Romans 12:1 (NIV) “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God –this is your true and proper worship.”
“A living sacrifice?” These words of the text have always grasped my imagination. If you read through the books of Exodus and Leviticus, one thing is pretty apparent. When it comes to animal sacrifices, whether ram, bullock or lamb, every animal offered as a sacrifice dies. Not a figurative death, either! (See Leviticus 5:8 “And he shall bring them [two turtledoves or two young pigeons] unto the priest, who shall offer that which is for the sin offering first, and wring off his head from his neck...”) Thank God for Jesus Christ that no more blood will ever need to be shed again for our sins! Romans 5:8 (KJV) “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.”
When we think of sacrifices, we usually think of death; however, that is contrasted in this scripture with the idea of us living. In the animal sacrifices meticulously described in Exodus and Leviticus, the blood is taken out and sprinkled upon the altar. The animal’s parts are then totally consumed by fire.
Interestingly enough, after salvation, we need the fire of the Holy Spirit to help burn within us! We need the Spirit to burn away those character traits and habits that are unbecoming of Sons and Daughters of Christ. This burning away of being led by our own desires and carnality is not achieved by a snap of the fingers. Much like the sin offering referenced above, it is a process. (It is a continual process at that.) And the burning part? It is that feeling that comes when someone has said something disrespectful to us and we want to curse them out. Yet, the Holy Spirit works to help constrain our tongues. The burning part? When old friends, who do not serve Christ, ask us to come out for drinks. Or maybe they ask us to come with them to a strip club. Our flesh may quickly say “Oh yeah!” However, when we truly become living sacrifices, the burn of the Spirit helps us to stop, collect ourselves and focus on the many Godly ways we can enjoy ourselves. The Spirit is a constant presence urging us to make sure that, above all, God is pleased in everything we say and do.
Andrae P. Crismon, Sr. is the pastor of Higher Ground Worship Center, Church of God in Christ, in Murfreesboro and the author of “Lord, Keep My Mind Clean: A 31 Day Devotional & Accountability Journal.”