The Sacrifices That Please God and Those That Don’t
There are some sacrifices that do not please God and others that do. For example, bringing animal sacrifices to God without the right heart is not pleasing to Him, but thanksgiving is a pleasing sacrifice.
“May our God come and not keep silence; Fire devours before Him, And it is very tempestuous around Him. He summons the heavens above, And the earth, to judge His people: ‘Gather My godly ones to Me, Those who have made a covenant with Me by sacrifice.’ And the heavens declare His righteousness, For God Himself is judge. Selah. "Hear, O My people, and I will speak; O Israel, I will testify against you; I am God, your God. I do not reprove you for your sacrifices, And your burnt offerings are continually before Me. I shall take no young bull out of your house Nor male goats out of your folds. For every beast of the forest is Mine, The cattle on a thousand hills. I know every bird of the mountains, And everything that moves in the field is Mine. If I were hungry I would not tell you, For the world is Mine, and all it contains. Shall I eat the flesh of bulls Or drink the blood of male goats? Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving And pay your vows to the Most High; Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I shall rescue you, and you will honor Me." (Psa 50:3-15)
Sincere thanksgiving is preserved in heaven for eternal benefit. It will last. Therefore, incorporate thanksgiving into your lifestyle. Animals are something God already has. But when you give Him thanks, it's like a gift. He doesn't already have that from you personally.
“For You do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it; You are not pleased with burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.” (Psa 51:16-17)
If you are broken and contrite, God will not despise you. Jesus is looking at the heart. It is possible to be repentant without being broken. When a person is broken-hearted, they're not all in one piece. When you are broken over your sin, that's the kind of broken heart God is pleased with.
To Obey is Better Than Sacrifice
We read in 1Sa 15:1-23 that King Saul did not obey God, who instructed him to destroy all the Amalekites, including every man, woman, and child, along with all the animals. Instead, Saul rebelled against God, rejected the Word of the Lord, and spared King Agag and the best of the cattle and sheep. When Samuel the prophet met him, he claimed to have obeyed God. When Samuel challenged him, asking, "Then what is this bleating of sheep I hear and this lowing of cattle?" Saul replied that his men had brought the best of the animals to sacrifice to God.
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. For rebellion is as the sin of divination, And insubordination is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He has also rejected you from being king." (1Sa 15:22-23)
God won't take 99%. Nothing less than 100% will do.
The Sacrifices of the Wicked Are Detestable
“The Lord detests the sacrifice of the wicked, but the prayer of the upright pleases him.” (Prov 15:8)
“So it came about in the course of time that Cain brought an offering to the LORD of the fruit of the ground. Abel, on his part also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions. And the LORD had regard for Abel and for his offering; but for Cain and for his offering He had no regard. So Cain became very angry and his countenance fell. Then the LORD said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen?’” (Gen 4:3-6)
“For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another; not as Cain, who was of the evil one and slew his brother. And for what reason did he slay him? Because his deeds were evil, and his brother's were righteous.” (1Jn 3:11-12)
Our Sacrifices Must Be by Faith
The difference between Cain and Abel was that Cain was evil and had no faith or love, but Abel was a righteous man with faith. That is why the Lord had regard for Abel’s sacrifice but not for Cain’s. Abel brought a better sacrifice by faith.
“By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained the testimony that he was righteous, God testifying about his gifts, and through faith, though he is dead, he still speaks.” (Heb 11:4)
"By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was offering up his only begotten son; it was he to whom it was said, 'IN ISAAC YOUR DESCENDANTS SHALL BE CALLED.' He considered that God is able to raise people even from the dead, from which he also received him back as a type. (Heb 11:17-19)
"But someone may well say, 'You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.' You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected; and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, 'AND ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS RECKONED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS,' and he was called the friend of God. You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone." (Jas 2:18-24)
In the fullness of time, at the end of the ages, God offered a sacrifice. He brought forth His Lamb and offered Him up on the altar of the cross. That Lamb was His only begotten Son.
“Again the next day John was standing with two of his disciples, and he looked at Jesus as He walked, and *said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God!’" (Joh 1:35-36)
“He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He did not open His mouth; Like a lamb that is led to slaughter, And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, So He did not open His mouth. By oppression and judgment He was taken away; And as for His generation, who considered That He was cut off out of the land of the living For the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due? His grave was assigned with wicked men, Yet He was with a rich man in His death, Because He had done no violence, Nor was there any deceit in His mouth. But the LORD was pleased To crush Him, putting Him to grief; If He would render Himself as a guilt offering, He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, And the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand.” (Isa 53:7-10)
God did not have any sin that needed to be forgiven and neither did His Son, Jesus. God offered the sacrifice for sinful mankind out of love for us to save us.
“He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2Co 5:21)
This is love! No greater love has any man than this!
