Combat Training with God – Psalm 51:16-17

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.

Reparation Rejected

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.

Subdued Spirit

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.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Obedience to God – Micah 6:6-8

Do What Is Required Of You

6 With what shall I come before the Lord
and bow down before the exalted God?
Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,
with calves a year old?
7 Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams,
with ten thousand rivers of olive oil?
Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression,
the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
8 He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.

Sacrifices Scorned

A rhetorical question is asked by the prophet Micah.  What sacrifice is acceptable to God?  What can be offered for the sin of the soul?  The sacrificial system was set up in Levitical Law to show that there was a price that needed to be paid for sin.  The price was originally the life-blood of a creature – it’s very life was demanded.  These sacrifices pointed to the final, substitutionary sacrifice of Jesus’ perfect blood.

But God’s people had become prosperous, and the impact of the sacrifices were lost on the people.  After all, if you sinned, all you needed to do was to offer your sacrifice, and everything was OK.  The breaking of one’s heart over sinning against God had been dulled.  Even in the Christian churches today, we lean heavily upon the grace and mercy of God.  The impact of sinning against a Holy God doesn’t seem to grasp us as it once did when we were first saved from our sins.  It is only as we recognize the Holiness of God, and His view of sin, that we again realize the impact that sin has in our lives.

Micah even puts forth as a type of sacrifice something that was loathsome to God – the sacrifice of the firstborn.  This was a type of sacrifice that was required by false gods.  This was egregious to God, and should have startled those who heard and read these words.  But the Israelites had often worshiped both God and false gods.  We must always remember that God has required a specific sacrifice from us – Obedience.

Royal Requirements

Micah now points out the sacrifice of obedience:

  • To Act Justly
    • When we act justly, we are not taking advantage of our neighbors, but rather we are doing all things with them in mind.
    • Justice is one of the recurring themes in the Bible.  The people of God seem to lack the ability to give justice to those who need it most.  We have been warned by God to mete out justice, or the One who is Just will judge us.
  • To Love Mercy
    • The first inclination of human nature is to retaliate when we are wronged.  But God’s mercies renew every morning.  We need to adopt the character of God as we grow in our faith.  Mercy is a Godly characteristic that integrates with justice.  It is the tempering force that encourages peace and tranquility in relationship between two people.  It is the olive branch that helps to mend relationships and encourages friendship.  To withhold mercy is to promote the eventual severing of the relationship.  This does not mean that we should enable wicked people by excusing their behavior; we are to show mercy to help them see the goodness of God.
    • Even within marriage, God allowed divorce only in certain circumstances, and only because of the hardness of human hearts.
  • To Walk Humbly with your God
    • God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.  When we are humbled before God, He is able to shape us, guide us, and use us for His purposes.  Humbleness is a Godly characteristic that is antithetical to western culture, which now promotes self over all.  Western culture promotes pride in advertising, music, literature, art, and just about every facet of the human experience.  Humble people are looked upon as doormats by others who seek to elevate themselves at the expense of those who will not (or cannot) do the same.
    • Only in humility are we able to be in right relationship with not only God but with man as well.

Each of these points towards relationship with God – Justice, Mercy, and Humbleness.  If we seek to draw close to God, we should embrace these and put them into practice.  Since Christ is our final and complete sacrifice for sin, we have nothing else to present to God for our sin, for nothing else is needed.  Let us embrace these Godly characteristics as we draw close to the One who sacrificed His one and only Son to reconcile us to Him.  It is only proper that we offer ourselves as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God, as our spiritual act of worship.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I broken by my sin, or do I take the blood of Christ for granted?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, I thank You for the sacrifice of Your one and only Son on the cross for my sins.  Thank You for Your mercy and grace.  Help me to see my sin in the same way that You see it.  Help me, Father, to be broken when I sin, that the hardness of heart that comes with sin would not infect me.  Help me to love justice, mercy, and walk humbly before You.  May Your character be found in me as I am on display for the world to see.  Strengthen me as I walk with You today.  Help me to draw close to You through Your word and Your spirit.  Guide me in all that I do.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

God the Son – Colossians 1:15-20

The Supremacy Of God The Son

15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

Invisible Image

Jesus was sent so that the invisible would be made visible.  Jesus has said,

“And the Father who sent me has himself testified concerning me. You have never heard his voice nor seen his form,”

“If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”

“…Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?”

Jesus came not only to bear witness to the truth; to seek and save the lost; but also to display His Father to all through Himself.  Through the submission of Jesus to the Holy Spirit, He was able to display His Father through His words and actions.  Jesus displayed relationship with the Father as well as the Father’s mercy, grace, righteousness, and justice.  We get a clear picture of God the Father through God the Son.

