After 70 years of captivity, one would think the Israelites had learned their lesson. The exiles had returned, the temple was rebuilt, and life in Jerusalem had returned to some degree of normalcy. However, it did not take long for complacency to set in, bringing with it spiritual pollution.
Unfortunately, many 21st-century Christians act the same way. They believe in God but live like He does not exist. They go through the motions, undistinguishable from the world around them, compromising the truth for worldly pleasures.
In light of this, it is worth examining the Israelites’ spiritual pollution, particularly their priests’ attitude toward God as recorded in Malachi 1:6-14.
1. Disrespectful (verses 6-7): First, spiritual pollution causes us to serve God in a disrespectful manner. God asks a question, “Where is my honor?” (ESV). The priests were accepting blemished animals for selfish reasons. They disrespected the Lord because they allowed spiritual pollution to cloud their spiritual sight.
What about us? Because of Christ’s finished work on the cross, we no longer offer blood sacrifices. But do we truly honor God with our lives, praise, time and treasure, or are we offering disrespectful cast-offs on our own terms? Do we disrespect God by offering Him second choices and halfhearted service?
2. Unfit (verses 8-9): Next, spiritual pollution causes our services to be unpleasing to the Lord; therefore He will not accept them. Deuteronomy 15:21 says, “But if it has any blemish, if it is lame or blind or has any serious blemish whatever, you shall not sacrifice it to the Lord your God.” This is what the priests were doing. Not only did God reject their offering, but twice in verse 8 He referred to the offerings as “evil,” because the offerings were unfit.
Similarly, when we allow spiritual pollution to remain in our lives, we offer God disqualified service, and He will not accept it. Sin keeps us from fully participating in God’s plans.
3. Apathetic (verses 10-14): Finally, when we allow spiritual pollution to remain in our lives, we develop disdainful attitudes. In verse 13, the priests referred to their calling as “weariness.” They would “snort” at the work. They were bored with serving the Lord. The priests’ attitudes were so bad that God wished they would shut the doors to the temple.
It is easy to slip into spiritual complacency. The creator of the universe calls us to worship Him, and yet we struggle to attend church or spend time in Bible study and prayer. We take what is holy and treat it as mundane.
We must confess our sin to the Lord and allow Him to purify us of that which taints our lives and souls.
James 4:8 says, “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” This promise still holds true. Repent, break free from complacency, and bring honor to God.