By George H. Alquist Jr.
"Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ," I Peter 2:5
I Peter 2:5 clearly teaches that each believer is a priest before God. Together we make up a "holy priesthood." This concept is known as the priesthood of believers. Everyone who is born again is a believer priest. What significance does this have for us? Well, we must first ask the question, 'What do priests do?' Priests offer up sacrifices. In the Old Testament priests offered up sacrifices for themselves and for the people. As priests today we are to offer up sacrifices as well. God still expects sacrifices to be offered daily by believer priests. But notice that the verse tells us what kind of sacrifices we are to offer up - spiritual. Christ was the Lamb of God which was the sacrifice of all sacrifices that put away sin forever. However, as New Testament priests, each believer holds a responsibility to offer up at least seven different sacrifices.
Sacrifice number one is praise. "By Him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His name," Hebrews 13:15 This verse mentions the sacrifice of praise. God desires and deserves the fruit of our lips - praise. For some Christians this truly is a sacrifice because they spend most of their time being cranky, complaining, pouting, and just generally being murmurers. Most Christians lack praise both in their prayers and in their public speech. It is a shame that God gets so little praise. One would think that this would be an easy sacrifice to make seeing that we have received so much at His gracious and merciful hand. This praise should be continually upon our lips according to Hebrews 13:15. Remember that spiritual sacrifice needs to come from the heart by the spirit. The more truly spiritual one is the more he or she will praise God both in private and public.
Sacrifice number two is righteousness. "Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the Lord," Psalm 4:5. Righteousness is doing what is right in the sight of God. Righteousness constitutes a spiritual sacrifice. Often this sacrifice truly costs the believer something. Doing what is right many times carries a genuine price tag. The price tag for doing what is right in the sight of God may be the loss of a promotion, a job, friends, it may include ridicule, mockery, etc. However, these price tags are well worth paying in order to please Him whom you have decided to serve. Hebrews 13:16 tells us, "But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased." Doing good consists of more than just behaving ourselves; it means going out of our way to do right. Doing good brings the idea of looking for opportunities to do right and seeking them out. You may even risk being call a "do gooder". This entails the absence of wrong and the presence of doing good. It is a two-sided thing. It is not enough to have all of the do not's without having the do's. Righteousness encompasses them both for the glory of God. "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven," Matthew 3:16
The third sacrifice is communication. "But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased," Hebrews 13:16 The word communicate means to share what you have. This is a spiritual matter. The flesh is greedy and stingy and usually unwilling to part with its acquired possessions. The spirit, on the other hand, is quick to share, to give, to communicate with those in need. It may truly be a sacrifice to give when we have little, yet this sacrifice pleases God. God is a living God and desires for His children to be like Him. Communicating shows Him through us. Sharing is not always in monetary resources only, although that is what we usually think of first.
Communicating, or sharing, can even be the sharing of ourselves in helping others or in fellowship. This of course requires that we share our time, thoughts, resources, and our prayers with others. Sometimes the greatest gift you can share with someone else, especially with God, is yourself.
The fourth sacrifice is a contrite heart. "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise," Psalm 51:17. The contrite heart experiences sincere remorse over sin. A contrite heart employs genuine repentance before God. This heart carries a deep sensitivity to sins of all kind. This broken heart is a humble heart that truly desires to walk with God and be what He wants. It is a sacrifice in the fact that it sets aside selfish desires and wants for God's desires and wants. A contrite heart experiences repentance. Two types of repentance exist which include genuine repentance and false repentance. Genuine repentance occurs when the individual comes clean before God and confesses sin out of a sense of remorse at having offended God. False repentance occurs when an individual says, "I am sorry" because man discovers him in sin. God wants us to be honest with Him and not wait until we are discovered by men to repent.
The fifth sacrifice is joy. "And how shall mine head be lifted up above mine enemies round about me: therefore will I offer in His tabernacle sacrifices of joy; I will sing, yea, I will sing praises unto the Lord," Psalm 17:6 It seems strange that offering joy before the Lord is considered a sacrifice. However, when we look around and see how many Christians do not exhibit joy we may begin to understand. When we offer up joy we tell God that we are rejoicing because we have Him and know Him. Joy breaks forth with songs and praise to the Lord. Faith and trust produce joy. We need to have joy because of God not because of circumstances. Spiritual Christians are joyous Christians. This joyousness is not silliness, foolishness, or even happiness. Joy means a deep, abiding sense of well-being and appreciation to God. This joy rejoices in all circumstances because of faith and trust in His faithfulness. Remember, in life's difficult situations to lay aside worry, fear, and anxiety and to offer up the sacrifice of joy. God will be well pleased.
The sixth sacrifice is thanksgiving. "And offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving with leaven, and proclaim and publish the free offerings: for this liketh you, O ye children of Israel, saith the Lord God," Amos 4:5 Thanksgiving goes great with any of the other sacrifices. Thanksgiving is always appropriate. The sacrifice of thanksgiving thanks God for everything. We ought to be a, thankful people. All we have and all we are comes from God. We receive everything by His grace and by His mercy, and we should be thankful for it all. Try offering this sacrifice more often. As you do you find that your entire outlook changes and you become a contented person. This contentment is of great price.
The seventh sacrifice is our body. "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," Romans 12.1 We are to render to God the use of our bodies as a living sacrifice to Him. When the offering was placed upon the altar in the Old Testament it was not to be reclaimed. It was to be consumed before the Lord. Our bodies are to be such sacrifices offered to God for consumption in the gospel ministry and never to be reclaimed as our own again. When a sacrifice was offered it became holy and dedicated or sanctified unto the Lord. Our bodies have been sanctified unto the Lord when He purchased us with His own blood. I Corinthians 6:19-20 tells us, "What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's." The difference between the Old Testament offering and the offering of our bodies is that the Old Testament offering was dead and could not jump down off of the altar when the fire became hot while we can. Too often when the heat of living for Christ and taking a stand begins to be turned up we jump down off the altar of consecration to God and reclaim ourselves as our own. This sacrifice requires life, not death, and that life brings glory to God. Heat is part of being on the altar for God and glory the result.
Of course when we have presented our bodies as a living sacrifice unto God they are to be available for His use at His discretion. This involves His using us where, when, and how we may not understand or appreciate or agree with in the flesh. We must be willing to allow our Lord Jesus Christ to make the determination in our lives as to the what's, where's, and how's of life. There are many times in the ministry that you may be called upon to do that watch you might rather not do. At other times you may be asked not to do what you want to do. This all constitutes being part of a living sacrifice. Often it is the undesired, the unlovely, and the unglamorous places, times, and persons that God will use to impart the richest of life's lessons in preparation for the future.
The dedicated child of God, the believer priest, needs to offer seven sacrifices unto the Lord. "But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praise of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light," I Peter 2:9
Keep the altars ablaze.