Edited: Mar 5, 2018
20180301 Sunday Worship Sermon
“A Life Sacrificed To God’s Altar”
Do you remember what last Sunday’s message was?
What was the conclusion of the doctrine from the chapters 1-11?
It is to worship.
Worship is to offer, worship is to live.
Sunday worship must be proved through our everyday lives.
Do you remember?
If so, brothers and sisters, have you lived a life where worship was proved during this past week?
I know it is not easy.
However, I encourage you to continually live a life of worship.
I would like to share today’s message from the same text as last Sunday.
We give an offering during worship service.
However, there are many Christians who misunderstand about offering.
That is, many Christians understand the offerings as a concept of sacrifices offered in the Old Testament.
To be clear, the offering we offer now is different from the sacrifices of the Jews in the Old Testament times.
The Jews were afraid of God, so they offered sacrifices in the temple to free God’s wrath and gain His grace.
But, Jesus said, “Destroy this temple!"
And Jesus abolished the sacrifice of temple by offering himself as an eternal and complete sacrifice on the cross.
We do not need to add anything to the eternal and perfect sacrifice that Jesus gave on the cross.
Therefore, the "offerings" offered by Christians now are not sacrifices as of the Old Testament.
If such offerings become sacrifices, then it becomes a duty, where coercion follows.
As a result, the grace of the cross of Jesus Christ will disappear and legalism will be in place.
In the Old Testament, there are many kinds of offerings, such as burnt offering, peace offering, sin offering, and guilt offering.
The types of sacrifices offered were animals such as cattle, sheep, goats and pigeons, grain and wine were also used as offerings.
According to the situation and purpose of the person who were giving a sacrifice, there were detailed regulations, and sacrifices were made according to the regulations.
As you know, all the regulation principles of the sacrifice in the Old testament were originally derived from the remembrance of God's grace and response to His grace.
However, the Israelites have forgotten the grace of God and have gradually moved on the legalism.
In comparison, a person who remembered the grace of his parents and was being filial to them gradually became sluggish from the gratitude, which led to the kind of duty that later happened.
If the parents’ grace lives in his heart, he will do his best to be filial.
However, if the grace is dry, he is only formal in filial duty.
The attitude of the Israelites toward offering sacrifice was the same.
The sacrifices did not contain their minds, so they were satisfied with the minimal form.
That is why criticisms of sacrifices are often found in the Old Testament.
The first reason why God condemned the Israelites about sacrifices was because life and sacrifice were separated.
It is like a man believes in God when he sacrifices, but outside the temple he is not like anyone who believes in God.
When he gives sacrifices he devotes himself, but he is not interested in living God’s will.
Brothers and sisters, God is not only interested in sacrifice but also interested in our everyday life.
If you do your best just to offer sacrifice while living a wrong life, the sacrifice is false and hypocritical.
The prophet Hosea is the one who delivered the most poignant message of criticism.
Let’s look at the Book of Hosea 8:11-13
“When Ephraim multiplied altars to expiate sin, they became to him altars for sinning. Though I write for him the multitude of my instructions, they are regarded as a strange thing. Though they offer choice sacrifices, though they eat flesh, the Lord does not accept them. Now he will remember their iniquity, and punish their sins; they shall return to Egypt…”
Such criticisms can be found in many places in the Old Testament.
Many people of Israel at that time had profited unfairly according to their desires in the world.
They occasionally came to the temple and sacrificed for forgiveness of their sins and went back into the world and acted in the same way.
If God really lives, would He be pleased with such a sacrifice?
If God receives their sacrifice and, in return, overlooks the sins they commit, it is an idol, not a true God.
However, many Israelites treated God as an idol.
They hoped that God would stay in the temple, receive their sacrifices, and not be involved in how they lived in the world.
From God's point of view, it was an insult to him.
So God was enraged.
Through the prophets, God commended to take away such sacrifice.
Through the prophet Hosea, God spoke of his heart.
Let’s look at Hosea 6:6.
“For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings…” (Hosea 6:6)
The second reason why God condemned the Israelites about sacrifices was because of the formal sacrifice without hearts.
For example: someone had to give a cow as a burnt offering.
He had several cows.
Among them, he brought the shabby and diseased cow to the sacrifice.
Since the cow might die anyway and would not be able to make a profit, he thought the cow should be the sacrifice.
In this case, he kept the form of the law, but in God's sight that sacrifice would be contemptible.
Through the prophet Malachi God condemned.
Let us look at Malachi 1:6-8.
“If then I am a father, where is the honor due me? And if I am a master, where is the respect due me? says the Lord of hosts to you, O priests, who despise my name. You say, “How have we despised your name?” By offering polluted food on my altar. And you say, “How have we polluted it?” By thinking that the Lord’s table may be despised. When you offer blind animals in sacrifice, is that not wrong? And when you offer those that are lame or sick, is that not wrong? Try presenting that to your governor; will he be pleased with you or show you favor? says the Lord of hosts…” (Malachi 1:6-8)
The reason why the sacrifices and offerings were not filled with heart is because we are insensitive to God's grace.
