There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. - Romans 8:1
Before we get into reading the definitions and history of sacrifice like we might a textbook, I want to pause and propose something to you that may transform your whole perspective on sacrifices while reading. I’m going to ask you to disassociate the idea of “punishment” from the word “sacrifice.”
Instead, I’m going to propose to you that worship as a sacrifice today has everything to do with love. It has everything to do with Jesus mercifully and graciously giving us our lives back. Soon we will leave this earth and worship before the great I AM in all His full glory; I believe this worship will undoubtedly be our default reaction. However, in this lifetime, He offers us something that won’t matter at all once we are with Him – the choice to worship.
sac·ri·fice: 'sakrə,fĪs: noun
an act of giving up something valued for the sake of something else regarded as more important or worthy (Google definitions)
The Sacrificial System
Throughout biblical history we see that God had established a sacrificial system of worship. This was the system that the Old Covenant worshippers operated within. The people would bring offerings and animal sacrifices to the tabernacle. It is crucial to know that these sacrifices could not fully remove sin but only temporarily cover it; the people of God stayed in right-standing with Him by continually presenting their sacrifices to Him.
This outward act represented their inward submission.
All of Old Covenant worship was a picture of what was to come. These people were looking ahead to the sinless, blemish-free Savior, Who would hold the power and authority to completely remove sin by a single sacrifice! We deserve eternal death and complete separation from God because of our sin. However, Jesus gave up His life so that we may have life through Him.
Hebrews 10:8-10 — First he [Jesus] said, “Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them”— though they were offered in accordance with the law. Then he said, “Here I am, I have come to do your will.” He sets aside the first to establish the second. And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
What This Means For Us Today
Earlier I asked you to disassociate “punishment” from “sacrifice” and proposed that its foundation is the opposite: love. What Jesus has done for you and me was the most selfless, loving act in all of history – God laying down His life for sinners. He gave us life through Himself. So while God’s people are no longer obligated to sacrifice animals, we have a different call of sacrifice. A call that is beautiful yet costly. A call that we respond to willingly, out of love for God. A call to follow Jesus’ example and die to self.
Mark 8:34 — Summoning the crowd along with His disciples, He said to them, “If anyone wants to be My follower, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me.
Romans 12:1-2 — I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
We Have the Choice
In light of Christ’s perfect love in the sacrificing of His life for us, we willingly lay down all that we are for Him. Our bodies being offered as living sacrifices is our act of worship, and this looks like denying the world with its passions for the purpose of doing and knowing God’s will. This is not a guilt trip forcing us to submit; this is love completely lavished upon us, giving us freedom to choose submission. What love He gave that we may now be liberated from the bondage of our old selves! We sacrifice the old self with all of its desires, and we receive all of that which is the resurrection life of Christ (Galatians 2:20)! It seems like a pretty perfect trade-off, if you ask me…
David Santistevan writes that worship is “a choice to esteem God in His glory and not succumb to the selfishness of the day.” Now that’s tweetable. If Jesus’ example of sacrifice was to submit to and follow God’s will, then our sacrifice today is to do the same.
I ask myself as much as I ask you, do you hesitate sacrificing your own will and desires because of fear?
There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment…(1 John 4:18).
Do you understand to the depths of your heart that Jesus’ sacrifice shows you the grandest act of love you can imagine?
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
Does your lifestyle undeniably show Christ’s life working in you?
The inevitable result of a saved life is looking more and more like Jesus. A truly transformed life looks changed. A duck goes quack… A follower of Jesus follows Jesus…
Do you want your true life back?
Sacrifice your old self. Take up your cross daily, and follow Him.
Will you make the choice to sacrificially worship?
Sacrifice: giving up something valued (our own will) for the sake of something else regarded as more important or worthy (Jesus).
In previous posts, we read that worship is much more than songs. The lyrics are to be accompanied by action of obedience. Just like the Old Covenant outward sacrificial worship represented inward submission, may the lyrics we externally sing today come from a truly surrendered heart of worship. Our worship must be far deeper than words to a melody. May it be an outpouring of a willingly sacrificed and undeniably new and alive life in Jesus!
Challenge: I challenge you to go back and carefully read through the above questions one more time, and this time, ask the Lord to reveal to you the honest answers. Ask Him to work in and transform you as you worship Him by submitting yourself to His will.
Recommended Track of the Week: “Scandal of Grace” by Hillsong