Living Sacrifice

BY BRUCE EDWARDS · APRIL 2, 2017

Present your bodies as a living sacrifice?  Why, how, when…  

living sacrifice by Pastor Bruce Edwards

I know that sounds pretty radical! Why would anyone want to do such a thing?” Because, that is exactly what the apostle Paul calls us to do in Romans 12:1-2. He says, “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. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” What does it mean to be a living sacrifice and how exactly are we to do it?

What it means to – “Offer Your Body as a Living Sacrifice

Paul is talking about an entirely new and different way of living. A life that flows from faith in Jesus. A life that is motivated by the love of God and not selfishness. A life led by the spirit and not the flesh. Paul says because of God’s great mercy toward us we should give our bodies in service to Him. This means we are to live out our lives for the Lord by His grace through faith.

Our Body is the Flesh

When Paul says “bodies” he is talking about our flesh – our eyes, mouth, ears, feet, hands, etc. We are no longer to gratify our flesh with sinful desires, but use them for serving and worshiping God. He says this is the “reasonable” thing for us to do in light of what God has done for us.

When we become born again our spirits become “new”. (2Corinthians 5:17) From that moment on your spirit is alive and in perfect relationship with God. As a believer your spirit is one hundred percent trustworthy. However, your flesh is NOT. This is why we need to present our bodies as a living sacrifice.

Don’t Trust Your Flesh

Our flesh needs to be crucified daily like Paul did. (1Corinthians 15:31) Paul tells us to never trust the flesh. (Philippians 3:4) No matter how spiritual you become; Regardless of how filled with the spirit you are; In spite of how much your mind has been renewed with the Word- You can never trust your flesh. The flesh will try to crawl off the altar and rule your life.

We Need to do it Every Day

That’s why Paul calls it a “living” sacrifice. In the Old Testament, when a sacrifice was brought to the altar the animal was killed. It needed to be presented to the Lord only once as a sacrificial offering. But in the New Testament, our bodies are presented to God as a “living” sacrifice. This means we must make a daily decision to present our bodies to the Lord to serve Him and live for Him. The big question is how?

3 Keys to Presenting Your Body as a Living Sacrifice

First,

it’s a choice. It is up to you to “offer” your bodies to God. God doesn’t force you. No one else can do it for you. Only you can choose to offer your flesh as a living sacrifice. The desires of the flesh are contrary to the spirit. (Galatians 5:17) Left unchecked they lead to a life of defeat. To live a life of victory every day means making the choice to offer your body as a living sacrifice every day and not to satisfy the desires of the flesh.

Second,

realize every day is a new day with the opportunity and need to yield your life to God. Each new day necessitates a fresh decision not to allow the desires of the flesh to rule your life. What you surrendered to God yesterday is already old. Today is a new day and demands a new and higher level of devotion.

Start each day with a prayer of consecration in which you purposely with a humble attitude present yourself and all that you are to God’s purposes. Never make the mistake of assuming that since you did it yesterday, you don’t need to do it today. Every new day demands a fresh commitment to be even more passionate to serve the Lord.

Third,

while it is our decision and choice to crawl up on that altar by ourselves it is still a work of the spirit. “It’s not might, nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty.” (Zechariah 4:6)
Do not make presenting your bodies as a living sacrifice a work of the flesh. Often this is what happens when we talk about a life of dying to self. However, it is only by grace through faith that we can truly crucify the flesh and serve the Lord.

True victory in life is only achieved when we choose to follow Jesus, denying our self and serving Him. (Matthew 16:24) To “deny” yourself means to say “No” to the desires of the flesh and “Yes” to God. Presenting our bodies to the Lord as a living sacrifice is a huge key to living a life of victory every day.

Being Careless!

This is my nugget of the month. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5

The word ‘trust’ has an interesting meaning. When I first saw this meaning, I reacted to it. It means ‘careless’. When you hear the word ‘careless’, you normally think about irresponsible behavior such as a ‘careless’ driver. But it also has a positive meaning. It means ‘care-less’.

When my kids were little, I would tell them that we were going on vacation. They would get giddy with excitement. Never once did they say, ‘how we going to pay for this?’; ‘where we going to stay?’; ‘is our car road worthy?’; ‘where we going to eat?’; etc. etc. etc.

You see…my kids were ‘careless’. They didn’t think about any of that because they knew that their daddy was the daddy of the details. Oh I was planning all of that. I was busy as a little bee working our all the plans. But not my kids! They were careless!!!

So…trust in the Lord! Be careless!!! Because my heavenly Father is the ‘daddy of the details’!!! Cast all those cares on Him for He cares for you!!!

Doing The Right Thing!

There is tremendous comfort and joy when you know that you are in the center of God’s will! Most of the time we rarely see that the events of our day are being ordered by one Who is infinitely wise in all His planning. When we can line our lives with His plan, we have reached the ‘sweet spot’ of life. God is preparing situations and circumstances long before we reach the intersections of life. He is pulling strings as a great Puppeteer to bring about his purpose and plan for our lives. Sometimes these things may seem to be out of control or strange and without meaning. But remember this: nothing is by chance; there is no coincidence; and nothing happens without His control!

