One of Satan’s most effective weapons of mass deception/destruction is the notion that what man deems to be good enough to please the Lord will in fact please him. Apparently, He is so thrilled that man has recognized Him that He will accept whatever man chooses to give Him. Listen to what the Lord says in that regard: “‘A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If then I be a father, where is My honor? And if I be a master, where is my fear?’ says the Lord of hosts to you. ‘Oh priests who despise My name, and you who say, ‘Wherein have we despised your name?’ You offer polluted bread upon My alter, and you say ‘Wherein have we polluted you?’ In that you say, ‘The table of the Lord is contemptable.’ And if you offer a blind animal for sacrifice, is it not evil? And if you offer lame and sick animals, is it not Evil? Offer such to your governor and see if he is pleased with you or will accept you,” says the Lord of hosts …. You said also, ‘Behold, we are weary of offering to You our best; you have turned up your nose at My command to do so,’ says the Lord of hosts. You have brought to Me that which was injured, the lame and the sick, believing that any offering would be accepted. Will I accept this offering from your hand?,’ says the Lord? Cursed is the deceiver who has in his flock a prime male animal to offer, and sacrifices to the Lord a blemished animal, for I am a great king,’ says the Lord of hosts ….'” (Mal. 1:6-8,13,14).
Question: IS GOOD ENOUGH IN MAN’S EYES GOOD ENOUGH IN GOD’S EYES? The answer is obvious to those with eyes to see and a heart to believe God’s Word as written. “But as New Testament Christians we aren’t expected to make sacrifices to God” is a familiar theme. Listen to God’s response: “I beseech you, therefore brethren, by the mercies of God that you PRESENT YOUR BODIES A LIVING SACRIFICE, HOLY, ACCEPTABLE UNTO GOD, which is your normal obligation to Him” (Rom. 12:1). Jesus set the ultimate example of such a sacrifice by the SACRIFICE OF HIMSELF” (Heb. 9:26), which was the best He had to offer.
And let us not forget our sacrifice to those who teach us God’s ways. In Philippians 4:18 the Apostle Paul thanks the church of Thessalonica for their offering to him which he called “AN ODOR OF A SWEET SMELL, A SACRIFICE ACCEPTABLE THAT IS WELLPLEASING TO GOD.” IF the Lord expects people to support His messengers with sacrifices that are acceptable to Him (God), would He not expect the same quality of sacrifices be made to Himself? Paul speaks to the quality of our sacrifices to the Lord in Ephesians 5:2 where he tells the church to “walk in love, as Christ also has loved us, and has given Himself for us as A SACRIFICE TO GOD FOR A SWEET-SMELLING SAVOR.” If our Example gave all, are we not required to give our best?
Sometimes one’s sacrifice involves giving up one’s life to martyrdom, as did eleven of the disciples, Christ and Paul. In Philippians 2:17 Paul tells the church at Philippi: “Yea, and IF I AM OFFERED UPON THE SACRIFICE AND SERVICE OF YOUR FAITH, I JOY AND REJOICE WITH YOU ALL.” As Jesus told the 12 disciples, “Greater love has no man than that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do whatsoever I command you to do” (Jn. 15:134,14). Note that Jesus died, not for everyone, but for those who obey Him. He commanded pure sacrifices from those who would spend eternity with Him. In Hebrews 13:15 Paul admonishes the Hebrew Christians to OFFER THE SACRIFICE OF PRAISE TO GOD CONTINUALLY, THAT IS, THE FRUIT OF OUR LIPS, GIVING THANKS TO HIS NAME.”
Basically speaking, God requires the sacrifice of ourselves–body and spirit, our time, energy, etc. I once had a college student who said that he did not have time to do all the work required in college. I suggested that he spend one-half hour daily reading the Bible. He did, and returned later to tell me that he not only had time for college work, but was also playing touch football. God appreciates sacrifice. Those who are led by His Spirit will hear His voice telling them what to do when temptation to take the easy way comes to mind, and it will come to mind. True, Christ-level sacrifice is giving of one’s total self, Jesus being the prime example. As a man He knew pain and understood death. While praying before being delivered up to the cross, He, being human, asked the Father if there was any other way to accomplish His task. He then placed His will as secondary to the will of the Father by saying, “But not My will, but thine be done.” This is the sacrificial attitude we must exhibit if we are to join Him in the Kingdom of God–the sacrifice of self. We need not worry about what form such sacrifices will take. We will know them when they arise. Some are minor and not hard to make. Others require Holy Spirit power in order to do what we know is expected of us when the self-centered self insists on another course. Our job is to consider the two options–to obey God or Satan–and choose the God one. God’s Very Elect will do so. L.J.