Dé Máirt, Meán Fómhair 27, 2005

The Clean Sacrifice

I don't do devotions everyday. The time between the varies, though it's normally not much more than a few days. I do on the other hand make it a habbit to read more than just a few verses of so. I like to read larger passages, and have time to think about them before I return to read somthing else. A few days ago I read thru the book of Malachi. It's the last book of the Old Testement (OT), and towards the end seems to become rather prophetic in nature. Normally this is enough to catch my eye, but this time around it was a passage that I've read before but never was able to link together in my mind. The first half of the book is God telling his priests and the people how unhappy he is with them. It seems that the priest especially had been offering up sacrifices that were blemished, animals that where blind or had broken legs or were diseased. Earlier in the OT God gives a command that sacrifices should be pure and spotless, and that this was the only sacrifice that He would accept. These priest, a thousand years later, are offering animals that do no come close to meeting the standard that God set. What seems worse is that they then refer to Gods table, the alter on which the sacrifice was laid, as being contemptible. The priest don't seem to recognize what they are doing as wrong, and when confonted with the problem, they out rightly ask the question, "How have we shown contempt for your name?" But I was left wondering about the sacrifice itself.

After I had read this, I immediately was reminded of Romans 12. In the first verses Paul urges us to lay our own lives down as living sacrifices, instead of the dead ones of the past. Now, knowing the break between these two passages, the sacrifices of Christ who became the world spotless lamb and subsequently the lose of reason for daily sin sacrifices, I was left with the question of what kind of sacrifice should we be? We sing in our churches "come as you are," but in Malachi we are told to bring a correct sacrifice. What does it mean to become a living sacrifice, daily laying down my life to do the will of God. Is there required a time of preparation before we lay ourselves down? I see this as a "post-cross" act. I still believe that before we come to Christ there is no way in which we can cleanse ourselves, but that God thru Christ and the Spirit makes the initial preparation for us, and stoops to our level so that we can take from his hand the free gift of life that He is offering, and we like a timid dog, unsure of the intentions behind this, slowly, ears down and back, take what we are given, but quickly retreat. What if after this, we are meant, thru the help of Christ, to work in our own cleansing before we can truly lay down our lives on God's alter. I guess I could ramble into a Calvinist/Arminian arguement, but I hate that arguement. It does do anyone any good. But I can't help think that there is something much deeper here.

While I'm not Arminian enough anymore to say that I have much of anything to do with my redemption; I'm not exactly Calvinist enough to say that free will is bunk. Should we atempt to cleanse ourselves before we lay down on the alter of God? Should we seek to be the clean sacrifices that He so richly deserves and demands? Were we clean from the first drop of Christ's blood? Maybe I'm over anaylizing again; I seem to be doing that a lot lately. But maybe, just maybe we're missing somthing. Maybe our Christian walk isn't as easy as we make it out to be. Maybe it's more a long distance trek, somthing we need to prepare for. I'm not done thinking about this. I could be coming from a completly backwards direction, and the only connection is in my rather deranged mind. Tell me what you think.


Anonymous said...

I think that we were clean from the first drop of Christ's blood. And as many times as we screw up or fall away it doesn't mean we are unclean or not covered in Christ's blood.

Amy said...

Great thoughts, Aaron. Thanks for giving me some meat to chew on today!

The first thought that comes to my mind after reading your musings is Philippians 2:12-13: "continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose."

I was just reading earlier today about this verse, and the author was essentially saying that we must deliberately pursue obedience and growth in godliness with an atitude of humility--a fear of grieving the Holy Spirit or offending our Heavenly Father. But the work we do must not be done with arrogance, believing we're sufficient to accomplish it--rather, our work is an expression of trust in and dependence upon God who works in us.

So...I think Christ's blood is completely sufficient for salvation--He is our righteousness and presents us to Himself "without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish" (Eph. 5). But if we're to be living sacrifices, that's a daily dying to self, not a one time thing (I heard it said once that the problem with living sacrifices is, they tend to walk right off the altar :)

I think that's the work we can and must participate in--trusting God to give us the grace we need to pursue and obey Him, to become more like Him. It starts and ends with Him but there's plenty for us to do!

Whew, there's my own ramblings on the subject :)