In Genesis 22, the legendary account says that God told Abraham to go up on the mountain and place Isaac on the altar to sacrifice his son to Him. As Abraham is raising the knife, God tells him to stop and that there is instead a ram in the bushes to use for the sacrifice. Of course, God was never going to have Abraham go through with it for this was just a test of his faith. Countless sermons since have threaded in the fact that God did go through with sacrificing His only Son for all our sins.
Fast-forward now to Romans 12 where Paul tells us to be “living sacrifices.” We are now Abraham with no Isaac, yet there is still a “ram in the bushes” every time. The constant action we must now take many times on a daily basis is those moments when we are met with people and circumstances that demand we make a choice, we raise the knife. Even though we don’t like the situation, we don’t like what we have been asked, and we may not even like the person involve, to do what we know we must to obey God, we raise the knife on our self. In that moment, we fully realize that Jesus died so we might even have the choice to not sin, the choice to do the right thing, to sacrifice our own will for the love of God and neighbor.
As we grow and mature in Christ, this decision to raise the knife on our own desires, wants, and will becomes a moment-by-moment pattern we learn to not only live with, but to be grateful to even have the opportunity at all. For without Jesus, there is no choice, there is no opportunity to truly live, there is no chance to glorify God with the decisions in our lives.
To learn the discipline of dying to self, we have to stop looking at what we might lose and only look to what God has for us to gain.
God’s readiness to give and forgive is now public. Salvation’s available for everyone! We’re being shown how to turn our backs on a godless, indulgent life, and how to take on a God-filled, God-honoring life. This new life is starting right now, and is whetting our appetites for the glorious day when our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, appears. He offered himself as a sacrifice to free us from a dark, rebellious life into this good, pure life, making us a people he can be proud of, energetic in goodness. —Titus 2:11-14 MSG