At this time of year, I always have trouble separating Easter and Good Friday. If Jesus didn’t offer His life as a sacrifice for sin, we wouldn’t have a resurrection to look forward to. Either in Easter, or for those who believe on the day when these mortal bodies are transformed into the immortal.
The sacrifice of Jesus was unique. Though it was symbolized for centuries through the sacrifice of lambs, bulls, and goats, it is only the precious sacrifice of Jesus which makes us truly right with God.
Christ entered the Most Holy Place only once—and for all time. He did not take with him the blood of goats and calves. His sacrifice was his own blood, and by it he set us free from sin forever. (Hebrews 9:12 NCV)
But what about us? Though Jesus “paid a debt I could not pay” according to the old hymn, is my life in Him without its own sacrifice? Or am I also called to lay put aside, consider dead, sacrifice something of me?
You may already know some of the verses I am about to share just from those last few phrases. Because accepting and living the new life of Jesus does require a type of price tag from us.
Most simply, we are required to believe in order to receive. Yet our faith in Jesus will also drive us to sacrifice on our journey with Him.
For example, consider a life without Jesus and a life with Jesus. You can only have one or the other. In order to Jesus life with Him, we must let go of the life without Him. That alone is a great sacrifice.
It means we open the door to belonging to Him and becoming whomever He would shape us to be. This is the essence of being “born again” (John 3:3) or of being a “new creation” where “The old life is gone; a new life has begun” (2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT).
Losing your luggage
What does Jesus’ sacrifice encourage you to let go of? What parts of who you are – or more correctly, who you were – does your journey in Christ call you to walk away from or let fall by the wayside?
If you have ever gone on a trip and lost your luggage, it throws you for a loop. You might have to scramble to put together the basics. On this journey, some luggage is meant to be lost. You are better off without it. The following are 3 elements of life we are better off losing as we walk through life with Christ.
Choosing the path of sin
When Jesus encountered lives, He sometimes called them to walk away from sin. It was often sin which led them to the place where Jesus would reach down and pull them into God’s goodness.
After a healing touch, a word of grace, or the bestowing of forgiveness, Jesus would encourage to “sin no more” (John 5:14; John 8:11 NKJV). It is an echo of God’s call to holiness, but also inspires us to walk away from what previously separated us from God.
The writer of Hebrews encourages us to walk the path of faith by letting go of sin:
We should remove from our lives anything that would get in the way and the sin that so easily holds us back. (Hebrews 12:1 NCV)
It is not about being perfect. As long as we breathe we will have imperfections, no matter how much time and energy we try to invest in perfection. Jesus calls us to walk the path that leads away from sin (Matthew 6:13).
Living in fallenness
Paul wrote in Romans and Galatians about the battle between the desires of the sinful nature (“the flesh”) and living by the Spirit. To possibly oversimply the concept he speaks about, it is living to serve the default desires of fallen humanity.
The default fallenness within us separates us and cannot please Him. It is the result of The Fall, inherited by every living soul, and is the reason we need the sacrifice of Jesus to make us right with God.
To believers, Paul says to live according to the Spirit of God instead of the nature of humanity.
So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other … (Galatians 5:16-71 NLT)
Thinking the wrong way
One more thing to give up on our journey is our way of thinking. Our natural thought process are not God’s way of thinking. Scripture sometimes talks about the mysteries of God because His approach to our world and lives is so different from what we would expect or choose for ourselves. God told the prophet Isaiah:
“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:9 NIV)
The New Testament repeatedly directs us to give up our earthly way of thinking and seek to think from a Heavenly perspective.
Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. (Philippians 4:8 NLT)
The Spirit changes us from the inside as we learn this new way of thinking, and we “will you will know what is good and pleasing to [God] and what is perfect” (Romans 12:2 NCV).
Don’t mourn, celebrate!
As we move forward in our journey of faith, led by the Spirit, following the example of words of Jesus, sacrifice will come our way.
Sometimes we will have to make the hard decision to let things go. (Yes, you might have to tell yourself to “Let it go … let it go!”) There will also be days when you suddenly realize a part of your life is long gone, and you never even missed it.
When we come to Jesus with the intent to start this journey, our lives are full of baggage. Our hands and hearts are full of life as lived it to that moment. To invite Jesus and the Holy Spirit in requires letting go of something to make room for them to have a place in our lives.
These sacrifices, and many others described in Scripture, are just a normal part of the process of Jesus growing in our lives. The more room we make for Him, the more He is able to do in and through us.
Don’t be sad about what falls out of your life. It won’t be the important parts some people are afraid of losing. Instead be joyful, celebrate, because your growing more and more into the relationship you were created to have and the person you were created to be.