I’m going to start from the New Testament in a very familiar passage of Scripture.
I often times think we read things in the Word, but we don’t grasp the full message of what it really means. This is a very familiar passage that says,
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 (Romans 12:1, NIV).
This is Paul the Apostle, speaking to the church. He says, “I urge you. I plead with you. I exhort you brothers and sisters.” How many know that God has had new mercies on us every single morning? You can mess up the night before, but when you get up the next morning there’s brand new mercies for you!
Paul says in view of God’s mercy—that’s what’s going to lead you.
His mercies will propel you.
Paul goes on to say that he want us to offer our bodies. When the Apostle Paul speaks about our bodies, he’s not speaking about our physical body only. We read this and think automatically I have to join a ministry. He’s saying offer all of who you are. We must offer all of yourselves—our very being. He wants us to offer our physical body, our emotions, our heart, our mind—all of us as a living sacrifice that is, holy and pleasing.
This is our spiritual act of worship.
When we hear the words, offer your bodies, and sacrifice, we automatically draw our own conclusion.
I’ll offer my own body as a sacrifice means that I’ll get up and come to the women’s fellowship even though it’s raining. Or maybe you think sacrifice is coming to church on a Sunday when it’s 90 degrees outside and you’d rather be at the beach.
We think that’s what sacrifice is, but we don’t really understand what it really means. We’re still thinking it’s a works mentality. We understand sacrifice like the people in the first century, whom the Apostle Paul was writing to.
They were familiar with sacrifices.
They knew what offering a sacrifice was.
It was standard.
It was religious ritual.
It was the way they worshipped.
First century believers stood at an altar year after year, bringing their unblemished lamb, knowing full well that that lamb was taking their place. The lamb was the substitute. When they brought that lamb to the altar, the priest laid hands on the lamb to transfer the guilt of the person on to that lamb. Then, the priest would put the lamb up on the altar of sacrifice, slit its neck, and take its insides out.
They watched the blood spilled on the altar for their sins. They knew the full implications of the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29). For first century believers, it was a lot easier for them to understand that Jesus was the propitiation for their sins. He was the one who stood in. He filled in, like a substitute teacher—if that’s how we can understand it.
He filled in for them.
It wasn’t hard for first century believers to understand being born again. They knew what it meant to have somebody else pay the price.
Today, a lot of us come from religion where we’re the ones who are supposed to do it and if we do it we get a reward. But see with the first century people ,they knew all about somebody taking their place. Because they understood it so well there were no more need for shed blood. The blood was already shed. There was no more need to kill a lamb. The lamb had already been slain.
This is what they couldn’t understand. When all of a sudden the Apostle Paul said something very foreign to their thinking. He’s telling them now—their life has to become the sacrifice. In view of God’s mercy. More than a yearly trip to the temple. More than mechanical religious duty. Now they’re the anointed priests of God. Often times we hear that we are priests.
You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light (1 Peter 2:9, NLT).
Because Jesus Christ was slain, He has made us priests. Male or female has nothing to do with it! We now become priests. The High Priest has now handed us the baton to become priests.
Now we can go to God without somebody going to God for us.
Now we can proclaim the glorious riches of the one who saved us.
Now we can go and pray for somebody else.
The first century believers don’t understand this. This is about their life. They are the priests. They’re not only the priests, they’re the offering. Jesus Christ was the offering and the priest. Now they became the anointed priests of God, and they also become the offering.
The Apostle Paul is saying in view of God’s mercy, worship takes on a whole new meaning. It’s no longer about going to the temple once a year, or going to the worship service on Sunday. It’s so much more than that. No!
Your life is worship.
Every single a part of you is worship.
When you’re home in the car with your children. When you’re making love to your husband. When you’re serving in the ministry. When you’re speaking to the coworker. When you’re on the job. Listen! In view of God’s mercy, offer your bodies. Offer every single part of you. There’s no compartmentalized religion any longer.
It’s one life lived for God. You are worship. Your life is worship.
This was invasive to them. Sometimes it’s intrusive to us. God wants every single part of us, and that’s what He expects. This is our whole life, our whole being, burning for God 24/7.
The fire must not go out. Every single one the first century Christians knew about the burnt offering. They knew about the consumed burnt offering. The burnt offering was the first offering ever to be ordered by God. You see, we are the burnt offering. Our lives become that burnt offering.
The altar of the burnt offering was front and center.
Your life is front and center. Everything you do in view of God’s mercy, front and center, it is lived for God. There is nothing hidden. The burnt offering was the first offering and it was the foundation. It was the foundation because the fire of God came down from heaven, and set on fire this offering (Leviticus 9:24).
Men didn’t set the fire. The fire from God came down and set this offering on fire. It was the job of the priest to keep the fire going. They had to add wood every day. They had to bring that unblemished lamb to put it on the altar every single day, but the fire originated with God. It was the basis for every single offering. The fire that God set on this offering became the seed for every other offering to be ignited. In other words, when they needed the fire for the coals for the altar of incense they had to go to the altar of sacrifice because that’s where it originated from.
Remember Nadab and Abihu in Leviticus? The Bible speaks about strange fire. It was because they added fire that did not come from heaven.
Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu put coals of fire in their incense burners and sprinkled incense over them. In this way, they disobeyed the Lord by burning before him the wrong kind of fire, different than he had commanded (Leviticus 10:1, NLT).
That’s why a lot of times in the body of Christ, you go places and things are a little strange because men are lighting their own fires.
The fire that God set on that altar became the seed for every other offering to be ignited. So what does that say to us today? When we’re saved, God puts inside of the power of the Holy Spirit. The power of the Holy Spirit originated in heaven. Man didn’t give it to us. We didn’t get it by giving money or joining a ministry. When we get saved and God sends the power of the Holy Spirit. He baptizes us with fire. With the Holy Spirit burning in our heart—we now ignite fresh works for God.
Our life as that offering.
Our life as that worship.
Now because we’ve been ignited by God, we ignite other people’s lives.
The fire on that burnt offering spoke of two things.
- God commands us to keep burnt offering lit. He said the fire must not go out. It must burn 24/7. God is saying I want you to acknowledge me 24/7. I don’t want anything that I’m not included in, in your life.
- We need God to keep the fire lit. In other words, it also spoke to God. It was two fold. It was God desiring to be worshipped and wanting to be included—and it was man including God. There’s nothing we do that we can’t include God in. It’s about God 24/7. That fire had a voice. The fire in our hearts set by God has a voice. It’s a public declaration that says, “God you’re everything.”
Question: What’s on the altar of your heart? How much of your heart is burning for God today?