"To Obey is
Better than

"To Obey is Better than Sacrifice"

God recently opened my eyes to see a lesson that He has been trying to teach me for a LONG time !! There is a person that I have known for about 7 years who is CONSTANTLY committing the SAME transgression / offense over-and-over and saying, "I am sorry - I apologize" regarding it. The problem is that the behavior NEVER changes and I don't think that the person ACTUALLY believes that they are doing anything wrong !! The apology is like you get at McDonalds when they make an error on an order - "Sorry about that" - with about ZERO sense of actual sorrow.

Another thing that this person does is, when you ask them to do something, they will say something like, "Oh yes, that sounds like a good idea or I will do that right away". Then, they NEVER do it !! No, this person is NOT a teenager.

What do you think? A man had two sons. He went to the first and said, "Son, go and work in the vineyard today." His son replied, "I don't want to," but later he changed his mind and went. Then the father went to the other son and told him the same thing. He replied, "I will, sir," but he didn't go. Which of the two did the father's will?" They answered, "The first one." ****** Matt 21:28-31

God finally broke through my blindness and allowed me to see that this is EXACTLY what I have been doing with a particular sin that has troubled me for most of my adult life. I would give in to my desire, repent, apologize to God, and then turn around and DO IT AGAIN. I never TRULY felt that the sin was ALL THAT BAD !!

When someone is tempted, he should not say, I am being tempted by God, because God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone. Instead, each person is tempted by his own desire, being lured and trapped by it. When that desire becomes pregnant, it gives birth to sin; and when that sin grows up, it gives birth to death. ****** Jas 1:13-15

Is this not what we as Christians do much of our lives in our "Institutionalized Religion" ?? Is it not particularly true in the Roman Church with their confessional and so-called "penitence" of so many worthless Hail Marys, Our Fathers and rosaries -- and we are all set to go on to the next time!!

We have been so brainwashed by the self-indulgent "spirit of this age" and the so-called "ministers" who have given in to and even propagate it that we have come to ACTUALLY believe that God's patience and forgiveness are without boundaries or limits. Because Jesus told Peter that he was to forgive an offender "70 times 7 times" (Math 18:22), we have taken it to mean that WE can "sin with impunity" with no fear of consequences or retribution. It is as one FALSELY accused Paul of saying, "What should we say, then? Should we go on sinning so that grace may increase?" (Rom 6:1). In the next verse, Paul make it VERY clear what HIS view on the subject is, "Of course not! How can we who died as far as sin is concerned go on living in it?"

God has been VERY compassionate, gracious and merciful towards me over the years, though He HAS chastised me quite severely in the area of this sin. We do not seem to realize, as Paul states:

"Do you have contempt for the wealth of his kindness, forbearance, and patience, and yet do not know that God's kindness leads you to repentance?" ****** Romans 2:4)

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. ****** Gal 6:7,8

In today's ULTRA-permissive society, OBEDIENCE has become a dirty word (one of the most dreaded) - far above the outworn "F" word (F _ _ k) !! Yet it is one that the Scriptures, God and Jesus Himself was VERY fond of using.

It is said of Jesus that He came into this world SOLELY to be obedient to His Father's Word and to "do His Will".

Jesus said to them, "My food (purpose) is to do the will of the one who sent me and to complete his work." ****** John 4:34

So when he (Jesus) came into the world, he said, "Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me. Whole burnt offerings and sin-offerings you took no delight in. Then I said, Here I am: I have come – it is written of me in the scroll of the book – to do your will, O God." ****** Hebrews 10:5-7

Moreover, they seem to expect the same heart and mind FROM US as followers of Jesus !!

Not everyone who says to me, "Lord, Lord," will enter into the kingdom of heaven – only the one who (actually) does the will of my Father in heaven. ****** Math 7:21

A Christian singer and musician by the name of Keith Green (who died in a plane crash many years ago) forcefully and vividly makes the point in one of his songs, which you may listen to [ Here ]. Two of the stanzas go, "To obey is better than sacrifice, I don't need your money, I want your LIFE".

What must REALLY come as a shock to the many childish, immature, self-indulgent "Christians" today is that God DOES NOT regard obedience and service to Him as some "highly-exalted" state of super maturity reserved for the special "Saints". He expects it as common practice from ALL of His children.

