How do you feel when you’ve recognized you’ve been lied to? This may be even harder to answer, when that happens what do you think? The potential for people to live a large portion of their lives based on a lie is debilitating. In Hebrews 8-10 the author tells the church to stop following traditions, religious customs, and laws that enforced the need for sacrifices. If they continued to live according to the sacrificial system they would essentially be lying about God’s plan of redemption through Jesus Christ. Our struggle is a shadow of theirs. We’ve allowed these same things to dominate our thinking and behavior, causing us to lie to ourselves about the true purpose of sacrifice. Lets take a look at four of the common lies we’ve incorporated into our thinking.
1. I need to sacrifice to gain God’s approval.
2. God requires me to make sacrifices to overcome my sin.
3. Our sacrifice makes us more spiritual.
4. Persecution and death are my ultimate sacrifice for God.
How many of us have thought or believed similar things? The truth is, Christ’s sacrifice once for all was enough. There is no need for further sacrifice. We may make sacrifices on our journey, but these sacrifices are not made to gain approval, they are made out of gratitude for what has already taken place in our lives. Upon salvation we are fully His. With this in mind our sacrifice shouldn’t be a struggle, it should be a privilege. Through our faith in Christ we believe our life is redeemed, our journey enlightened, and future’s secure. Nothing can take that away. Let’s take a look at how the author of Hebrews addressed the early church’s struggle with believing the truth about sacrifice.
The Birth of Our Lies
Hebrews 10:26 – 31
Where do lies come from? The early church had a choice to make. They could flippantly take in what they had learned about Jesus, live in fear of persecution, or follow Jesus. Following Jesus was the only choice that would ensure they weren’t living a lie, and guarantee their place in God’s family.
Christian’s today still struggle with living a lie. We take scripture lightly and are afraid of what others may say or do. Sometimes there is a disconnect (lie) that keeps us from following Jesus with all our heart. What we typically do to solve our problem is commit to learn more scripture and face our fears. This is the inception of a life based on a lie. We lie to ourselves by thinking we can sacrifice our time to become a better Christian. Scripture memory and facing our fears are good, but our “SACRIFICE” doesn’t bring us closer to God. We need a sacrifice that matters.
Sacrifice That Matters
How do we know when a sacrifice matters? When things are made right for good (forever). The early church’s background was based on a sacrificial system that required physical daily sacrifices. They believed these sacrifices needed to be made to make them right with God. In reality these sacrifices served as a daily reminder of their need of a perfect sacrifice. They found that in Jesus, but had a hard time believing Jesus’s sacrifice was enough.
Christians today still believe Jesus isn’t enough. Jesus + good behavior / Jesus + more scripture memory / Jesus + more sacrifice would make us better believers. The truth is, Jesus is the only one that makes us better. Jesus sacrifice was once for all. Mankind no longer has a problem with sin, it has a problem with putting their hope in Jesus. If we fix our eyes on Him we will begin to experience the Joy of the Lord!
The Life that Comes from The Sacrifice That Matters
A life of sacrifice is characterized by commitment. Commitment requires sacrifice and trust. The early church faced tremendous persecution by Rome and the Jewish establishment. It would be hard to sacrifice their lives and trust Jesus without being completely committed to Him. A decision to follow Jesus could be a death warrant. Despite their uncertainties Jesus was the only one that could give them peace. He reminded the church their commitment to Jesus was also a commitment to others facing the same uncertainties. Together they could find strength in Jesus.
Christians today need to find that same type of commitment. In a world that pulls us in a thousand different directions, commitments are hard to make. If we trust He alone saves, frees us from the penalty of sin, and gives us freedom from the power of sin – the fear of commitment dies. Commitment to Jesus and others that are committed to Him brings abundant life.
No amount of sacrifice will make us more spiritually right with God, or like Jesus. Sacrifice began and ended with Jesus. Everything that we do from this point forward is birthed out of what Jesus’ sacrifice has brought to light in our lives. Joy, unrest, victory, and defeat are all the same for a follower of Christ. Our hope is not found in life’s circumstances, but in Christ alone.