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 Spiritual Sacrifices - Part 2

John Hoole May 01, 2005


In baseball, they have a play that's called a Sacrifice fly. If a runner is on 3rd base and there are less than 2 outs, the batter can try to hit the ball deep into the outfield, knowing that the ball will be caught, and he will be out. But he sacrifices himself, so that his teammate can score a run.

Parents will often sacrifice their time and money so that they can earn a good living for their children, Perhaps saving up money for them to go to college, and so on. In wartime, you have heard stories about men who will throw themselves onto a grenade, sacrificing their own life, in order to save the lives of his fellow soldiers.

In the Old Testament, the Children of Israel would perform animal sacrifices to God. The Tabernacle in the Wilderness was the focus of Jewish worship. And the Old Testament priesthood - all descendants of Aaron, the first high priest, carried out the procedures of worship according to specific dictates of God. And central to the Old Testament worship was the presenting of sacrifices to God.

The Old Testament sacrifices can be roughly divided into two types:

1. Sacrifices that were for thanksgiving, tributes to God, etc..

2. Sacrifices related to sin (i.e., Burnt, Sin, Peace, Guilt, Fire).

An example of an Old Testament sacrifice of thanksgiving would be Noah.

Genesis 8:20-21 NKJV

20 Then Noah built an altar to the LORD, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird, and offered burnt offerings on the altar.
21 And the LORD smelled a soothing aroma. Then the LORD said in His heart, "I will never again curse the ground for man's sake, although the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth; nor will I again destroy every living thing as I have done.

God ordained animal sacrifices also as a sacrifice for sin. Basically, the animal sacrifices its life for the benefit of the person bringing the sacrifice. The theological term is "atonement."

Exodus 29:36 (NKJV) says,

And you shall offer a bull every day as a sin offering for atonement.

Atonement means to make payment, or to make amends.

When we come to the New Testament, we find God telling us that much of the Old Testament ritual and ceremonies were a shadow of things to come. In 1 Corinthians 10, we find the apostle Paul telling us about the Jews and their wanderings.

He says in 1 Corinthians 10:11 NKJV

11 Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.

Again, the apostle Paul tells the church at Colossae that the Old Testament religious festivals, ceremonies, and Sabbaths were "a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ." (Colossians 2:17)

So, when it comes to all those sacrifices of the Old Testament, Christ fulfilled everything that they pictured or represented. He became the "Passover lamb" that was slain for our sins. And because He is the perfect sacrifice, no more bloody sacrifices need to be offered. Animal sacrifices ceased to have meaning for the believer after the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross.

That, however, does not mean that we have no sacrifices. That brings us to the question - "What kinds of sacrifices do we offer to God today?" 1 Peter 2:5 states we are a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

This verse says we are to offer "Spiritual Sacrifices" to God. And, indeed, all the sacrifices mentioned in the book of Leviticus point to these higher forms of sacrifices. And failure to offer these "spiritual sacrifices" is a serious shortcoming.

As we now begin to search out what the New Testament says about these sacrifices, we will see that sacrificial terminology is applied not only to the world of Jesus on the Cross but also to the life and worship of the Church.

Last week I asked you to list all the spiritual sacrifices we are now to offer to God. Here is the list I showed you last week.

1. Presentation of our Bodies

2. Sacrifice of Praise

3. Sacrifice of Doing Good to Others

4. Sacrifice of Sharing with Others

5. A Broken and a Contrite Heart

6. Sacrifice of Death (Martydom)

7. Sacrifice of our Ministries

8. Sacrifice of Taking the Gospel

9. Sacrifice of Prayer

1. Presentation of our Bodies

Romans 12:1 NKJV

1 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.

Paul makes a startling statement here. Everyone in the ancient world knew that sacrifices were dead, not living. Jerusalem's temple resembled a slaughterhouse more than a church. The priests, with blood smattered on them, looked more like a butcher than a clergyman. Paul's words must have jarred the original readers of this passage.

But it is not the Old Testament priesthood that Paul has in mind here. I say that because none of the Aaronic priesthood came to the altar to offer his own body. But there is a priest who has offered his own body in sacrifice. In fact, there is only one priest who has made such an offering. None other than our Lord Jesus Christ presented his own body for a sacrifice.

