As I reflected on the story of Abraham’s radical obedience to God in his willingness to sacrifice his son, Isaac, even more surprising to me was Isaac’s willingness to allow his dad to sacrifice him. Scholars believe Isaac was 18 to 33 years of age at this time which meant that his dad, Abraham, who was 100 when Isaac was born, was now 118 to 133 years old. Isaac, however, was in the prime of his life. He would have certainly been able to fight off his dad. If he didn’t want to have his throat slit, if he didn’t want to become a human torch, he would not have had to because he could have taken his dad without too much of a struggle.
Not only was Abraham willing to obey God and do the most difficult thing anyone could ever be asked to do, but Isaac was willing to let his dad do it and do it to him. What in the world? Wouldn’t we protest? Wouldn’t we resist? Wouldn’t we struggle to get away? The story is filled with incredible details and the absence of any struggle is one of them. Somehow, Isaac got to the place of total commitment, total sacrifice. He was willing to lay down his life at his father’s leading because he trusted his father was following God’s will.
How does a person get to that kind of willingness? How do we get to the place where we will sacrifice without struggle? That we will be so all-in that God could use us to bring life to a countless number of people as he did with Abraham and Isaac?
Romans 12:1-2 1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship. 2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Each one of us has an opportunity to make spiritual decisions every day. Presenting ourselves as living sacrifices to God is a spiritual decision and here is the truth:
1. No one can offer your life as a living sacrifice but you. This is something you have to do for yourself. I cannot offer you as a living sacrifice to God. You cannot offer me as a living sacrifice to God. Each one of us has this spiritual decision to make. How far will we go with this Christianity and consecration thing? The surest way to miss God’s best is to offer Him less than our best.
Living sacrifices will incur a cost.
Why do you make a sacrifice? You make a sacrifice because you believe whatever sacrifice you are making is worth it. Offering your body as a living sacrifice to God will cost you, but it is worth it. Do you want God’s best? Do you want to live with power? Do you want to be transformed spiritually or are you good with just having an earthly experience and making it through each day?
If you are going to actually be a living sacrifice, you are going to have to choose to be dead to some stuff. You have to choose to be dead to sin. That is the sacrifice. That is the cost. But the benefit?! The benefit far exceeds the cost! Anything I could give up to please the Lord would be for my benefit. It would bring blessing to me. In order to present yourself as a living sacrifice to the Lord, you need to embrace that the cost is worth it. How far will you go to sacrifice in order to experience God’s best?
3. Living sacrifices will worship God.
Paul says that when we offer our bodies to the Lord as living sacrifices, we are actually worshiping the Lord. When we say “No” to sin, we are worshiping the Lord. When we lay down that substance that God has asked us to put aside, we are worshiping the Lord. When we stop cursing and taking God’s name in vain, we are worshiping the Lord. When we quit using our bodies in ways that are outside of God’s Word and plans, we are worshiping the Lord.
4.Living sacrifices will be transformed. If I am going to live as a sacrifice for the Lord, I won’t look like and live like someone who lives without Christ. There will be a change in my heart, a change in my passions, a change in my focus, a change in my desires, a change in my motivation for living. I will be transformed by the renewing of my mind.
Romans 12:2 that after you present yourself as a living sacrifice, committing your all, and after you willingly give God control to change you from the inside out, then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.
The transformation you can experience with God’s help will bring the greatest satisfaction into your life. You will love the will of God. You will want the will of God. Doing the will of God will be exciting and fun. It will bring deep contentment and true blessing to your life. How far will you go in order to experience the perfect and pleasing will of God?
Why should we do any of this? Why should we even think about giving God complete control of our lives? Yes, I said that God can run our lives better than we can, but what else could motivate us to want to give us a try? The answer is found in verse 1 of Romans 12: “In view of God’s mercy.”
Living sacrifices understand and respond to the mercy of God.
Without Jesus as our Savior, without the forgiveness of sin that He offers, without the Holy Spirit coming to make His home in our hearts and to give us spiritual life, we live in a state of depravity. We live without spiritual life. We live without an internal compass that is truly holy or moral. We live without peace. We live without wholeness. We live broken. We live to chase what will never satisfy. Without the experience of God’s mercy in our lives, we have no identity as a Child of God. We live without a sense of God’s abiding presence. We live without understanding our reason for being. We live without direction. We live without the help we need to avoid destruction. Without the mercy of God, we will self-destruct. And of course, without God’s mercy we live without the hope of heaven. Everyone doesn’t go to Heaven. Only those who have been impacted by the mercy of God by asking Christ to be their Savior are going.
But once you receive the mercy of God, once you realize what God has done for you in Christ, once the weight of sin is off your back, once you realize that you have possibilities for a future—that you aren’t doomed to be who you have always been, once you have an encounter with the presence of God, once you hear God say, “Fear not, for I have redeemed You; I have called you by name and You are mine,” once you have tasted the Living Water of the Holy spirit, like once you experience moving from darkness into His marvelous light, once you go from being an orphan to a Child of God, you will want to offer yourself in return. I see no other legitimate response but the laying down of our lives for the One who laid His down for us.