Better Than Sacrifice 1 Sam. 15: 22-23 CLICK TITLE FOR AUDIO
To obey is better than sacrifice. In other words, do right the first time and you won’t have to sacrifice. Saul disobeyed God’s specific command and yet boasted that he had “performed the commandment of the Lord,” [1 Sam 15:13]. When Samuel challenged him [1 Sam 15:19], Saul proclaimed, “Yea, I have obeyed the voice of the Lord, and have gone the way which the Lord sent me…” [1 Sam 15:20]. He hadn’t obeyed the Lord and he knew it [1 Sam 15:21]. But he thought a sacrifice would cover his disobedience [1 Sam 15:21]. It wouldn’t and, when he knew it wouldn’t, then he admitted the truth, “I have sinned: for I have transgressed the commandment of the Lord, and thy words,” [1 Sam 15:24]. His sacrifice was worthless.
Cain was the first man to come up with the idea of offering a sacrifice to God [Gen 4]. Your first impression might be that he was pious and religious. But God tells us that “his own works were evil,” [1 Jn 3:12]. Cain was trying to cover his wicked heart and evil works with a sacrifice. And God wouldn’t accept him.
As men, we get the idea that God is impressed with sacrifices. And so, if we have a desire to disobey God, we just come up with some sacrifices that we think are sufficient to cover our disobedience. It’s like coming up with excuses. When we don’t want to do something, we find a way to excuse ourselves. Likewise, when we do wrong, our first thoughts are about how to make what we do look acceptable to God by a sacrifice.
Men are experts at excusing themselves from doing right. By coming up with the right sacrifice, doing wrong is suddenly acceptable to God in our minds. The Catholic Church is built on just such a system. A man can live like hell all week, go to confession on Saturday, take the sacrifice of the Eucharist on Sunday and walk back down the aisle as humbly and piously as the greatest saint that ever lived. Men might be impressed with his piety, but God is not. God sees it as witchcraft and idolatry. As God said in Prov 21:2, “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord pondereth the hearts.”
Baptists have a similar way of handling this. We know that Jesus is the sacrifice that God accepts and so we offer a blanket confession of sins at night with no intention of stopping what we are doing. Though the sacrifice of Jesus is the one sacrifice that God did accept for all eternity, he doesn’t want us using it so we can just keep living like lost men. Obey, brother! Do justice! Do judgment! Do right!
God is different than we are. He says, “To do justice and judgment is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice,” [Prov 21:3]. He wants us to consider what’s just and do that; to consider what passes his judgment and do that. He wants us to keep from doing those things that are wrong. When we sacrifice just so we can keep doing what we want to do, God says, essentially, “Forget your sacrifice; I don’t want it.” See Is 1:11-15.
Conclusion: obedience, justice and judgment are God’s desire. God knows and we know that we are sinners and that Jesus’ blood covers all unrighteousness. But the shed blood of Jesus is no excuse for us to keep doing what we know is wrong. To keep doing wrong when you know what’s right is rebellion, stubbornness, witchcraft, iniquity, and idolatry. Disobedience is rebellion because you are rebelling against God’s command. Disobedience is stubbornness when you refuse to quit. Disobedience is witchcraft because you are serving the devil not the Lord. Disobedience is iniquity because it’s sin. Disobedience is idolatry because now you are your own god. Learn to do right the first time and quit trying to buy God off with a sacrifice! To obey is better than sacrifice.