God is not pleased when we look religious on the outside or perform religious obligations, but give no regard for what really pleases Him.
The Bible gives a great example of this in 1 Samuel 2. There was a priest named Eli who had two sons, Hophni and Phinehas. These young men served in priestly duties along with their father, but they continually took advantage of God’s people by taking unfair portions of the sacrificial offerings the Israelites made to God. It was custom for them to take a certain amount of the sacrifice, but they took extra by force, which was very evil in the site of God. The Bible records, “And if the man said to him, Let them burn the fat first, and then you may take as much as you want, the priest’s servant would say, No! Give it to me now or I will take it by force. So the sin of the [two] young men was very great before the Lord, for they despised the offering of the Lord“ (1 Samuel 2:16-17 AMP). These two sons also were sleeping with the women who served at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting (1 Samuel 2:22)! Their evil actions would be similar to an associate pastor having sex with his secretary or personal assistant in the church building even though he wasn’t married to her. And then on top of that, he was not sorry, repentant or remorseful for his own actions, but continued to have sex with his secretary even though he was confronted by the Senior Pastor.
The Bible explains further, “Now Eli was very old, and he heard all that his sons did to all Israel and how they lay with the women who served at the door of the Tent of Meeting. And he said to them, Why do you do such things? For I hear of your evil dealings from all the people. No, my sons; it is no good report which I hear the Lord’s people spreading abroad. If one man wrongs another, God will mediate for him; but if a man wrongs the Lord, who shall intercede for him? Yet they did not listen to their father, for it was the Lord’s will to slay them” (1 Samuel 2:22-25 AMP). Their father rebuked them, but only softly. He did NOT fire them for doing these evil things even though he knew about them for a long time. All of us make mistakes, but these men were unrepentant! So, God eventually sent a Prophet to rebuke Eli for being indifferent toward his children! The Prophet Declared “Therefore the Lord, the God of Israel, says, I did promise that your house and that of your father [forefather Aaron] should go in and out before Me forever. But now the Lord says, Be it far from Me. For those who honor Me I will honor, and those who despise Me shall be lightly esteemed. Behold, the time is coming when I will cut off your strength and the strength of your own father’s house, that there shall not be an old man in your house. And you shall behold the distress of My house, even in all the prosperity which God will give Israel, and there shall not be an old man in your house forever. Yet I will not cut off from My altar every man of yours; some shall survive to weep and mourn [over the family's ruin], but all the increase of your house shall die in their best years. And what befalls your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, shall be a sign to you–in one day they both shall die. [Fulfilled in I Sam. 4:17, 18.] And I will raise up for Myself a [c]faithful priest (Priest), who shall do according to what is in My heart and mind. And I will build him a sure house, and he shall walk before My anointed (Anointed) forever” (1 Samuel 2:30-35 AMP).
Hophni and Phinehas refused to repent and turn to God because they really didn’t care about Him or His ways. They took advantage of God’s people with their position of influence in the church, and God ultimately judged them for it – He killed them! It is a scary thing to fall into the hands of the Almighty God! Not only did God judge Eli’s sons, but He judged Eli, as well. Eli did NOT discipline his sons for their evil deeds, but let them continue to be in prominent positions even though they continued in sin. Eli had the authority to remove them from power, but instead, he turned a blind eye. God was not pleased. The Lord went on to say, that He would find a faithful Priest to do His will and purpose…ultimately this prophecy was fulfilled in Christ.
However, God is still looking for men and women who will obey Him not just give him lip service or pretend to follow Him through religious services. Jesus says, “If you [really] love Me, you will keep (obey) My commands” (John 14:15 AMP). As people of God, we have a responsibility to walk in obedience to God and His commands. If we say we love God, but live contrary to Scripture, we are only fooling ourselves, much like Eli’s sons.
Are you really living for God, or are you just playing games with Him? You might be able to fool people with your outward religious appearance, but God sees everything behind the scenes. He sees the attitude of your heart and whether or not you truly love HIm. Turn to God today…His ways are best and provide peace and joy! If you have been walking in disobedience, admit it, and ask God to forgive you. His mercies are new every morning for those that turn to Him in humility, but He resists the proud person!
If you are a person in authority, don’t sweep things under the rug as if they will go away. Leaders in the body of Christ will give an account to God just like Eli did. He had authority to remove the problem, but didn’t!! If there are people in your world that are living in continual sin, taking advantage of others or there is a problem you need to confront in your organization, then the right thing to do is have the courage to address the situation head on! Pray and ask God to give you wisdom on how to move forward and He will direct your steps. To do nothing is WRONG and will end up hurting you in the long run! When we choose to do the right thing even though it is hard, we receive God’s strength and power to face any difficulty or foe. But if we choose to ignore the very things God calls us as leaders to face, then we are really digging our own grave at the end of the day. Choose to do the right thing. Learn from Eli’s mistakes. God will empower you to do the right thing. Honor God today, not men!