FOR US, WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO PRESENT OUR BODIES AS A LIVING SACRIFICE?

First of all, sacrifice means giving an offering. In giving that offering, we surrender to God something of value. In other words, it costs us something. When Jesus prayed, "Not my will, but thine be done" (Luke 22:41-44), He showed us that the will of the flesh must be subject to the will of the Spirit. Jesus told us to take up our cross and follow Him. (Luke 9:23-26). This means that we willingly bear the burden of serving Christ (Col. 3:17; Phil 4:6).

Romans 8:5-7 tells us that our body and our spirit oppose one another. And the one that prevails is the one we willingly make stronger. The apostle Paul taught that all Christians must crucify, that is, sacrifice their flesh - their body, with its affections and lusts (Galatians 5:34).

This is not a one-time event, but is a continuous process. Jesus lived a life of sacrifice throughout His entire life, not just at his death. The apostle Paul spoke of how he died daily (1 Corinthians 15:31). Likewise, we must offer our sacrifices to God on a daily basis.

Actually, earlier in the Book of Romans, Paul gave us a hint as to how we should understand Romans 12:1. What he here implores us to do is based on what he says 6 chapters earlier. In Romans 6:6, Paul says "we are crucified with Christ."

And then in Romans 6:12-13 NIV

12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires.
13 Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer (notice again that Paul is using sacrificial language) yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness.

We are to present our bodies as a "living sacrifice." We have died to sin in baptism and now live in Christ's resurrection. We live this out in our families and with our friends, in our schools and on our jobs.

God strongly urges us in Romans 12:1 to present our bodies to Him. And when we do this, He tells us this constitutes a rational, or reasonable service. There can be no real service for Christ until we are willing to present ourselves as a sacrifice to Him. Otherwise all our so-called Christian service is just a lot of singing and talking.

A Crucified Body

Our bodies are very important to us. We feed them, care for them, groom them, pamper them and pleasure them. We go to spas and get massages. We are very conscious of our body and its appearance. Most of us have gotten on the scales this past week. We know our blood pressure, our cholesterol count and our triglyceride level. Many of us are on a diet or wish we could discipline ourselves to be on one. An average trip to the grocery store includes lotions, sprays, creams, soaps, perfumes, shaving supplies, mouthwash and make-up - all for our bodies.

We love our bodies whether we think we do or not. And then, on our way through the checkout line we are greeted by magazines, showing us people with beautiful bodies and faces. The body is now everything. We bathe them. We adorn them. We tan them. We look at them in the mirror. Now, don't get me all wrong. We are supposed to take care of our bodies. They are God's gift to us. But we are not to become preoccupied with them - either with how great they are, or with their imperfections.

A heresy sprang up in the early church known as Gnosticism. Gnosticism taught that Jesus did not have a real body, since he was the highest form of spiritual life. They also taught that since the body was evil, it did not matter what a person did with their body, and did not affect their spiritual life. One could love God and visit prostitutes at the same time.

Paul specifically wrote against this heresy.

1 Corinthians 6:15-20 NIV

15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never!
16 Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, "The two will become one flesh."
17 But he who unites himself with the Lord is one with him in spirit.
18 Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body.
19 Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;
20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.

So, how do we honor God with our bodies? There are three specific things we are told concerning our body and our relationship with Christ.

1. Our body is a gift of God.

2. Our body is not to be misused.

3. Our body is to bring glory to God.

1. Our body is a gift of God.

How do we honor God with our bodies? The first truth that is that you and I need to recognize that our body is a gift of God. Much of our anxiety about our bodies is what we assume other people think about them. We wish they were different because people have made fun of us, or we have accepted the unrealistic standards with which our culture has inculcated us. We look in the mirror and rehearse all the things that are wrong with us.

But what would happen if, instead of disparaging your body, you and I gave thanks to God for our body - just the way it is? What if you recognized you are exactly the body type that God wanted you to be? What if you gave thanks that your face is the result of his design, as well as every other part of your body? What if you stopped trying to be somebody else and began to thank God for who you are? What if you stopped trying to live up to the world's standards and began to realize that God has made us all unique, and he finds our uniqueness beautiful?

