Tonight, writing this weeks sermon from Springfield, Illinois, I learned something in the Bible I never realized before. I am including this in this weeks sermon, but I think it is so important it cannot wait until Sunday. I must express it now to the people reading this blog in the event I die before Sunday so this truth is out there. I am confident many know this already, I just was not one of them.
This week I am preaching on Ephesians 4: 17-24. This is a great call by Paul to the Ephesians to live as they were called, not like they were when their minds were darkened and ignorant. Paul is calling them to a new life, to put away the old and be renewed in the spirit of their minds, by putting on the new self, in true righteousness and holiness.
As pastors do, I am using Romans 12: 1-2 as a complementary text of Scripture with Ephesians. As I was typing and reading Scripture, and thinking at the same time, I noticed Paul write to the Romans they should present their bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is their spiritual worship. This is nearly the same language from Ephesians, but with a twist. The Romans are also to put on their new self and have their minds renewed while not conforming to the world, but their new bodies are to be presented as a living sacrifice, which is good and acceptable and perfect.
In other words or to make it more clear. When we live right, it is like offering a sacrifice of ourselves to God. When we make Godly decisions, it is like offerings a sacrifice of ourselves to God. Much like the smell of the burning fat rising to heaven and being pleasing to God. The actual good and righteous living is a new sacrifice to God and pleasing. We can do this everyday and with all our thoughts and behaviors. With each Christian choice, we offer ourselves to God as a sacrifice.
This is a much greater affirmation than any atta boy I as pastor can give to a believer. This is God, receiving the good deed and thought as a living sacrifice rising to God’s nostrils and being pleased. Why should we choose living and doing right? Because it is our sacrifice to God to present our bodies as holy and acceptable each time. I never put these together until now.
Now, when I think and do right, I will be able to imagine God being pleased with me as a living sacrifice. This is revolutionary. Why did I not recognize this before?