Be a Living Sacrifice
The Need for a Committed Life
It is interesting that there are more than 100 million church members here in America, yet the United States still seems to be drifting into moral decay. And there are thousands of churches in our great land that have more empty pews than full. Also, the average Sunday School has less than 66 in attendance and the average worship service 84. It is further the case that only 50% of the number on any church membership roll can be expected to attend. Though the Christian message is still alive and well, and Jesus Christ is still changing lives all over the world, it would seem that there is a major problem in the United States. Just what is that problem? This can be answered in six words: "There is a lack of commitment."
In Romans chapter 12, in the light of what God has done for us through Jesus Christ, the apostle Paul calls us to be living sacrifices. By this he means that God doesn't want part of our lives. He wants all of our lives, all the time, totally committed to Him.
I. God Delivered Us From Slavery to Sin
No matter what we may think, none of us is truly free. We are either slaves to sin or slaves to God and righteousness. Paul makes it clear in Romans that the wages of sin is spiritual death (Romans 6:23). And those who are spiritually dead, are actually slaves to sin (Romans 6:20). Even after salvation, there is the old nature that we have to deal with, and we sometimes do that which we don't want to do (Romans 7:13-25). But Jesus Christ has delivered us from that slavery to sin, and has made it possible to be free to serve God (7:24,25).
II. God Has Promised Us An Eternal Relationship
God has taken us out of that mess of slavery that we were in, and has now made us children of God. And we are heirs and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ. Not only this, but we are promised that nothing can separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8).
Promises, mean nothing however, if they are not kept. In the next 3 chapters of Romans (9-11), Paul gives us an extended illustration of how God remains faithful to his promises. Sure He promised us that nothing can separate us from God's love. But He had also made many promises to Israel. They were His chosen people who were promised many things by the Lord, including a land, a King and an eternal kingdom. Paul makes it clear that because of Israel's unbelief, they have been temporarily set aside. However, when the fullness of the Gentiles has come in, all Israel will one day be saved, and God's promises will be fulfilled to them.
And because of Israel's unbelief, God has offered salvation to all who come to Him by faith in Jesus Christ. (11:28-32). The Lord never goes back on His promises.
It is clear that we owe God everything. And it is because of this that Paul begs us to give our whole lives to the Lord.
III. Total Devotion is Our Reasonable Service of Worship
Paul tells us this in chapter 12 of Romans:
"Therefore I urge you, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of you mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect" (1,2).
In the sacrificial system in Paul's day, the animal was committed to the priest. It was then taken, killed and consumed on the altar. Believers are to be living sacrifices. There is no such thing as a partial sacrifice, or partial commitment. It is totally impossible to be "kind of committed." When you are a living sacrifice, your life is completely dedicated to God.
By being committed, we completely abandon ourselves to His will, and place our lives at His disposal. A total commitment is one that you cannot take back.
Living sacrifices are also those that don't allow the sinful world system to transform them into its mold. What do they do instead? Paul uses the word which is translated "transformed." This is the word from which we get our English word "metamorphosis." A metamorphosis in an inward change, which has observable outward manifestations.
The key here is that, like the caterpillar in the cocoon changing into a butterfly, this is something we don't do ourselves. We simply present ourselves to God and allow Him to change us progressively by the Holy Spirit living in us. We test, or prove by discovery what God's will actually is for us.
It has been said, facetiously, that the only trouble with a living sacrifice is that it keeps jumping off of the altar. Too many people who claim the name of Christ, have never really committed themselves to total service for Him. They play at their Christian life and only serve Him when it is convenient. What this world needs are those who know what God has done for them, and are so totally moved by His love and mercy that they demonstrate their gratitude to Him by a life that is unquestionably and totally dedicated to His service.
Until we place our lives on that altar, we will never make the impact on this world that is so desperately needed. It was Dwight L. Moody who said: "The world has yet to see what God can do with, and for, and through, and in, and by the man who is fully and wholly consecrated to Him. I will try my utmost to be that man." May this be the decision of every person who trusts Christ as their Savior.