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A Living Sacrifice

by Cindy Wallace on August 10, 2020


Last week we talked about how the Brazen Altar was the place of sacrifice, and how it represents the place where Jesus atoned for the sins of the world—the Cross.  Its place in the Tabernacle was directly in front of the Holy Place indicating to us that there is no way into the presence of Holy God except through the Savior.  Through Jesus, God’s beloved Son, we have redemption and forgiveness of sins. (Eph. 1:7)  We can now be presented holy in God’s sight, without blemish and free from accusation because He has forgiven all our sins.  Jesus, the Lamb of God, was slain and by His own blood “ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nations.” (Rev. 5:9) This is the work He has completed on behalf of all mankind. (I John 2:2) 

But there is another picture in the Brazen Altar.  Not only is it representative of the Cross where Atonement was made, it is a picture of the cross one must take up to follow Christ.  Faith in Christ is the only way to appropriate the payment for sin and take possession of salvation. (Eph. 2:8)  The proof of that faith is in taking up your cross (an instrument of death) and following Christ.  “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23)  That’s what putting faith and trust in Christ alone looks like—trusting Him enough to deny yourself (your ambitions and desires), abandoning your old way of life, changing directions, turning to Christ and following Him.  This is a one-time decision that rescues you from darkness and grants you citizenship in God’s Kingdom (Col. 1:13).  It is the moment when God, by His Spirit, comes to live inside of you; the moment when you become the dwelling place—the Tabernacle—of God.

“In him [Christ] also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.” (Eph. 1:13-14)

Dying to self and living for Christ is an act of submission and a demonstration of our faith in Christ.  And because we live in bodies of flesh, dying to ourselves is something we must continue to do every day—not to pay the penalty for sin, but to break the power of sin, being conformed to the image of Christ.  Remember the words of King David, “I will not offer the Lord that which costs me nothing.”  As we deny ourselves and yield control of our lives to Christ, we live not in the flesh, but in the power of the Holy Spirit.  Day by day the Holy Spirit guides us into all truth.  Not just truth about God and spiritual things, but truth about ourselves, our actions, and our motivations; truth about how to act, think and feel; truth that will set us free from the desires of this body of flesh.  As the Spirit reveals, we must nail our fleshly tendencies and old habits and thought patterns to the Cross. 

Two areas of life where the flesh likes to exert itself are in your affections and attitudes. Webster’s defines the word “affection” as “a feeling of liking and caring for someone or something : tender attachment : FONDNESS.” Do you have an affection, a “tender attachment” to any relationship for which God does not share in that affection?  What about an attachment to money or possessions?  Does your fondness for the finer things in life have control over how you spend your money or use your possessions?  Maybe it’s not money or things, but it’s acknowledgement or credit for something you’ve done.  You like recognition.  Could it be that you need an attitude adjustment?  Attitude denotes your mental or emotional posture.  Are you dealing with guilt, resentment or anger over events from your past?  Do you have an unforgiving heart?  Do you think too highly of yourself?  Are you living in fear concerning the future?  Take it to the Cross.  Whatever it is, nail it to the Cross.  Sometimes we have to nail to the Cross cares and concerns that creep in and hinder our fruitfulness.  And sometimes we have to nail to the Cross things we have embraced and cherished to the detriment of our fruitfulness.  Paul sums it up this way in Col. 3:5, “Put to death whatever in you is worldly.”  Little by little the Holy Spirit will show you whatever in you is worldly.   One at a time, as you lay each thing on the cross, you are a living sacrifice that is holy and acceptable to God. (Rom. 12:1) 

Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD?  And who shall stand in his holy place?  He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully.  (Psalm 24:3-4)

Beyond the Brazen Altar was the Basin of Brass, a place of cleansing.  The priests were required to have their whole body cleansed before offering sacrifices on the altar.  But they were also to keep their hands clean as they made the sacrifices.  Sacrificial work was bloody work which meant that as they were making the sacrifices, they would step around to the basin and wash their hands, go back to offer sacrifices, then go back and wash their hands, then offer sacrifices and wash their hands, and so on and so forth.  Keeping their hands clean was an important part of the process.

Psalm 119:9 asks this question then gives the answer: “How can a young man keep his way pure?  By keeping Your word.”  Jesus said in John 15:3, “You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.”  Paul tells us in Ephesians 5:26 that Christ cleansed the Church by the washing of water by the word.  Just as water must be applied to the body to remove the dirt and impurities we come in contact with everyday, we must apply the Word of God to our lives because He wants to present us to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she [the Church] might be holy and without blemish.  (Eph. 5:27)  A life that is clean and holy will not happen apart from the application of the Word of God to our lives.  Do you get the picture?  As the Holy Spirit reveals things in our lives that need to die, we must lay them on the altar.  This is not a one-time experience, but part of what it means to take up your cross daily and live for Christ.  Every day we live, God takes us deeper and deeper into an understanding of what it means to follow His commands.  As we obey we are being conformed to the image of Christ.

Sometimes there are impurities in our heart which we do not recognize.  Proverbs 16:2, “All the ways of a man are clean in his own sight, but the Lord weighs the motives.”  Don’t be afraid to ask God to reveal to you your motives for all you do.  It may be painful, but it will most certainly be profitable.  It’s the refining process God takes us through that makes us fit to walk with Him.  And we are admonished to walk in a manner worthy of our calling.  In fact, Paul even more strongly admonishes us in Romans 13:14 to “put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.”  The Psalmist goes even further when he declares, “I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless.” (Psalm 101:3)  Many times we compartmentalize our public life and our private life.  But the Psalmist in the previous verse also says, “I will walk with integrity of heart within my house.”  As has been said, character really is determined by what we are in private.  David conveyed his understanding of God’s heart when he said, “Surely You desire integrity in the inner self, and You teach me wisdom deep within.”  Our prayer should be liked his, “Purify me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.” (Psalm 51:6-7)

*I have longed for peace, O Lord
And for faith to increase, O Lord
Many times I have earnestly, fervently prayed
But I cannot have rest, O Lord
Or be perfectly blessed, O Lord
Until all on the altar is laid
So I’m yielding my body and soul as I say

I lay all on the altar, the altar, O Lord
Worthy are You to be praised and adored
There is no fear when I’m lost in Your love
Hide me in the shadow of Your wings
All my affections I nail to the cross
Now I count all things for Jesus by loss
Cleansed and made holy by Your precious blood
I lay all on the altar for You

Cleanse me Lord, till I am as white as the snow
Ev’ry idol break down
I’m clinging to Your promises as humbly I go
To lay all on the altar…

*All on the Altar sung by James Bradford and Cindy Wallace
Words and Music by Cindy Wallace © Copyright 2004 | Inspired by “Is Your all on the Altar” (pub. 1900) by Elisha A. Hoffman and “Blessed Be the Fountain” (pub. 1875) by Eden R. Latta

 


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