core studies : living sacrifice
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 2 Tim 2:15
As Christ sacrificed himself and then rose to life again, we must die so that we may live. We do this by "crucifying" the desires of our will and following the will of God (Mark 10:28-30). We sacrifice ourselves by living for Christ each day (Romans 12:1-2, 1 Peter 2:5).
When Jesus prayed, "Not my will, but thine be done" (Luke 22:41-44), he showed us that the will of the flesh must be subject to the will of the Spirit. Jesus told us to take up our cross and follow him (Luke 9:23-26). This means that we willingly bear the burden of serving Christ (Colossians 3:17, Philippians 4:6).
Our body and our spirit oppose one another (Romans 8:5-7). The one that prevails is the one we make stronger. The Apostle Paul taught that all Christians must crucify their flesh with the affections and lusts (Galatians 5:24). Through sacrifice and devotion, we strengthen the spirit and weaken the flesh. For example, the exhortations we receive from our pastors and their sermons feed our soul and to make us spiritually strong (Jeremiah 3:15, Ephesians 4:12, 2 Timothy 2:1-7). If we do not use the means to nourish our soul, we will become spiritually weak and, eventually, deceived (Hebrews 10:25, Hebrews 3:13, Luke 21:36).
If we sacrifice our own will as Christ sacrificed his, others will see the testimony of Christ in us (1 Thessalonians 4:1-7, 5:21-22). To establish this testimony, we must allow God's will to guide all of our thoughts and actions (Matthew 6:33, Proverbs 3:5-7). Other people see our testimony and judge the God we serve by the lifestyle and examples they see in us (1 Peter 2:9-11, Matthew 5:14-16, 2 Corinthians 4:1-6, Daniel 3:23-29). If we maintain a sacrificial life in all we do, we will be an example to others and will always be ready to meet the Lord in peace (2 Peter 3:11-14).
Jesus lived a life of sacrifice his entire life, not just at his death. Apostle Paul spoke of how he died daily (1 Corinthians 15:31, John 12:24-25). Likewise, we must offer our sacrifices to God on a daily basis (Psalms 61:8, 2 Corinthians 4:16-18). We must pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17), or we will fall into Satan's cunning traps (Luke 22:40). Unless we die daily, we cannot be alive in Christ and freed from our sins (Romans 8:1-14).
One cannot serve Christ and himself at the same time (Matthew 6:24); therefore, no self-righteous sacrifice will be accepted by God. We cannot sacrifice the flesh by glorifying it (Luke 18:9-14, Matthew 23:14). The prayers of self-righteousness are repulsive God (Isaiah 58:1-4). The term "self-righteous" implies that we are trusting in our own righteousness and not God's. However, God cherishes the prayers of the righteous (Revelations 8:3-4). Our sacrifice and devotion to God will not compare to the reward we will receive when Jesus comes to take us home to be with him forever (Hebrews 6:10).