Come to him, to that living stone, rejected by men but in God’s sight chosen and precious; and like living stones be yourselves built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.1 Peter 2:4-5 RSV
Under the old law, sacrifices were dead, bloody, burned with fire, smeared with fat, carnal, temporal, and salted with salt (Leviticus 2:13; Mark 12:49).
By contrast, in the church, sacrifices are spiritual, living, clean, pure, holy, and acceptable to God. They are described as “better sacrifices” (Hebrews 9:23).
“Now once at the end of the ages hath he (Christ) been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself” (Hebrews 9:26).
This was the “one sacrifice for ever” (Hebrews 10:12).
Christ’s blood alone is the blood of the everlasting covenant (Matthew 26:28; Hebrews 13:20; Hebrews 10:29).
Nevertheless, there are sacrifices which God’s holy nation of the new Israel, which is the church, must now offer according to the will of God. And what are these?
(a) Our faith is our sacrifice.
“Even if I am to be poured out as a libation upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all” (Philippians 2:17).
(b) The love of God is our sacrifice.
“And to love … is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices” (Mark 12:33).
(c) Our repentance is our sacrifice.
“Take with you words, and turn to the Lord; and say unto him, take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously; and so will we render the calves of our lips” (Hosea 14:2).
It is safe to assume that if repentance, even under the old covenant, was a “sacrifice,” so it still is.
(d) Our confession of faith in Christ is a sacrifice.
“Through him then let us offer up a sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is the fruit of our lips which make confession to his name … with such sacrifices God is well pleased” (Hebrews 13:15,16).
(e) Our baptism into Christ is our sacrifice.
“I beseech you therefore brethren by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service” (Romans 12:1). See also Hebrews 10:19-22.
(f) Our praise of God is our sacrifice.
“Let us offer up a sacrifice of praise unto God, that is, the fruit of our lips” (Hebrews 13:15).
There are also important Old Testament glimpses of this same truth.
“Bringing sacrifices of praise unto the house of God” (Jeremiah 17:26).
“Sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving and declare his works with rejoicing” (Psalms 107:22; Psalms 116:117).
(g) Our contributions are our sacrifices.
Paul spoke of having received a contribution brought by Epaphoditus thus, “an odor of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well pleasing to God” (Philippians 4:18).
(h) Our songs are our sacrifice.
“Singing with grace in your hearts unto God” (Colossians 3:16).
By virtue of these songs being “unto God,” they are understood as sacrifices.
(i) Our prayers are our sacrifices.
“Having golden bowls full of incense which are the prayers of the saints” (Revelation 5:8).
“My name shall be great among the Gentiles, and in every place incense shall be offered unto my name, and a pure offering; for my name shall be great among the heathen” (Malachi 1:11).
(j) The whole life of honor and love on the part of devoted Christians is their sacrifice.
Paul wrote, “I am now ready to be offered and the time of my departure is at hand” (2 Timothy 4:6).
“Even as Christ also loved you and gave himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for an odor of a sweet smell” (Ephesians 5:2).
Those sacrifices in view in the above passages did not easily lend themselves to the type of exploitation so dear to the Jewish temple concessioners, and the inevitable result was a bitter hatred of the new faith.
The substitution of something else in lieu of the Jewish temple was one of the greatest stumblingblocks to the Hebrews from the very first.
However, it was not the true spiritual temple which was “substituted for” the Jewish temple, but that temple itself had been “substituted for” the true temple God had promised.
Acceptable to God through Jesus Christ …
See post: THE TRUE TEMPLE OF GOD