by Zac Poonen
In Leviticus 1, we read about the burnt offering – which is a picture of our offering ourselves totally to God. The burnt offering had to be first cut into pieces to ensure that there was no defect in any part of it and then it was offered. People could offer a bullock or a sheep or a goat or even a dove or a pigeon, according to their financial ability. But each offering had to be without any blemish or defect. The burnt offering is a picture of the way Jesus presented His body throughout His earthly life to His Father – and then finally on the cross as well. All through His earthly life, He kept His body perfectly pure in every temptation before He presented it to His Father as a sacrifice on the cross. God would not have accepted Jesus’ offering up of Himself on the cross if there was a single spot in His earthly life during the previous 33½ years. This was why when He was hungry; He did not turn the stones into bread. That would have been a sin, because the Father had not told Him to do it. His life was one of total dependence and total obedience. Jesus never did anything without the Father’s prompting, even if it appeared to be a harmless thing like turning stones into bread to satisfy one’s hunger! That is the standard of obedience to which God calls us. And that is why Jesus’ life was so triumphant. And why the Father was so delighted with Him.
Consider yet another example: In Luke 4:38-42, we read of a great revival in a town. The next morning the multitude pressed Him to stay on there and to continue the revival meetings. But Jesus said, “No.” Why? Because, before He met the people that morning, He had met with His Father in the wilderness and He had heard the voice of His Father telling Him to go elsewhere. So He would not yield to the pressure of the multitudes but went where the Father told Him to go. If He had yielded to the multitudes and conducted revival meetings, he would have sinned! Have you got such an understanding of sin yet? How many of us believe that conducting revival meetings could be sinful!! That was the level of sensitivity to sin at which Jesus lived. We normally think of sins as things like getting angry, having dirty thoughts, being jealous or bitter etc. These are also sins – but at the kindergarten level. Jesus was dealing with sin at the Doctorate (Ph.D.) level. Did you know that if God has not called you to go and take meetings at some place and you do that, you are sinning?
But we can’t reach this Doctorate level overnight! We have to make gradual progress from one class to the next, year by year. As we progress, we will discover that a lot of things we never considered as sin earlier, now become sin for us. When “sin becomes utterly sinful” (Rom. 7:13), we can be certain that we are growing spiritually! So when we look at Jesus’ life we don’t think only of His death at Calvary, but also of His whole life where He presented Himself to the Father fully saying, “A body Thou hast prepared for Me…..and I have come to do Thy will O God (in this body)” (Heb. 10:5,7). Jesus never once did His own will in his body but only the Father’s. This is what it means to offer oneself as a burnt offering to God.
This is what Paul exhorts us also to do in Romans 12:1-2. “Present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice to God….that you may prove what the will of God is” – exactly as Jesus did. This burnt offering was presented to God and burnt completely. The Bible says this was “a soothing aroma to the Lord” (Lev 1:.17) – meaning something that God was very pleased with – “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.” Paul said that his life’s ambition too was to “please the Lord” (2 Cor. 5:9).
When we present our bodies to the Lord, it is very easy to say, “Lord, I give my body totally to You.” But we don’t know whether we have offered it all, until we “cut it up”. We could be deceiving ourselves. What does it mean to cut it up and offer it piece by piece – as was done with the burnt offering? It means that we offer our bodily parts piece by piece to God.
We say, “Lord, here are my eyes. I have used them for the devil and for myself for the past many years, looking at and reading many things that offend You. But I am laying my eyes on the altar now. Never again do I want to use these eyes to look at or read anything that Jesus would not look at or read. I never want to sin with these eyes any more.” We go next to the tongue and say, “Lord, here is my tongue. I have used this tongue for the devil and for myself for so many years, speaking whatever I liked, telling lies for my own gain, getting angry at people and gossiping and backbiting against others and accusing them. But I never want to do all that any more. Here is my tongue Lord. It is Yours from this moment onwards – totally and completely.” We go next to our hands and our feet and our bodily passions, one by one, and say the same thing: “Lord, here are the members of my body and my bodily passions, with which I have sinned and hurt You. Never again do I want to use these to please myself or to satisfy my lusts. They are all Yours.” It is only as we cut each piece and lay them on the altar one by one, that we discover whether we really are offering our body totally to God or not.
When the offering is cut into pieces and laid out on the altar fully, then you can say, “Now, Lord, let Your fire fall on the sacrifice and consume it.” We read in Leviticus 9:24 how the fire of God fell upon the burnt offering and consumed it. That fire is a picture of the baptism in the Holy Spirit and fire that comes to consume our sacrifice and to set our bodies on fire for God. But the fire never fell until every last piece of the burnt offering was placed on the altar.
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