“This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (1 Jn 4:9-10)
He was offered as a sacrifice once to bear the sins of many.
“For Christ did not enter a holy place made with hands, a mere copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us; nor was it that He would offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the holy place year by year with blood that is not his own. Otherwise, He would have needed to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now once at the consummation of the ages He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment, so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him.” (Heb 9:24-28)
God did not desire sacrifice and offering, although the Law required it. He prepared a body for Jesus to offer to God on the cross for the sins of mankind. He offered that one sacrifice for sins for all time, and by that one offering, He has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.
For the Law, since it has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the very form of things, can never, by the same sacrifices which they offer continually year by year, make perfect those who draw near. Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, because the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have had consciousness of sins? But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins year by year. For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. Therefore, when He comes into the world, He says, "SACRIFICE AND OFFERING YOU HAVE NOT DESIRED, BUT A BODY YOU HAVE PREPARED FOR ME; IN WHOLE BURNT OFFERINGS AND sacrifices FOR SIN YOU HAVE TAKEN NO PLEASURE. "THEN I SAID, 'BEHOLD, I HAVE COME (IN THE SCROLL OF THE BOOK IT IS WRITTEN OF ME) TO DO YOUR WILL, O GOD.'" After saying above, "SACRIFICES AND OFFERINGS AND WHOLE BURNT OFFERINGS AND sacrifices FOR SIN YOU HAVE NOT DESIRED, NOR HAVE YOU TAKEN PLEASURE in them" (which are offered according to the Law), then He said, "BEHOLD, I HAVE COME TO DO YOUR WILL." He takes away the first in order to establish the second. By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. Every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins; but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, SAT DOWN AT THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD, waiting from that time onward UNTIL HIS ENEMIES BE MADE A FOOTSTOOL FOR HIS FEET. For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified. (Heb 10:1-14)
That was the one sacrifice for sin for all time.
For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified. And the Holy Spirit also testifies to us; for after saying, "THIS IS THE COVENANT THAT I WILL MAKE WITH THEM AFTER THOSE DAYS, SAYS THE LORD: I WILL PUT MY LAWS UPON THEIR HEART, AND ON THEIR MIND I WILL WRITE THEM," He then says, "AND THEIR SINS AND THEIR LAWLESS DEEDS I WILL REMEMBER NO MORE." Now where there is forgiveness of these things, there is no longer any offering for sin. (Heb 10:14-18)
Christ was sacrificed at the beginning of the End of the Age, and now we're at the culmination of the End of the Age. Since there is no longer any sacrifice or offering for sin, we must trust in the one perfect sacrifice that God made. God's sacrifice was sufficient once for all, and never needs to be repeated again.
Offer Your Life as a Sacrifice to God
Any sacrifice we make is simply a loving response to His mercy, not a payment for sin. What is our response to the mercy God has shown in offering His Lamb as a sacrifice for us? We must offer our own bodies as a living sacrifice to God.
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.” (Rom 12:1)
"And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, 'If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel's will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? For what will a man give in exchange for his soul?" (Mar 8:34-37)
If you lose your life, that's a sacrifice.
"Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name. And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you. (Heb 13:15-17)
Obedience is Required by God
"Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. "Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?' "And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.' "Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. "And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. "Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. "The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell--and great was its fall." (Mat 7:21-27)
Putting it All Together
Always remember that to obey is better than sacrifice. Your rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, which was worthy of the death penalty under God's Law. Many people think, just as I once did, that you can live the way you want to live, and as long as you go to church and do good deeds like giving money away, God will be pleased. Or perhaps you think that if you lead many people to Christ, and you are used mightily by God to heal the sick and cast out demons, you are headed for heaven. Don't make that mistake of thinking that just because God uses you that you are going to heaven. Don't think God is pleased with your sacrifice when you are not even obeying Him and when you are rejecting the Word of the Lord.
Don't think you can bring sacrifices to God and that He will be pleased, when your heart is wicked and you have not repented of your sin. The sacrifices of the wicked are detestable to God. Realize your mistakes and repent. Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, God's Lamb, whom He gave as a perfect sacrifice for our sins and the sins of the whole world. Those who repent of their sin, and trust in Him will be saved.
In view of God's great mercy in doing this for us, we all must offer our own bodies as living sacrifices to God. That is holy and pleasing to Him. Offer to Him the sacrifice of thanksgiving for what He has done -- not for what you can do -- and the sacrifice of praise. That will honor God and He'll be pleased.
Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. Most other Scriptures taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® NIV®, unless otherwise noted. "I Love You" and "Because I Love You" paintings © 2012 Danny Hahlbohm, all rights reserved by the artist.
Author's note: Also see my daughter's poem called A Pleasing Sacrifice. You can access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master." Now I'd like to ask a very important question.
Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus. Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?
“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15). He preached that we must repent and believe.
Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International. He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.