I was attending our Prayer and Share group at church. Someone said, “Scripture tells us that obedience is better than sacrifice.” The Holy Spirit whispered in my ear, “Obedience is a form of sacrifice.” Time for me to do some studying.
The first act of disobedience is recorded in Genesis 3. Adam and Eve disobeyed God when they ate fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Because of their sin, God sacrificed an animal to clothe them with garments of skin. If Adam and Eve has obeyed, there would not have been a need for sacrifice. Obedience would have been better than sacrifice. Disobedience required sacrifice.
The first reference to obedience being better than sacrifice is found in I Samuel 15:22 NLT. “What is more pleasing to the LORD: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams.” These are Samuel’s words to Saul when Saul disobeyed and God rejected him as king. Sacrifice did not mean obedience was unnecessary.
Lack of obedience led to the need for sacrifice. The Ten Commandments are recorded in Exodus 20. The Israelites did not obey all that God asked of them. This led to the need for sacrifice. Leviticus 1-7 describes all the sacrifices God would require. There were burnt offering, grain offerings, peace offerings, sin offerings and trespass offerings. So many sacrifices! All because of disobedience.
Would sacrifices continue forever? No! Hebrews10:1-18 tells how Christ’s sacrifice on the cross was made once for everyone. The law for sacrifices was only a shadow of Jesus’ sacrifice yet to come. These annual sacrifices were a reminder that the blood of animals did not take away sins. Christ set aside the animal sacrifices and made a holy sacrifice through His body once and for all. The priests had to stand while performing their religious duties because there was always a need for more sacrifices. Christ is now seated at the right hand of God. His work is completed. Verse 18 proclaims, “sacrifice for sin is no longer necessary.” No sacrifice required – but obedience is required.
Jesus paid the ultimate sacrifice when He died upon the cross. Romans 10:4 says, “Christ has already accomplished the purpose for which the law was given. As a result, all who believe in Him are made right with God.” Now we must obey God. We must believe.
Jesus was obedient to His Heavenly Father when He sacrificed His life. Now He has given us a command to obey. In Luke 9:23, Jesus says, “Whoever wants to be My disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow Me.” “Taking up our cross” sounds like sacrifice. “Follow Me” sounds like obedience. We may be asked to make some form of sacrifice. Then we must obey.
If we are asked to make a sacrifice, what might our sacrifice be? Very likely, our will. (Let us pray the words of Matthew 6:19, “Your [God’s] will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”) Possibly our desires. Maybe our reputation – what people think of us. Our time is another thing that may need to be sacrificed.
We have been thinking about sacrifice. Now let’s focus upon obedience. Jesus obeyed perfectly. Jesus says in John 5:19, “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by Himself; He can do only what He sees His Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.” Philippians 2:8 says, “And being found in appearance as a man, He (Jesus) humbled Himself by becoming obedient to death– even death on a cross!”
The following are several scriptures that will help us walk in obedience.
You must love the LORD your God and obey all His requirements, decrees, regulations, and commands. – Deuteronomy 11:1
If you love Me, keep My commands. – John 14:15
And this is love: that we walk in obedience to His commands. As you have heard from the beginning, His command is that you walk in love. – II John 1:6
Blessed are those who hear the word of God and obey it. – Luke 11:28
This is love for God: to keep His commands. – I John 5:3
Obedience and sacrifice seem to go hand in hand. Obedience may be better than sacrifice. However, obedience may require sacrifice. I encourage you to strive to sacrificially obey the Lord!