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Bible verses about Sacrifice as a Way of Life
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Romans 12:1-2

Paul makes a strong, urgent appeal to Christians to devote their lives to sacrifice. Sacrifice suggests the giving up or forfeiture of something or oneself for something or someone considered to be of greater value. In this context, the "Someone" is Jesus Christ and the "something" is God's way of life. The apostle is urging those of us who have had the revelation of God given to us to devote ourselves entirely to living it.

He urges us to sacrifice our bodies. He does not mean to imply giving up merely our skin and bones but the totality of what we are—our entire beings including our minds with all of their character, energy, knowledge, experiences, skills, perspectives, and attitudes—with nothing held back, since we are likely to hold a portion of our life in reserve just for ourselves. In other words, he is asking us to consecrate our entire lives to God. Note that Paul does not call this "extreme," but "reasonable."

Why would one even consider taking on the potential for such costly pain? No one really grasps the fullness of what God asks of those who make the New Covenant with Him at baptism. This witness in Romans 12:1-2 is nonetheless part of His Word to testify against us. There is a good reason, succinctly given in Romans 5:5: "Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us." We do it because God's love for His Son has been given to us and is growing. His investment in us, His grace, is beginning to be returned.

The love of God, the biblical love, is not a mere affection but an outgoing concern equal to or greater than self-concern. This love, which we do not have by nature but is given by God as a gift, will sacrifice itself for the well-being of others. It will pay the costs of forfeiture of self-interest for the well-being even of enemies. It will choose to lay down its life following the pattern shown in Jesus' life.

The love of God is an unearned, dynamic gift from God that influences one who has it toward oneness with God and fellow man. It must be deliberately chosen, though, in order to be put to use.

At this juncture, its costs come to the fore because, despite conversion, human nature remains. Though considerably weakened, it still exerts its influences toward the self (Romans 7:14-23; Galatians 5:16-17). We must overcome human nature's influences, but in virtually every case, we must make a sacrifice to fulfill the influences of the love of God. Sacrificing almost always involves the potential for loss, at times a considerable loss.

A number of verses reveal that, in one sense, choosing whether to sacrifice oneself in obedience to Jesus Christ is not a realistic option to anyone who claims to love Him. In John 14:15, Jesus says, "If you love Me, keep My commandments." He adds in John 14:21, "He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me." Verse 15 is a direct command and challenge to anyone claiming to love Him, and verse 21 says that one's following through in submissive obedience is the proof that the claimant loves Him. I John 5:3 adds a resounding confirmation to verse 21 by providing the Bible's definition of love: "For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome."

Love comes at a high price, but it is also rewarding because, as we make the sometimes costly choices to please God by following Jesus Christ, we transform more fully into His image due to following the pathway our Savior blazed before us. Becoming a living sacrifice is one of the costs that observing Passover should recall to our memories, giving us substance for sober reflection aimed toward revitalizing our understanding of the significance of this important day.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Awesome Cost of Love


 

2 Corinthians 4:16

Once fellowship with God is established through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, that is not enough. This fellowship must be built upon. For it to continue, it has to be renewed day by day. In other words, sacrificing has to continue. Our relationship with God, then, is not constant because we are not unchanging as God is. Our attitudes fluctuate, our faith increases or decreases, and our love, joy, and peace ebb and flow in their intensity.

Sacrifice, whether it be the sacrifice of Christ or our own personal sacrifice, plays a major role in all of this because these things are not constants within us, so they have to be renewed daily. We can conclude that a sacrifice is then either a means of reconciling or a means of strengthening what already exists—a necessary means of becoming or continuing at-one-ment with God.

We need to add another factor to this. In the Old Testament, the gifts given to God are arranged in the order of their value: An animal is of greater value than a vegetable. Consider Cain and Abel's offering. Abel gave an acceptable one, while Cain gave one that was unacceptable for that circumstance. It might have been acceptable in a different circumstance. Nonetheless, the Bible arranges them in order of priority, as in Leviticus 1-3: A bullock is of greater value than a ram, which is of greater value than a kid or a dove. There is a principle here.

Let us step this up even higher. The offering of a son is of greater value than the offering of any animal. When Abraham offered Isaac, it was far greater in value than the offering of a lamb, ram, or even a bullock. In this case, God would not accept anything less than the very best. It had to be the offering of what was nearest and dearest to Abraham's heart. From this we learn that it is not just the intrinsic value of the gift, but also the relative cost to the giver to which God attaches the greatest importance of all. A widow's two mites can be a greater offering than all of the silver and gold a wealthy man can give.

From this, then, we can extract another principle: The greatest gift of all is self-sacrifice.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Preparing to Be a Priest


 

Galatians 2:20

The apostle depicts a parallel between Christ's course and ours. Christ's sacrifice was substitutionary. Thus, when He was crucified, and we then accept His death for the forgiveness of our sins, it is as though we were crucified and our sins paid for in full.

