How To Live Successfully In The Coming Year, Part 4

Grace For The Journey

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LivingSuccessfully2 As we have approached the first days of a new year, we have been looking at essentials truths that we need to know and apply in our lives in order to discover the provisions and power from God to live in a way that will bring praise and glory to God and our Lord Jesus Christ.

Wednesday we looked at how God wants us to live successfully and that He has given us His grace to enable us to live life successfully.   Yesterday we looked at the first essential discipline – A Daily Time Of Focused Communion With God.  Yesterday we looked at the second essential discipline –  A daily appropriation of the gospel.  Today we will talk about the third essential discipline – A Daily Commitment to God as a Living Sacrifice.

The Bible says in Romans 12:1,”I beseech 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.”  As we daily reflect on the gospel and what God has done for us in Christ, this should lead us to present ourselves as daily, living sacrifices.

In using the word “sacrifice” Paul was obviously drawing from the Old Testament sacrificial system.  Those sacrifices are set forth for us in the book of Leviticus, and all of them together portrayed the one great sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Whether or not Paul had in mind a particular sacrifice, one of them, best helps us understand what Paul is saying when he says to present our bodies as living sacrifices – That is the burnt offering.  The burnt offering helps us understand what Paul is saying because two things were unique about the burnt offering.

First, of all of the animal offerings, the burnt offering was the only one in which the entire animal was consumed upon the altar.  With the other sacrifices, only certain portions were burned on the altar, and the remaining portions were reserved for the priests or even in one case for the offerer and his family.  But with the burnt offering the entire animal was consumed upon the altar.  And for that reason it was called “the whole burnt offering.”

It signified not only atonement for sin

But also

Consecration or dedication of the offerer to God.

Second, the priests were to present a burnt offering twice a day, in the morning and in the evening, so that the fire would not go out upon the altar (Leviticus 6:8–13).  In other words, there was always a burnt offering being consumed upon the altar.  For that reason it has been called a continual burnt offering.  So there were two descriptive terms – a whole burnt offering and a continual burnt offering.

One can readily see the application that can be drawn from that.

The whole burnt offering would signify

That we are to consecrate our entire being,

Not only ourselves but all that we have.

Everything about us we are to consecrate,

To dedicate to God,

To present to Him as a sacrifice.

The word “continually” (Leviticus 6:13; Hebrews 10:1) is a significant word because God is saying to us that this must be repeated constantly.

Just as we have a tendency to revert

To a works-based relationship with God,

We have a tendency to want to take back

That which we have committed to God.

Often in a moment of high spiritual emotion we might sincerely and honestly say, “Lord, I give my whole being, my body, my mind, my service, my money, everything about me, Lord, I consecrate it all to you.”  And then we go out and in a few weeks we’re confronted with some issue, and we tend to draw back, and we realize that we’re not as consecrated as we thought we were.

Daily renewal of this consecration

Helps us to keep from doing that.

The second word that’s significant in Romans 12:1 is the word “present.”  Paul says to “present your bodies as a living sacrifice.”  The idea of this phrase is “to give over to or to put at another’s disposal.”

God has not asked us to loan ourselves temporarily to Him.  He’s asked us to present ourselves to Him as living sacrifices to use as He pleases.  The fact is, objectively this has already taken place.  The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 6:19–20, “You are not your own, for you were bought with a price.”  Paul wants us to affirm in our hearts and in our emotions what is true in reality, but he approaches it by way of an appeal.  He does not say, “This is your duty to do.” He does not say, “You’re not your own; you don’t have a choice in the matter.” He says, “I appeal to you . . . by the mercies of God.”

We see something similar in the short letter of Paul to Philemon.  The purpose of the letter was to ask Philemon to receive Onesimus, to forgive him for having run away and probably having stolen as well, and to receive back him as a brother.  Now that’s quite a thing to ask, so this is the way Paul approaches it: “Accordingly, though I am bold enough in Christ to command you to do what is required, yet for love’s sake I prefer to appeal to you” (Philemon 8–9).

Paul could have said, “Philemon, you don’t really have a choice. It is your Christian duty to forgive and receive Onesimus.”  But Paul didn’t approach Philemon that way.  Instead he appealed “for love’s sake.”  He did not want to coerce Philemon; he appealed to him to do for love’s sake that which he should do in obedience to the command of God.

In the same way, the apostle Paul appeals to us. He says, “I appeal to you . . . by the mercies of God.  Do you want to know what the mercy of God looks like? Read Ephesians 2:1-5.  We were dead in trespasses and sins.  We were absolutely helpless. We were not just sick – we were dead.  We were slaves to the world, to Satan, and to the passions of our flesh.  We were by nature objects of God’s wrath.

That was our condition.

That’s why we needed mercy.

Then Paul says, “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us . . . made us alive together with Christ.”

That’s mercy.

Do you see yourself today

As an object of God’s mercy?

Do you realize that apart from God’s mercy you would be headed for eternal damnation?  That’s why Paul says, “I appeal to you . . . by the mercies of God.”

Presenting our bodies as living sacrifices is not something that we check off and say, “Well, I’ve done that; it’s my duty to do.”

It should be a spontaneous response

To our appropriation of the gospel.

We are talking about communion with God.

We are talking about being embraced

By His love and His mercy and His grace.

And we see that in the gospel.

The apostle John said that God showed His love to us by sending his Son to be the propitiation for our sins (1 John 4:10) – that is, to exhaust the wrath of God that you and I should have experienced.

As we daily appropriate the gospel,

We bask and rest in His love and grace,

And this will lead us to present

Our bodies as living sacrifices.

But that has to be renewed daily.

We can’t live today on yesterday’s commitment.

We never outgrow your desperate need for Christ.

How do I keep going?  How do I keep from feeling sorry for myself?  Each day as I appropriate the gospel for myself, I say to God, “I am your servant.  Because of Your mercy to me and Your grace at work in me, I again present my body as a living sacrifice.  If this means continual ministry concerns and time pressure, I accept that from You and thank You for the privilege of being in Your ministry.”

In fact one of my life verses is Ephesians 3:8, “To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.”  I am not only a recipient of the grace of the gospel; I also have the privilege of teaching it to others.  So through my appropriation of the gospel to myself, my “living sacrifice” becomes a privilege.  I am constantly in awe that God would give me the privilege of teaching many Christians that the gospel is not just for unbelievers but for them to live by every day.

Tomorrow we will look at the final of four essentials truths that are the foundation for living successfully throughout this year.

This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

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