The Sacrifice of the Wicked
The sacrifice of the wicked is abomination: how much more,
when he bringeth it with a wicked mind?
The Sacrifice of the Wicked
1. Sacrifice: Sacrifice, an offering killed and presented as an act of worship or propitiation to a deity.
2. The wicked: Wicked; criminal; guilty person; transgressor; evil; ungodly.
3. The sacrifice of the wicked is a religious offering presented by an ungodly person to the Lord.
a. This expression is an oxymoron – these are terms one would not expect to find together. The terms “sacrifice” and “wicked” seem contradictory.
b. We don’t normally expect wicked men to offer sacrifices to God.
c. And if it is a true sacrifice, it is unusual that a wicked person is offering it.
d. Something is wrong with this picture. That is the purpose of this expression. It is designed to arrest our attention.
4. However, this occurs all the time.
a. The religious world is full of wicked men and women who feign religious piety.
b. Psalm 50:7-14 – God didn’t need their sacrifices (as if He were hungry). What He wanted was their hearts – offerings of praise and thanksgiving coming from repentant and grateful hearts.
c. The Lord Jesus had most of His harshest words and battles, not with the outwardly wicked, but with the religious leaders in Israel… men who prided themselves in offering sacrifices to God.
d. Wicked men offer sacrifices to God in hopes of BUYING Him off… and securing salvation.
e. This is done of course in defiance of the written Word of God.
f. Wicked men offer sacrifices to God in order to be accepted in society… or to “appear” to be righteous.
5. God calls it an abomination.
a. Abomination: a disgusting thing; a detestable or repulsive thing; that which is loathsome and abhorrent; it speaks of something especially offensive.
b. Not many things are called “abominations” in the Bible. The list includes: Idolatry; child sacrifices; unclean foods; homosexuality; and here, religious sacrifices offered by wicked men.
c. These things are especially offensive to God.
d. Prov. 28:9 – Even this man’s prayers are an abomination to God.
e. If his heart is wicked, it doesn’t matter how much he prays or how much he offers unto God.
f. Prov. 15:8 – Solomon mentioned this in a previous proverb. There he contrasted this hypocrisy with the prayer of the upright. God DELIGHTS in that.
g. Thus, we can either delight the Lord OR we can be repulsive to the Lord in the way we worship, sacrifice, and serve Him.
h. Which will it be?
i. Isa. 1:11-15 – Here the prophet speaks of God’s HATRED for the sacrifices and offerings of the children of Israel. They made Him sick, not because God opposed the concept of sacrifices (He required them!), but because of the heart attitude of the offerer.
6. The sacrifice of the wicked is the ultimate form of hypocrisy.
a. His mind and heart belie their actions.
b. His actions demonstrate piety, worship, reverence, and holiness.
c. But his heart is full of wickedness. That’s the kind of person he is in reality—not the religious, pious man he feigns himself to be.
d. This is what is so abominable to the Lord.
e. It’s bad enough that he is a wicked man; but pretending to be something else makes it much worse!
f. Matt. 23:25-28 – the Lord strongly rebuked the Pharisees for this very thing: Pretending to be holy and pious, but inwardly, they were vile and unrepentant.
g. The Lord offered mercy to those who were inwardly full of uncleanness and iniquity and admitted it.
h. But He rebuked severely those who were inwardly full of uncleanness and iniquity and pretended that it wasn’t so… those who tried to cover it up with religious pretence… sacrifices, offerings, etc.
i. Hypocrisy may fool men, but it never fools the Lord. (And it doesn’t always even fool men. Oftentimes it is easy to spot.)
Brought With a Wicked Mind
1. Wicked Mind:
a. This expression (wicked mind) is just one Hebrew word.
• It means: a plan, device, an evil or wicked plan, mischievous purpose; evil intentions.
• A general wickedness with a focus on the thought processes that occur in plotting wickedness.
• It is translated “mischief” a few times in Proverbs.