There is no one like you in the world. That nose of yours - just the way he likes it. Those feet - his design. What about those ears - his artistry in order to make you unique. It was Jesus who said,

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?" (Matthew 6:25).

As believers, we are not to be so preoccupied with our appearance that we are paralyzed by self-consciousness.

There is a story in the Old Testament about Samuel the prophet who went to look for the man God had appointed as king of Israel. God led him to the house of Jesse, the father of David. David was young and not very impressive at the time. But David's older brother Eliab was tall and good looking. He had a regal air about him. But God said to Samuel,

"Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart" (1 Samuel 16:7 NIV).

If we spent half as much time worrying about the condition of our heart as we do the condition of our hair, we would be so much closer to God, so much more productive and happy. Thank God for the way he made you. Don't complain to your Creator. The Bible says,

"But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, 'Why did you make me like this?'" (Romans 9:20 NIV).

Your body is God's gift to you. Thank him for it.

2. Our body is not to be misused.

The second truth we want to consider is this: Our body is not to be misused.

Americans are famous for going to extremes. We either treat our bodies exceptionally well, or we abuse them. I am very concerned about the trend toward self abuse in our culture. When we lose the biblical perspective, we lose touch with the fact that God has made us and the value he places on our bodies.

We abuse our bodies with too much food, too much alcohol, too much tobacco, too much TV, even too much work. When you stop caring about your body, you stop being concerned about God's purpose for your life. Your body is the tool God has given you in order that you might work for him. If you do things to harm that body, or hasten its death, then you are interfering with what God wants you to do and accomplish in this world.

Do not harm your body. We are not to misuse the body in any way.

1 Corinthians 6:13 (NKJV) says:

13 Foods for the stomach and the stomach for foods, but God will destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.

When God does not have his rightful place in our lives, we are guilty of elevating ourselves to God's place and our bodies take on an inordinate importance.

3. Our body is to bring glory to God.

This is the third truth we need to consider. Your body is to bring glory to God. You cannot have a heart that is right with God and use your body for sinful purposes. It all goes together. Your body is a part of your spiritual life - for good or ill. You have to give your body to God as well as your heart. Your body was meant to serve God and bring him glory.

Romans 6:11-13 (NIV) says:

11 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires.
13 Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness.

Here is a suggestion as to how to fully surrender our body to Christ.

"Lord take my feet and legs. I commit them to following you and not going anywhere I should not go. I commit my sexuality to you, to be used only in the way you have designed, and never for sinful purposes. I will live in faithfulness to you and my spouse. I commit my hands to you so that the things I do will never be used in violence or harm, but be used only for doing good. I commit my tongue to you that it may be used to encourage and bless, never to curse or put down. My mouth I commit to your praise instead of complaints. I commit my eyes to you that they may not be used to fulfill my lusts, but rather to see your beauty in the world. I want them to see the good in others and observe their qualities rather than their faults. I want to give you my hearing, and promise to listen to what is positive and true rather than gossip and attacks on others. I want you to have all of me, and I want all of you."

It is never too late to do this, even if you have abused your body, or used it for sinful purposes in the past. It is always a day of new beginnings with God.

The Bible says, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come " (2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV). We can always begin again and make a new start. We can do that as we look again at the Scripture that says,

"Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body" (1 Corinthians 6:19-20, NKJV). We are to use our bodies to bring glory to God. We recognize that our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit, so we treat them well and do not abuse them.

We understand that God has given us our senses and has built pleasure into the universe as well as into our bodies. We thank him for that, but we do not live as though pleasure was the goal of life. Pleasure is a gift from God, and it is wonderful when it is used in the way God designed it, but when you live for pleasure, you are worshiping God's gift instead of God. Pleasures must never be the goal, otherwise you will be their servant, instead of them serving you.

Understand that in spite of what our culture says, you can live, and live well, even if you are denied some pleasures in life. Even if some need of yours is not met, you can live a fulfilling life.

What you do with your body affects your spirit, and your spirit affects your body. Both must belong to God. You must worship God with your spirit and your body. That is why it is good to engage your body as you worship. We lift our heads and sometimes our hands. We clap. We move. Our body is engaged.

