Stop bringing meaningless offerings! Your incense is detestable to me. New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations— I cannot bear your worthless assemblies. (Isaiah 1:13)
Solomon’s wasn’t kidding when he said, “there’s nothing new under the sun.” He was especially right as it comes to the whole game of religion. In fact, the temptation to make religion a game is just as present now as it was thousands of years ago when the Israelites were great at playing it.
Here’s how the game works: live your life however you want, and then they would go and confess your sins. When you’re done confessing, go back to living however you want until your next confession. The game sounds sadly familiar, doesn’t it?
I know I’ve found myself in the same vicious cycle on more than one occasion. I think that’s why Isaiah’s words in 1:13a are so important me: “Stop bringing meaningless offerings! Your incense is detestable to me.” God was tired of the game, and He was tired of the Israelites believing that they could play Him. He didn’t want sin and repentance any longer; He wanted changed hearts.
Are you in a cycle of sinning with the trust that God will forgive you later if you just ask for forgiveness and quote a few verses? Isaiah’s words are just as relevant to us as they were to the Israelites.
God doesn’t delight in the sin game – He desires changed hearts.
The changed heart doesn’t rely on God’s forgiveness as a motivation to sin. Instead, it seeks to avoid sin because it knows the pain that it causes to the One it loves. That’s the difference between religion as a game and a relationship with a heavenly Father.
God, help me not to play games with You. Instead of living life according to what I believe is best and then seeking Your forgiveness, help me to live to please You. There will be times when I sin and make mistakes, but please show me Your grace in those moments. Let the direction of my life be toward living for Your glory.