Spiritual Sacrifices Acceptable to God

1 Peter 2:4-5 ESV

“As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”

Jesus Christ, God the Son, left his throne in heaven, humbled himself, took on human form, suffered as we suffer, and was tempted as we are tempted, yet without sin. He had a few followers but most people rejected him, except for the miracles that he performed. And that is because they didn’t like what he taught about sin, and about us dying to sin and walking in obedience to his commands. And not much has changed since then.

Jesus said that if we want to come to him we must deny self, take up our cross daily (daily die to sin) and follow (obey) him. For, he said, if we save (hold on to) our lives (of living in sin and for self) that we will lose them for eternity. But if for his sake we lose our lives (die with him to sin), then we will have the hope of eternal life with God. For what do we profit if we gain the whole world but forfeit our own souls? See Luke 9:23-26

So, we are now to be living stones in God’s building, which is not a physical building built by human hands, but which is a spiritual building being built by Jesus Christ. We are the body of Christ, his church, and we are to be being built up (encouraged, matured in our walks of faith) as a spiritual house. We are now a holy priesthood and we are to offer to God spiritual sacrifices acceptable to him, which are our lives given over to him as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God, which is our acceptable worship of him.

Do you want to hear something encouraging? The word translated as “encourage” in English meant, in the Greek, to summon, to call to and for, to exhort (urge, insist), to entreat, to beg, to admonish (reprove), to warn, and to comfort. And this word “comfort” is the same. It means a “holy urging,” entreaty, summons, and exhortation, which has to do with God (and through us) motivating and inspiring believers in Jesus to carry out his plan. This is the way in which the Lord intends for us to encourage one another.

But if we encourage one another in this way, which is how Jesus encouraged us, we will likely be rejected by most who call themselves Christians, for they won’t consider that very encouraging, anymore than most of the people of Jesus’ day considered his words as truly encouraging. This was especially true when he talked about how they must eat of his flesh and drink of his blood, which has to do with us dying with him to sin and living to him and to his righteousness, and suffering persecution like he did, too, because he spoke the truth, in love, to people who didn’t want to hear the truth.

But our mission here on this earth is not to say to people what they want to hear or what will make them feel good, but we are to be ministers of the gospel of Jesus Christ to say to people what they need to hear so that they will have the opportunity to believe in Jesus with God-given faith and to turn away from their lives of sin to follow Jesus in obedience. Then they will have salvation from their sin, forgiveness of sin, and the hope of eternal life with God. And they will know the love of God and all his promises, too.

1 Peter 2:9-10 ESV

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”

To be holy is to be set apart (unlike, different) from the world because we are being conformed to the likeness of Jesus Christ. We are no longer to be conformed to the ways of this sinful world. We aren’t to do the kinds of things the ungodly do in their ungodly ways. We are not to have the mindset, the attitudes, the values, the philosophies, the speech, and the behaviors of the ungodly, but we are to be like Jesus in character.

We, as believers in Jesus Christ, are now his possession. For Jesus bought us back for God with his blood shed for us on that cross that we might now be God’s possession, and that we might glorify God with our bodies (with our lives). Jesus/God now owns us, and he is to be the one directing our steps and showing us the way that we should go, that we should walk in his ways, and that we should do all that he commands.

And we are to be those who are proclaiming the excellencies of our God – Father, Son (Jesus Christ), and Holy Spirit – who called us out of the darkness of sin into his marvelous light of truth and righteousness. For Jesus died on that cross, not just to forgive us our sins, but to set us free from our slavery (bondage, addiction) to sin so that we would now be slaves of God and of his righteousness, and so we might walk in his ways.

1 Peter 2:11-12 ESV

“Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.”

Therefore, we are to live as strangers here on this earth. We are not to be like the ungodly, and we are not to immerse ourselves in our culture so that the people of the world will feel as though we are one of them. We are to stand out and to be different and to not blend in with the world, and to definitely not engage in their evil deeds. And yes, we will be called all sorts of names because we are not like everyone else.

And we are to abstain from the passions of the flesh. We are not to be engaged in any kind of deliberate or habitual (repeated) sins. We should not sin at all, for Jesus set us free, but we are still human, and so there is the chance that we might sin sometime. But sin is not to be our master. We are to no longer be under its control. And if we make it our master, and we obey sin, and we make sin our practice, we must know the Scriptures teach that we will not inherit eternal life with God.

So, instead of engaging in sexual immorality, impurity, lying, cheating, stealing, deception, manipulation, faithlessness, adultery, and the like, we are to be people of integrity, honesty, faithfulness, godliness, uprightness, and holiness who are living in moral purity in loyal devotion to our Lord, who are daily saying “No!” to sin and “Yes!” to God and to walking in obedience to his commands.

Master, The Tempest is Raging!

Lyrics by Mary A. Baker, 1874
Music by Horatio R. Palmer, 1874

Master, the tempest is raging!
The billows are tossing high!
The sky is o’ershadowed with blackness,
No shelter or help is nigh;
Carest Thou not that we perish?
How canst Thou lie asleep,
When each moment so madly is threat’ning
A grave in the angry deep?

Master, with anguish of spirit
I bow in my grief today;
The depths of my sad heart are troubled—
Oh, waken and save, I pray!
Torrents of sin and of anguish
Sweep o’er my sinking soul;
And I perish! I perish! dear Master—
Oh, hasten, and take control.

Master, the terror is over,
The elements sweetly rest;
Earth’s sun in the calm lake is mirrored,
And heaven’s within my breast;
Linger, O blessed Redeemer!
Leave me alone no more;
And with joy I shall make the blest harbor,
And rest on the blissful shore.

The winds and the waves shall obey Thy will,
Peace, be still!
Whether the wrath of the storm-tossed sea,
Or demons or men, or whatever it be,
No waters can swallow the ship where lies
The Master of ocean, and earth, and skies;
They all shall sweetly obey Thy will,
Peace, be still! Peace, be still!
They all shall sweetly obey Thy will,
Peace, peace, be still!

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