Self Preservation Is Natural But Self Sacrifice Is Supernatural
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Rom 12:1-2
It is imperative for God’s elect in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness which constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection to know that self preservation is natural but self sacrifice is supernatural. The entire design, finishing and materials of the tabernacle found in the OT sacrificial system depicts the portrait of Jesus Christ. There was only a single entrance to God’s Presence within the design which is the eastern gate. Jesus is that door or gate, the entrance to God. When we enter the tabernacle through the proper way, the first thing to greet us is the altar of sacrifice.
Most of us would have preferred to find the ‘table of showbread’ where God makes provision for us but we find ourselves first at a place of sacrifice. Nothing of real value comes to us without real sacrifice or we would not appreciate it.
A biblical faith is one that recognizes the priority of sacrifice and willingness to give rather than receive.
One cannot bypass the altar of sacrifice into God’s Presence. Let us examine the materials, message and manifestation of a true sacrifice.
- The Materials Exo 38:1-7
The ‘acacia’ wood was the basic material of the altar. It is a tree that grows in the desert under severe conditions. This wood was chosen for its quality of being nearly indestructible, a shadow of Christ Who is eternal. The wood was then covered with bronze. Bronze symbolizes judgment in the OT. The altar of sacrifice by its appearance reminded the believers of God’s judgment. It was on this altar that the sacrificial animal was presented for God’s judgment to be atoned for sin. It symbolizes Christ’s ultimate expression of sacrifice when He took our judgment of death after taking all the sins of the world through the baptism He received from John the Baptist at the River Jordan. There were four horns on the altar to bind the sacrificial animal. The wood of the altar symbolizes the humanity of Jesus and our sacrifices offered to God after being born again. There is no such faith for an elect that does not include the ‘sacrifice.’ Anyone that thinks they can live for God without a need for sacrifice will only find a dead Christianity. The order of approach to God cannot be ignored or replaced with other means.
- The Message 1 Kings 1:50
Unfortunately, today we hear much preaching that attempts to draw people into Christianity that promises all kinds of earthly ‘goodies.’ The preaching that expects no sacrifice by the hearer is a hollow Christianity. There is too much ‘shallow Christianity’ now in the world. Christians who only want but do not give. Jesus clearly taught us about sacrifice by His own statement, “I came into the world not to do my own will but to do the will of Him Who sent Me.” The search for the real God will always bring us first to the place of sacrifice. Sacrificial giving of an elect is displayed by one’s lifestyle, faith, resources and attitude. The ‘horns of the altar’ symbolizes our becoming a willing bound sacrifice. In 2 Sam 24:24, David clearly states that he could not accept for ‘free’ the land and the sacrifice from Araunah. David would not offer a sacrifice to God that cost him nothing. A commitment to Christ that is without sacrifice is no commitment. There are enough worldly calls that promise ‘at no cost.’ This doesn’t work in the Kingdom of God. A dynamic faith is real, it will not just have the appearance of sacrifice. Jesus sacrifice of Himself through His baptism and death was the greatest and costliest. He also brought us the greatest and most valuable gift, eternal life. There is no easy cheap way to give the finest gift. Faith in the righteousness of God and the quality of our new creation life will only be as good as the sacrifice we make because of it.
- The manifestation Rom 12:1-2
Paul spoke clearly in the NT, “….offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God.” What is symbolized by the altar of sacrifice? The elect ought to be a living sacrifice. One difference however, in the OT, the sacrifice was killed. In the NT, Christ’s baptism and death paid the price once and for all so that the elects do not need to physically die. We are to be ‘living’ sacrifices. One problem with this, unlike a dead sacrifice, living ones tend to want to crawl off the altar, especially when they feel the heat. This is when we need to take hold of the horns of the altar, to keep from leaving the altar of sacrifice. We too must be bound to the altar by constantly establishing ourselves in the Gospel of God’s Righteousness that constitutes Jesus’ baptism, death and resurrection. Paul says, “this is our spiritual act of worship” meaning the basis of spirituality is our sacrifice even in worship. A dynamic worship service is not so much about what I get, as much as what I give through my sacrifice of praises, offering, time and talents. The goal therefore is not to gain but to give. Ironically, when we give we do gain. The sweetest gaining come from giving. The will of God is found in our life of sacrifice. When we really give ourselves, we literally, ‘test and approve’ what God’s will is for us everyday and in every way.