Christ’s sacrifice began in Eden, as He prepared even then to come in the flesh, to live a life shaped like us, that we might be restored to the image of God. Christ’s death and resurrection abolished the sacrificial system instituted in the Garden of Eden and fleshed out in the Old Testament. Sacrifices cannot save us any longer; there no longer remains any sacrifice for our sin. What remains, then, for us? Are the sacrifices over?
When we search the Scriptures, it turns out that our sacrifices today, though they don’t secure the state of our soul, bring God glory. They begin with and in the heart:
“For you do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it; You are not pleased with burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise” (Psalm 51:16-17, NASB).
Other sacrifices for us today are as follows:
- “Present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice” (Romans 12:1, NASB).
- Giving up my life, presenting my body as a living sacrifice, means giving all of myself into God’s hands and letting God put me in the right place at the right time. Choosing to listen, grow, and give up becomes a love offering to God.
Our sacrifices consist of praise, of lifting up your hands, and a relinquishment. “May the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice” (Psalm 141:2, NIV).
Sacrifice of obedience:
“Does the Eternal One delight in sacrifices and burnt offerings as much as in perfect obedience to His voice? Be certain of this: that obedience is better than sacrifice; to heed His voice is better than offering the fat of rams” (1 Samuel 15:22, The Voice).
God no longer delights in burnt offerings and sacrifices; God delights in our obedience. We show our love by the way we live.
Sacrifice of thanksgiving:
“And I come, eager to offer a sacrifice of gratitude and call on the name of the Eternal” (Psalm 116:17, The Voice).
How is thanksgiving a sacrifice? It pulls our gaze away from our own sufficiency and concerns, changes our hearts, and refocuses us on God. It’s hard to be selfish and thankful at the same time!
“Let them present to Him thanksgiving sacrifices and tell stories of His great deeds through songs of joy” (Psalm 107:22, The Voice).
Sacrifices of joy, righteousness, doing good and sharing—these sacrifices please God. God desires a broken and contrite heart, a heart that is broken and then filled with love that overflows in a lifestyle of love, mercy, and justice. God doesn’t want cold-blooded killing on an altar. God wants a relationship with us, one that is guaranteed by the sacrifice of His only Son.
“Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name. And do not neglect doing good and sharing; for with such sacrifices God is pleased” (Hebrews 13: 15-16, NASB).
And finally we understand what it means to be clothed with Christ.
“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me” (Galatians 2:20, NASB).
(Adapted from Finding Life, pages 138, 141-143)