Living Sacrifice

Living Sacrifice - How does this concept relate to the Old Testament?

In Romans 12:1 we read about being a living sacrifice in this pressing advice from the Apostle Paul: "Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God - this is your spiritual act of worship."

What did Paul mean by a living sacrifice? Is Paul suggesting we voluntarily lay down our lives, to be sacrificed on some holy altar somewhere? In a way, yes he is saying just that.

Paul's first century readers knew all about offering a living sacrifice as atonement for sin. Since the days of Abraham, the children of Israel had been symbolically transferring their sin to an unblemished animal - usually a lamb (highly prized as livestock, too) - and then sacrificing that animal's life as propitiation for their sin.

But God always had a purpose in that picture.

In Genesis 22, God asked Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac. Abraham was stunned! Surely God could not mean for him to take the life of his beloved son, this child of promise he'd waited for so many years? But God's answer did not change. How much did Abraham believe God? How much did Abraham trust God? This request was the biggest test of his life.

So Abraham traveled with Isaac (unaware of God's request) to the top of Mount Moriah. Here is what Scripture says happened when they got there:

Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, "Father?"

"Yes, my son?" Abraham replied.

"The fire and wood are here," Isaac said, "but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?"

Abraham answered, "God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son." And the two of them went on together. When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the LORD called out to him from heaven, "Abraham! Abraham!"
"Here I am," he replied.

"Do not lay a hand on the boy," he said. "Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son."

God had been testing Abraham to prove the depth of his faith and trust. When Abraham said, "God himself will provide the lamb," he was prophesying the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, who became the ultimate sacrificial lamb.

Living Sacrifice - What does it mean for me?
When Paul urges us to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice, he asks us to see ourselves as God's instruments in reaching others for Heaven's sake. Most of our difficulties in life are the result of selfishness. When we offer our lives to God, we tell Him we are willing to endure whatever He calls us to for His sake. We are placing God's eternal plan and purpose above our own temporary wants. What choice will you make?

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