Anytime we join a group or any sort, requirements are put forth in order to identify and remain with that group. We sign contracts, make agreements, give our word in various manners. Gang members have signs and ways they wear their clothing to show loyalty and identity.
In religion, this is no different. The Buddhists have their Eightfold Path (know the truth, say nothing to hurt others, practice meditation, control your thoughts, resist evil, free your mind of evil, work for the good of others, and respect life), the Muslims have their Five Pillars (Shahada, Prayer, giving charity, fasting, and pilgrimage to Mecca).
On the Mormon website, we see how one’s sins are atoned for. This is from the LDS website:
Through the Atonement, we all can be forgiven of our sins; we can become clean before God. To receive this enabling power, we must obey the gospel of Jesus Christ, which includes having faith in Him, repenting of our sins, being baptized, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and trying to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ for the rest of our lives
In Moroni 10:32 of the Book of Mormon:
Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God. “
In each of these previous examples, we see what you must do in order to obtain righteousness before God.
- “… we can become clean before God. To receive this enabling power, we must obey the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
- “...if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ.”
For Micah, one of the key passages in this book is Micah 6:1-8, specifically verses 6-8. Let’s stand and read this together.
“With what shall I come before the Lord,
and bow myself before God on high?
Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,
with calves a year old?
Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams,
with ten thousands of rivers of oil?
Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression,
the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?”
8 He has told you, O man, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?
In this passage, we see what the Lord requires of us. This seems to pile on more commands in order for God to receive us–but this is not the case. We must understand at the beginning why this question would arise in the first place.
Like at so many other times in Israel’s history, they obediently observed all the worship practices prescribed by Yahweh, but was He pleased? Again, the issue of going through the motions in times of worship, and failing to take what they’ve learned of God and apply it to their lives is not an issue that simple stayed in the days of Micah. Sadly, every generation of believers and those who identify with His people do this very same thing.
Yet, we must ask ourselves these questions, look at what is happening in Micah’s context, and then look at what can be done to rightly approach our Lord God. And it puts forth a question again: what does the Lord require of us? Why is this question so important?
In verse 6, this question of how to approach the Lord must not be scooted over. At the end of the day, as the apostle Paul notes,
we must all stand before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil (2 Corinthians 5:10). Every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:9-11).
So the questions continue: Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Was this prescribed in the OT for atoning for sins? Yes-if the motive is right.
But even with this, God gives clues that the outward offering of sacrifices would not be sufficient. In 1 Samuel 15, King Saul disobeyed the Lord’s command in his dealing with the Amalekites, and Samuel the prophet came to inform Saul that God’s hand was taken away from his kingship. He did not obey fully. When Samuel saw the sacrifices offered, even in the midst of Saul’s obedience, he cried out:
Has the LORD great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption as iniquity and idolatry(1 Samuel 15:22-23).
To presume upon the Lord what is right and what is wrong in our lives, without consulting and obeying what he says is sin. You are not worshiping the God of heaven and earth, but worshiping another that may seem like God to you.
So they began to conclude: what if I thousands of rams and ten thousand rivers of oil? No! Doing more, and offering more sacrifices will not work. Harder work will not work when it comes to our relationship and how we approach the living God in worship!
How about this: I give my firstborn for my sin! No! No! No! Harder work won’t work.
John Calvin in his commentary says:
They see that they whom God convicts and their own conscience condemns, cannot rest in safety. Hence they wish to discharge their duty towards God as a matter of necessity; but at the same time they seek some fictitious modes of reconciliation, as though it were enough to flatter God, as though he could be pacified like a child with some frivolous trifles.
We all fall into this trap, don’t we? Men, when you’re married and your actions have displeased your wife, what do you do? Wash the car? Vacuum? Flowers? You can do all those things, but if the actions and the heart do not change, what will all those things do?
You can come to church more, sing songs loudly, join teams, do missions work, give generously–but harder work won’t work when it comes to approaching our Lord. Again, these do not prove your love so God will love you. We do this because God has shown His love to us.