Our Sacrifices
With thanks to Raymond Kelcy
By Paul Robison

“One of the interesting things about Judaism was its various sacrifices specified by God.  Cattle, sheep, and goats were used for animal sacrifices.  Doves and pigeons were used by the poor in some cases.  Vegetables sacrifices were of flour, grain, cakes, oil, and wine.  For the Sin and Trespass Offerings, the fat was burned at the altar. ...  For the Peace Offerings, the fat was burned, and the remainder eaten by the priests and offerers. ... There were daily offerings, and these were doubled on the Sabbath.  Other sacrifices were offered at the New Moon, the first of the month.  Also, great numbers of animals were slain at Passover, Tabernacles, Pentecost, and on the Day of Atonement.  All these many sacrifices were designed to stamp a consciousness of sin upon the hearts of the Jews. ... Streams of blood and the embers of fire are seen throughout the Old Testament. ... And all of this was pointing us to the supreme and the perfect sacrifice made by Jesus Christ.  He is the 'Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world' (John 1:29).  He offered Himself once and for all.  His offering does not need to be repeated” (Kelcy).  But there are other types of sacrifices under the New Testament, and these are to be offered by Christians.  They are spiritual sacrifices.  Listen again for 1 Peter 2:4-5: “Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”   What are these spiritual sacrifices that Christians now offer to God?  This sermon will answer that question.
The first sacrifice is the sacrifice of praising God.  “The book of Hebrews sets forth the superiority of Christianity over Judaism.  Throughout the book, we see a contrast of the various items of each religion.  In the last chapter, after mentioning the offering of Christ, the author admonishes in 13:15: 'Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His name'”  (Kelcy).  Jesus made the last bloody sacrifice that God would ever accept (Clarke)!  In fact, the Jews had a belief that when the Messiah would come, all their sacrifices would be done away with, and only the sacrifice of praise would remain (Barnes).  That belief was made a reality by Jesus!  Since through Jesus we now continually have God's favor, we should continually render a vocal expression to extol Him for His goodness.  We can not only say our praises to God but we can sing them as well.  Remember how Paul and Silas were singing praises to God at midnight in a jail (Acts 16:25)?  One of our sacrifices is praising God.  “Holy, holy, holy. Lord God Almighty, Who was, and is, and is to come!”  “You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created.”  “Blessing and honor and glory and power be to Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, forever and ever!”   These praises in Revelation ought to become a part of our vocabulary as well.  Some our hymns can help us too: “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation!  O my soul, praise Him, for He is my health and salvation!  All you who hear, now to His temple draw near, join me in glad admiration (Neander)!”  “Immortal, invisible, God only wise, in light inaccessible, hid from our eyes, most blessed, most glorious, the Ancient of Days, Almighty, victorious, Your great name we do praise (Smith)!”   “All glory and praise to the God of all grace, Who has bought us and sought us and guided our ways.  Hallelujah!  Thine the glory, Hallelujah!  Amen!  Hallelujah!  Thine the glory!  Revive us again (MacKay)!”  “God is pleased when we offer to Him the fruit of our lips [and glorify His name]” (Kelcy)!  Keep praising God throughout this next week!  This is one of the sacrifices that God seeks today.
