Lesson 6 – Consecration
THE BASIS OF CONSECRATION – GOD’S PURCHASE
The first main point is the basis of consecration. On what basis must we consecrate ourselves to God? On what basis does God require us to consecrate ourselves to Him? We need to have a basis for whatever we do. For example, when we move into a house and live in it, it is because we have paid a price and rented or bought it. This renting or purchasing is the basis upon which we live there. When a creditor takes action to obtain payment of debt from someone, it is because the other party is indebted to him. The debt is the creditor’s basis for seeking payment. Our God is one who is most legal and one who acts most reasonably. All His doings are legal and have a basis. He cannot obtain something in the universe without paying a price, and He also cannot demand something from us without a basis. When God, therefore, demands that we consecrate ourselves to Him, it cannot be without a basis. In this matter, He has a very solid basis, that is, His purchase. He has already bought us. He can, therefore, demand that we consecrate ourselves to Him.
First Corinthians 6:20 says: “You have been bought with a price.” Our consecration is based on this purchase of God. For instance, you may go to the Gospel Bookroom and see a great number of books on display, but you cannot help yourself to any of them, because you have no basis for doing so. But if you pay three dollars for one of the volumes, then you can demand that the book be turned over to you and claim that it belongs to you. This demanding is based upon your purchase. The basis of consecration is exactly the same. How can God demand that we consecrate ourselves to Him? The reason is that He has bought us. Some think that the reason for consecrating ourselves to God is because God has created us. This is not right. Consecration is not based on God’s creation; it is based on God’s purchase. In Exodus 13:2 we see that after the Passover, God commanded the Israelites, saying, “Sanctify to Me all the firstborn.” The reason for this command is that all these firstborn were redeemed by God through the death of the lamb. They were bought by God with the blood of the lamb. To purchase is to acquire the right of ownership. When God has bought us, He then has the right of ownership, that is, He has a basis to demand that we turn ourselves over to Him to belong to Him. The basis of consecration, therefore, is God’s purchase.
THE MOTIVE OF CONSECRATION – GOD’S LOVE
The motive of consecration is the love of God. Whenever the Holy Spirit sheds abroad the love of God in our hearts, we will naturally be willing to become the prisoners of love and consecrate ourselves to God. This kind of consecration, motivated by the love of God, is mentioned very clearly in two places in the Scriptures: 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 and Romans 12:1.
Second Corinthians 5:14-15 says: “For the love of Christ constrains us (constrains in the original has the meaning of the rushing of waters)…and He died for all that those who live may no longer live to themselves but to Him who died for them and has been raised.” In other words, these verses tell us that the dying love of Christ is like the rushing of great waters toward us, impelling us to consecrate ourselves to God and to live for Him beyond our own control.
Romans 12:1 says, “I exhort you therefore, brothers, through the compassions of God to present your bodies a living sacrifice.” The compassions referred to here are the love of God. Therefore, in this place also, Paul is seeking to move our hearts with the love of God. He would cause us to have the motive of love, so that we might consecrate ourselves willingly to God as a living sacrifice. We see from these two passages that the love of God is the motive of consecration.
In a normal consecration this motive of love is very necessary. If our consecration rests solely on the basis of consecration, the realization of God’s right to us, this consecration will only be based on reason; it will lack sweetness and intensity. But if our consecration has love as its motive, if our feelings have been touched by the love of God, the constraint of this love will cause us to consecrate ourselves willingly to God. This consecration will then be sweet and intense.
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 exhort you therefore, brothers, through the compassions 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.
THE PURPOSE OF CONSECRATION – TO WORK FOR GOD
Since the meaning of consecration is to become a sacrifice, the thing offered is something which is entirely for God. The purpose of consecration, therefore, is to be used by God, to work for God. But in order that we may work for God, we must first let God work. Only those who have first let God work can work for God. We can only work for God to the extent that we allow God to work. If we do not let God work first, our labor can neither please Him nor be accepted by Him, no matter how diligent and enduring we are. Those things we do for God which are pleasing and acceptable to Him can never go beyond that which we allow God to work. “Let” is the basis, and “for” is the result. When we have the basis of “let,” then we can have the result of “for.” This is an unchanging principle. Therefore, when we consecrate ourselves to God, although it is to work for God, yet from our standpoint the emphasis is to let God work. The purpose of consecration then is to let God work in order that we might reach the stage of working for God.
THE RESULT OF CONSECRATION
What is the result of consecration? The first result is described in Romans 6, and the second result is described in Romans 12. Many people do not know the difference between the two. Actually, there is a great difference. The consecration in Romans 6 is for one’s own benefit; it is to bear the fruit of righteousness. The consecration in Romans 12 is for God’s benefit; it is for the accomplishment of God’s will. The result of consecration in Romans 6 is deliverance from sin to be a slave of God in order to bear fruit unto sanctification. This is what it means to live out the overcoming life day by day. The result of the consecration in Romans 12 is not just God’s pleasure but the proving of God’s good, well pleasing, and perfect will. The consecration in Romans 12 is something for God. Hence, we have to remember that the consecration in chapter twelve has the goal of serving God. Chapter six is for personal sanctification, while chapter twelve is for the work.
The result of the presenting is in Romans 12:2. “Do not be fashioned according to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of the mind that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and well pleasing and perfect.” This is our ultimate goal today. God created everything through Him for this purpose. Redemption is for this purpose, the defeat of Satan is for this purpose, and the salvation of sinners is for this purpose. We have to know God’s eternal purpose before we can accomplish what God wants us to accomplish. We are not here merely for the salvation of sinners; we are here for the accomplishment of God’s eternal purpose. Every kind of work must be linked up with God’s eternal purpose.