One of the great works of literature that illustrates this the most is the Book of Esther, which happens to be one of the 66 books that make up what we know as the Bible. Esther is the only book in the Bible that never mentions God but He is in every chapter as the Blessed Controller of all things. There are four main characters in this book: 1. Xerxes who is the King of Persia. 2. Haman who is the king’s right hand man, and the villain of the story. 3. Esther, a young Jewish woman, and the winner of the first Miss Persia contest and the queen of Persia. 4. Mordecai, Esther’s uncle and step-father, who was a prominent member of the Jewish community.

The book of Esther focuses more on Mordecai than on Esther. It is Mordecai who is the most involved and most important human in bringing about the deliverance of the Jews from a planned extermination of them which is the main story of the book. Mordecai and Esther had risen to positions of prominence in King Xerxes’ court. But the king didn’t know Mordecai was Esther’s uncle and he also didn’t know that Esther was a Jew.

Esther 3:1-6 (GW)

Later, King Xerxes promoted Haman. (Haman was the son of Hammedatha and was from Agag.) He gave Haman a position higher in authority than all the other officials who were with him. [2] All the king’s advisers were at the king’s gate, kneeling and bowing to Haman with their faces touching the ground, because the king had commanded it. But Mordecai would not kneel and bow to him.

[3] Then the king’s advisers at the king’s gate asked Mordecai, “Why do you ignore the king’s command?” [4] Although they asked him day after day, he paid no attention to them. So they informed Haman to see if Mordecai’s actions would be tolerated, since Mordecai had told them that he was a Jew.

[5] When Haman saw that Mordecai did not kneel and bow to him, Haman was infuriated. [6] Because the king’s advisers had informed him about Mordecai’s nationality, he thought it beneath himself to kill only Mordecai. So Haman planned to wipe out Mordecai’s people: all the Jews in the entire kingdom of Xerxes.

Here is another plan of Satan to stop the plans of God by wiping out the Jews and eliminate the lineage leading to the coming of the Messiah! Mordecai didn’t come to the conclusion that he shouldn’t bow down to Haman, all by himself. God specifically stated that in the 10 commandments. As a good Jewish boy, he had been taught this command from an early age. So, Mordecai didn’t have to guess at what was the right thing to do, he knew it based on God’s Word. Mordecai wanted Esther to approach the king on his behalf. Esther was not so instructed as Mordecai, we see this in her confusion and hesitancy in approaching the king.

Esther 4:6-8 (GW)

So Hathach went out to Mordecai in the city square in front of the king’s gate. [7] Mordecai informed him about everything that had happened to him. He told him the exact amount of silver that Haman had promised to pay into the king’s treasury to destroy the Jews. [8] He also gave him a copy of the decree that was issued in Susa. The decree gave permission to exterminate the Jews. Hathach was supposed to show it to Esther to inform and command her to go to the king, beg him for mercy, and appeal to him for her people.

Esther 4:10-17 (GW)

Esther spoke to Hathach and commanded him to say to Mordecai, [11] “All the king’s advisers and the people in the king’s provinces know that no one approaches the king in the throne room without being summoned. By law that person must be put to death. Only if the king holds out the golden scepter to him will he live. I, myself, have not been summoned to enter the king’s presence for 30 days now.” [12] So Esther’s servants told Mordecai what Esther said.

[13] Mordecai sent this answer back to Esther, “Do not imagine that just because you are in the king’s palace you will be any safer than all the rest of the Jews. [14] The fact is, even if you remain silent now, someone else will help and rescue the Jews, but you and your relatives will die. And who knows, you may have gained your royal position for such a time as this.”

[15] Esther sent this reply back to Mordecai, [16] “Assemble all the Jews in Susa. Fast for me: Do not eat or drink at all for three entire days. My servants and I will also fast. After that, I will go to the king, even if it is against a royal decree. If I perish, I perish.”

[17] Mordecai did just as Esther had commanded him.

What are the underlying principles illustrated here?

  • Determine what is the right thing to do based on the principles of Scripture and when necessary, the counsel of godly men and women. Esther valued the counsel of Mordecai because it was based on God’s Word.
  • Take courageous action for I am here for such a time as this! Esther determined to make a courageous step because it was the right thing to do.
  • Leave the results to God: if I perish, I perish!

The end of the story, as far as Esther and Mordecai are concerned, is that Esther was successful. The King welcomed her. Haman was executed for his wicked plot against the Jews. The Jewish nation was saved from annihilation. And, even beyond that, Mordecai became the number two man in the kingdom. What a great ending to Esther and Mordecai’s story!

But what about your story? Are you going to take the safe, secure, easy route? Or will you determine what is right? Take courageous action and leave the results to God?