Max Lucado, in his book The Applause of Heaven, tells the story of the Roman emperor Charlemagne. "An interesting story surrounds the burial of this famous king. Legend has it that he asked to be entombed sitting upright in his throne. He asked that his crown be placed on his head and his scepter in his hand. He requested that the royal cape be draped around his shoulders and an open book be placed on his lap. That was A.D. 814. Nearly two hundred years later, Emperor Othello determined to see if the burial request had been carried out. He allegedly sent a team of men to open the tomb and make a report. They found the body just as Charlemagne had requested. Only now, nearly two centuries later, the scene was gruesome. The crown was tilted, the mantle moth-eaten, the body disfigured. But open on the skeletal thighs was the book Charlemagne had requested - the Bible. One bony finger pointed to Matthew 16:26: What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?

When your life is over, and your body is in its grave awaiting the resurrection, you will want to know that you used your body to bring glory to God, not yourself. Nothing else will matter then. You will want to know that you have not only served God with your mind and loved him with your heart, but that you have served him with your body as well. You will want to be sure that you have served God with everything he has given you: body, soul and spirit.

1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 says,

"May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it".

In the great story of the Exodus, we learn that God wanted his people to leave Egypt and travel three day into the wilderness to serve Him by offering sacrifices.

Exodus 3:18 NKJV

18 ...and you shall come, you and the elders of Israel, to the king of Egypt; and you shall say to him, 'The LORD God of the Hebrews has met with us; and now, please, let us go three days' journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to the LORD our God.'

In Scripture, Egypt is a type or a picture of "sin." And if any human being can be a type or picture of the "devil" it would be the Pharaoh of Egypt. Like the devil, the Pharaoh tried to keep God's people in bondage. And in the fleeing of the Israelites from Egypt, we see a picture of a repentant sinner fleeing from a life of guilt and condemnation. And the Red Sea, even with a name that describes a color, is a picture of the crimson blood of Christ that separates us from the bondage of the enemy. But the enemy doesn't like us to leave his territory, so he entices us toward other alternatives. And what we see proposed by Pharaoh, is exactly what our real enemy, the devil, tries to do.

Pharaoh did everything in his power to keep the people of Israel in Egypt, and far away from the appointed place of sacrifice and service. God has given us this account to help us understand the tactics of the enemy. Let's look at how the Pharaoh tries to keep the people of Israel under his bondage.

A. I will let you sacrifice to your God as long as it is within our country.

Exodus 8:25-27 NKJV

25 Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron, and said, "Go, sacrifice to your God in the land."
26 And Moses said, "It is not right to do so, for we would be sacrificing the abomination of the Egyptians to the LORD our God. If we sacrifice the abomination of the Egyptians before their eyes, then will they not stone us?
27 We will go three days' journey into the wilderness and sacrifice to the LORD our God as He will command us."

The devil approves of sacrifice as long as it is "in the land of Egypt." As stated earlier, Egypt is a type of sin and the world. That is where the enemy is king. Satan is king, even in the "religious world." In fact, he often encourages "religion." Especially, he applauds the works and actions of individuals seeking self-glory under the guise of religious service.

Satan knows that every man has a vacuum in his or her soul which can only be filled with the living God. If Satan can fill a soul's void with all kinds of religious activity of the world, he is still king of that life. That is because true Christianity is not religion, but a living relationship with God through Jesus Christ.

And the Lord's command to them (and to us) is that we leave the land, and go "3-day's journey" to present our sacrifice.

I don't think it is coincidental that "three days" is in keeping with the journey of our Lord through his death and resurrection. That is what a "living sacrifice" is all about. Have we traveled with the Lord through His death and resurrection. Are we committed to Him to the point where we have completely "died to self," and have now "risen with Him." Or are we content to pretend and play at Christian service, while remaining in the land of Egypt.

B. I will let you sacrifice, but don't go very far.

Exodus 8:28 NKJV

28 So Pharaoh said, "I will let you go, that you may sacrifice to the LORD your God in the wilderness; only you shall not go very far away……."

