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On Sacrifices

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What is a Sacrifice?
A sacrifice is something which is taken from its original useage, laid on the altar before God and offered up to Him to please Him and for God's useage.
Old Testament sacrifices included offering such things as rams, bullocks, flour, oil, for various purposes including act of worship, voluntary devotion, atonement for sins (mostly unintentional, and sometimes intentional, with repentance).


New Covenant Sacrifices
Under the new covenant there is no Jewish priesthood, or altar, and we do not offer physical sacrifices. Christ is the one atoning sacrifice and replaces all of the 5 types of sacrifices under the old covenant. Christ is especially our sin offering, our worship offering, our offering of devotion to God (Eph 5:2). When God sees Christ He is satisifed.
However some Christians may have the mistaken idea that because Christ became our sacrifice there is nothing we have to sacrifice. These want to live an easy life without any sacrifice. But the new testament mentions sacrifice on a number of occasions eg. 1 Peter 2:4-10, Heb 13:16, and it is clear from the New Testament that Christians led a life of sacrifice, even unto death by martyrdom.


Two Types of New Testament Sacrifice
There are two types of sacrifices, ones, as described in Exo 25:2-7, such as gold, silver, precious stones, threads, wool, skins, offered to God for some practical use.
The second type is as described by Lev 3:11, sacrifices offered to God for food such as bullock, ram pigeon, dove. They were burnt and the sweet aroma pleased God.


The Purpose of a Believer's New Testament Sacrifice
Under the Old Covenant, some of the sacrifices were to be useful and could be used in practical ways, and some of the sacrifices were not so useful practically but were pleasing to God. A believer is to be a living sacrifice to God (Rom 12:1), for two purposes - to be useful in God's work, and to please Him as a sweet smelling aroma.


How much of ourselves have we laid on the altar before God? It means we cannot use ourselves for our own purposes, advantage, enjoyment. It means we can forget about making it to the top 100 rich list, or the comfortable retirement that we had planned. It means to see our human life as vanity and have no set plans for the future (Ecc 1:2, Matt 6:34, James 4:13-14). It means to see God and Christ and our life with Christ as everything (Gal 2:20, Ps 73:25). We are wholly for God's use and pleasure. To be a sacrifice is to have no choice of our own, and to be fully consecrated to the Lord. Americans like to talk about their constitutional freedoms and rights, but a sacrifice has no freedom and has no rights.


Any idea that we must sacrifice ourselves for salvation or to be saved is entirely wrong. Sacrifice is not for our salvation it is for our work. We don't give ourselves as a sacrifice to God so that we can be saved, but so that we can participate in God's work and bear fruit. There can be no genuine work of God or bearing of fruit without some sacrifice (Heb 13:16, John 12:24).


A Sacrifice Is for God's Use, But After it is Burnt by Fire
Some Christians may think that unless they are doing something practical for God, they are not a sacrifice. Ultimately, yes a sacrifice is for God's use and God's work. However, under the Old Covenant, sacrifices were consumed by fire before they could be useful to God. Burning of raw flesh kills the blood, the life, signifying the burning away our natural life, our natural man. God does not like eating raw meat and the smell of raw meat is not pleasing. If we work for God out of our natural man, our work smells like raw meat to Him and is not pleasing to Him. For this reason God will give us firey trials and tests (1 Peter 4:12). We have to allow God to work upon us, to burn away our natural desires and everything not of Him, so that we do not work for Him out of any selfish reason (Phil 1:15). The purpose of being a sacrifice is to work for God, but by first letting him work in us.

Even when we come to the Bible, we will arrive at fantasy and erroneous ideas if God has not worked upon our minds first (as indicated by Rom 12:1-2). The reason some people arrive at strange ideas is because they have not consecrated themselves to God and allowed him to work upon their minds. They may have much zeal and read the Bible very much but without a renewed mind they will come up with crazy ideas, such as a TV preacher who believes that Adam could fly like superman.


Any sacrifice apart from Christ is not a genuine sacrifice
We offer ourselves to God as a sacrifice ourselves, but not by ourselves. Perhaps we offer our praise and worship to God on Sunday, or our money, our time, and think it is a sacrifice. But if we offer these sacrifices independently of Christ, there is no difference between us and an old testament Jew offering one of their prized rams. We should realize that God is only well pleased with Christ (Matt 3:17). When we consecrate ourselves before the Lord as a living sacrifice, we do so not in and of ourselves, but in and through Christ, in whom we must abide (John 15:4, Gal 2:20, Rom 12:1). The reason is that Christ as the only perfect and sinless man, is the only person who ever truly and genuinely offered himself to God as a living sacrifice. If we offer ourselves to God apart from Christ, our sacrifice is somehow not genuine. Who of us can say that we have truly consecrated ourselves to God solely for His purpose and to please Him, and not for any self-gain, even spiritual or physical gain such as heavenly rewards or salvation, protection, or healing? Often we consecrate ourselves to God as a living sacrifice only in times of trouble, but when times are good we continue with our lives as before, as if our consecration to God never happened. For this reason only Christ within us can offer the kind of living sacrifice that pleases God, the kind that is genuine, permanent and long-lasting, all of our self-efforts are in vain and fall short.
 
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