Would any one of you say to your slave who comes in from the field after plowing or shepherding sheep, "Come at once and sit down for a meal?" Won't the master instead say to him, "Get my dinner ready, and make yourself ready to serve me while I eat and drink. Then you may eat and drink?" He won't thank the slave because he did what he was told will he? So you too, when you have done everything you were commanded to do, should say, "We are slaves undeserving of special praise; we have only done what was our duty." ****** Luke 17:7-10

Jesus was generally extremely merciful to the greatest of sinners who came to Him. However, He also had the MOST scathing rebuke for the self-righteous and hypocritical religious leaders, the Scribes and the Pharisees.

Woe to you, experts in the law and you Pharisees, hypocrites! You give a tenth of mint, dill, and cumin, yet you neglect what is more important in the law – justice, mercy, and faithfulness! You should have done these things without neglecting the others. Blind guides! You strain out a gnat yet swallow a camel! Woe to you, experts in the law and you Pharisees, hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup, so that the outside may become clean too! You fools! Didn't the one who made the outside make the inside as well? But give from your heart to those in need, and then everything will be clean for you. But woe to you Pharisees! You give a tenth of your mint, rue, and every herb, yet you neglect justice and love for God! But you should have done these things without neglecting the others. Woe to you Pharisees! You love the best seats in the synagogues and elaborate greetings in the marketplaces! Woe to you! You are like unmarked graves, and people walk over them without realizing it! Woe to you, experts in the law and you Pharisees, hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs that look beautiful on the outside but inside are full of the bones of the dead and of everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you look righteous to people, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. ****** Matthew 23:23-27; Luke 11:42,43

The Old Testament Scriptures seem to have a GREAT DEAL to reveal to us regarding exactly how God feels about empty, religious ritual and hypocritical "lip-service". I believe that God gave to us the account of the nation of Israel as a giant parable to reveal exactly what is in the human heart and what is in God's heart.

In the following account, the prophet Samuel gave King Saul specific orders that he had received from God. Saul decided to improvise, doing rather what HE felt was best in the situation. Saul had the nerve to tell Samuel that his disobedience was ACTUALLY a token of honor toward God because he did it so that he could offer a "sacrifice" to God.

Then Samuel said, "Does the Lord take pleasure in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as he does in obedience? Certainly, obedience is better than sacrifice; paying attention is better than the fat of rams. For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and presumption is like the evil of idolatry." ****** 1 Samuel 15:22,23

For I delight in faithfulness, not simply in sacrifice; I delight in acknowledging God, not simply in whole burnt offerings. ****** Hos 6:6

Over the many years from their inception (deliverance from Egypt) to their final destruction at the hands of Rome, the nation of Israel CONTINUALLY dishonored and rejected their God through rebellion and harlotry with the pagan "gods" and idols of the nations that surrounded them. They would repent, God would forgive and deliver them, they would return to their disobedient ways - and the cycle would begin again. Finally, God's offense and anger toward His "idolatrous and unfaithful wife" reached full measure.

I absolutely despise your festivals! I get no pleasure from your religious assemblies! Even if you offer me burnt and grain offerings, I will not be satisfied; I will not look with favor on your peace offerings of fattened calves. Take away from me your noisy songs; I don't want to hear the music of your stringed instruments. Justice must flow like torrents of water, righteous actions like a stream that never dries up. ****** Amos 5:21-24

Listen to the Lord's word, you leaders of Sodom! Pay attention to our God's rebuke, people of Gomorrah! "Of what importance to me are your many sacrifices?" says the Lord. "I am stuffed with burnt sacrifices of rams and the fat from steers. The blood of bulls, lambs, and goats I do not want. When you enter my presence, do you actually think I want this – animals trampling on my courtyards? Do not bring any more meaningless offerings; I consider your incense detestable! You observe new moon festivals, Sabbaths, and convocations, but I cannot tolerate sin-stained celebrations! I hate your new moon festivals and assemblies; they are a burden that I am tired of carrying. When you spread out your hands in prayer, I look the other way; when you offer your many prayers, I do not listen, because your hands are covered with blood. Wash! Cleanse yourselves! Remove your sinful deeds from my sight. Stop sinning! Learn to do what is right! Promote justice! Give the oppressed reason to celebrate! Take up the cause of the orphan! Defend the rights of the widow! Come, let's consider your options," says the Lord. "Though your sins have stained you like the color red, you can become white like snow; though they are as easy to see as the color scarlet, you can become white like wool. If you have a willing attitude and obey, then you will again eat the good crops of the land. But if you refuse and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword." Know for certain that the Lord has spoken. ****** Isaiah 1:10-20

Take note that "the leaders of Sodom and the people of Gomorrah" are referring to the nation of Israel, likening them to the well known heathen cities that were overthrown by God on account of their massive and offensive sin !!

