We are “to present our bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God….” (Ro 12: 1) This is a reversal of the tabernacle and temple system of the Jews where sacrifices were made of animals. With the coming of Jesus the Messiah, this was reversed. Instead, prior to receiving Him as Messiah, we were dead in our trespasses, and through Him and because of Him our sins no longer control us. We were made alive and given life more abundantly because faith in Christ eliminated sin’s domination in our lives, and the Son reigned in our lives as prophet, priest, and king. Once we are saved we are living for His glory, not for our own. Living for His glory is our ongoing daily motive, our most fundamental intention.
The living and holy sacrifice where our bodies – our entire beings — are consecrated to the Christ is an updated and fulfilled version of the Israelite burnt offerings. The Jews had peace offerings which emphasized fellowship with God, sin offerings which enabled a type of atonement, and burnt offerings which emphasized consecration. In burnt offerings, the entire animal was sacrificed, not only the fatty portions.
The reader and all people must realize that when Christ tells us to take up our Cross daily, deny ourselves, and follow Him, this is no mere mealy-mouthed exhortation. Rather, this is an essential requirement for Christian living, and all people who do not do so, whether they be nominal Christians who fail to appreciate the nature of Christ’s mission or unsaved people who, like a gentleman I heard on talk radio recently, who called born again Christians “fascists,” fail to realize there are dire consequences for failure to take seriously the requirement of daily consecration of our lives to a Holy God.
Our bodies must be sacrificed to a holy God. What does that mean? It means every action of our bodies must be and become increasingly purified.
Eyes: the lust of the eyes must be mortified. The eyes should be used in reading God’s word and surveying His works. Do we look at our fellow humans every day and remind ourselves midst the hurly-burly of life that he or she is a human created in the image of God? Or do we stare with lurid fantasies at various body parts?
Ears: Are we attentive to the edifying and upright instructions of the Bible found throughout Holy Scripture — the do’s and don’ts of Almighty God and His Son—and thus turn away our ears from temptation, gossip, profanity, and flattery? (Acts 12: 22-23)
Hands: Have we learned that the commandment not to steal was further clarified with the teaching, “Let him that stole steal no more; but rather let him labor, working with hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.” (Ephesians 4:28) God wants us to work. Work is not merely a bourgeois value foisted upon us by capitalists who want to wring out every last cent of “labor value” from our beleaguered lives as the commies would have us think. Work as a principle of everyday life is an expectation and requirement of God. When a friend who is a social worker recommended to a welfare recipient that he look for and get a job, the man answered that it wasn’t worth it to him as he was doing well enough with his monthly remuneration checks from the government. It might have seemed to him or to others on the left, who see work as inherently exploitative in our society, that he was simply, and rightly, justifying his gaming of the system. Yet, we who are informed about God’s will know that he is defying the not-stealing injunction of the Ten Commandments (physically heard by millions at the foot of Mt. Sinai when God delivered those Commandments – cf. Exodus Chaps. 19, 20, and De 4:10-13, 5:4, 5:22). Further, he is disobeying the clear explication of that Commandment by Paul in Ephesians.
Feet: “I was sick, and you visited me; I was in prison, and you came to me.” (Matthew 25: 36) We are called to extend our time and energy to help people who are in difficult situations. We are not to dwell on whether the person is responsible for the misfortune that has befallen them, but to help them simply because they are suffering, as Wm. Shakespeare noted, “the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.”
Mouth: Holy Scripture tells us “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.” (Ephesians 4:29) There are foul words on TV that would never be allowed in primetime or anytime even twenty years ago.
Even in the nineteen nineties when this writer was working in an engineering office, the four-letter words proliferated with men and women working there. It was clearly taken to be a sign of being ready to meet all challenges and as asserting that the person has successfully distinguished between true and false feedback from associates or customers. The sense of being in a workplace in the presence of an omnipresent, holy God was then, and now is, almost completely gone.
Said language is tacitly being glorified as showing both that one is a determined person and that one is a “regular guy” or “regular gal.” A Christian in such a place must eschew such language and risk being ridiculed behind his or her back or to his or her face for being such a prude and a goody-goody. Circumspect, restrained speech is the order of the day. Further, one’s speech should be encouraging, fact oriented, concerned, and exquisitely professional at all times — remembering that silence often is the most professional way to bear oneself.
Self-dedication to Christ therefore implies non-conformity to the world. (Romans 12: 2) Through self-dedication, we are transformed into exemplars of and righteous children of the Divine Will. The Divine Will becomes our standard of life in matters of:
(1) Faith: Our faith depends on an intense faith in the Holy Trinity – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We consciously and intensely reject faith in the Father alone as with Jehovah’s Witnesses. We reject the idea of God as pure immanence as in the pantheism of Hinduism or American transcendental philosophy. Rather, we insist in a transcendent Supreme Being who created this universe out of nothing (ex nihilo), and who is totally self-existent.
(2) Morals: Non-marital sex may be considered healthy self-expression by many psychologists, but it is Biblically immoral. In fact, this link that secular humanists have made between the sexual revolution and “health” has carried over into the abortion mills. Abortion is portrayed as an expression of “women’s health.” It is essential to realize that God does not have women’s health as His top priority, but has the righteousness of all creation as His top priority. The idea of healthy sex without consequences is totally unbiblical.
(3) Our exodus at death: Nothing can be more essential for following Christ than that we know we depart this life in His will. We must have total assurance that we live in Him and He lives in us. “To as many as received Him, He gave the power to become children of God and to believe in His name.” (John 1: 12) One of my dearest friends died in a hospital bed clutching his Bible. He was surrounded by his wife and three sons. He removed his glasses, said “goodbye,” and closed his eyes. For the next five hours, he said not a word, and finally left this mortal coil. He was absent from His body, but present with the Lord.
Another friend, a single gentleman in his early fifties, took off his clothes to take a shower. As he was ready to step into the shower, he had a massive heart attack and collapsed. He had also received Christ and lived in His will in faith and morals, dedicating his body to the Living Christ as described above. Despite different life circumstances than my friend with a family, he also left this world to join Christ and the angels in the Heavenly City.
If we fail to follow the Christ, the consequences are dire, both individually and for society. Meditate on these words, and heed them in all their prophetic import.