• It speaks of wicked intentions… evil design.
b. Prov. 15:26 – Here Solomon uses a synonym for the term “wicked mind” (Thoughts: Intentions; devices; active thinking, planning, devising.)
• We learn here that even the INTENTIONS are abominable in God’s sight—regardless of whether they are carried out or not.
c. Prov. 24:9 – The THOUGHT of foolishness is sin: and the scorner is an abomination to men.
d. Heb. 4:12 – God CARES about that which is on our minds and hearts, not just our actions.
• The Word of God is able to dig deep to discern the thoughts and intents of our heart and we are judged accordingly.
• The intentions of our hearts may be good or evil… God knows.
• Evil intentions in our heart can turn an otherwise good sacrifice into an abomination.
2. The wicked man BRINGS the sacrifice with a wicked mind – mischievous purposes… with evil intentions.
a. Brings – to bring in; carry in; to bear.
b. The point is that the wicked man brings a sacrifice to be offered—or engages in worship with EVIL intentions.
c. He has a plan that he is attempting to pull off, and he is using God and sacrifices as a means of accomplishing his evil desire.
d. As Matthew Henry put it, “Holiness is pretended, but wickedness intended.”
e. That is the hypocrisy that God hates.
3. “How much more”
a. The first act (namely hypocrisy) was repulsive—and abomination.
• Some wicked men might offer sacrifices to God out of ignorance… or because they are deceived… or because that’s the way they were brought up.
• That is all bad.
b. But this is even worse!
c. The man or woman who brings a sacrifice to God or worships God with mischievous intentions is far worse.
• It’s one thing to cover up one’s own sin and shortcomings.
• It’s far worse to come to God with sinister intentions up your sleeve.
4. Examples of sacrifices brought with evil intentions.
a. I Kings 21:9-12 – Jezebel proclaimed a fast – a time to be pious and think about the Lord. But she did so with evil intentions. Her real goal was to put Naboth to death so that she could steal his land and give it to Ahab! This was all done “in the name of God” under the false pretence that she was offended that this man Naboth blasphemed God!
b. II Sam. 15:7-9 – Absalom said he wanted to go to pay his vows to God… when he was merely using that as an excuse to steal the kingdom from his father, David. His sacrifice to God (paying vows) was brought with evil intentions.
c. Matt. 6:1-4 – Consider the Scribes and Pharisees. Their real purpose in praying and doing good works was to be “seen of men.” God hated that!
d. Matt. 23:14 – The Pharisees made long prayers in order to devour widows houses. They feigned holiness in order to take advantage of vulnerable widows in their time of grief. God was not impressed with their long and flowery prayers. He was disgusted with their wicked mind… their evil intentions.
5. This is certainly applicable to us today.
a. God is not delighted just because we go to church, read the Bible, pray, put money in the offering plate, and pass out tracts… not if our PURPOSE in doing so is wrong.
b. This makes me wonder what the Lord must think about the gospel of success groups today—like Joel Osteen.
c. Clearly most of those folks are coming to God in hope that God will make them rich and successful in their business. I would call those sinister intentions… a mischievous purpose… “to get” rather than to give… Clearly the purpose is to use God for their own self interest… reducing God to a genie in a bottle.
d. Politicians of all stripes offer worship and sacrifices to God in order to get votes from the religious crowd.
e. Salesmen often attend a church and offer sacrifices of praise to God verbally in order to expand their customer base.
f. Not everyone who offers the sacrifice of praise to God today does so with good intentions.
g. Solomon warns here that some do so with EVIL intentions – with a wicked mind.
6. John 4:24 – For worship to be acceptable to the Lord, it must be in spirit and in truth.
a. The sacrifices and worship described here are offered with the wrong spirit.
b. And certainly there is no truth in it. It is a lie… hypocrisy… deception—as if they could deceive God!
c. Matt. 15:7-9 – Drawing nigh to God with flowery words or with offerings does not constitute acceptable worship if the heart is far from God!
7. Heb. 11:6 – In order to please God, FAITH must be involved. There is no faith in hypocritical sacrifices.