If Satan cannot keep us in the land, he will try and keep us close to it. This is the person who wants to be a Christian while keeping a foot in the world. At best this is a borderline Christian. All the deceptions of the enemy are readily available to suck us back in and destroy our testimony.

A borderline Christian is not a living sacrifice. A student who fellowships and prays with Christians one night, but parties with the world the next is not a "holy and acceptable sacrifice." Even the ungodly know that this is not a rational or intelligent Christian service. They smile at the hypocrite, who says Jesus is number 1, and then does not do what Jesus commands. Yes, it may be easier to live near the pleasures and treasures of Egypt than to live as a sacrifice in the wilderness. (See Hebrews 11:24, 27) Jesus calls us to a "3-day's journey" into the wilderness to sacrifice our lives before the Lord.

C. I will let you sacrifice, only leave your flocks and herds here.

Exodus 10:24 NKJV

24 Then Pharaoh called to Moses and said, "Go, serve the LORD; only let your flocks and your herds be kept back."

This is very subtle and actually is a two-pronged deception. Firstly, how are they going to sacrifice to God if they don't have anything to sacrifice with? The enemy will give us a long leash, as long as he knows we will not be committing our lives fully to God.

Secondly, the herds and flocks represented a person's livelihood. This was their occupation and careers. Satan knows that if our careers and other interests and "things" are left in his realm, he still has some control over us. We may think we are strong and separated Christians, but if one of our deepest motives is to get ahead in this world on its terms, then our flocks and herds are still in Egypt.

We must respond to the enemy in the manner in which Moses did.

Exodus 10:26 NKJV

26 Our livestock also shall go with us; not a hoof shall be left behind.

"Not a hoof shall be left behind" must be our cry as well. Leaving Egypt completely is the only way it will work. To be a "living sacrifice" requires us answering some nitty-gritty questions. Am I planning my career to get me ahead in this life. Or have I presented it as part of my "living sacrifice" to the Lord. Are my car and home and computer, and toys used to serve the Lord, or are they "hoofs" still holding me to Egypt?

Until the flocks and herds leave Egypt, there can be no sacrifice. Until then, Christian service in only song and talk. Worship, relationships, careers, and all interests must make the three-day's journey together. Everything about us must bear the stamp of our new resurrected life in Christ. This kind of Christian service is that which is holy and acceptable to God. This is the "living sacrifice."

2. Sacrifice of Praise

Hebrews 13:15 NKJV

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.

WHAT IS A SACRIFICE OF PRAISE?

When we talk about a sacrifice of praise, where does the sacrifice part come in? It doesn't seem to me that praising God on Sunday morning, among people who are believers, is as much a sacrifice as offering praise on Monday through Saturday, among people who are going in a different direction.

Now, I can assure you, it is easy to praise the Lord when all the kids are healthy, the Lord is blessing, and the bills are paid. But, how do we respond when a loved one is sick, or perhaps we feels abandoned by God, or our bills are mounting up? Do we praise the Lord then? That is also a sacrifice of praise.

Job lost his farm, his livestock, his health, and his children all within the period of about 5 minutes. How did Job respond to this multiple tragedy?

Job 1:20-22 NKJV

20 Then Job arose, tore his robe, and shaved his head; and he fell to the ground and worshiped.
21 And he said: "Naked I came from my mother's womb, And naked shall I return there. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; Blessed be the name of the LORD."
22 In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong.

I believe this is the best example of a sacrifice of praise that I have ever read.

I believe we really can praise the Lord, no matter what the circumstance. That is why it is called a sacrifice of praise.

IN WHAT WAYS CAN WE OFFER SACRIFICES OF PRAISE TO GOD?

Notice the phrase in the middle of this verse - "That is". That phrase links what precedes it with that which follows it. It means that what follows is an explanation of what preceded it. In other words, the sacrifice of praise is seen as the fruit of our lips, in other words, the "giving of thanks to His name."

So the first thing that is seen in a sacrifices of praise is this: It is the verbal presentation of our thanks to His name. We can offer sacrifices of praise through singing, praying or speaking our testimony.

These are probably the most common sacrifices of praise, but I don't think they are the only sacrifices of praise. In the New Testament, Mary of Bethany offered to Jesus a costly sacrifice of praise when she lavished her most prized possession on the Lord. Pouring her very costly perfume on Jesus was an act of praise.