In the entire chapters of [ Isaiah 58 and 59 ], God is making this point to Israel regarding their actions of sacrifice and fasting.

Personally, I can imagine God saying the same thing today to MANY of our so-called "churches" who have taken upon themselves to taunt God with their condoning of homosexuality and even ordaining homosexual individuals as "ministers" (perhaps ministers of Baal?, as in Israel). They have embraced feminism, condoned and encouraged abortion, worked to remove the Miraculous and the LIVING God from the Faith and ridiculed literal belief in and obedience to God's Word through the Scriptures.

So-called "ministers" have turned God's church into a "band-aid" to appease the guilty conscience of society, a "social center" to administer the anesthesia of "cheap grace" to the masses drowning in sin, and a "prosperity paradise" where all of our worldly lusts and greeds can be catered to under the supposed banner of God's Blessing !!!.

The Sovereign Lord says, "These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship consists of nothing but man-made ritual." ****** Isaiah 29:13

"I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either cold or hot! So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I am going to vomit you out of my mouth! Because you say, 'I am rich and have acquired great wealth, and need nothing,' but do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked, take my advice and buy gold from me refined by fire so you can become rich! Buy from me white clothing so you can be clothed and your shameful nakedness will not be exposed, and buy eye salve to put on your eyes so you can see! All those I love, I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent!" ****** Revelation 3:15-19

In their latter days, before their dispersion, God spoke these words to His people Israel. They thought that they were "safe and secure" because "they had the temple and the TRUE worship of God". However, it had ALL become empty ritual and hypocritical lip-service.

Today, in THIS nation, WE think that we are "safe and secure" because "we are a Christian nation and WE worship the TRUE God".

However, I think that God is directing these SAME words to US !!

A horrible and shocking thing has happened in the land: The prophets prophesy lies, the priests rule by their own authority, and my people love it this way. From the least to the greatest, all are greedy for gain; prophets and priests alike, all practice deceit. They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. "Peace, peace," they say, when there is no peace. Are they ashamed of their detestable conduct? No, they have no shame at all !! This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Heaven and Earth, says: "Reform your ways and your actions, and I will let you live in this place. Do not trust in deceptive words and say, 'This is the House of the LORD, the House of the LORD, the House of the LORD!' If you really change your ways and your actions and deal with each other justly, if you do not oppress the foreigner, the fatherless or the widow and do not shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not follow other gods to your own harm, then I will let you live in this place, in the land I gave your ancestors. But look, you are trusting in deceptive words that are worthless. Will you steal and murder, commit adultery and perjury, burn incense to Baal (false idols) and follow other gods you have not known, and then come and stand before me in this house, which bears my Name, and say, 'We are safe' — safe to do all these detestable things? Has this house, which bears my Name, become a den of robbers to you? But I have been watching!" declares the LORD. ****** Jeremiah 5:30,31;6:13-15;7:3-11

The people of Israel were TREMENDOUSLY shocked when God spoke to them through their prophets in order to inform them that their idolatry, sin and rebellion had made them to be a VILE STENCH in His nostrils !! He Himself was therefore going to use the most ruthless and ungodly of nations, the Babylonians, to punish them for their sins !!

Today WE see radical, militant Islam as a rising force of opposition and terror in THIS nation. Perhaps it is time that WE - as God CONTINUALLY pleaded with Israel to do (and they CONTINUALLY refused) - seek God in personal and national repentance for OUR flagrant Sin and Idolatry (greed, materialism, humanism).

If we CONTINUE to harden our hearts and stiffen our necks (as Israel did) we may find ourselves suffering the SAME fate as THEY did !!!

If God DESPISED these things in His chosen, Israel, WHAT makes US think that He is any more pleased with US ?????

Thus speaks the Sovereign God - Ruler of Heaven and Earth - to the apostate and backslidden churches of America !

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