III. THE MEANING OF CONSECRATION—TO BE A SACRIFICE
When one sees the basis of consecration and also has the motive of consecration, he is willing to consecrate himself to God. What then is consecration? What is the meaning of consecration? Romans 12:1 says, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice.” This verse shows us that the meaning of consecration is to be a “sacrifice.”
What does the phrase “to be a sacrifice” mean? What is a sacrifice? The Scripture shows us that whenever a thing is set apart from its original position and usage and is laid on God’s altar, specifically for Him, this thing is then a sacrifice. In the Old Testament men offered bullocks and rams as sacrifices. The principle is this: The bullock originally lived in a corral and was used for plowing the field and drawing carts. Now it is taken out from the corral and brought beside the altar. There is a change in its position. Then it is killed, placed on the altar, and consumed by fire to be a sweet smelling savor unto God. This is a change in its usage. Thus, this bullock becomes a sacrifice. A sacrifice, therefore, is none other than a thing which is set apart for God and laid on the altar, with a change in position and a change in usage. Whether it is a bullock or a ram, whether it is fine flour or oil, once it is offered as a sacrifice, it leaves the hands of the offerer and can no longer be used for his own advantage and enjoyment. All the sacrifices on the altar belong to God and are for His use and enjoyment. To put it simply, to be a sacrifice means to be offered to God for His use.
When we present ourselves to God as a living sacrifice, there are also these two aspects: one is a change in our position, and the other is a change in our usage. When we understand this meaning of consecration, we can then discern the genuineness of the consecration of others. When a person says he is consecrated, we may ask whether he has changed his position and changed his usage. If not, he is not a sacrifice, and there is no true consecration. Nothing is offered as a sacrifice without a change in position and in usage. Those who truly offer themselves, therefore, must pass completely out of their own hands and into God’s hands for His use.
Such a consecration is similar to the giving of gifts. When we give a gift to others, it changes position from our hands to theirs. It is no longer ours to use; it is for their use. In like manner, the day we truly consecrate ourselves, our position is changed. Formerly we were in our own hands; now we are in the hands of God. Formerly we walked in our own way; now we lie on God’s altar. At the same time, our usage is also changed. Formerly we lived for ourselves and were toward the world; now we are set apart solely for God. Only this kind of consecration is true consecration.
When we thus present ourselves to God as a sacrifice, we become food for God; we are for His satisfaction. Among the offerings of the Israelites, some were for God’s use, such as gold, silver, precious stones, threads of all colors, wool, and sheepskin (Exo. 25:2-7); and some were offered to God for food, such as the bullock, ram, pigeon, and turtledove used in the burnt-offerings. When these were offered as a burnt-offering, they were burnt on the altar and became a sweet savor, food for God (Lev. 3:11). When God accepted the sweet savor of these sacrifices, He was satisfied.
The offering of these sacrifices is a type of our consecration. The meaning, therefore, of offering ourselves as a sacrifice is offering ourselves to God as food which He will be pleased to accept and thus find satisfaction. We are people who were originally like a pile of uncooked rice, which might be used for this or for that. One day, because of God’s need, we were separated from the original pile of rice and were worked on in such a way that we were cooked and placed on God’s table— the altar—and became God’s food for His satisfaction. This is the meaning of being a sacrifice, and this is the meaning of consecration.
Since the meaning of consecration is to offer ourselves to God as a living sacrifice for God’s satisfaction, we should ask ourselves this question: Since our consecration, how much of our actual living and actual experiences have proved that we have indeed laid ourselves on the altar to be a sacrifice for God? Are we indeed willing to be God’s food that He might be satisfied? True consecration is never compelled by God; it is of our voluntary will. God takes nothing by force; everything is offered up by men willingly. Likewise, our consecration today must be made out of our voluntary will; it is we who willingly lie on the altar and dare not move off. Others may move about freely, but we dare not act in a casual way. Others may calculate and choose between the sweet and the bitter, but when we encounter a difficulty, we dare not consider escape. Others can reason and argue with God; we dare not say even one sentence. Others can evade God’s will and avoid being bound and limited; we would rather be restricted by His will and willing to be imprisoned in His hand. All this, because we have already offered ourselves to God and have been laid on the altar. We are already a consecrated people. We should be able to say continually to God, “O God, I have no choice; I have already consecrated myself to Thee; I am in Thy hand.” Whenever anything happens to us, we must express ourselves in this way to God. We must remain thus in God’s hand and actually be a sacrifice unto God. Only this is the true meaning of consecration.
(The Experience of Life, Chapter 3, by Witness Lee)