In Mark 14:8 (NIV) Jesus rebuffs those who complained about her act, by saying,

8 She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial.

She became part of the preparation for Christ's own sacrifice as the final sacrificial Lamb.

In the Old Testament, there was a sacrifice of thanksgiving and praise. There are a number of passages in the Old Testament speaking of verbal praise as a sacrifice.

Psalms 107:21-22 NKJV

21 Oh, that men would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men!
22 Let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and declare His works with rejoicing.

In Psalms and Proverbs, the writers often used couplets to express a thought. A couplet is where two phrases are given, both of which have the same meaning but said in a different manner. In Verse 22, the sacrifice which is a sacrifice of thanksgiving occurs when we declare his works with rejoicing.

Psalms 54:6 NIV

6 I will sacrifice a freewill offering to you; I will praise your name, O LORD, for it is good.

Here, the sacrifice consists of praising the name of the Lord.

Psalms 27:4-6 NIV

4 One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.
5 For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon a rock.
6 Then my head will be exalted above the enemies who surround me; at his tabernacle will I sacrifice with shouts of joy; I will sing and make music to the LORD.

Here, again, the sacrifice of praise consists of verbal shouts of joy by singing and making music to the Lord. And then in Hosea 14:2 (NIV) we read:

2 Take words with you and return to the LORD. Say to him: "Forgive all our sins and receive us graciously, that we may offer the fruit of our lips."

This is one of those verses I find very interesting - maybe even fascinating. A few minutes ago we read Hebrews 13:15, which stated:

15 Let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God,

The Greek word used in this phrase is the verb ANAPHERO. When the Old Testament Hebrew is translated into Greek, this word is what is used in Leviticus to describe offering an animal on the altar. Let's take that knowledge into our analysis of Hosea 14:2. Let's read it again.

Hosea 14:2 (NIV)

2 Take words with you and return to the LORD. Say to him: "Forgive all our sins and receive us graciously, that we may offer the fruit of our lips."

That last phrase is very similar to that of Hebrews 13:15.

But notice how the words appear in other translations, while I leave the NIV on the screen.

Hosea 14:2 ASV

2 Take with you words, and return unto Jehovah: say unto him, take away all iniquity, and accept that which is good: so will we render (as) bullocks (the offering of) our lips.

Hosea 14:2 (Amplified) renders that last phrase as:

2 ...so will we render [our thanks] as bullocks [to be sacrificed] and pay the confession of our lips.

I went to a Jewish web site and found the following translation of this verse. "So will we render for bullocks, the offering of our lips," The offering of the continual sacrifice of praise in the New Testament, is even more desirable to God than all outward things under the Old Testament law.

What we have seen here is that the writer of the book of Hebrews is telling us that the New Covenant is indeed sacrificial to the core. But it goes beyond the offering of bullocks to where we offer verbal praises from the depths of our heart and soul.

The "fruit of our lips" that is used here speaks of that which magnifies God.

Although our moods and emotions can interfere with our worship, it is during these dry times, when we don't feel like worshipping, that we most need to pray and praise God. If we make a habit of offering ourselves daily to God, just as we are, including our doubts and fears and resentments, God can and will change our attitude and will restore our joy and peace.

The sacrifice of praise should be a continual process, as much a part of our life processes as breathing. The attitude of praise (gratitude) should be as consistent as respiration, a constant intake of heaven's atmosphere into our earthbound spirits. Our lips are to produce the fruit which demonstrates giving thanks to His name.

3. Sacrifice of Doing Good to Others

I put this sacrifice following the sacrifice of praise because the book of Hebrews links them. We read the words of Hebrews 13:15, but we now need to add verse 16.

Hebrews 13:15-16

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.
16 But do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.

The 16th verse takes the sacrifices that please God beyond those that are verbalized with our lips, to include acts of kindness. The world does not just look at what we "say" but also what we "do." It is a lot easier to sing songs of praise than it is to stop and touch the broken. It is a lot easier to go to church than it is to take "church" to the world. But this verse says that an act of goodness is a sacrifice that greatly pleases God.

