Some of them stood there crying, a strange mixture of extreme fear and extreme elation sweeping over them, some were on their knees, hands held up to the sky, eyes searching the heavens, while others held firmly onto their loving wives, children at their feet, gazing into each other’s eyes, determined that their last sight on this earth would be the face of the one whom they loved the deepest before the end arrived. And then they let the lions out, the screams began, the crowd roared in approval. They had offered their bodies as a living sacrifice, and they loved not their lives to the end.
They had burst thru the doors on a Sunday morning, the fellowship was small that morning, they had been warned by the authorities several times, and many had not returned because of the fear of punishment. The few that were left were faithful, faithful unto death. The beatings were so severe that three of God’s chosen died in the church, the rest were loaded into the government vehicles and soon found themselves behind bars, wounds not tended to, food offered stolen by some of the other prisoners. They were not only beaten and tortured by the guards, but ridiculed and tormented by their fellow prisoners. “Jesus loves you” and “I forgive you” were some of the last words they spoke in this life in the moments before the shots rang out. They had offered their bodies as living sacrifice, (Romans 12:1) and they loved not their lives to the end. (Rev. 12:11)
What are you offering my friends, is it even ten percent of your life, much less your money, do you look back over your day as you rest your head on your pillow each evening and count the percentage of your life that day that was offered up to the Lord as a living sacrifice? Does your field of employment require the total concentration of your thoughts, or are the accounts of the Scriptures, your memory verses, and prayers offered up to the Lord the things that consume your days. Are you diligently studying the Word of God each and every day, or are you flipping thru the channels on the television every evening, hoping that there is something halfway entertaining on before you lay your head on your comfortable pillow, waiting for the alarm clock to ring its call to the repetition of another day spent in the service of the world. Do you enjoin in the conversations of those who surround you on a regular day-to-day basis, not wanting to speak the words of truth to them for fear of their chastisement, their mocking of you, are the teeth of the lions today seen by you as the possible ostracizing from them whom you still desire to associate with, do you consider the embarrassment the same as torture behind bars.
I’m sorry to say this, but many of these individuals that I have met over the last couple of years that call themselves Christians think that there are certain limitations that they are allowed on this verse, to offer themselves as a living sacrifice. They seem to believe that this for them means only an hour or so every Sunday morning, occasionally a mid-week Bible study, unless of course its summertime, people are very busy then, you know. Our Lord is fortunate to receive a tithe of their money, much less their hearts and lives, and when they do give, it is not with a cheerful heart. (2 Cor. 9:7) Sometimes the plate just needs to be passed on with a downward look, there is after all that movie that we have been wanting to go see this weekend, and surely God understands I need that vacation, after all, we work very hard for our money, car payment, house and credit card payments, He wouldn’t want my family to suffer. Too tired to study the Scriptures in the evening, already get up early enough, and the weekends are planned for entertainment and rest, except of course for that hour or so on Sunday morning.
There are far too many today that claim Jesus Christ as Savior who believe the only sacrifice that was necessary is the one He performed for us on the cross, a living sacrifice to these individuals is a quick swipe across the brow a restaurant instead of a bowed head and folded hands. An occasional extra small amount put into the plate or sent away in an envelope, small change instead of sacrifice, the least possible in hopes that God will be appeased. Their living sacrifice is their job, the items that they surround themselves with to make life easier, and in far too many cases, an incredible debt load to ensure that the cycle continues. They are too rushed in the mornings, too tired in the evenings, and too busy on the weekend, and so a few minutes a week is considered by them to be a sacrifice. And their excuse, “God understands” or perhaps “Jesus knows I love Him.” “Be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (Romans 12:2)
These do not understand that the first step in a right relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ is the renewing of the mind, you cannot be consumed with sex, food, moving up the company ladder, money or anything else of this world and at the same time offer your body as a living sacrifice, do not fool yourself, you cannot do both at the same time. Can you still go to the movies and enjoy a big bowl of popcorn with your spouse, of course, but can you relate the Scriptures to anything in that movie while you’re watching it, can you study your devotional on vacation, do you speak to others about Christ at your place of employment, and if you get fired for doing so still praise God, can you offer yourself as a living sacrifice at every moment of everyday? Yes, and you are not just commanded to, you should want to.
Those individuals who do not, those who still seek the things of this world, those who believe that our Lord is going to accept their excuses when it is time for them to give an account (Romans 14:12) are deceiving only themselves, their works show quite clearly where their faith rests. Their view is only as far as their eyes can see, their minds focus on the temporal, and an eternal view is given only a passing thought, at best retirement, if they can achieve it, means “going, seeing and doing” not “kneeling, seeking and praying.” At best when they give any thought whatsoever of heaven, they still think only of themselves, no more tears or pain, no more of the daily struggle, the excitement of all that God offers there, but not the excitement and joy of simply being in His presence. This my friends is why it can be so very difficult to tell the difference between the saved and the lost, they play the game so well, but our Lord knows, and I truly believe that all those who are deceiving themselves also know deep down within their own heart.
A living sacrifice means just that, someone who is dying to self every day, a willing servant who is prepared at every moment of every day to heed the call of his Master, no matter what time or in what form it comes. In between calls, as it were, he is to be studying to show himself approved, seeking the wisdom and knowledge of God, listening intently to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, preparing every moment for the Master to call for his services again, until that moment that He calls him home. I will end this letter to you with something you may not like to think of, I know it was not pleasant when it came into my mind.
When the lions were let out, and the screaming started, how many do you suppose were in the stands, those amongst the crowd that were applauding and yelling for more, how many do you suppose there were that had heard the Words of Christ from one of those who now lay torn in pieces on that coliseum floor. And how many of those do you suppose got up and walked out, weeping bitterly, and begging the Lord for forgiveness. Only those who are prepared to suffer for Jesus Christ will offer themselves as a living sacrifice, fear will be replaced with trust, and that trust will be rewarded richly.