Obedience is Better than Sacrifice
NCW 15, January 1995
Q. What does the scripture mean which says that "obedience is better than sacrifice" (1 Sam.15:22)?
The writer of Proverbs says: "To do righteousness and justice is desired by the Lord rather than [animal] sacrifice" (Prov.21:3, NASV) and the Lord says through the prophet Hosea: "For I delight in loyalty rather than [animal] sacrifice, and in the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings" (Hosea 6:6, NASV).
Putting this into a Christian context, what the Lord is saying is that He wants a change in our moral behaviour rather than mere outward religious observance. Anyone can go through the motions of living the Gospel outwardly, "putting on a show" or a pretense of living righteously (such as going to Church, or being outwardly polite when inwardly one is raving with jealosy and hatred), but God sees past all of this. Of such people the Lord says: "...like Adam they have transgressed the covenant; there they have dealt treacherously against Me" (Hos.6:7, NASV). Adam tried to conceal his sin in Eden and for that God was displeased. To those who try to conceal their transgressions the Lord Jesus has said: "...there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known" (Matt.10:26, NASV).
Obedience, then, to God's moral precepts is more important than religious observance but does not exclude it. Another excuse offered by people is that they will live moral lives but apart from the fellowship and worship of God's people. It must never be forgotten than worship and fellowship are an essential part of the spiritual life which creates the environment for moral living and growth (Heb.13:1; Jas.5:16; 1 Pet.3:8-9; 1 Jn.1:7; 4:7-8,11-13). Deprive a soul of that environment and his moral obedience soon becomes relative, inward-looking, lukewarm and eventually cold and indifferent (cf. Matt.18:20; Rev.3:15-16).
This page was created on 24 April 1998
Last updated on 24 April 1998
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