By J. L. Leifeste

“‘And when you offer the blind [animal] as a sacrifice, is it not evil? And when you offer the lame and sick, is it not evil? Offer it then to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you favorably?’ says the Lord of hosts. ‘But now entreat God’s favor, that He may be gracious to us. While this is being done by your hands, will He accept you favorably?’ says the Lord of hosts” (Malachi 1:8-9, in the Old Testament).

      As Christians, we are a royal priesthood in Jesus Christ (I Peter 2:9; Rev. 1:6; 20:6). We can learn valuable lessons from the Old Testament (Rom. 15:4; I Cor. 10:11). But unlike worship in the Old Testament, the New Testament does not teach Christians to offer sacrifices of the blood of animals (Heb. 10:4). Only through the blood of Christ are we cleansed (Matt. 26:28; Rom. 5:9; Col. 1:18-20; Heb. 9:8-14; 10:19-22; I Pet. 1:18-19; I Jn. 1:7). However, as a “priesthood,” we must present our bodies as living sacrifices (Rom. 12:1) and live “holy” lives (I Pet. 1:15-16). We must offer the acceptable sacrifices of contributing to the work of the Lord, helping and caring for our spiritual brothers and sisters, doing good, and sharing (Phil. 4:16-18; Heb. 13:16). Also, we must offer the “fruit of our lips” as sacrifices of praise to God (Heb. 13:15).

      These things require action. But they are more than mere physical deeds. They are spiritual offerings. Therefore, because they are spiritual, they must be motivated by our faith and godly love (Heb. 11:6; Eph. 5:2; Gal. 5:6). True and acceptable worship of God is not merely physical actions. “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (Jn. 4:24).

      Reason should constantly whisper a question in our hearts: “Am I offering blemished sacrifices to God? Do I accomplish good works through faith and love? And when we assemble for worship, do I study, sing, pray, show brotherly love, and partake of the Lord’s Supper with thoughtful meditation? Is my praise to God offered up obediently, honestly, and with feeling from my spirit?”

      We are a spiritual priesthood whose spiritual offerings must not be “blind,” “lame,” or “sick” actions. We must offer whole and pure offerings to God through Jesus Christ (I Pet. 2:5). In this way, while we are doing them by our hands or lips, He will “accept us favorably.”

“‘But cursed be the deceiver who has in his flock a male, and takes a vow, but sacrifices to the Lord what is blemished [blind, injured, imperfect] — For I am a great King,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘And My name is to be feared among the nations’” (Mal. 1:14).