In Malachi 1:8, the Lord accuses Israel of bringing Him blemished offerings: “‘When you bring blind animals for sacrifice, is that not wrong? When you sacrifice crippled or diseased animals, is that not wrong? Try offering them to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you?’ says the Lord Almighty.”
Bringing animal sacrifices to the temple that were blind, disfigured, or sick was a direct violation of the Mosaic Law (Leviticus 22:22; Deuteronomy 15:21). The reason for this command was that such sacrifices dishonored the Lord. “Do not profane my holy name” (Leviticus 22:32). They were sacrifices in name only; a true sacrifice must cost something, and there was no pain involved in getting rid of something already slated for culling. As God points out, giving such an inferior gift to another person would be unthinkable—what made them think God would be pleased with it?
More importantly, each sacrifice was a symbol of the future sacrifice of Christ, who was “a lamb without blemish or defect” (1 Peter 1:19). The cheap, marred sacrifices of Malachi’s time were travesties of Christ’s perfection.
The application for Christians today does not involve animal sacrifices, of course, nor is it even directly related to financial offerings. Rather, it is a matter of treating God as holy. This concerns all areas of life, ranging from how we speak of God, to how we obey Him and how willing we are to sacrifice material things like finances.
The larger context of Malachi 1:6-14 deals with a variety of ways in which God’s people had dishonored or cheated the Lord by their actions. Both the priests and those who presented offerings were neglecting full obedience to God, giving sacrifices that were in violation of God’s Word. Today’s churches are at risk of the same sin, in principle. Simply attending a service, singing songs, listening to sermons, and giving offerings is not what God desires. He deserves the best, and He wants us, not just our stuff.
First, He calls us to accept His Son, Jesus, by faith (Ephesians 2:8-9), recognizing our sinful status in relation to His perfection (Romans 3:23).
Second, God expects our full commitment to Him. While our works do not earn salvation or a right standing with the Lord, He saves us to do the good works He has prepared for us. Ephesians 2:10 says, “We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
The sacrifice we offer today is our own selves. “Offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship” (Romans 12:1). For a believer to knowingly continue in sin is to present to the Lord a “blemished,” unholy sacrifice. God is holy, and He expects His children to honor Him with purity and holiness (1 Corinthians 1:2; Ephesians 1:4; 1 Peter 1:16). Why would we follow the sin of the ancient Israelites in treating the Lord with disrespect? God makes forgiveness available to us (1 John 1:9), so there is no reason for living a sinful life.