A SACRIFICE THAT IS PLEASING TO GOD- Heb.13:16

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When we think of sacrifice we usually think about it in terms of giving ones self in some way for the benefit of another. Or we may think of it in religious service like Israel did in the temple in the Old Covenant. Or maybe we think of Jesus doing the greatest sacrifice of offering Himself for us.

In this message I want us to think about sacrifice in the sense of what pleases God. And the examples we find in the Bible of pleasing, and sometimes un-pleasing sacrifice.

There are offerings in which God is well pleased. And those in which God is not well pleased. We see examples of these in scripture. And I think we will learn something about God by understanding the difference.

In Gen.4 we see Abel and Cain offering sacrifices to God. God was pleased with Abel’s. While He was not pleased with Cain’s. There is no reason given in the passage that tells us why. Only that one was and one was not pleasing to God.

In the gospels we read about the widow that gave all she had. And others who gave out of their abundance. And in Genesis we read about Abraham being willing to sacrifice his only son. This helps us to understand about what might make a sacrifice pleasing or un-pleasing to God.

And in Heb.13 we have another possible clue when Paul says “15 By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.

16 But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.”

Here is what went before in this text that may be a clue as to why Cain’s offering was not pleasing to God. And why Abel’s was.

11 For the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned without the camp. 12 Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate.

13 Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach.

14 For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come.

15 By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.

16 But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.”

We see also in Heb.10:5-10 that it was not the sacrifices and offerings of bulls and goats done by Israel that pleased God. And Paul tells us why saying, “Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me:

6 In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure.

7 Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God.

8 Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law;

9 Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second.

10 By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”

What we see here is that as long as they were subject to the law they had to keep doing those things the law required. They were slaves to its demands. Which is why those sacrifices were not what God would ultimately take pleasure in. And why the final once for all sacrifice for sin that was Jesus pleased God.

God knowing this is why in Mt.3:17 He says, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Because when Jesus gave Himself in sacrifice it brought an end to the law. And made salvation possible for the whole of mankind.

And by His becoming the final once for all sacrifice for sins under the law the law was now complete. Because in Jesus all of the law’s demands now met. In Jesus it was finished.

This is why Paul could now say in Heb.10:9, “Taking away the first, that He may establish the second.” Because Israel now being delivered from the law, they can now come into a personal and loving relationship with Him. Which is the righteousness many Israelites sought by works of the law.

Pr.15:8 and 21:27 explain God’s view on the heart when offerings are being brought to Him. And also helps us understand why in Dan.9:27 the abomination of desolation was the continued sacrifices of an unbelieving Israel. Who in rejection of Jesus as their messiah, continued in their slavery to the law with its animal sacrifices for sins. Sacrifices that were “caused to cease” when the destruction of the temple fulfilled that part of Dan.9:27 in 70AD.

Certainly God showed great patience and long suffering with them. By letting decades of these abominations continue after rejecting Jesus’ final once for all sacrifice for sin. Before using the Roman military for the purpose of “making it desolate” so an unbelieving Israel would no longer have a temple in which to perform these abominations.

Also this helps us to understand why God accepted Abel’s offering. But, rejected Cain’s. Not that Cain was wicked and Abel was righteous at the time they brought their sacrifices. But, only that God can see the attitude of the heart when an offering is brought.

How that Abel’s was done from a heart of gratitude. While Cain’s was from a heart of duty. Abel’s was done as a response of his thankfulness for God’s love and watchful care for him. While Cain’s was brought in response to his own sense of what he thought God would require of him if he wanted to be accepted by God.

This is similar to how many perceive the duty of law keeping to be made acceptable to God. Verses what should be a relationship with God created by a response to a recognition of His love for us. A love that desired a relationship with us based solely on that love.

And think about what this kind of program did inside the people that were living under it. How living under the law with all of its sacrifices made them think about God and His plan for mankind.

In some who believed as Abraham did and were righteous thereby, they realized that their law keeping sacrifices had nothing to do with how they please God. But, instead was done in simple obedience, because they knew that righteousness came through faith as Abraham did.

