The sacrifice of the wicked is abomination: how much more, when he bringeth it with a wicked mind?
Religion does not impress the God of heaven. Do you hear those words? Can you grasp the lesson and warning? You may comfort your foolish soul by religious activity, but hypocrisy offends God. He despises church attendance, giving, words, and service, if you have any sin in your life (Pr 15:8; 28:9). He hates it! He thinks it stinks! He cannot stand it! And if you have evil intentions in your religious service, He hates it that much more.
Men love religion, because they want to honor God, justify themselves to Him, please other men, and soothe their souls. Men love religion, because it is easy. Attending church, carrying a Bible, talking the talk, giving some money, and doing noble deeds are easy. They may even love God. But searching heart and life to rip out pleasant things that are contrary to the Bible is hard. Most live as hypocrites. But God hates hypocrisy!
Other men love religion because it is useful. They attend church for personal glory, professional advantage, or preying on widows (I Sam 2:12-17,22; Matt 6:1-6; 23:14). They may volunteer for church offices. Every city has a few churches of society darlings stroking one another. These people are often agnostics or atheists; they have no desire for God. They use religion for selfish ambitions. And God hates them more than hypocrites!
Other men love religion, because it hides their wicked intentions to pursue sin. Consider Balaam’s pretence at religion (Num 23:1-3), Absalom covering his treason (II Sam 15:7-13), Jezebel’s fast to murder Naboth (I Kgs 21:9-13), the adulteress showing piety to her victim (Pr 7:13-14), and false teachers in Christian churches (II Pet 2:12-19). These all use religion to cover their love of sin, and God hates them more than hypocrites!
All men lie to themselves (Jer 17:9). Since the Garden of Eden, men have chosen deception and lies over truth and righteousness. They imagine God overlooks some or all of their sins because of their religious worship. But they are horribly wrong. God hates hypocrisy, and He despises all of their worship. He considers such worship to be sin (Is 1:13)! He hates it (Is 1:14)! And He promises to reject the prayers of such men (Is 1:15)!
Israel knew that they only of all the earth’s nations had the true worship of the true God. They had Jehovah’s temple, altar, priests, prophets, and laws. But they took far too much comfort in these outward forms of religion, so God mocked them for trusting in His temple in Jerusalem without living holy lives (Jer 7:1-15). Then He sent the Chaldeans to destroy Solomon’s temple and later the Romans to destroy Zerubbabel’s temple. Beware!
God blasted Israel often for religious hypocrisy (Ps 50:7-23; Is 1:10-20; 58:1-7; 66:1-4; Jer 6:20; 7:1-15; Hos 8:11-14; Amos 5:21-24; Mic 6:6-8; Mal 2:1-9). He considered and valued their sacrifice of an ox as murdering a man, a lamb as a dog’s neck, and a gift as swine’s blood (Is 66:3). It is no different in the New Testament. Jesus Christ promised to spew the Laodiceans out of His mouth for their lukewarm religion (Rev 3:14-19).
How much hypocrisy do you think you can get away with? A little? You are wrong! All things are naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with Whom you have to do (Heb 4:12-14). His eyes are in every place, beholding both the evil and the good that you do (Pr 15:3). He demands your whole heart and a holy life (Matt 6:24; 22:27). Anything less than that He counts as spiritual adultery and will judge it severely (Jas 4:1-10; Rev 2:1-5).
The religion of Jesus Christ requires a pure heart and holy life (John 4:24; Rom 12:1-2; Jas 1:27). Jesus mocked outward religion without internal holiness (Matt 5:17-20; 6:1-6; 23:23-28). He warned to smooth relationships before bringing a gift (Matt 5:21-26). Disobedience turns religious worship into idolatry and witchcraft (I Sam 15:22-23). It is perilous times of the last days when men have only a form of godliness (II Tim 3:1-5).
What sins should you confess before you engage in any further religious activity? You should confess every sin you can think of, and you should ask God to show you the rest of them (Ps 139:23-24; 19:14). Read this proverb again. You do not want to play with the holy God of the Bible by taking His name in your mouth while you have sin in your life (Ps 50:16-23; Ezek 20:39). Go to Him now, for He will forgive the truly penitent.