TEXT: Romans 12:1,2; Colossians 3:5-10; Num. 6:1-8
The subject of consecration is central to the Christian life and walk. It determines to what extent a believer will go in his relationship and fellowship with God. Whether or not he would attain the status of a “friend of God” like Abraham or “a man after my own heart” like David is predicated on the level of his consecration and surrender to the Lord. Abraham did not earn this title only because God loves him but also because he demonstrated uncommon surrender, obedience and consecration (Genesis 22:1-18). Moses had the privilege of leading Israel out of a bondage of 400 years, not because he was the most educated, but perhaps because he chose “rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt…” (Hebrews 11:25,26). Paul got revelations and visions, reached the third heavens because of his relationship and devotion to God (Philippians 3:7-15).
Many believers manage to tread the periphery of the ocean of God’s grace, power and revelation because they are unwilling to go the extra mile with Him. Yet, the purpose of our call is that we “may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:18,19). Many believers scarcely know “what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power” (Ephesians 1:18,19).
Consecration lifts believers from the realm of the ordinary to the sublime. It releases us from the spoils of pleasure and sets us apart for God’s use and service. A believer who is set apart for God attains greater heights and deeper depths. Consecration begins as an act of separating from a common to a sacred use, or of devoting and dedicating a person or thing to the service and worship of God. Consecration does not necessarily make a person or a thing holy, but makes him/it to be set apart, and devoted to God or to divine service like the consecration of the priests among the Israelites and of the vessels used in the temple (Exodus
29:9; Leviticus 8:12; Numbers 3:3; Joshua 6:19; Acts 6:6; 13:3).
CALL TO CONSECRATION AND TOTAL SURRENDER (Romans 12:1; Colossians 3:1-5; Exodus 32:29; Numbers 32:12; 2 Kings 23:3; 2 Chronicles 15:15)
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service” (Romans 12:1). Paul here calls the children of God to the supreme act of surrender, consecration and devotion to the Lord. This he does with the tenderness of a father and consciousness of a fellow heir. He admonishes, implores and pleads, rather than command believers, to yield wholly to the Lord. Paul’s plea is against the background of the foundational stones of teachings he had laid in the preceding chapters on the grace of God, propitiation for sin,
justification by faith, possibility of reconciliation, the ministry of the Holy Spirit and the covenant of God with the
children of Israel.
The thought of the Apostle here zeros in on two things: the fact that we are called brethren implies that before dedication and consecration can be meaningful, the new birth must have occurred; and since we have received the mercies of God, the only logical consequence of our gratitude is that we will now give our bodies unto the Lord as a living sacrifice. The Apostle opines that there are those who are cleansed and had become children of God. It is this bracket of people who have come into a dynamic living relationship with Jesus that are called to offer themselves unto God as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto Him. And this is God’s demand on everyone who professes the new birth.
Those who are dead to sins and trespasses and the rudiments of this world are called to set their affections on heavenly things (Colossians 3:1-5). When God called Abraham, He summoned him to a higher, more perfect walk (Genesis 17:1). To Solomon, He said, “if thou wilt walk in my ways, to keep my statutes and my commandments, as thy father David did walk, then I will lengthen thy days” (1 Kings 3:14). Again, He challenged Israel as a nation to separate from sin and idolatry. “For Moses had said, Consecrate yourselves to day to the Lord… that he may bestow upon you a blessing this day” (Exodus 32:29). God does not accept a half-hearted service, nor does He demand any relationship that falls short of entire consecration. Those who must know and receive of His best must be willing to lay themselves on the altar of sacrifice. Further examples abound of individuals and groups of people who entirely served the Lord and reaped the reward of obedience. Caleb and Joshua were singled out for special blessing because they went beyond the run-of-the mill devotion to carve a niche in God’s heart. While thousands of their colleagues died in the wilderness, “Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenezite, and Joshua the son of Nun: [were spared] for they have wholly followed the LORD” (Numbers 32:12). They determined to go the extra mile with God when others settled for the easy walk. In like manner, Judah (at different times) under Josiah and Asa, covenanted to serve the Lord with their whole heart all their life (2 Kings 23:3; 2 Chronicles 15:15).
The highest example of consecration and absolute surrender is found in our Lord Jesus Christ who gave His all for the redemption of the world. Love drove Him from the bliss of heaven, the praises of angels and the fellowship of His Father, to trudge the poor Neighbourhoods of Jerusalem in search of the lost.
REASONS FOR THE BELIEVER’S CONSECRATION (Romans 12:1; Nehemiah 9:19-21; Psalm 103:1-5; Micah 7:18; Ephesians 2:4,5; Titus 3:5; Psalm 116:12; Philemon 8-10)
God’s call to consecration is not without basis. He has been gracious to mankind. His love to us is without measure knowing that none of His creatures enjoys as much benevolence as man that is created in His own image. He causes His sun to rise on the just and unjust and sends His rain upon the grass to give us our meal. More importantly, the believer owes God a greater debt of gratitude, first, for His saving grace that delivered us from sin and power of darkness and translated us into the kingdom of His Dear Son (Colossians 1:13). Now we are called “brethren” – people washed in the blood of Jesus, justified and adopted into His Kingdom. We were brought from the depth of sin to sit with Christ in heavenly places and have been made heirs of the grace of God. Second, we must be grateful to God for His manifold mercies. No one qualifies for the mercy of God based on his own merit; it is His free gift to us. His bowel yearns for the care and welfare of His creatures. Prophet Jeremiah captures it this way: “It is of the LORD’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not” (Lamentations 3:22). A personal voluntary presentation of the believer to the Lord as a sacrifice follows the manifold grace and blessing he has received from God. This is the response that articulates our gratitude for the showers of blessing God has poured upon us. Israel on the other hand, did a lot to provoke the Lord to anger both in the wilderness and in Canaan. “Yet thou in thy manifold mercies forsookest them not in the wilderness: the pillar of the cloud departed not from them by day, to lead them in the way; neither the pillar of fire by night, to shew them light, and the way wherein they should go” (Nehemiah 9:19). The manifold mercies of God guarantee His presence in our lives. Reconciliation, the breaking down of the wall of partition between us and God, is by His mercies. The leading of the Spirit of God in the life and ministry of a believer is also a manifestation of the mercies of God (Romans 8:14). The psalmist also shows how God manifested His mercy towards him (Psalm 103:1-5). In response, he asked: “What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits toward me?” (Psalm 116:12). With the psalmist then and all the redeemed of the Lord today, it is “the multitude of thy tender mercies” that blot out our sins and gives us life more abundantly.
