Paul tells us to “offer our bodies as living sacrifices.” That word offer means literally “to place beside.” It was used of an Old Testament worshipper placing his sacrificial animal on the altar as an act of consecration to God. This is a strange concept to us who have never seen an animal sacrifice and to whom the whole idea may be rather repulsive.
But let’s try to project our minds back to that day. Come with me to the tabernacle. You are an Israelite, a farmer, and the Lord has been good to you. He’s given you a good harvest. Your flocks and herds are reproducing. Your children are healthy and strong. There has been peace in the land. But best of all, you are thankful to God for providing the means for your sins to be forgiven. And you want to worship Him, to thank Him for what He has done, and to rededicate yourself and your family to Him. What do you do?
You bring an animal: a bull, a sheep, a goat, a dove or a pigeon. At the entrance of the tabernacle you give the animal to the priests. One of them takes a knife and slits the throat of the animal while another catches the blood in a bowl, takes it to the altar and sprinkles it there as a reminder that God has forgiven your sins. Then the priests skin the animal, cut it in pieces, wash the pieces and lay them on the altar, one by one, until every part is sizzling on the hot fire.
You have given God the whole animal, because He has given everything to you. And you have given it up completely to Him. You have surrendered your right to use it as you please. It is no longer yours but God’s, to be used for His purposes. Your sacrifice actually represents your life. You are consecrating anew to the Lord everything you are and have. That is a sacrifice acceptable to God and your reasonable service.