Christian Sacrifices

Philippians 4:18; Hebrews 13:15-16; 1 Peter 2:5
18But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odor of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God. (Philippians 4:18)15By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name. 16But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased. (Hebrews 13:15‑16)1 PET 2:5All believers now are priests. During the Jewish dispensation the priesthood was confined to one family, and no one outside of that divinely-described circle dared to penetrate into it. But Aaron and his sons were a figure of the whole Church as a priestly family, of the Church as a priestly family in association with Christ; for blessed as is the place into which believers are now brought, and precious as are the privileges with which they are invested, all these things are only enjoyed in connection with Christ. All alike, therefore, are priests, and all alike have access into the holiest of all-into the immediate presence of God. (See Heb. 10:19-2219Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, 20By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; 21And having an high priest over the house of God; 22Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. (Hebrews 10:19‑22); 1 Peter 2:5-95Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. 6Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. 7Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, 8And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed. 9But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: (1 Peter 2:5‑9)) This dignity and this access pertain to them solely on the ground of the priesthood of Christ and the everlasting virtue of His one sacrifice for sins.
As priests we have an altar (Heb. 13:1010We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle. (Hebrews 13:10)), and on that altar we have continually to offer our sacrifices to God. What then, let us inquire, are the sacrifices of Christian priests? They are twofold in character. First, there is "the sacrifice of praise; " i.e. as the Spirit of God Himself explains, " the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His name." (Heb. 13:1515By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name. (Hebrews 13:15)) With this will correspond the "spiritual sacrifices" of St. Peter. From this we gather that all true worship, thanksgiving, and praise are sacrifices; and this again will help us to determine what true worship, thanksgiving, or praise is. We read of our blessed Lord that, through the eternal Spirit, He offered Himself without spot to Sod. (Heb. 9:1414How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? (Hebrews 9:14)) All true worship, therefore, must be characterized by three things. It must be presented in the power of the Holy Ghost (compare John 4:2424God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. (John 4:24); Phil. 3:33For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. (Philippians 3:3)), Christ is the medium through which it must be presented (for He indeed is the Christian's altar), and it must be offered to God. The psalmist, when meditating upon the beauty of the tabernacles of the Lord of hosts, cries, "Blessed are they that dwell in thy house: they will be still praising thee." (Psa. 84:44Blessed are they that dwell in thy house: they will be still praising thee. Selah. (Psalm 84:4)) This blessedness belongs now to every saint of God; nay, we are ourselves built up a spiritual house, and as a holy priesthood it is our privilege to offer perpetual praise. God was said to inhabit-i.e. to be surrounded with, to dwell in the midst of-the praises of Israel. Much more should it be so now when in His infinite grace, and through the efficacy of the work of Christ, He has brought us to Himself, and delights Himself in the adoration of our hearts.
Secondly, there are sacrifices of another sort which we are called upon, or rather which it is our privilege, to offer. These are connected with ministration to the needs both of the saints and the servants of God. We read thus in the Hebrews, " To do good, and to communicate, forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased." Again, in the Philippians, the apostle speaks of the gift which had been sent to him through Epaphroditus as "an odor of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well-pleasing to God." It constituted, to borrow language from the Old Testament, a sweet savor offering. How grateful to God then is ministry, sacrifices of this kind! But it must be remembered that mere giving-giving, for example, reluctantly, or only because of importunity-would not make the gift a sacrifice. As in the sacrifice of praise, the gift must be presented through Christ, to God, in the power of the Spirit. It is only of such gifts that it could be said that they are "an odor of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well-pleasing to God."
The application of these principles can easily be made by those who desire to test the character of their worship and of their benefactions; and while the application cannot fail to humble the most of us, by showing how much of our service is really worthless before God, it will surely be productive of blessing if it lead us in every exercise of our priesthood to judge ourselves as in the light of the presence of God.
In Rom. 12 we read of another sacrifice, which, though not connected in this scripture with our priesthood, may yet be briefly explained. The apostle says, " 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 " (or intelligent) " service." (v. 1) This exhortation connects itself, as its ground of appeal, with the close of chap. 8., and, as to its subject-matter, with chap. 6.; that is, the mercies of God are all the mercies which have been expressed, in the grace of God, in our redemption-as traced out in Rom. 1-8-and the appeal as to our bodies flows from the truth stated in Rom. 6 Delivered from the power of sin through death with Christ, sin is no longer to reign in our mortal body, that we should obey it in the lusts thereof. (Rom. 6: 12) No; our bodies are to be yielded up henceforward to God, that as they had been before the instruments of unrighteousness unto sin, so now our members are to be instruments of righteousness unto God.
Coming then to chap. 12, we learn the character of the presentation of our bodies to God. They are to be presented " a living sacrifice; " not as a slain animal, a dead sacrifice, laid on the altar, but because our bodies are not dead, and sin is in us, they are always to be kept under the power of death (" always bearing about in the body the 'putting to death' of Jesus "), and thus presented to God as a living sacrifice. They are presented to Him for His service, that, instead of their being governed as they had always been, by our own wills for our own ends, He in His wondrous grace might henceforward use them as organs for the expression of Christ. Such a yielding up of our bodies to God, let it be again stated, involves the constant application of the power of death, and consequently it becomes a living sacrifice. Christ being in us, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. And such a sacrifice, as it is, on the one hand, holy and acceptable to God, so it is, on the other, our intelligent service-a service suitable to the claims which God has upon us on account of redemption, and one, it may be added, which should be joyfully as well as intelligently rendered.
One more remark may be made. It will be observed that in this case also the sacrifice is presented to God (to whom else could it be offered?) on the ground of redemption; that is, through Christ; and it is also true that it can only be accomplished in the power of the Holy Ghost.
It follows then that we are to live priestly lives; that whether we are occupied in praise and adoration, or engaged in ministering to the needs of others, or in the busy activities of our callings (see 1 Peter 2:99But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: (1 Peter 2:9)), we are to behave ourselves as priests at the altar in the presence of God.