Having enjoyed such mercies, Apostle Paul says affirmatively that the only reasonable service we can offer to the Lord is to present ourselves unto Him, a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable. This is the only acceptable sacrifice that could express our gratitude for the mercies the Lord made manifest in our life through salvation, sanctification, Holy Ghost baptism, healing, deliverance, provision, grace and the promise of heaven. Another reason for presenting “our bodies a living sacrifice” to God is hinged on the sacrifice of Jesus. Nothing equals the price He paid for us at Calvary. He suffered like no other to bear our grief and carry our sorrows. Finally, the benefit of total consecration compels us to throw our lives unreservedly to the Lord. When we do, we shall become vessels of honour reserved for the Master’s use (2 Timothy 2:21) and He will reveal secrets and mysteries of the Kingdom to us (Genesis 18:17).
THE REASONABLE SERVICE OF SURRENDERED BELIEVERS (Romans 12:1; 2 Corinthians 8:3-5; Proverbs 23:26; Romans 6:12,13,19; 1 Corinthians 6:13,19,20; 1 Peter 3:10; Psalm 24:3, 4)
“…That ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service” (Romans 12:1). To “present” is to yield and surrender or give as offering. And what we are to present, surrender or give to God as offering here is our body. The heart is the most important of all the parts of our body. It is the first thing we give to God. God makes a special demand of it. “My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways” (Proverbs 23:26). When our hearts are given to the Lord, we are cleansed and purged. Without this, consecration will be worthless and unprofitable. Also, all members of the believer’s body must be daily and continually presented to the Lord in a definite act of consecration. Members of our body include the eyes, ears, tongue, hands, feet, etc. We should not employ our eyes to gaze upon objects of temptation. Rather, we are to concentrate on things that sponsor and promote holiness in our thoughts and actions. “I made a covenant with mine eyes; why then should I think upon a maid?” (Job 31:1). Here, Job consecrated his eyes for the glory of God and the promotion of holiness in his life. Also, we should not use our mouths or lips to crack indecent jokes or give our ears to hearing things that can inflame our thoughts. If we consecrate members of our body to the Lord, we will do things that please Him.
OUR HOLY AND EXALTED PRIESTHOOD (Numbers 6:1-8; 1 Peter 2:5,9; Philippians 2:17; Luke 9:23)
In the Old Testament, priests were commissioned to offer daily, continual sacrifices unto the Lord. Nobody was a priest who did not offer sacrifice to the Lord. These people were commanded to sanctify themselves by virtue of their hallowed service. They were to distinguish themselves from others and separate from every form of defilements because they were persons that draw nigh to God in the performance of religious duties. And as long as they officiated in this capacity, they were required to be
consecrated. The Nazarites (Jews who professed extraordinary purity of life and devotion) of the Old Testament dispensation were expected to abstain from everything that defiles as long as the vow of separation was upon them (Numbers 6:1-8).
Such were obliged to strict and close devotion to the Lord than others. They will rather be held in derision by others than break their vows to be separate to the Lord.
In the same vein, all true members of the body of Christ today, as priests, are to individually on a daily, continual basis “offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:5). We are not to bring animal sacrifice to the Lord any more but to present our bodies a living sacrifice. A sacrifice is something you dedicate to the Lord. A Christian therefore, hands his life to God unconditionally, unreservedly and wholeheartedly. He presents himself to God to do His will only. “Then said I,
Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God” (Hebrews 10:7).
Strictly, the sacrifice we offer to the Lord must include our time, talents, resources and endowments. For instance, Dorcas spent her time and resources making dresses and giving to the poor. It might even be our voice employed in singing and ministering. The feet might be presented to the Lord in going from one place to another witnessing for Christ.
Paul the apostle spoke of the sacrificial giving of the churches in Macedonia for the cause of the gospel. They dug into the very sustenance of life and almost gave their very blood. But before they did that, they first gave themselves unto the Lord. Our souls must first experience God’s love and receive His mercy before we can present ourselves to the Lord.
Again, as a sacrifice, the believer must daily bear his cross and deny self. The sacrifice of Christ led Him to bear the cross. When we patiently bear reproach, ridicule and persecution for Christ’s sake, it is part of the sacrificial life. “And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me” (Luke 9:23).
THE CHRISTIAN’S NON-CONFORMITY TO THE WORLD (Romans 12:2; Galatians 1:4 6:14; James 1:27; 4:4; 2 Corinthians 6:14-18; 1 John 2:15).
Our service to God cannot be acceptable if we are still unequally yoked together with the world. The true believer is wholly given to God so that he will not be conformed to the spirit of this age. The spirit of the age manifests itself in pride, ego, sinful entertainment or sensual pleasure. Worldliness pervades the society through devilish music, movies, fashion, inordinate ambition and ungodly pursuits. The believer is delivered from the present evil world never to be friendly with or conformed to it. “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world” (Galatians 6:14). We must of necessity keep ourselves unspotted from the world.