However, the parallel does not end there. Sacrifice was a way of life with Jesus Christ, and it is to become our way of life. Every time we obey God's instruction as part of His purpose rather than unresistingly following the dictates of human nature, we are sacrificing ourselves to God and His purpose as a living sacrifice. Every time we sacrifice our time and energy to serve rather than merely pursue our own interests, we are following the patterns shown in the sacrifices of Leviticus and Jesus Christ's life. We are to strive to live just as He lived, and thus the daily sacrifice continues.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Offerings of Leviticus (Part Two): The Burnt Offering


 

Ephesians 5:1-2

Living a life activated by loving-kindness in the keeping of God's commandments, following the example of Jesus Christ, and being tenderhearted to forgive is a sweet-smelling sacrifice to God.

Three of the offerings were sweet smelling, and two were not. The sweet-savor offerings were burned on the brazen altar, while the others were burned outside the camp. No sin is seen in the sweet-savor offerings; the individual Israelite gave them completely voluntarily and not because of guilt. They are simply sweet-smelling offerings. Christ does not appear in them as our sin bearer, but, even more, He is shown offering something so pleasing—so satisfying—it is sweet to God. It symbolizes the way He lived His life. Jesus Christ was a living sacrifice long before He became the sacrifice for sin by crucifixion. "Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends" in service, living a sinless life (John 15:13).

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Offerings of Leviticus (Part Two): The Burnt Offering


 

2 Timothy 3:13

Paul is saying: "Look Timothy, things are getting worse—not better! So if I have suffered as I have, and if you really want to be faithful and dedicated to this ministry, then you may face even worse things than I did." A true minister must be willing to make that sacrifice.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Itching Ears


 

Hebrews 7:26-28

Though the author speaks specifically of the high priest, all priests who ministered before God were included within the scope of this law. Clearly, God is vitally concerned about the purity of heart, character, attitude, motive, and service of those who serve Him. Because we are to serve Him every day, this requires specific and continuing daily attention.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Beatitudes, Part 6: The Pure in Heart


 

Hebrews 13:15

Praising God is a spiritual sacrifice. Sincerely offering praise to God is an acceptable sacrifice that pleases Him. Praise is a form of spiritual worship that helps us stay focused on God.

It was the continual responsibility of the Levitical priesthood "to stand every morning to thank and praise the Lord, and likewise at evening" (I Chronicles 23:30). Also, David organized the Levites in "their duties (to praise and serve before the priests) as the duty of each day required" (II Chronicles 8:14). Whole families of the tribe of Levi were set apart to praise God in the Temple through vocal and instrumental music (I Chronicles 25).

King David set us an example. He praised God seven times each day (Psalm 119:164). The principle here is that we should be praising God continually or be prepared to do so at any time, not a specific number of times a day. Oftentimes, if we do something by rote, its meaning and sincerity suffer greatly.

Martin G. Collins
The Sacrifice of Praise


 

Hebrews 13:15

The Bible links thanks and praise so closely that they almost seem to be the same thing. They are not, but they are closely related. The reason they often appear together is that praise grows out of thanksgiving. The process goes from being grateful to God to extolling, lauding, commending, and acclaiming Him for His works, purpose, and nature.

Notice that Paul describes them as a sacrifice, giving up some cherished thing for the sake of another. We must give up time, energy, and effort to think about, thank, and praise God for the good He has done. We could have used this time, energy, and effort on ourselves or taken it for granted as owed to us as our right or privilege. Perhaps this magnifies what is wrong with Thanksgiving in America. Though not pagan, Americans still do not keep it in honor of God, as their conduct shows. It is thus a hollow shell of what it could be and should be to us.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Thanksgiving or Self-Indulgence?


 

Hebrews 13:15-16

For many of us, the ability, opportunity, desire, and obligation to follow the first half of this admonition occurs without question in our lives. After all, praising and giving thanks to God is a Christian's duty. For some, the harder part is taking Christianity one step further, sacrificing ourselves in service, fellowship, and communication with others, especially those outside our "community," be it a group designated by age, experience, likes or dislikes, location, or any other boundary that applies to us personally.

This willingness to give of ourselves must be a key piece in linking one generation to another. It is and must be a dual obligation: the older teaching the younger, as well as sharing experiences widely, not just with those we are most comfortable with.

Staff
Precious Human Treasures


 

1 John 3:16-24

In verse 16, John teaches that we can know love by observing the way Jesus lived His life. He sacrificed His life for us by laying it down each day, as well as in death, setting us an example to follow in our relations with the brethren. In verse 17, he provides a practical illustration of a way we can lay down our life in love. Then, in verse 18, he encourages us not merely to agree with truth but to take action to meet a brother's need.

Verse 19 begins to show the effect of devoted sacrifice to this way of life. The persuasive power of knowing we are doing the right things inspires assurance, confidence, and satisfaction; we feel a positive sense that we are right with God. He then explains that, when these are not produced—but instead we feel guilt and condemnation because we know we are not doing well, and our concern for not being perfect overwhelms us—we need to go to God for forgiveness because He will forgive.

Verse 21 is a subtle encouragement to repent, to turn from our self-centeredness so we can be at peace with God and within ourselves. Verse 22 discloses the positive effect of laying down our lives in sacrifice for our brethren by devotedly keeping the commandments: answered prayers. Living by faith and displaying it through a life of sacrificial love is the theme of verse 23, and finally, in verse 24, he reveals another positive effect: to know absolutely that He lives in us and we in Him. Our lives revolve around faith in this knowledge.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Offerings of Leviticus (Part Four): The Peace Offering


 

 




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