I want to reemphasize, at this time, a statement I have made on several occasions. We are all called priests. Any person who has accepted Christ as their Savior is part of the priesthood. The verses we have been reading thus far only have meaning if we are priests, each having the right to bring such sacrifices before God. Vincent, in His Greek Word Studies, makes the point the phrase "offer up" in this passage actually means "bring up to the altar."

Do you want to please God greatly? Doing good to others is a sacrifice in which God is well pleased. God emphasizes this throughout the Bible.

Psalms 37:3 NKJV

3 Trust in the LORD, and do good;…

The world will rarely criticize our worship style if they know our lifestyle is also godly.

1 Peter 3:10-11 NKJV

10 For "He who would love life and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips from speaking deceit.
11 Let him turn away from evil and do good;…

Luke 6:27 takes this thought further than we are sometimes willing to go. It says, "Do good to those who hate you."

Before leaving the sacrifice of doing good, I need to emphasize one point. Let me make my point by asking you a few questions?

ARE GOOD WORKS REQUIRED FOR SALVATION?

No!

ARE GOOD WORKS REQUIRED TO GET TO HEAVEN?

No !

WILL GOOD WORKS KEEP YOU FROM HELL?

No!

Ephesians 2:8-9 NKJV

8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,
9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.

You do not gain God's acceptance by doing good works. You gain God's acceptance only through Jesus Christ as our Savior. If you have been cleansed by the blood of Christ, you are already accepted by God.

As a Christian, when you and I do good deeds, we are acting as a representative of Jesus Christ. When we relate to the people God brings into our lives with Christ-like, sacrificial love, God regards this as an expression of our worship to him.

4. Sacrifice of Sharing with Others

Using Hebrews 13, we have addressed two sacrifices unto God.

o The sacrifice of praise

o The sacrifice of doing good.

There is a third sacrifice mentioned in this same Passage. Let's read it again.

Hebrews 13:15-16 NKJV

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.
16 But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.

The Living Bible reads, "Share what you have with those in need." The Amplified Bible says: "be generous and distribute and contribute to the needy…"

This sacrifice is dealing with using our resources to help others. This could include your skills and abilities. But it also includes our financial and material resources to support God's people and God's work. Paul explicitly identifies this as a sacrifice which pleases God.

Philippians 4:18 NKJV

18 Indeed I have all and abound. I am full, having received from Epaphroditus the things sent from you, a sweet-smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God.

The members of the congregation at Philippi had taken a financial offering in order to meet the needs that Paul had at the time (4:15-16). Paul writes to them letting them know his appreciation, but also to mention that God had taken note of their act, and was greatly pleased.

Many Christians today regard giving financially to God in the same way that they pay their taxes to the I.R.S.. They have to do it, and they look for ways to give as little as possible. But Paul's view is very different from this. He says that giving is a privilege and something we should do generously and with joy.

When we give our money to God in this way by supporting our local church, as well as other Christian workers and ministries, God regards this as an expression of worship, which is fully as spiritual as the sacrifice of praise.

A moment ago we read Philippians 4:18. Let's now add verse 19.

Philippians 4:18-19 NKJV

18 Indeed I have all and abound. I am full, having received from Epaphroditus the things sent from you, a sweet-smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God.
19 And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

When we give of our resources, God knows that we will have needs ourselves, and He promises to supply all your needs. That is a promise given to those who give willingly to others in need.

And then, in 2 Corinthians 9:7-8 (NKJV) we see a similar promise.

7 So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.
8 And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.

Here we have another promise of God to those who give cheerfully. All grace will abound to the giver, and God promises not only to be all sufficient for your needs, but give to you abundantly, so you can do more good works. When we give to the Lord and his people, even when we are in need ourselves, it is an expression of our trust in God's faithfulness to continue to meet out needs. This sharing of our resources is the laying up of treasures in Heaven. And God never forgets such acts.

Hebrews 6:10 NIV

10 God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.

5. A Broken and a Contrite Heart

Psalms 51:17 NKJV

17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart - These, O God, You will not despise.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO HAVE A BROKEN AND CONTRITE HEART?

