to Romans said, “…in view of God’s mercy.” That is my motivation. I don’t become a living sacrifice to boast about my great commitment and dedication and consecration to God. I do so because I am a rescued sinner who Jesus loved and upon whom God showed mercy for Jesus’ sake.
That changes everything.
I am not the only one who has had this thought so.
Isaac Watts had the same thought when he wrote this great hymn:
See from His head, His hands, His feet
So much sorrow and love flow mingled down
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet
Or thorns compose so rich, so rich a crown
Were this whole realm of nature mine
That were a present far too small
Love so amazing, so divine
Demands my soul, my life, my all
My life, my soul, my all
The bottom line is this. I owe Jesus everything!
- Cord 2: Thinking about my brothers and sisters
The writer to the Romans said, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters…”
I am sure he may have been thinking, this is for everyone, not just as we would say in old English –the men folk. But it is also a subtle reminder that what I do, and who I am, and how I live will ultimately affect my brothers and sisters.
I of course am speaking of the people I know who also know Christ. This includes my wife, and kids, and daughter-n-laws, and grandkids.
That is a great motivator.
- Cord 3: Considering what my relationship with God means.
The writer to the Romans said,”… holy and pleasing to God–this is your true and proper worship.”
The only thing that keeps me “sanctified” or set apart for God is that I know Him. I sense the presence of His Spirit on a daily basis. I don’t want him displeased. I want Him close. When I do what He wants it is a way of worshipping him. I don’t obey him because He chained me to the altar. I obey Him because I love Him.
- Cord 4: Thinking renewed thoughts
When I crawl off the altar, it is because I am thinking thoughts that have not yet been renewed. Most Christians believe that Jesus is the best way to avoid hell. In fact, I believe the Bible when it says, He is the only way. But most Christians are not convinced that living for Jesus is the best way to live. When I crawl off the altar, my mind and my life are conformed to the pattern of this world.
Romans 12:2 “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind..”