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A Living Sacrifice

In the context of the Bible, the offering up of a sacrifice is regarded as a divine institution.  The book of Leviticus serves as a handbook for sacrifices.  Essentially, God reveals to Moses the necessary steps to atone for any act of disobedience, error in judgment or mistake that is deemed a transgression against God.  These laws have been passed down from generation to generation so that Jewish believers are able to draw near to God.  When the promised Messiah, Jesus, arrives on the scene in the first century, the tradition of taking animals to the temple to be sacrificed was about to become extinct.  Following his life, death and resurrection, Jesus became the first living sacrifice compared to a perfect lamb of God.

“I say to you, whoever declares openly and confesses Me before men [speaking freely of Me as his Lord], the Son of Man also will declare openly and confess him [as one of His own] before the angels of God. But he who denies Me before men will be denied in the presence of the angels of God, Luke 12:8-9.

The apostle Paul refers to this concept in a letter to the church at Rome.  Instead of dying on a cross, Paul urges first century followers of Christ to present their bodies as a living sacrifice.  The Amplified Version of the Bible provides some clues to what exactly this means.  In quotations, Paul uses the expression “all of yourself.”  This includes your heart, mind and soul.  If you want to do a brief self-evaluation, what actions, behavior and words are setting you apart from the world?  Do people see the love of Jesus within you or have you succumb to peer pressure by conforming to the world?  This is give an overview, a blueprint to start your life long journey as a servant of Christ.

Therefore I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies [dedicating all of yourselves, set apart] as a living sacrifice, holy and well-pleasing to God, which is your rational (logical, intelligent) act of worship. And do not be conformed to this world [any longer with its superficial values and customs], but be transformed and progressively changed [as you mature spiritually] by the renewing of your mind [focusing on godly values and ethical attitudes], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His plan and purpose for you], Romans 12:1-2.

Before He was betrayed by Judas during Passover, Jesus identifies an important trait for those who want to become a living sacrifice.  According to Jesus, you must be proud of your relationship with God.  While you still have to walk the walk as a light for Christ, Jesus expects believers to openly declare their faith.  This may be difficult for the shy or timid, but there are ways to share your faith naturally.  Some may do this through diets, fasting and random acts of kindness.  Others will find creative means via social media to express what they believe.  The key to becoming a living sacrifice is making Jesus your Savior and Lord.  May this blog inspire you to emulate this biblical practice.

by Jay Mankus

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When Holiness Faded into Sin

jesus christ on the cross photo: cross jesus_cross.jpg

According to Genesis 10:21, the Hebrews were descendents of Eber whose grandfather was Shem, son of Noah, whom the Lord found favor on, Genesis 6:8-9.  The father of this nation was called out of Ur, as God promised Abraham a great land with countless offspring, Genesis 12:1-3.  The formation of Israel neared completion through Jacob, Genesis 32:22-30, whose 12 sons formed the 12 tribes mentioned in Numbers 1.  Despite God’s attempts, introducing the 10 commandments as a guide for life in Exodus 20:1-17, holiness faded into sin 12 chapters later.

 In the absence of Moses’ leadership, Aaron wilted under peer pressure like Eve in the garden, giving the Israelites just what they wanted, Exodus 32:1-4.  With the words of God out of sight, the hearts and minds of the Jews quickly broke the second commandment, Exodus 32:5-6.  This sinful act enraged the Lord so much that He contemplated wiping out everyone, Exodus 32:9-10.  Just as Abraham had fought for the citizens of Sodom and Gomorrah hundreds of years earlier, Genesis 18:16-33, Moses intervened seeking God’s favor in prayer, Exodus  32:11-14.

Not much has changed today as God is watching daily from the sidelines in heaven, scratching his head at similar selfish acts.  God’s efforts to set Israel apart from the rest of the world through the covenant of  circumcision failed.  Thus, plan 2 was necessary, sending His one and only son to earth, to be sin for mankind so that righteousness could be restored, 2 Corinthians 5:21.  When holiness faded, Jesus stood up, hitting a spiritual home run by offering his life as a living sacrifice for sin, Hebrews 9:26-28.

by Jay Mankus

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