Both the upright and the wicked can be and often are religious. Just because I offer sacrifices doesn’t mean that I am upright in the Lord God’s eyes. The wicked also offer sacrifices. The LORD detests the sacrifices of the wicked. Niccolo Machiavelli’s political treatise “The Prince” is about justifying immoral and irreligious means to obtain glory and survival and many follow his guises. “The sacrifice of the wicked is detestable– how much more so when brought with evil intent!” (21:27)
Though often the upright only has enough to offer prayers to the Lord, the prayer of the upright pleases him. (.8) “To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice.” (21:3) Jesus told the Pharisees, “…go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Matthew 9:13) Hosea 6:6 which Jesus quoted continues, “…and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.“
So I need to ask myself, “Am I relying on religious practices for justification while continuing wicked living or does my justification through Jesus’ blood compel me to do what is right and just? Am I seeking God’s favor through religion while seeking my own benefit? Or does my faith compel me to love and mercy?” Is it time to let God change my heart and for me to change my ways? No time like the present.