God Does Not Delight In Sacrifices For Sin
16 You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
17 My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart
you, God, will not despise.
There are some action films where the antagonists, brightly decorated with gold chains and other “bling-bling“, saunter into a catholic church with their guns drawn and walk up to the priest. They then pull out wads of cash, and then say to the priest, “Bless me, father, for I am about to sin.” The payment for acknowledgement of a coming sin is confirming that the act is premeditated. There is no repentance by the sinner, just acknowledgement of the hatred in his heart. Indulgences have been part of Catholic teaching for over a thousand years. These payments to God are supposed to reduce the amount of time that the sinner has to spend in Purgatory. The concept of Purgatory is considered invalid from the perspective of Protestantism, for it negates the theology and doctrine that Jesus Christ’s sacrifice for sin was the complete and total payment for our sin, and introduces a works-based approach to salvation.
David captures the essence of useless sacrifice. The sacrifice was to be a type and symbol of the final sacrifice of Christ for our sins. If the sacrifices of the Jews were sufficient for their sins, then they had no need of a Savior, and looking for the Messiah would be a wasted effort, for the sacrifices would have had their intended effect – the total payment for sin. As it is, the sacrificial system pointed to Christ’s ultimate sacrifice. With regards to David’s comments here, David rightly identifies that animal sacrifices are not what God wants, for all of the animals are His. God ALWAYS looks at the condition of our hearts. Sacrifices were to remind us that there is always loss involved when we sin. We instead need to examine our hearts to see where they are.
David then speaks to the heart of the matter – the condition of our heart. He rightly declares that God will not despise a broken and contrite spirit. Isaiah says that God will not break a bruised reed. God desires us to come to Him in humility. Repentance is turning away from sin and turning towards God. Sacrifice by itself has no redeeming effect, apart from the perfect sacrifice of Christ. No amount of atonement on our part will negate our sin, but the blood of Christ washes us clean. Jesus sums this up nicely in the Beatitudes:
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
A Qualifying Question
Let’s ask a question: What is the condition of my heart when I seek forgiveness of sin?
A short prayer of preparation:
Father in Heaven, You have given us Your Son as a sacrifice for our sins. He was the unblemished lamb, the perfect sacrifice. Father, forgive me for my sins, and give me a heart that is broken when I sin against You. Rather than mere acknowledgment of my transgression, help me to be broken over both my sin, and the sin of my country. Forgive us, Father, for we have sinned mightily against You. Direct Your people to seek Your face, turn from our sin, and embrace Your forgiveness, lest our hearts become hardened by sin. This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.