“And Abel brought of the firstborn of his flock and of the fat portions. And the Lord had respect and regard for Abel and for his offering,.” Gen 4:4
It is imperative for God’s elect in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness which constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection to know what sacrifice pleases God. The first recorded offering made to God is found early in the book of Genesis. It says that God respected Abel and the sacrifice that he brought but it also said God did not respect Cain and the sacrifice that he brought. Was it the sacrifice? Was it the attitude? Was it both?
The sermon for today is titled ’Sacrifice what?’ I would like to highlight three points about the sacrifice that pleases God using Rom 12:1 which the Apostle Paul was urging, fervently asking us to become.
- Sacrifice Must Be Total
There are a number of different animal sacrifices instituted in the OT. In some of them, the complete animal was offered by fire and it would be totally consumed until nothing but the ashes were left. It was a total sacrifice. The animal could not just sacrifice part of his life and go on living the way it had before. The sacrifice was total, it was complete. It is clear that we are looking at such a sacrifice that had to die. If nothing had to die, then there was no sacrifice. Therefore, if we are to present ourselves as a living sacrifice, then something has to die. In Rom 8:13-14, Paul explains what needs to die so that we can go on being a living sacrifice.
A living sacrifice does not live according to the flesh because it leads to death but if by the Spirit, we put to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live.
When we become a living sacrifice, when we respond to God’s calling, we put off the old man, the old way that we used to live. The sacrifice is total, we cannot cling to even a little bit of our favorite former ways. Col 3:5-9 The totality of who we are must be committed to following God, our emotions, our thoughts, our desires, all of it. For us to become a living sacrifice does not mean that we literally sacrifice our physical body but it does mean that we completely turn that life, the life that we have, over to God to use as He sees fit. A total sacrifice is a continual sacrifice. When we are a living sacrifice, it is not just a one time event in our lives. It is something that has to be on-going throughout the rest of our lives. 1 Cor 15:31-32
- Sacrifice Must Be Holy
The verse in Rom 12:1 continues to allude that as living sacrifice we ought to present ourselves as holy. To be holy is to be like God for He is holy. A holy God wants to have a holy people. 1 Pet 1:13-16. Peter wrote that we are to be holy in all our conduct and behavior. He says we are to be obedient children. We must obey God to be holy. Peter also writes here that we are not to conform ourselves to the former lusts. It refers to the old desires that we had before we were born again by the Gospel of God’s Righteousness that comprises Jesus’ baptism and death. This is describing again on how we need to put to death the lusts of the flesh and be led by the Spirit to be holy as God is holy. To do that, we need to always have God’s Word in our mind and in our hearts to guide our actions. To be holy, we must continue to practice righteousness by consistently meditating on the Gospel of God’s Righteousness. God delights when we obey His voice. To obey is better than sacrifice. 1 Sam 15:22 As a living sacrifice we need to be holy and pleasing to God. It is vitally important that we obey God’s voice and strive to walk by faith in the holiness of God.
- Sacrifice Must Be Acceptable
A living sacrifice means to be acceptable to God. Looking back to the sacrifice that Abel and Cain offered, God disrespected Cain’s offering because he denied that he was a sinful creature under the sentence of divine condemnation after the fall. Instead of accepting and approaching God’s way, he offered to God the fruits of the ground, which God had cursed. He presented the product of his own toil, the work of his own hands. God refused to accept it. This is to validate that salvation is only through grace by faith in the absolute finished work of Christ that constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection. However, Abel brought the first born of his flock and of the fats portion. It consisted the flesh, blood and fats of the lamb. This acceptable offering represents Jesus Christ Who is the Firstborn that came by the flesh, blood and the Spirit. Salvation is attained only when we bring Jesus, the perfect sacrifice given to us before God. Lev 22:17-21. As elects, after being saved by Jesus Who came by the baptism and death, we must continue to bring Jesus our acceptable offering before God in all that we do. A living sacrifice must be perfect without defect to be acceptable. Which of us are free of defect? Which of us are perfect? How can we ever fit that description? We can become an acceptable sacrifice, free from defects through Jesus Christ. He gave Himself for us so that He can sanctify and make us holy. We have been washed from our sins by His pure water and blood. We have been made perfect by a single offering so that we can become an acceptable offering to God. Heb 10:14