To be broken and contrite is to have a spirit of repentance. It is daily dying to sin and living in the newness of Christ's forgiveness. The Hebrew word translated "broken" also means: Crushed, shattered.

After we sin, the first step back to God is to have a changed heart. This always begins with humble contrition of heart because you have erred against the One who loves you dearly. This is to bow down before God because our inner spirit is crushed with a sense of guilt.

A contrite heart:

o does not try to rationalize or excuse or justify our sin.

o does not even mean feeling bad or remorseful about sin.

o does not try to fool God or ourselves. It recognizes that God requires truth and honesty.

o does not try to blame circumstances on other people or God for our own failure.

When we become aware of our sin and transgressions against God, and are broken and contrite, we need to know that:

o God isn't interested in empty apologies.

o God doesn't want simple New Year's resolutions to do better.

o God cares nothing about our efforts to balance your sins with a little more good.

Don't be conned into believing that if you have done more good than sin, then God looks on you as one headed for Heaven. God doesn't grade on a curve.

Rather, God desires a broken and contrite and humbled heart of one who determines to turn from their sin, to forsake their sin, and to abandon it. Only then is our sacrifice to God acceptable to Him. When we come to God with a broken and contrite heart, He has provided a promise through the prophet Isaiah.

Isaiah 57:15 NIV

15 For this is what the high and lofty One says - he who lives forever, whose name is holy: "I live in a high and holy place, but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.

As a believer and a priest before God, your sacrifice of a broken spirit and a broken, contrite heart is not despised by Him.

Here is another thought I want to bring into our discussion. A broken heart is not the same as a divided heart!

Psalm 119:2 says: "blessed are those who…seek Him with all their heart."

Notice other verses in Psalm 119.

Verse 34: (NKJV) "I shall observe it (God's Law) with my whole heart."

Verse 58: (NKJV) "The proud have forged a lie against me, But I will keep Your precepts with my whole heart."

To seek and serve God with our whole heart means not to be divided with many things being the object of our affections. We will not really know God until our hearts are one toward Him. It is one thing to be divided. - It is quite another to be broken. One of these God hates. - The other He loves. In fact, there is no heart so complete and whole in seeking after God as a heart that is broken before Him. I am speaking of a heart where every fragment sighs and cries after the Savior's face.

It is the divided heart that the Scriptures abhor. A heart may be divided, but not broken. It may be broken, yet not divided. And yet, praise the Lord, it may be broken and still be completely whole. But it cannot be completely whole until it is broken before God.

Let me finish our discussion about the sacrifice of a broken heart by comparing it to a simple story of a boy with a lunch of 5 loaves and 2 fishes. Think of that little boy whose lunch was preempted by the disciples. We are not told whether the boy gave it up willingly, or whether the disciples just took it. But whatever the case was, I don't believe that that little boy ever forgot Jesus or ever regretted the sacrifice. Jesus gave thanks and broke the bread into pieces and handed them to the disciples.

Focus on the fact that Christ broke the bread into pieces. You see, the pieces could feed a multitude, while the entire loaf would just satisfy a little boy.

If your life is broken when given to Jesus, it may be because pieces will feed a multitude when a loaf would satisfy only a little boy.

CONCLUSION:

God needs, greatly needs, priests who can draw near to Him, who will live in His presence, and who, by their intercession, draw down blessing of his grace on others. And the world needs, greatly needs, priests who will bear the burden of the perishing ones, and intercede on their behalf.

Are you willing to offer yourself for this holy work? To surrender our lives to God and mankind, as priests, demands no less than the Christ-like giving up of all to God. We cannot afford any longer to be content with having salvation and just doing work enough to keep ourselves warm and lively.

Satan understands the significance of the believer's priesthood and the potential damage that it can cause his kingdom should we elect to proceed into the fullness of our priesthood.

Priesthood is the church's "mission impossible." Impossible in the eyes of man, but possible in the power of God. Should we choose to accept the mission, our God will NOT disavow our actions but, rather, has promised, "Lo I am with you always, even to the end of the world." Should any of our forces be captured, God promised us the keys to the kingdom. What we bind on earth is bound in heaven, and whatever we loose on earth is loosed in heaven.

   
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Last Updated: Thursday September 08 2011
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