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Just days before the start of World War II, Germany and Russia signed a non-aggression treaty known as the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. In it the two leaders, Hilter and Stalin, agreed that they would not take military action against each other even though there was simmering hatred for each other hidden not so subtly beneath the surface. The purpose of the plan was to leave the two powers free to divide up the portions of Europe they conquered without having to fear an invasion from the other. Of course, Hitler had no intention of honoring the agreement, and in June of 1941 Germany launched a surprise invasion of Russia. It took Russia a few years to regain their footing and repel the invasion of Nazi forces.
Unfortunately, many Christians think God is as stupid as Stalin. Too many pretend to make a covenant with God, but are actually shaking hands with Satan.
When we turn to the book of Proverbs we discover that the sages of old were concerned that the people of God do their acts of devotion out of a heartfelt love for God. Sincerity is key. For instance, the sages are not anti-sacrifice, per se. They just warn against thinking that the act of sacrifice is beneficial without the involvement of one's heart. This is consistent with the teaching throughout the Bible. The Sages of old warned against hypocrisy by ranting against the sacrifices of wicked people as well as writing quite a few "better-than" proverbs of comparison in order to tease the point out for us.
Let me give you three proverbs of wisdom from the sages of old to show you what I'm talking about:
“The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord, but the prayer of the upright is acceptable to him.” (Proverbs 15:8, ESV)
“To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.” (Proverbs 21:3, ESV)
“If one turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination.” (Proverbs 28:9, ESV)
Now, what strikes me is that there are so many who don't "sacrifice." What I mean by this is not that animal sacrifice is still a necessary part of Christian worship. Rather, what I'm suggesting is that the weekly worship of God through praise and hearing the "law," or Word of God, is neglected. The Sages of old clearly taught and expected their disciples to gather for the preaching of God's Word, or the "hearing of the law." Too many Christians believe church is unnecessary, even though the Scriptures clearly speak to this. In this sense there are many self-professing Christians today who simply do not honor the Lord by their actions, yet their expectation is that the Lord is with them and will be there for them whenever it is convenient or necessary for them.
But let's take our discussion a step further. What about those who do go to church, who do participate avtively in prayer, Bible study, and all the usual trappings of a Christian life? Can we determine one's relationship with God simply by observing outward religious observances? While outward actions of worship and devotion can tell us much about a person's heart condition, especially a lack of a heart for God should those actions be found lacking, involvement in church can not tell us if a person's heart is truly right with God.
So what does it tell us if a person is right with God? A person has to struggle to do what is right in every area of their life including their involvement in church from a heart that is passionate about honoring God.
Stalin thought he was getting a good deal out of Hitler, but Hitler knew all along that he had no intention of honoring his agreement with Stalin. In the same regard some believe that they can turn away from God, implicitly making certain compromises and betraying God. But God is way smarter than Stalin, and He wont play the fool to your Hitler promises. Are you walking in wisdom? Is your heart truly set on the Lord? He knows the truth of the matter. Do you?