Another sacrifice is the sacrifice of thanking God.  Paul admonishes us in 1 Thessalonians 5:18: “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”  Hebrews 13:15 also links thanksgiving to sacrifice.  “It is [obvious] ingratitude for [a person] to fail to express his or her gratitude and thanksgiving, even in relations with [others].  How much more in one's relationship with God!  Loving hearts must offer [thanks]. ... God wants us to be thankful, and He wants us to say that we are.  [Another] of our sacrifices is thanking God.  'Where are the nine?' Jesus asked when only one of the ten lepers He had healed returned to give thanks.  Gratitude is an outstanding characteristic of [God's people].  David has been called the most thankful man of the Old Testament.  He is constantly breaking forth in thanksgiving: 'Bless the Lord, O my soul: And all that is within me, bless His holy name.  Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits' (Psalm 103:1-2).  Paul has been called the most thankful man of the New Testament.  We find him at times without his cloak, and at times without his freedom, but never without his [prayer] of thanksgiving” (Kelcy).  “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57)!  “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift” (2 Corinthians 9:15)!  “Therefore, I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be for all men” (1 Timothy 2:1)!  [Another] of our sacrifices is thanking God.  “It seems that we often spend more time asking God for things than we spend in thanking Him for His goodness and mercy towards us.  God has been so good to us!  [When we think of all the blessings that He has given to us, how can we never pause to thank Him verbally?]  Try making a list of all your blessings.  [Try listing the common blessings, things which, because of their constancy, we sometimes take for granted.]  You will soon find yourself reaching for another sheet of paper.  Think of the possessions you have that you would not sell for a million dollars.  You would not take a million dollars for one of your hands or one of your eyes! … Why not be grateful each day that you have your eyes, your hands, your health, and your loved ones?  'Praise the Lord!  Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!; For His mercy endures forever'” (Psalms 106:1; Kelcy).  Thanksgiving is another of the sacrifices that God seeks today.
Disciplining our bodies is another sacrifice that we offer to God.  In Romans 12:1-2, the apostle Paul exhorts: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you 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.”  “The Christian life is one long sacrifice, a sacrifice that involves the surrender of self, the suppression of our own will and way.  Sacrifice means nothing if it does not mean surrender” (Kelcy).  Not conforming to this world, we discipline our bodies to be transformed by God's will.  “Presenting the body as a living sacrifice involves the avoiding of sins.  It means that we do not use the body as an instrument of sin.  It involves using the body as an instrument of the soul in [our] service [to] God.  'Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts.  And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin: but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God' (Romans 6:12-13).  The body is 'for the Lord; and the Lord for the body' (1 Corinthians 6:13).  The body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, and we are to glorify God in our body as well as in our spirit.  Both belong to God (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).  The body is the medium through which the soul acts upon the world about us, and it is the gateway through which the world often influences us” (Kelcy).  Disciplining our bodies to do God's will is another sacrifice that God seeks.
The next sacrifice is honoring Christ.  Look at 1 Corinthians 10:20-22 where Paul affirms: “Rather, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to demons and not to God, and I do not want you to have fellowship with demons.  You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord's table and of the table of demons.  Or do we provoke the Lord to jealousy?  Are we stronger than He?”  Did you notice those two categorical “cannots”?  You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord's table and the table of demons.   Honoring Christ on Sunday while following Satan Monday through Saturday is open hypocrisy and brings shame to the church!  Honoring Christ is another of our sacrifices.  The table of demons in this context refers to idolatry, but wouldn't the table of demons today include: covetousness, sinful sexual pleasures, pornography, gambling, drunkenness, dancing and wild parties?  The Lord's table is sacred, while the world's is secular.  They cannot be blended.  Is honoring Christ the supreme goal of your life?
The next sacrifice is suffering persecution.  The apostle Paul declares in Philippians 2:17: “Yes, and if I am being poured out as a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all.”  When Paul wrote these words, he was chained to a Roman solider under house arrest in Rome.  This was certainly better than a dungeon, but it still had its hardships.  Paul was suffering persecution for the sake of Jesus.  Paul compares this to being poured out like a drink offering upon an altar.  Another sacrifice is our suffering persecution.  But Paul also sees that His suffering for Christ helps to strengthen other Christians' faith.  Paul had said earlier in 1:14 that many Christians had been strengthen to speak out more boldly about Jesus because of his chains.  Paul saw that his house arrest had “actually turned out for the furtherance of Gospel” (1:12).  The apostle Peter affirms in 1 Peter 4:14: “If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.”  Suffering persecution for Christ is another sacrifice which pleases God.
