Thursday, July 15, 2010

Is Sacrifice a Quick Fix?

There is a verse from the Old Testament that speaks of the difference between obedience and sacrifice.  Even though this is a short verse, it packs a wealth of truth concerning both obedience and sacrifice.  Let's take a look at the two.  First here's the verse.  It is found in 1st Samuel 15: 22.  "Samuel said, 'Has the Lord as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the Lord?  Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams."

In this verse Samuel is rebuking Saul for first disobeying God and then offering a sacrifice to make things right between himself and God.  Saul did what he desired (which was against God's plan) and offered up a sacrifice to please God for his disobedience.  It was easier for Saul to do his thing and then offer a sacrifice to cover it over.  Samuel rhetorically asks "Is God blessed more by your sacrifice or by your obedience?"  Then Samuel answers his own question:  "Behold...obedience blesses God more than sacrifice, and to listen blesses God more than the fat of rams."  Samuel makes it clear that to obey God is better than to offer sacrifices in lieu of obedience.  

Let me say that sacrifices were not wrong.  Samuel said that to God obedience is better.  Again, sacrifices in their right usage were not wrong.  Sacrifices had their place in a system established on sacrifices!  This incident was an Old Testament type and shadow of having faith in God's grace and being saved as a result!  It was a billboard pointing man to a time when righteousness would be based totally on faith - not works; a time when One sacrifice would be made for all mankind - forever.  When we do what God says it is because we believe what He says.  When we obey God, it's also because we truly love Him and want to please Him.  When we use sacrifice in lieu of obedience, somewhere in our hearts (if even just a little) we believe that works will please God more.

Many of us feel we need to offer sacrifices when we sin.  You a little more, pray a little more, stop doing this or that, etc.  If you need to do those things do them.  But remember John says in 1st John 1: 9 "If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness."  To confess our sins to Him and truly ask His forgiveness is simple obedience to His Word.  This is step one of obedience.  Step two is to get up, and continue walking according to His Word and will for your life.  You may need to pray more.  You may need to fast more.  You may need to do some practical things to better position yourself to further obey Him.  But please remember, He has paid the price for your sins already.  No amount of sacrifice will bring you further into His righteousness your already created in!  You are the righteousness of God in Christ!  

Finally let me say...when you stumble, don't offer up a sacrifice.  He's already been offered up and accepted in your behalf.  But take the first simple step of obedience.  Acknowledge to God your sin, ask His forgiveness, move forward, and receive the blessing He faithfully lavishes on those who obey Him!

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