Newsflash to Christians: Sacrifices Still Required!

Posted on October 14, 2021

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By David Ettinger

Different Sacrifices
When most Christians hear the word “sacrifice,” they think of the Old Testament Mosaic Law which required bloody animal offerings.

Of course, Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross was the Bible’s last required blood sacrifice as it sufficiently atoned for humanity’s sin. With it, the Mosaic Law – though lingering until A.D. 70 – was no longer required.

Yet, Christians may be surprised to learn that they are still required to offer sacrifices to God. The difference is that these sacrifices do not require blood, nor are they for the purpose of atonement. That was accomplished at the cross.

The sacrifices Christians are to offer God involve works – not works necessary for salvation, but works to display gratitude to God for the salvation already imparted to us.

Proper Response
The New Testament clearly requires Christians to offer sacrifices. The question is, what type of sacrifices? Hebrews 13:15-16 tells us of 2:

Through Him then, let’s continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips praising His name. And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.

For context, let’s go back to the previous chapter where the author writes: “Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let’s show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe” (12:28).

The key phrase is “acceptable service.” In other words, how should we respond to God for sending His Son into the world to die for our sins? Chapter 13 outlines some of these ways – these “acceptable service(s)” – including:

  • Loving fellow Christians (v. 1).
  • Welcoming strangers into our homes (v. 2).
  • Remembering those in prison (v. 3).
  • Living morally within marriage (v. 4).
  • Contentment with what we have (v. 5).
  • Praying for and honoring our spiritual leaders (v. 7).
  • Honoring and worshiping Christ (vv. 12-14).

Christian Sacrifices
This brings us to verse 15, where believers are to “continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips praising His name.” Did you know that praising God is considered a “sacrifice”? It is a sacrifice in that we “offer” it to God. But how should we praise God?

I begin my prayer time by praising God. Before laying my requests before Him, I praise Him for his attributes – His infinite and absolute wisdom, power, and omnipresence. I acknowledge that He is the God who created all life and is sovereign over all life, and that His ultimate will, will be accomplished. I also praise Him for being the always-existent and self-existent God. This is the sacrifice of praise I offer to God – the “vertical” sacrifice.

Then there is the “horizontal” sacrifice of verse 16: “And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.” This is a call to offer our resources to others. These resources include our money, time, and effort. When someone is in need, we are to sacrifice our funds, time, and effort to help them. This sacrifice on behalf of others is pleasing to God.

The Ultimate Sacrifice
There are other calls for the Christian to sacrifice. Ephesians 5:1-2 says: “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love … an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.” This is a call for us to love God and to love people.

Perhaps the ultimate Christian sacrifice is the one which encompasses everything we have to offer: “Therefore I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship” (Romans 12:1).

Being a living sacrifice is to devote our entire being to Christ, to live for Him in all we do. Such a sacrifice requires us to say, “not My will, but Yours be done” (Luke 22:42).

So yes, Christians are still required to offer sacrifices to God, but a different type than those of the Old Testament. May we be found faithful to be doing so as this world turns ever further away from our Heavenly Father and His beloved Son.