Have you ever done anything without asking God what He thinks of your plans, and then regretted not asking for His permission? I have, and I’m sure you have too. Possibly it’s fear, or even pride which causes us to choose our path instead of pausing for a moment and talking it over with God, or waiting for a little longer for God’s direction.
Often we think our way is the right way. We don’t ask permission before doing something because we fear we might be told not to do it. So we recklessly move forward and hope for the best. When we come out of this period of disobedience, and realize we have done something wrong, we might try to justify our actions and motives. Later we may end up spending time apologizing and trying to compensate (with sacrifices and good deeds).
At times, we think it’s easier to give a quick sacrifice than to be obedient to the Will of God.
Unfortunately sacrifice will not correct our way out of disobedience. Seeking God is always the first step. He hasn’t moved, it’s always us moving ahead from Him and His Will, or staying stuck in the past. Either way He wants our submission to His Will. He always lovingly takes us back and gets us right with Him. We will hear God say, “No, I don’t need your offering. I want your obedience to my Will”.
Recently God has been teaching me big lessons about being obedient to what He has already asked me to do, instead of giving a quick sacrifice (my time, spare money, gifts, or to serve…).
God hasn’t revoked the system of sacrifice He had initiated with Moses. Instead, God is calling for sincere faith and devotion. In Isaiah 1:10-14, the leaders were carefully making traditional sacrifices and offering at a holy celebration, but they were still unfaithful to God in their hearts and behaving wrongfully. Sacrifices were to be an outward sign of their inward faith in God, but the outward signs became empty because no inward faith existed. Although the people did not feel sorry for their sin, they continued to offer sacrifices for forgiveness. In other words, their stubbornness and ignorance brought them to a place where submitting to the Will of God was often more difficult than kneeling at an altar and asking for mercy.
They thought, if God loves to forgive, why not give him more to forgive? If forgiveness is guaranteed, do we have the freedom to sin as much as we want? In Romans 6:1-2 Paul’s answer is— By no means! Such an attitude shows that a person does not understand the seriousness of sin. God‘s forgiveness does not make sin less serious; Jesus died in our place and He paid for our sin with His life so we could be forgiven. The availability of God‘s mercy—forgiveness must not become an excuse for careless living and moral failure.
God longs for people who have a heart to obey Him and remain in relationship with Him. It was never His intention for people to choose their own path and then run to the altar, giving a sacrifice to gain forgiveness for their sins.
When you desire to obey God, not only He will be pleased with you, but He will do what He has promised in His Word: 1- His name will be glorified. 2- Your life will be blessed and your relationship will be affirmed with Him. 3- The hearts of others will turn to God by seeing the changes in you and the blessings in your life.
The bottom line is: Gifts and sacrifices mean nothing to God when they come from someone with a dishonest heart. God wants us to love Him, trust Him, and turn from our sin. Then He can truly be pleased with our “sacrifices” of time, money or service.
Nevertheless, God is full of grace. He’s quick to extend His mercy and is waiting to forgive us, if we will only approach Him and ask for it. That doesn’t mean that we may continue in sin. If we want the full blessings God intends for us, we must deny our own desires and yield to His authority. Remember obedience requires hard work and effort.
So, when Jesus says, “Go and sin no more,” He is not expecting us to leave our sinful nature behind and never be tempted again. He is telling us to say no to the sin that dwells within and stop the desire from being conceived; stop the temptation from becoming sin. (John 8:11)
He means that we should deny the thoughts and desires that tempt and entice us.