We hear the word “sacrifice” used in the world today when someone gives up something in exchange for something else. We may refer to a mother who makes sacrifices for her children; she gives up something she would like to have so that her children may have something they need.
In baseball, a batter may hit a sacrifice fly ball; instead of thinking of himself and trying to get on base so that he can gain more glory for himself, he sacrifices himself by hitting a fly ball. This allows a runner already on base to advance and perhaps score. The sacrifice, of course, has the overall effect of helping the team more than if the batter were to focus only on getting himself on base.
In the Old Testament portion of God’s word, God gave orders to the children of Israel regarding the sacrifices they were to offer to Him. The items they were to give up were the best they could give. Bread made with fine flour. Rams without blemish. Lambs of the first year. These things were to be the best they had. They were to give the firstfruits. It was their “bread and butter”.
Of course, the sacrifices in the Old Testament worship could never take away sin and, in fact, served as a continual remembrance of sins (Hebrews 10:3-4). It took a more excellent sacrifice: Jesus Christ the Righteous. He offered Himself to God the Father, and His sacrifice was accepted as a full payment for the sin debt that His people owed.
Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s: for this he did once, when he offered up himself. — Hebrews 7:27
For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us: Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others; For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. — Hebrews 9:24-26
For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. — Hebrews 10:14
That is not to say the Old Testament sacrifices were not good. In fact, they serve as a great example to us in modern times. It’s convicting to read about those sacrifices because in this day and time we’re so often guilty of giving God the “leftovers”. It’s as though we say, “Lord, I’m going to buy all this stuff I want first, and if I have anything left over I’ll gladly give it to you.” How displeasing this must be to our God!
So, since we no longer offer the Old Testament sacrifices, is there no longer a sacrifice we should make? What does God’s word indicate? In the eleventh chapter of Romans, Paul is relating the mercy of God to the brethren at Rome when he stops to exclaim, “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!” He then begins the twelfth chapter with, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
The sacrifice we are to make in the New Testament day is ourselves! God is pleased through our sacrificing ourselves to Him. He is pleased when we “come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing…” (II Corinthians 6:17). He is pleased when we humble ourselves (James 4:10). He is pleased when we keep ourselves “unspotted from the world,” (James 1:27).
We are to give our money, our time, our love, our service, our everything to our God.
And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him. — Colossians 3:17
This is a foreign concept to many in our present day. Even professing Christians will try to find ways around these sorts of scriptures by making excuses. It’s in our nature to find ways around scriptures like these because the flesh wants what it wants. Peter told us, “Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul,” (I Peter 2:11). To present our bodies a living sacrifice to God means that our flesh has to give up things it likes. For each of us this can mean something different, but for all of us it means a struggle will take place.
For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. — Galatians 5:17
But although this struggle can and does take place, we have an advocate with the Father. Jesus Christ is our strength, and with Him all things are possible.
I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. — Philippians 4:13
Christ was the ultimate sacrifice—the highest price that has ever been paid for anything. We shall live forever with Him in eternal glory one day. Let us run with patience the race set before us and sacrifice ourselves in our pilgrimage here as we await His triumphant return! To Him be the glory forever!