Sacrifice avails nothing


In The Book of Micah, a footnote mentioned:

The people ask how they shall worship the Lord, proposing the various forms of sacrifice.
The prophet replies that sacrifice avails nothing without the true spirit of religion.

Please explain sacrifice avails nothing.


The true spirit of religion is love of God and neighbor. Sacrifice performed for that purpose, as with the widow’s offering in Matt 12, or more dramatically with Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, avails much. Sacrifice done in order to impress God with our holiness avails nothing.

You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.
Ps 51:16-17

For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings. Hosea 6:6

If you had known what these words mean, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent. Matt 12:7

**To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices." **Mark 12:33


“without the true spirit of religion”

A sacrifice isn’t a magic spell to get God to do what you want. You can’t make one with an empty spirit and expect it to be received.


I think this verse from Micah 6 answers the question:

8 You have been told, O mortal, what is good,
and what the LORD requires of you:
Only to do justice and to love goodness,
and to walk humbly with your God.

God does not require empty sacrifices from His people. What makes them empty is that they don’t address what God wishes to receive. He wants them to do justice, love wisdom, and walk humbly.


Sacrifice IS necessary to live the Christian life,
consider the spiritual exercises of prayer, fasting
and alms-giving that Jesus told His disciples to do
in the Sermon on the Mount, 2/3 of them is sacrifice!
What Micah is complaining about is that it has become
more like a pretense of drawing near God instead of
really putting your heart and soul into it or even being
GRATEFUL that they have so great a God to worship,
am I making any sense?


Just be careful in proof-texting, separating or segregating verses. And, context is crucial. For example:

"There is no God.” Psalm 53:1b.

Does the bible truly claim that there is no God? Look at it in context:

Psalm 53:1
Denunciation of Godlessness
53 The fool says in his heart,
“There is no God.”
They are corrupt, doing abominable iniquity;
there is none that does good.

A bit of a difference.


GLam8833, Very good sense!
It is important for an individual to put his heart and soul into his prayers.
Prayer from the heart is splendid.
The Lord knows the heart.


Worship and sacrifice are inextricably linked, in both the Old Testament as well as the New.

Romans 12:1
Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (RSVCE)
12 I appeal to you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.

Spiritual worship was a new concept on the face of the earth. Our Lord told the Samaritan woman at the well that those who followed Him worship “in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:23-24). At mass, we sacrifice the bread and wine which become Body and Blood. As well, we sacrifice our very selves, offering ourselves to the Lord. As members of the Body of Christ, we become part of His eternal sacrifice.


I couldn’t find this footnote in my RSV CE Bible though.

In Micah 6:6-7, the people thought similar sacrifices to false gods like Baal may be pleasing to the Lord. These sacrifices included infant sacrifice. Micah 6:8 answers it. Hence such types of sacrifices “avail nothing”.

“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?”

Other posters have given other angles of looking at it. Other verses such as Isaiah 29:13 and Mat 15:8 show clearly that God does not delight in exterior motions if the heart is not with him.


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