Pure & Holy - A Living Sacrifice
This past year I studied the book of Malachi. The focus of the book of Malachi is to confront the people of Israel with their sins and restore their relationship with God. Today this need still exists. There are many of us who may be ignorant of our sins and our relationship with God needs restoration.
In that time, the people of Israel offered animal sacrifices to God in the temple. God was angry at the people of Jerusalem because of the quality of their sacrifices, they offered animals that were blind, lame or sick; rather than healthy animals. Thequality of their sacrifices points to a fractured relationship with God but doesn’t mean it’s irreparable because forgiveness has been made available through the Grace of God. Though today we don’t offer animal sacrifices, some might assume that the book of Malachi is inapplicable to us.The impure sacrifices we offer today can be seen in our attitude to others, to prayer; activities and conversations we partake in. Our whole lives should be offered and dedicated to God. Romans 12:1 says, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship”. To be a living sacrifice we must deny ourselves of any desire or want that opposes or places itself above God; Mark 8:34 says “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me”. This denial will cost you relationships, hobbies and potential job opportunities. In the book of Malachi, we see that the fractured relationship between God and the people of Israel is a result of their unapologetically sinful lives. This may be reflective of our past, current or even future state; where sin is a friend and has taken the place of our relationship with God.
It’s not too late. A fractured relationship with God is repairable. Part of the goodness of God is that he is forgiving and allows for restoration. Although we’ve been unfaithful, He remains faithful. The book of Malachi starts with God stating His love for Israel “I have always loved you”. This narrative applies to us to and is constantly reiterated through the bible; with the greatest act of love being Jesus’ death and resurrection. In Romans 7:38-39 Paul states “And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord”. It is this love that allows forgiveness and restoration available to us if we truly repent by being honest and transparent with God about our sins, because ultimately when we sin, we go against God. Psalm 51:17 says “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise”. However, it doesn’t end there. True repentance requires a changed attitude and consistent work through prayer, meditating on scripture,transparency and accountability to the Holy Spirit and wise counsel (those grounded in God).
Additionally, we should learn to live in a way that every act reflects total surrender to God. “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31). Therefore, there should be no distinction in the way we view and perform daily acts. All must be done to the best of our abilities, with the purpose of bringing glory to God. In my experiences, I have found that performing ‘seemingly’ ordinary tasks to God’s Glory and meditating on his word, makes the act more enjoyable. It enables peaceful navigation through difficulties because I see God’s hand in every element as I talk everything through with him. I believe that we need not give God just fractions of our lives nor limit God to thirty-minutes daily devotions, bible study and Sunday services but aim to consult him in every decision and task; consistent communication. If we can consult humans on the ‘mundane’ then why can’t we consult God. In the book The Pursuit of God, A.W Tozer calls this consistency “the sacramental living of everyday life” and advises us to “believe that God is in all our simple deeds and learn to find Him there”. In doing so we freely and actively walk with God and every act becomes worship.
My prayer is that we learn to take responsibility for our sins and seek restoration for our fractured relationships with God. I pray that we are faithful and committed to living a life in total surrender and are able to enjoy God in all aspects of our lives.