Every day we are faced with choices. We choose what to wear, where to go, what words we use, jokes we tell, the television we watch, the music we listen to and much more. A Christian needs to base every choice upon God’s Word. Our lives needs to glorify Jesus in everything and we need to be a living sacrifice to God.
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:1-2).
God is truly merciful, and we need to honor Him by living our life for Him. The Bible doesn’t say that it is easy to be a living sacrifice, but a Christian needs to choose to live for Christ and not for the world. That choice needs to be made daily, even hourly. To be a living sacrifice means you make the choice to turn away from the temptations we face and set aside old habits that come between us and our fellowship with God.
These are not easy choices but with prayer and determination, your life will glorify God. Sometimes accepting Christ means that family and friends will turn their backs on you, but if you desire to please God then His ways come first. Again, this is not always easy but it is a sign that you are truly submitting your life to Christ.
The above verse urges the Christian to “…be not conformed to this world…” How often do we ignore God’s Word and go along with what the secular world dictates? A little idle gossip at the office or wearing provocative clothing in public are accepted by the world as normal, but every choice a Christian makes should be based upon whether it glorifies Christ or not. If it doesn’t then we need to change our ways to fit His ways.
Christianity isn’t a list of do this and don’t do that, but we need to draw nearer to God by studying His Word and learning what His desire is for us. If we make choices that don’t glorify Christ then it glorifies our enemy—Satan.
“And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness” (1 John 5:19).
Because of Adam’s sin Satan is the “default” ruler of this world and he is utterly wicked. Non-Christians don’t know any different than to follow the ways of Satan. Sadly, even Christians choose to follow him rather than deny the temptations of the flesh and follow Jesus.
Paul tells Christians to “be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind.” We do that by studying God’s Word and then making choices that please Him. When we deny the sins of the flesh we become a living sacrifice for Him.
“…Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Mark 8:34). Do you fully understand what Jesus said? Today we’ve sanitized the cross to the point that we forget the pain and sacrifice involved in crucifixion. In the days when Jesus walked among us the cross was a common means of execution.
Everyone had seen the agony of those condemned to suffer death on a cross, so when Jesus told the people they needed to take up their crosses, He was telling them of the sacrifice they would have to make in order to follow Him. They knew the sacrifice would not be easy. Some who listened to His words would be put to death for their choice to follow Him, but there would also be other personal costs involved.
The listeners were, for the most part, Jews. If they followed Jesus it would mean that at the very least they would be put out of the temple and their families would reject them. This was a huge sacrifice. When put in perspective, though, Jesus had willingly left Heaven in order to enter His creation to be our atonement for sin.
That alone was an incredible sacrifice, but He did this knowing that He would be rejected, abused, and murdered. He made this sacrifice because He loves you and me and He willingly took up the cross for us. Why, then, is it so hard for us to become a living sacrifice for Him?
We all like the “sins are forgiven” part of accepting Jesus as our Saviour, but when it comes to denying our flesh and giving up the ways of the world, well that’s another matter. There are many things that are not edifying to us, nor do they glorify God and therefore should not be a part of a Christian’s life.
Sexual promiscuity, homosexuality, drunkenness, drug addiction, unbridled anger, and so forth will only move you away from fellowship with Jesus. God forgives our sin, but we need to move away from it.
“What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?” (Romans 6:1).
Paul asks a very good question here. Should we continue to sin in order to allow God the privilege of forgiving us more and more? “God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” (Romans 6:2).
You may be able to make excuses for the sin you choose to practice, but in order to be a “living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God,” Christians need to resolve every day to follow Jesus…to honor and glorify Him. In order to know how to live for Him we need to read His Word daily and apply it to our lives. We need to prayerfully study His Word to see His will, and not reinterpret its meaning to fit our ways or lifestyle choices.
We need to completely submit to Jesus’ will. When we resolve to obey Jesus we deny our self and surrender to Him. Obeying Jesus is never a self-promoting idea. Too many people today are of the mindset of “What’s in it for me?” In this day and age of the “me generation” submitting to Christ takes much resolve.
The choice to submit to Christ is worth whatever sacrifice we make. There is peace that comes in following Jesus that cannot be found in pursuing the ways of the world.
What does it mean to deny ourselves? We all have things we enjoy, but not all things glorify God. Our society today is not molded around pleasing God, and so many of the things accepted as “normal” are really pagan practices encouraged by Satan. Go to any mall and look at the shops.
Clothing stores promote skimpy attire that is designed for a woman to provoke sexual excitement in men. There are tattoo parlors that promote the pagan ritual of “skin art” and there are piercing shops where (men and women) can have their ears pierced or any other body part they want.
Does any of this glorify God?
When the Israelites had left Egypt and were headed to the Promised Land, God did warn them not to conform to the pagan rituals of the heathens who lived there and who worshiped satanic demons.
“Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the LORD” (Leviticus 19:28).
Most tattoos and body piercings are not done “for the dead” but they do conform to the world. God created us and we are His workmanship, so why go and purposely deface His work of art? Just try to imagine what would happen if someone poked holes in the Mona Lisa or defaced her with a tattoo?
It would be an act punishable by time in prison. The Holy Spirit lives in Christians and we are of much greater value than the Mona Lisa. We are the temple of the Living God, so why do we think it is okay to poke holes in and deface our bodies? This is conforming to the world and it glorifies the ruler of this world (Satan).
When Paul wrote his first letter to the Corinthians he wrote to a group of believers who lived in a very pagan culture. He encouraged them to not follow the practices of these heathens, but to glorify God.
“All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not” (1 Corinthians 10:23).
Getting a tattoo will not condemn you to hell but it is a choice that is worldly. Choose to glorify God and resolve to follow Him. Be that living sacrifice and don’t be conformed to the world.
Sometimes sacrifice means more than just giving up the pagan rituals of tattoos, body piercing, and sexual depravity. Denying yourself and taking up your cross sometimes means you will be rejected by family and friends. Sometimes it means physical death or imprisonment and torture.
Many Christians all around this globe are being put to death because they’ve resolved to take up the cross and follow Jesus. Here in America we still enjoy the freedom to worship openly, although Christianity is being attacked from all sides. Christians remain silent as the ACLU screams out against our rights. Preachers cannot preach on political topics or else their tax exempt status will be forfeited. Does our silence show our resolve to follow Jesus or is it following Satan in his attack on Christianity?
It is following Satan.
When Peter and John were arrested for preaching in the name of Jesus, the authorities told them to stop. Did they deny Him and keep silent? No, they chose to deny “self” and take up their crosses, and follow Jesus.
“But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:19-20).
That should be our attitude too. Resolve to take up our crosses and follow Jesus. If that means to deny our own comfort or fitting in with the world, so be it. Boldly become the living sacrifice that honors God.
We are about to begin a new year and many people make resolutions for a better way of living. Resolutions are made to eat healthier, get more exercise, save money, and spend more time with family. Instead of making these resolutions, why not resolve to draw nearer to Christ. Resolve to renew your mind by studying the Bible.
Truly study it. Don’t just read the words, but understand the words and allow yourself to be transformed. Deny yourself the things that come between you and proper worship of our Lord. Resolve to live for Him and become a living sacrifice to be used by God for His glory.
God bless you all,
Ron & Nathele Graham