Living Sacrifice

Salvation is free; following Christ will cost you everything.

This is a health column and this is a health message. But I need us to go on a short journey first.

Imagine for a moment that we are in a typical courtroom. There is a judge, a jury, some lawyers, and of course, the person on trial. This defendant is a true criminal. His could be any crimes, but for our example they are extremely ugly ones. This criminal sold drugs to children in schoolyards, and when being chased by police he killed an innocent woman and her baby after running a red light, trying to avoid capture. All the crimes for which he is charged have already been admitted; he has not even argued. His lawyer is simply present for sentencing. The judge is asked to deliver the punishment. What penalty could even remotely match the magnitude of his crimes? There is none! But the judge does not pronounce a sentence; in fact, he states before all in attendance, “I am freeing the prisoner; all charges have been dropped.” The spectators are aghast. The courtroom explodes in protest! Okay, answer this question: Is the judge being fair? Of course he’s not. The person had committed crimes; there needs to be a penalty. This criminal must pay the cost! How can the judge be so unfair?

Now let’s take another journey, this time into the future. You are standing before the throne of Father God in the heavenly courtroom. It’s judgment day. You present yourself with all your sins before an awesome and holy God. Where you will spend eternity is at stake. How should He find you, guilty or innocent? Romans 3:23 states, “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” That is a resounding guilty! If so, then if He sets you free with no penalty, He is an unfair judge just like in our example above. However, if God judges you fairly for the sins (crimes) you committed, you will be sentenced to eternal damnation. The single reason you won’t be sentenced to the latter fate is because, as a Christian, you will not be in that courtroom alone on that final day. Picture Jesus with outstretched arms, hanging on a cross, right between you and His Heavenly Father. He is saying, “I will pay the price for your sins.” As written in Romans 3:22, “We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.” It is for this reason alone that you will be judged innocent on that day and God can be considered a fair judge in ruling so.

The reason I brought you on these journeys is to exaggerate one point: What does it cost you to have Jesus present with you on that day? What does it cost to have Him stand in the gap between you and a holy and just God? The answer is profound. It costs you nothing. For eternal salvation, all you have to do, with the faith of a child, is to ask Him. That’s it!

But after that, what’s next? This is the topic of today’s article. And because this is a health column, we will relate the forthcoming spiritual truths to your health-related choices. In Luke 14:25-35 we learn from Jesus about the cost of being a disciple. He actually says, “If you want to be my disciple, you must hate everyone else by comparison-your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters-yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple. And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple.” This is in sharp contrast to the price of salvation, which is free. Discipleship has a cost. Luke goes on to give us two earthly examples. He asks who on earth would start a construction project without first knowing the cost? Or, what king would wage war against another kingdom without first having all the knowledge about the strength of the opposing king’s army? In each circumstance they would count the cost beforehand. Jesus concludes, “So too you cannot become My disciple without giving up everything you own.” That is the cost. Wow! “Everything you own” is the cost of being a disciple of Christ; it is not free. Also, do you remember the conversation Jesus had with the rich young ruler in Mark 10? The ruler asked Jesus what he needed to do to enter the kingdom. Jesus told him to keep the commandments and when the young man testified that he had, Jesus responded, “One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.” Salvation is free; following Christ will cost you everything.

Furthermore, if you wish to walk in the power and authority of Jesus, which is your calling as a disciple, you must give your life fully to Him. That is the only way you can become a true emissary of Christ. An emissary is an ambassador, representative or messenger who comes in the fullness and authority of the one who sent him. What does it mean to live fully for Him or, as it says in Luke 14, to “hate even your own life”? Paul answers best in Romans 12:1, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.” We are to present our human bodies as a living sacrifice which translates to giving our whole life to God. We must hold back nothing; submit completely.

In the Old Testament, the bodies of animals were sacrificed as this representation. The animal’s neck was slit, blood drained, body chopped to pieces and then burned in the fire. This represents a complete commitment by the animal, wouldn’t you agree? Use that word picture to define your walk with God and to describe what giving your whole life means, and now you can begin to understand what a living sacrifice truly is. You sacrifice all to Him! And get this, Paul tells us that doing this is your “reasonable service.” Yikes, it is not even extraordinary to do so. It is merely reasonable, like getting up in the morning and brushing your teeth, combing your hair and making your bed. It’s just reasonable in service to your master. That is how you become a disciple and emissary of Christ.

Now let’s transition and tie this into your health and health choices. There are three perspectives to consider:
The first is that as a believer, your life is not your own. “Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). You do not belong to yourself! The life you now live, you live for God. And that means everything you do should be honoring to Him. If your treat your body poorly, if you do not eat properly, exercise, drink ample water or get enough rest, you are dishonoring God by abusing the temple of the Holy Spirit. This is a strong word, but necessary.

The second perspective is this: “’I am allowed to do anything’ you say — but not everything is good for you. And even though ‘I am allowed to do anything,’ I must not become a slave to anything.” (1 Corinthians 6:12)  Essentially, just because something is permitted does not make it beneficial. And the scripture says that you must not let anything of this world rule over you. Let’s consider all those things that ruin our health that typically rule over us. Food, for sure, is a major one with over one-third of U.S. adults and almost one of every five children being obese; not just overweight, but clinically obese! And overeating is just one part of the food problem, as the foods most people consume are filled with chemicals, artificial colors and flavors, genetically modified additives and often stripped of any meaningful nutrition. For what you eat to be genuinely “good for you”, you must choose a more natural diet filled with fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds and grains. And any animal food you eat should be organic and naturally raised or it will have little-to-no health benefits. What about all those bad habits and addictions that have you enslaved? Are sugar, coffee, soda, junk food or other stimulants ruling over you? They are if you cannot simply quit. What about other detrimental habits like smoking, drinking to excess or plain old laziness? Do you exercise regularly? Do you get enough sleep to wake energetically and ready to go? (If you routinely need an alarm to wake you, there is no way you are sleeping enough.) My dear brother or sister in Christ, if any of this describes you, be convicted! However, do not feel condemned in any way, as “There is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1)”; but please be inspired to change.

The third and final perspective is this: As we become more serious about our discipleship, it may seem difficult and even a bit overwhelming to consider the necessary changes. In this article we are using God’s Word and applying the wisdom to your health habits. Beyond health, these scriptures apply to every area of your life. Let me close by encouraging you in this way. Remember, whatever you are doing you should be doing for Him, the One who saved you. Also remember that all lasting changes will only happen if you lean on His strength and not your own. Be encouraged by the Apostle Paul’s words, “For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13)

Every aspect of your life stands as a bold witness for you as a representative of One who gave His life for you. And although not generally taught, your witness also includes the way you treat your body. The enemy wants to steal, to kill and to destroy. Christ came that you may have life, and that you may have it more abundantly. That is the life of a disciple! Yes dear Christian, while salvation is free, becoming a disciple of Christ will cost you everything; but the value of His discipleship is eternal.

Dr. Jeff Hazim is a Chiropractor and nutritional counselor practicing in Ft. Lauderdale (www.TheBrowardCenter.com), and Executive Director of “Biblical Health Television”, the only TV network devoted to Biblical Health (www.BiblicalHealth.tv).  Weekly Radio Broadcasts:  www.BlogTalkRadio.com/BiblicalHealth

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