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12.5 When God Does Not Delight in Sacrifices
Hypocrisy in Worship: The Warning of the Psalms and the Teachings of Jesus
Read Psalm 40:7–9; 50:7–23 and 51:18–21. What important theme do these Psalms address? Why does God not find pleasing the sacrifices He prescribed in His Word (Exodus 20:24)?
The mentioned Psalms, especially Psalm 40:7–9; 50:7–23, and 51:18–21, address an important theme revolving around the true meaning and motivation of worship. They emphasize the gap between external religiosity and inner spirituality, as well as the importance of sincere devotion and obedience to God.
These Psalms make it clear that God is not merely interested in external rituals and sacrifices but rather in a sincere heart and a life that obeys His commandments. God does not reject the sacrifices prescribed in His Word but rather the hollow rituals offered without true devotion and repentance. It is about not separating the external form of worship from internal attitude and spirituality.
The Psalmists criticize the abuses of worship, where external acts of worship are accompanied by internal wickedness and injustice. People bring sacrifices and observe festivals, but their hearts are not sincere before God. Their worship is empty and insincere because it is not accompanied by true repentance, obedience, and a life of righteousness.
This underscores the importance of internal attitude and motivation in worship. True worship entails not only external rituals and offerings but, above all, a heart that sincerely seeks God, obeys Him, and loves Him with all one’s heart. If the external form of worship does not align with internal motivation, worship loses its meaning and is not accepted by God.
The message of these Psalms reminds us that worship encompasses not only external actions but, above all, an attitude of the heart characterized by sincere devotion, repentance, and obedience. It is important that our external actions of worship are accompanied by internal spirituality so that they are pleasing to God and bring us closer to Him.
Read John 4:23–24. What does Jesus say here that aligns exactly with what the specified Psalms warn against?
In John 4:23–24, Jesus says: “But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”
These words of Jesus align exactly with what the specified Psalms warn against. Jesus emphasizes here the importance of true worship, which includes not only external rites and sacrifices but, rather, an internal attitude of the heart. Similar to the Psalms, Jesus teaches that God is not only interested in external forms of worship but, above all, in a sincere heart and a life that obeys His commandments.
Jesus points out that God desires to be worshiped in spirit and truth. This means that true worship should be characterized by internal spirituality and sincerity. External rites and sacrifices alone are not sufficient if the heart is not filled with repentance, faith, and sincerity.
By emphasizing the importance of true worship in spirit and truth, Jesus confirms the warning of the Psalms against empty worship and futile sacrifices offered without genuine devotion. It is about ensuring that the external form of worship aligns with internal motivation and spirituality so that it is pleasing to God.
How can we, as Adventists, ensure that with all the knowledge and understanding, we do not fall into the trap of thinking that knowing the truth and following the rituals of truth are enough?
As Adventists, it is important for us to be aware that mere knowledge of the truth and following external rituals alone are not sufficient to have a true relationship with God or to lead a fulfilling spiritual life. Here are some steps that can help us avoid this trap:
  1. Personal Relationship with God: We should ensure that our relationship with God is not based solely on external actions but that we maintain a personal and vibrant relationship with Him. This means praying regularly, studying the Bible, and spending time in communion with God.
  2. Attitude of the Heart: It is important that our attitude of the heart aligns with our external actions. We should serve the Lord with a sincere and humble heart filled with love, gratitude, and obedience.
  3. Practical Love for Others: True worship also includes practical love and care for others. We should not only follow the external rituals of truth but also actively strive to carry God’s love into the world by helping the needy and serving others.
  4. Continuous Growth: We must not become complacent but should constantly strive for spiritual growth and development. This includes learning from the Bible, prayer, and fellowship with other believers.
  5. Examination of Motives: It is important to regularly examine our motives and reasons to ensure that our actions come from a pure heart and not from false motives or external pressures.
  6. Community and Accountability: We should engage in a supportive community of believers and hold each other accountable to ensure that we stay on the right path and do not deceive ourselves with external forms of piety.
By following these principles and consciously striving to maintain an authentic and vibrant relationship with God, we can avoid falling into the trap of merely knowing and practicing the truth externally without it truly transforming our hearts and lives.

The connection between our daily lives and our faith lies in aligning our hearts and actions with God. The Psalms, especially Psalm 40, Psalm 50, and Psalm 51, as well as the words of Jesus in John 4, teach us that true worship consists not only of external rites and sacrifices but primarily requires an inner attitude of the heart.
These Psalms and the words of Jesus warn us against separating external forms of worship from inner spirituality and sincerity. God is not only interested in external rituals but above all desires a heart that sincerely seeks Him and obeys Him.
The connection with our daily lives entails that our faith and worship should be reflected in our daily actions, decisions, and relationships. We should strive to live out God’s commandments in our daily lives and show His love and care for others. Our worship should not be confined to the Sabbath or church service but should permeate our entire lifestyle.
To ensure that we do not fall into the trap of merely knowing and practicing the truth externally, we can focus on the following principles:
  1. Personal Relationship with God: Foster a personal and vibrant relationship with God through regular prayer, Bible study, and communion with Him.
  2. Attitude of the Heart: Ensure that your attitude of the heart aligns with your outward actions. Service and worship should stem from a sincere and humble heart.
  3. Practical Love for Others: Demonstrate God’s love in your daily life by serving others, helping the needy, and promoting justice and compassion.
  4. Continuous Growth: Strive to grow spiritually and continually develop in your faith by learning, praying, and fellowshiping with other believers.
  5. Examination of Motives: Regularly reflect on your motives and reasons for your actions and worship to ensure they come from a pure heart.
  6. Community and Accountability: Engage in a supportive community of believers that holds you accountable and helps you stay on the right path.
By applying these principles in our daily lives, we can ensure that our faith is not merely external but springs from an authentic and vibrant relationship with God that permeates our entire existence.
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