The acceptable sacrifice
The word sacrifice is defined as the surrender of something prized for the sake of someone or something. In the scripture we see that the people of Israel were instructed to offer sacrifices of Burnt offering, Grain offering, Offering of well-being and Offering of sin. In the Burnt offering, the person would bring an animal to make atonement for the sins committed (Lev. 4:13-15). Over time this ritual lost its meaning since the people would not repent for their sinful behavior and they would put their trust in the sacrifice. The Lord, thru the prophets, rebuked the people and let them know that he was displeased with their behavior and their attitude (Isa. 1:11-15). The Lord makes it clear that their offering is not acceptable because of the attitude in their hearts is not the right one.
In His word, the Lord is teaches us which ones are the acceptable offering or sacrifices and which ones are not. Isaiah 1:16-17 says “Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; 17 Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, be just to the fatherless, plead for the widow.” This passage teaches that there must be repentance, we must turn away from evil and change our behavior. All this shows us that any offering or sacrifice is worthless unless we are being obedient to the word of God. Notice that the Lord requires a change of mind and behavior. An acceptable offering is the one where there has been a change of heart and a change of mind.
In Psalm 51 the word teaches “16 For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering. 17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.” This passage speaks about a change of mind that is produced when there is a genuine repentance in the life of that person. This change can only come when de Holy Spirit transforms us.
The Lord clarifies several times that being obedient is more important than to present an offering. We saw this with the prophet Eli (1Samuel 3:14) as well as with king Saul (1Samuel 15:22) among others. In Matthew 23:23 Jesus taught “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone.” Notice that in this verse he clarifies the importance of obedience.
In Matthew 5:23-24 Jesus says “ Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. What does this tells us, that my relationship with my neighbor has a priority over our offering. It is important to be sensible to the Holy Spirit and not allow pride to take over our hearts where we may end up behaving just like the Pharisees.
The apostle Paul says to the church in Rome Romans 12:1-2 “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
We are the offering or sacrifice that is presented before the Lord. We should always desire to be an acceptable offering to Him.