The next sacrifice is showing love.  Notice what is affirmed in Ephesians 5:2: “And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.”  Jesus loved us so much that He took the punishment of sin for us; He endured the mocking, the beating, the torturing, the insulting, and the wrath of God!  Now, if we would be His followers, it logically follows that we must be willing to suffer and to die for others as well.  John puts it this way in 1 John 3:16: “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us.  And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.”  Maybe we should be praying: “Lord, increase our ability to love!”  A sacrifice of showing love produces a sweet-smelling aroma before God!  Since we live in land of religious freedom, our lives are not really put at risk very often because of our faith.  But this is not true in other parts of the world where there are governments which oppose Christianity.  There are still brethren who willingly give their own lives in order to protect other brethren from harm because of their love for them.  Like these unselfish brethren, we need to strive to be mature in our showing love, another of our sacrifices today.
The next sacrifice is sharing goods.  Paul admonishes us in Ephesians 4:28: “Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need.”  You work in order to be able to give a gift to another.  Now notice what Paul said about the gift that some Christians had given to him in Philippians 4:18: “Indeed I have all and abound, I am full, having received from Epaphroditus the things sent from you, a sweet-smelling aroma--well pleasing to God.”  “To praise God with [our] lips and then refuse to give [with our hands] is [foolishness]. … We must not only praise God with our lips but honor Him with our substance also.  Sharing goods is another sacrifice for us.  One of the most severe rebukes of the Old Testament is that given by Malachi: 'I have no pleasure in you, says the Lord of hosts, neither will I accept an offering at your hands' (1:10).  In the preceding verses, he has accused them of offering polluted bread, and the blind, lame, and sick animals.  God is not pleased when we give Him that which is useless to us.  We are to purpose in our hearts what we shall give and are to give liberally and cheerfully (2 Corinthians 9:7).  When we first make all of our other plans, and then give to the Lord that which is left, can we expect to have His approval?  Can we think that He will be pleased with the scraps and leftovers?  Let us remember when we give that others might be helped that we are offering up a sacrifice,” [another sweet-smelling aroma with which God is highly pleased, Kelcy]!
The next sacrifice is doing good.  The writer of Hebrews admonishes in 13:16: “But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.”  We just talked about sharing goods, now let's discuss doing good.  One good brother remarked in his commentary: “The practical side of Christianity must never be overlooked, for to do good to one's fellows is also a sacrifice of which God approves” (Lightfoot).  “Possibly the best [summary] of the life of Jesus is this: 'Who went about doing good' (Acts 10:38).  To be Christlike, to follow in His steps, we must go about doing good.  'He who does good is of God' (3 John 11).  'As we therefore have opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith' (Galatians 6:10).  … Paul instructed Timothy to charge [members who] are rich to 'do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share'” (1 Timothy 6:18; Kelcy).  We are to be ready to every good work (Titus 3:1-3).  Helping the afflicted is a part of pure and undefiled religion (James 1:27).  Comforting the fainthearted and supporting the weak are also good works which we are exhorted to do (1 Thessalonians 5:14).  Some say they cannot find anything to do!  Isn't there some sick or elderly person who needs your visit?  Can you not think of some home into which you can take food?  Can you not think of some widow or aged person who does not have a way to go to the doctor's office?  A Christian's car can be used for many good works.  Is there not some young person or child that you can encourage?  Thousands of Christian acts are within the reach of us all.  It is vain to pray unless we work.  God is well pleased when we offer the sacrifice of doing good!
Don't we, as Christians, have some interesting sacrifices?  To recap, those sacrifices again are: praising God, thanking God, disciplining our bodies, honoring Christ, suffering persecution, showing love, sharing goods, and doing good.  “... as living stones, [you] are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:5).  Each Christian is a priest [and] is a part of God's house.  … [You see], only those who are members in the spiritual house of God have the right to offer up spiritual sacrifices to God.  Do you need to become a spiritual priest so that you can offer up these sacrifices which will be well pleasing to God?  The apostle Peter's words still ring true today: “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  For the promise is to you, and you your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call” (Acts 2:38-39)!  Jesus is our Great High Priest.  Surrender your life to Him now through baptism so that you can be added to His spiritual household and begin offering up spiritual sacrifices to God!