Because we do not feel the grace of God, so it is a pity to offer a sacrifice.
It's uncomfortable not to give, and it's too bad to give.
So what do we do?
It is just to keep the form of the law.
Then, we will comfort ourselves that we have not broken the law.
That is a trap for the law.
There is a saying, "Law is a minimum standard for public morality."
Because it is the law which stipulates the minimum standard that should be done as a human being, it is possible to make a gap and to use it as it is convenient if we feel like it.
For example, it is very easy to formally keep the law "Do not murder".
If you do not harm another person's life, it can be said that the law has kept.
As long as it does not hurt other’s life, it is okay to hate and annoy other people.
But it is only to keep the form of the law.
Jesus sympathized with the two sins the Jews had committed about sacrifices.
In Matthew 23:23, Jesus is rebuking the problem that life and sacrifice were separated.
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint, dill, and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. It is these you ought to have practiced without neglecting the others.” (Matthew 23:23)
In this verse, mint, dill and cummin are plants used as food ingredients or medicines.
According to the law, these are not included in the list of tithe.
But the Pharisees offered tithe about these plants to show off their zeal for God.
They were the ones who showed off a special zeal for the law.
However, such people who were so zealous for the law did not show signs of believing in God in their daily lives.
They did not treat other people mercifully.
They did not follow the justice.
They did not keep faith.
That does not mean not to pay tithe.
We must give tithe, but we must also do our best to practice justice, mercy and faithfulness in our daily lives.
Jesus did not cease to criticize the wrongs the Jews had committed about the sacrifices.
Jesus abolished the sacrifice of temple.
And Jesus has made us to no longer offer sacrifices by offering himself as the eternal and complete sacrifice on the cross.
The cross of Jesus Christ testifies that God already forgives all our sins.
In the blood of Jesus Christ, we can boldly go to God without sacrifices and offerings.
Therefore, what we offer to God is no longer "sacrifice."
It is worship and praise to respond to love and grace of God who has given us salvation.
We fall down before God not because we are afraid of God, but because God’s grace and love for us is amazing.
The offering we give to God is to give thanks to God for the grace that He has given us.
How amazing is this gospel of the cross?
When we confess and acknowledge the fact that Jesus forgives all our sins by His eternal and perfect sacrifice on the cross and that Jesus has made us new by the power of the Blood, and when we fall down before His cross, we are made a new being in Christ Jesus.
We are no longer offering sacrifices, but now our whole life becomes a sacrifice.
This is important.
Our whole lives, whole time, whole materialistic things, becomes a sacrifice offered to God.
That is what Paul is saying in today's text.
“I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” (Romans 12:1)
As soon as we are saved by the blood of Jesus Christ on the cross, our life is put onto God's invisible altar.
Not just part of it, but everything: our time, our actions, our materialistic objects all become a sacrifice offered to God’s altar.
Our life becomes a life to be used according to God's will.
That is the good, acceptable and perfect worship we are to offer.
Some of you may feel a burden by hearing this message.
You thought that the gospel would free us from the law, but rather you may feel a heavy burden.
Yes, it may seem more convenient to just give a part of what you have, but according to the law and the gospel of grace, which sacrifices all.
But there is a trap of legalism right there.
Legalism deceives us on the pretext that it is beneficial and convenient to us.
But if we fall into legalism, we will eventually serve idols, not the living God, and our souls will die.
Our faith will be just formal with a sense of duty.
This legalism seems to be benefiting us, but eventually it becomes a ‘cut off’ of our relationship with God.
We have to realize one more thing, we cannot just offer our whole life as a sacrifice to God by our own efforts.
In verse 2 Paul says,
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (verse 2)
In this verse, Paul reveals the secret to offer our whole life as a sacrifice.
Paul used the passive verb here.
“be transformed by the renewing of your minds…”
I am not transforming myself.
Holy Spirit transforms me and renews my heart.
We should not follow the values of this world, but we must give ourselves to the Holy Spirit.
Then, the Holy Spirit transforms us.
After being transformed by the Holy Spirit, we can live a life as a living sacrifice.
Then, we can discern what is the will of God — what is good, acceptable and perfect.
Brothers and sisters, Jesus invites us into the life of worship.
All we need to do is accept his invitation with gratitude and offer our whole life to God’s altar.
At that time, true change will take place in our lives.
Please remember that our life is a life sacrificed to God’s altar.
Wherever we go, I would like us to live as a living sacrifice offered to God’s altar.
I hope that all our time, life, and materials will be used for the will of God and live in that way.
To do so, please commit yourself to the Holy spirit and ask for His guidance every day.
Then, He will give you the power.
I pray that we will all live as living sacrifices. Amen.