Sacrifice is Everything
Too many people want Jesus, but they don’t want to change. They want the grace and mercy, but shun the discipline. They want the freedom and forgiveness, but they don’t want to endure trials and hardships. They want Jesus, but not the sacrifice that comes with surrender to His will. And, if I’m honest, I could be lumped in, at times with “they.”
You see, to a Christian, we understand that we are saved by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, but often, we want to keep it at just that: HIS sacrifice. Don’t mistake me: we can’t earn our way in to heaven, there is no works that can do so, and it IS all about His sacrifice, but Jesus says “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Matthew 16:24). And what does that entail? Sacrifice! We must deny ourselves, give up our own wants, wishes and desires, and then pick up our cross, which means die to ourselves (the Gospel of Luke says daily). Paul writes to the Romans that our true spiritual worship is to be a living sacrifice. The act of Baptism, given to us and commanded by Christ, signifies our death, burial and resurrection in to Christ. So, I think, we can safely deduce, according to the Scriptures, that we must sacrifice to be a part of the covenant relationship with Jesus Christ.
So now what? If we’re not sacrificing, what can we do to get there? Give up. You heard me, surrender! Surrender your life to Jesus Christ, seek to follow Him, dive in to His word to know what His will is, and seek to join a community of believers on the same journey. Be a disciple, then make disciples. Follow Jesus, and bring your whole life in to submission to Jesus. Sacrifice, and see how free you truly become.
For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.
Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.
You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion is not from him who calls you. A little leaven leavens the whole lump. I have confidence in the Lord that you will take no other view, and the one who is troubling you will bear the penalty, whoever he is. But if I, brothers, still preach circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been removed. I wish those who unsettle you would emasculate themselves!
For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.