Righteous Resurrection

Jesus was the firstborn among creation.  He was the first person to experience resurrection in its fullest.  Although other people were brought back to life from the dead, they eventually died again.  Jesus has died, and was resurrected as the firstborn of creation.  He has taken His place at the head of creation at the right hand of God.

Creator’s Command

There was nothing created that was not created by God the Son, Jesus Christ.  He spoke everything into existence that was created, whether it was invisible or visible.  Jesus created Satan and the heavenly host.  He created the sun, the moon, the stars and the Earth.  He created Adam and Eve, and even now, He knits us together in our mother’s wombs as we are created through childbirth.  Everything that is created was created by Him and for Him.  And God the Father gave Jesus all of creation, with the Earth as His footstool.  He has won it back from Satan’s control through His perfect life, death, and resurrection.

Supremely Sovereign

Jesus holds all things together.  He is rightly the head of the Church, for He founded it. He again was the firstborn through resurrection so that in all things, Jesus Christ is declared sovereign over all.  There is nothing in the heavens or on Earth or below the Earth that Jesus is not sovereign.  He rules from Heaven, and awaits the time for God the Father to reveal Him again to the world.  His second coming will be as lion, though He first came as a lamb. All things will be completed when He arrives again.

Resulting Reconciliation

Jesus chose to put aside His glory and majesty to show us the Father, and to reconcile us to the Father.  All things will be reconciled to Him since He has paid the price to have them reconciled.  It is through His perfect, sinless, shed blood that we are reconciled.  He was the perfect and final sacrifice for all sin.  Jesus has rightfully restored what Adam lost.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Are we remembering the sacrifice that Jesus made to reconcile us to the Father as we live our daily lives?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You are glorious to behold.  You have shown us Yourself through Your Son, Jesus Christ.  I am grateful that You love us so much to have sent Your Son to be the perfect sacrifice for our sins.  Remember me this day, Father.  Help me to keep in mind the great and terrible sacrifice that Jesus made to reconcile me to You.  Even now, as I pray, You have given me this opportunity to come before You to praise You, present my concerns to You, and experience relationship with You, all because of the blood of Jesus Christ.  May I never forget what it cost You to bring this about.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Worshiping God – Psalm 51:17

Worship God in Truth and in Spirit

My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;
    a broken and contrite heart
    you, God, will not despise.

Spiritually Spent

The attitude of our heart is very important in Worship.  Worship is not only about praise, but also about humility in brokenness.  When we go to worship God, we need to do so in truth and in spirit.  Worship originates from our desire to commune with God on His terms.  David shows us that we should come to God with a spirit of contrition when approaching Him after we have sinned.

When our hearts are not right, our worship isn’t right either.  Even when we overcome great odds, and we are at a spiritual peak, we need to be careful that we approach God with humility and reverence.  But David was in a spiritually dark place.  He had molested Bathsheba; he tried to get Uriah, her husband, to have relations with her, so that her pregnancy with David’s son would be covered up; and when Godly Uriah did not follow David’s instructions, David had him murdered at the hands of his enemy.  Yet David was a man after God’s own heart.  He always came back to God.

Hygienic Hands

In Psalm 24, David notes that clean hands are required to come before God.  His hands were covered in the blood of murder and molestation.  David realized that he wouldn’t be able to worship God correctly until he had been cleansed of his unrighteousness.  In our modern society, grace appears to be emphasized over holiness, rather than in balance with it.  Perhaps if more time was spent policing our behavior than leaning on God’s grace when we mess up, we might have a better handle on the holiness of God.  And while God is merciful and graceful, we are told that we shouldn’t sin to bring more grace to bear upon us.

Healthy Heart

David also noted that we need a pure heart.  When we humble our hearts toward God, He will lift us up.  He will restore the joy of our salvation.  He will tenderly bring us back into right relationship with Himself.  And He will draw close to us.  It is then that we can properly worship God in Truth and in Spirit.

A Qualifying Question

So let’s ask ourselves a question:  When I come before the Lord to worship, am I coming with clean hands and a pure and humble heart?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, forgive me of my sins.  It is in brokenness of spirit that I come before You.  You are Holy, Holy, Holy, and cannot stand sin and unrighteousness.  Restore to me the joy of Your salvation.  Renew a steadfast spirit within me, that I will shun evil and love Your commands.  Help me to overcome my sin nature that I may greatly desire righteousness and truth.  I fail all the time, Lord God, but You are faithful to forgive and seek to restore me.  Help me to be more mindful of my actions, thoughts, and speech, that I would live in the positional righteousness that You have provided for me.  Show me my sin, for it blinds me to it.  Help me to overcome it, for I am more than a conqueror in Christ.  This I ask in the precious name and blood of my Savior, Jesus Christ, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?