Proverbs 21:27

ESV The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination; how much more when he brings it with evil intent.
NIV The sacrifice of the wicked is detestable-- how much more so when brought with evil intent!
NASB The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination, How much more when he brings it with evil intent!
CSB The sacrifice of a wicked person is detestable;-- how much more so when he brings it with ulterior motives!
NLT The sacrifice of an evil person is detestable, especially when it is offered with wrong motives.
KJV The sacrifice of the wicked is abomination: how much more, when he bringeth it with a wicked mind?

What does Proverbs 21:27 mean?

Scripture often reminds us that God judges more than mere actions. Every act is inspired by attitudes, thoughts, and motives, which matter just as much to the Lord (Matthew 5:21–22, 27–28). Earlier in the book of Proverbs, Solomon noted that God despises sacrifices from wicked people, but accepts even the prayers of righteous persons (Proverbs 15:8). Here, the Bible notes that when the "wicked," meaning those ungodly and guilty, try to offer Him gifts or sacrifices, He is repulsed. The Hebrew root word translated as "abomination" here is tow'ebah, which literally means something disgusting.

What repels God is not the sacrifice itself, but the intent of the person making it. It's bad enough when someone who defies God attempts to offer sacrifice. It's even worse when that person thinks they can offer sacrifice to make up for sins for which they have no repentance. In other words, God is especially sickened when a person feels no remorse for sin and thinks they can buy God's forgiveness. Likewise, when someone tries to gain God's favor in some inappropriate scheme.

The Lord instituted the Old Testament sacrificial system, but it was intended to be used by worshipers whose hearts were intent on honoring Him. The sacrifices were external, tangible evidence of the person's internal faith. Sacrifices were never intended to be a substitute for a broken and contrite heart. Although the sacrificial system was fulfilled when Christ offered Himself as the perfect sacrifice (Hebrews 10:13–14), believers today may offer their bodies to God as a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1–2).

Giving money to God willingly and proportionately is another way to worship Him (2 Corinthians 9:6–8). Yet it is detestable—a sin, in and of itself—to give money to God with the hope of appeasing Him or obtaining His help for an unrighteous endeavor.
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