In the Old Testament, the Jewish people had a system of sacrifices – set in place by God – as a way of gaining forgiveness for their sins. Twice a day the priests would offer an a lamb as a burnt offering for the sins of the people. We see in Christ the fulfillment of this system as He became the final sacrifice. Once and for all Jesus satiated God’s need for justice by offering Himself as the permanent sacrifice for our sins.
But there is another sacrifice.
One that we do not like to talk about as much. One we don’t even like to think about because it costs us something. It’s the sacrifice of ourselves. You know, like Romans 12:1
And so, dear brothers and sisters,I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. (NLT)
God has offered His own Son for me as a sacrifice, and now He calls me to climb on the altar for Him. In gratitude for all He has given me, I am now called to give all to Him.
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Give Aaron and his sons the following instructions regarding the burnt offering. The burnt offering must be left on top of the altar until the next morning, and the fire on the altar must be kept burning all night…the fire on the altar must be kept burning; it must never go out. Each morning the priest will add fresh wood to the fire and arrange the burnt offering on it….Remember, the fire must be kept burning on the altar at all times. It must never go out.
Three times the Lord tells Moses to remember that the fire must burn all night, that the flame must never go out. The offering is to sit on the fire all day and all night, until it is reduced to ash.
Put these images together and think about it. God calls me to offer myself as a “living sacrifice” to Him. That sacrifice is to burn until it is completely consumed. The fire is to never be extinguished. I’m supposed to sit on that altar, allowing God to burn everything away, until there is nothing left but Him. The refining fire of the Holy Spirit is to be constantly applied to my life.
How many of us are truly willing to burn until we are consumed?
Most Christians today prayed a prayer, gave up some bad habits, and went on with life as usual. We do our duties – attend church, tithe, or teach Sunday School – and get on with our lives. We thank Jesus for dying on the cross for us, never thinking that He might call us to hang there with Him. We sing songs about His sacrifice for us, and it never crosses our mind that He might want us to lay on that altar as a sacrifice for Him.
Are you willing to burn? Are you willing to have the fire of the Holy Spirit kindled beneath you until there is nothing left? Are you willing to have the refiner lay waste to all your impurities and until the world’s enticements mean nothing?
What if that purifying process takes the rest of your life?
It might mean giving up things we hold dear. It might mean giving up our entertainment. It might mean losing everything. It might mean a change of career or a change of life. It most definitely will mean a change of heart.
How many will join me in climbing up on the altar and allowing God to apply the heat? Sure, there will be times we are tempted to climb down and cool off. It goes against our nature to burn. But it’s the only way to become who He truly wants us to be.
He became a sacrifice for us. Are we willing to become a sacrifice for Him?