Whereas those whose belief was in the righteousness that came by their works of the law. They continued in them because they believed their law keeping made them righteous before God. So that their being acceptable to Him came by works. Rather than by faith as it had been with Abraham.

(This is also why many in Israel believe they need a rebuilt temple. So they can continue doing animal sacrifices. Because they believe only in righteousness by the works of the law.)

So the sacrifices that should have been only a matter of duty to them, rather than believing, became their means for righteousness. This was their motivation for keeping the law with its sacrifices. So that bringing those sacrifices became to them the sum total of the purpose for their relationship with God. In the end then they were not relating to God by faith, but to the keeping of the law for righteousness.

This made their hearts become hard. And they became stiffnecked. Seeing the rest of the world as less than them. Looking down upon them simply because they were not Israelites.

This gave them a perceived right to do all sorts of abominable behavior. Seeing a man beaten and dying and passing by without thinking of helping because the man was unclean according to the law as Jesus showed in the parable of the Good Samaritan.

All because God gave them the law. A law that could never give life. And was never meant for that purpose. But, only as a means to preserve Israel as a people. So that their bloodline would be purely human for Jesus to be born in.

A law that came 430 years after the promise that did not disanul the promise. But, only provided a framework by which an Israelite nation would flourish. But, only until the seed should come of whom the promise was made. As we see in Gal.3:21 and Gal.3:19 respectively.

This is why the eternal sacrifice of thanksgiving that we saw in Abel is a pleasing sacrifice to God. While the temporary sacrifices of bulls and goats, or of the field as Cain’s was, when brought only with a sense of duty are not.

Because it is when we believe and are thankful to God without works that we are righteous. But, when works become our means for righteousness we are unrighteousness. In the New Covenant this is how we are to define these words. Righteousness is relationship with God. Unrighteousness is no relationship with God.

This is why in Rom.10:9,10 Paul said that if we confess the Lord Jesus and believe He has raised from the dead we are saved. Because by confessing and believing we are completing our side of the relationship that God started by His sacrifice on the cross.

And in Eph.2:9 Paul says this relationship is not of works lest any man should boast. Because works and grace are mutually exclusive regarding righteousness. They can not exist in our hearts at the same time where righteousness is concerned.

So as New Covenant believers we will never think in terms of works when bringing our sacrifice to God. But, only of grace and faith. Giving our bodies as a living sacrifice of thanksgiving as Paul said we must in Rom.12:1,2. Saying, “12 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

The will of God that we seek Him with a thankful heart. Not out of a sense of duty or obligation. But, because we know His love for us. As John said it is a love that “…was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us”- 1John1:1,2

And that once we have His love shed abroad in our hearts there is nothing that can ever separate us from His love. Because His love is not dependent upon our goodness or any works we or anyone else can do. But, on His character which is love. For God is love.

So this is what Abel knew that Cain didn’t. And why Abel’s sacrifice was pleasing to God. And Cain’s was not.

But, God didn’t leave Cain there. As we see in Gen.4:7 God says to Cain, “If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.”

Here God told Cain his future. That now sin desires to have him. But, that Cain would rule over him. So knowing the end from the beginning. And that if Cain would simply trust in the Lord. He would ultimately have the victory over doing sacrifice as a sense of duty. And bring the pleasing sacrifice of thanksgiving to God.

So if you are like Cain was at the beginning and have served God out of a sense of duty rather than as a response to His love. Repent and believe so that His love can be shed abroad in your heart by the Holy Spirit.

Trust in Him as Abraham did so that you may have a spirit created in you by God. A spirit that makes you His child and heir to His kingdom. Being born again as Jesus said we must to be able to see the kingdom of God. So that we are no longer only flesh and blood that can not inherit the kingdom of God.

If you will confess the Lord Jesus. And believe in your heart that He has raised from the dead. You will have eternal life now by the spirit God creates in you. If you will do this then you will inherit God’s kingdom. If you will do this then immortality will be yours at the resurrection. If you will do this… then I will see you there or in the air!

This message can also be heard at: https://rumble.com/v50f103-a-sacrifice-in-which-god-is-well-pleased-heb.1316.html

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