Present Your Bodies as a Living Sacrifice (Romans 12: 1)
In Genesis 22: 2, God had asked Abraham to present his son, Isaac, to Him as a sacrifice.
“Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.”
There are lots of things we can chew from here. “Then” can be interpreted to mean, “in those days” or “even at that time.” Remember God is still telling us to do that now. That which you love most must be sacrificed. God was unequivocal about it. “Take your son, whom you love.”
Whom You Love
Usually, what takes us away from God are those things or even persons that we love. One of the problems that Abraham had was his love for his son, Isaac. You know what it means when you have a child at your old age. Anywhere you go, you will go with that child. Abraham’s love for Isaac was becoming a problem and the only way to reduce this, so that Abraham can see God clearly, is to break this love. There is no man that loves his son that will want to slaughter him. This extraordinary character of Abraham is what earned him the title, “the Father of Faith.” One thing we must learn from this is that God achieved His purpose. The love between father and son was forever shattered and Abraham could now see clearly to worship God.
Each time Isaac saw his father, he could only see a murderer. He would be careful to go near. I am sure that his father too was also thinking like his son, “If not God, I would have killed Isaac.”
The Faith of Abraham
When Isaac and his father were going for the sacrifice, there was a crucial question that he asked his father about the animal for the sacrifice.
“Father?” “Yes, my son?” Abraham replied. “The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” (Genesis 22:7).
Abraham’s reply to his son was critical. “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son” (Genesis 22:8).
For those that are cunning, they would simply have said, “Don’t worry my son.” He would have ended killing his son. What he spoke brought out the miracle that happened. God did indeed provide the ram for the sacrifice at the end of the day! No matter how terrible a situation looks, simply say, “it is well,” or “no problem” and certainly it will be well. Many of us complain too negatively about the happenings around us either in politics, in business, in family life, etc.
My parents were pagans. I saw the way they practiced paganism. When Isaac was to be sacrificed he was just twelve years old – a young undefiled man. In the days when my parents sacrificed to idols, when a woman that was married committed adultery, a day old chick was used for cleansing because it is undefiled. One thing that we Christians must note is that the devil imitates whatever God does. One thing that we must always note is what Ahab told Naboth, “Give me your vineyard that I may convert it to a garden of vegetables because it is near my house” (I kings 21:2). Why many people are confused with the things of the devil is because of its closeness to the things of God. Choosing the things of the devil converts your vineyard to a garden of vegetables. It takes years to grow a vineyard while vegetables are just things of a few months. That enjoyment that will last a few minutes can convert your vineyard to a garden of vegetables. Vineyards take years to grow while vegetables are harvested in just months. It does not take long period to grow vegetables.
And so when the natives do their cleansing with a chick, they think they have appeased their gods. I think they probably did because the sickness that was meant to follow such an aberrant behavior was often averted. The demons were appeased.
God demanded for Isaac because he was still a young innocent lad. He had not known the way of men. That is what God demands of any man that wants to follow Him. He must be innocent.
The Qualities of the Sacrifice that Pleases God
God was very clear with the children of Israel. No sick animal should be brought to sacrifice to the Lord.
“If an animal has a defect, is lame or blind, or has any serious flaw, you must not sacrifice it to the LORD your God” (Deuteronomy 15:21).
No animal that has any defect is acceptable to the Lord. In the same way no man that has a defect is acceptable to the Lord. This is driven home by the passage below:
When you offer blind animals for sacrifice, is that not wrong? When you sacrifice lame or diseased animals, is that not wrong? Try offering them to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you?” says the LORD Almighty (Malachi 1:8).
Again another analogy may be good here. When an animal is sick pagans will quickly offer it for sacrifice to their god lest it dies on its own and they may not be able to buy a fresh animal that is not sick. This shows that demons are hungry! They can eat anything. Our God is not like that. He is the owner of the cattle on a thousand hills (Psalm 50:10).
If we cannot give the governor or president an animal that is sick, how can you imagine presenting to God an animal that is sick? God is the creator of all things. God wants only perfect “animals”. In other words, God wants perfect lives. After Abraham fell into fornication with his housemaid, Hagar, God told him to work perfectly before Him (Genesis 17:1).
“When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty; walk before me faithfully and be blameless.”
You cannot walk with God if you are not blameless. Satan will be accusing you up and down. Remember at this time, God had abandoned Abraham for over twelve years after he went into Hagar. When He returned, the condition for their continued friendship was for Abraham to work perfectly before God.
Serving God is Deliberate
When Romans 12: 1 said that you should present your bodies a living sacrifice, it means that you should actively present your bodies before him. Nobody will do it for you! Let’s take quick a look at the two verses in Romans 12: 1-2.
“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. Do not conform 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.”
You are the one to actively present your body for the Masters use. You are the one to actively renew your mind by rejecting evil occasions and conversations. While doing this, you must be actively dead to things of this world. That is how to live a perfect life. St. Paul would write in Galatians 2:20:
“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
When a man is dead, he is in a perfect state. Nothing disturbs him. Nothing worries him. This is what gave St. Paul his great ministry. Each time, he realizes that he is coming alive; he consciously causes himself to be crucified. That was the reason he said, “I am crucified with Christ.” In another place, he said, “I die daily” I Corinthian 15:31.
It is a “dead” perfect man that God can accept as a real, living sacrifice. God is not interested in persons who because of one gift or the other claim they are the real children of God. What God is interested in are the fruits of the Holy Spirit. In 2 Peter 1, St. Peter listed what will make a man’s calling and election sure. In this place, among the many things listed, there is no place any spiritual gift is mentioned. They are all related to character of the Christian. What perfects a man are his character and not his gifts.
God is interested in perfect sacrifices of our bodies to bear Jesus Christ. God wants to pass through us to affect others. You can imagine how proud the person that drives the president of a country is. Yet, he is just the driver and not even the carrier. The real carrier is the car. If the car were a human being, his pride will know no bounds. God is saying, “Present your bodies for me to live in you.” You are more than the driver. You are just like the car that carries God everywhere. But this time, you are a human car. God wants to live in you and you will be his channel to reach others. Your bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit (I Corinthians 6:19). Will you allow him? For him to live in you, you have to be perfect.