What does God desire from us?

All of scripture agrees: God desires a broken, contrite heart.

A contrite heart is repentant faith; a godly remorse for sin and a trust in God’s promises.

Psalms 51

[16] For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. [17] The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

God hates false religion, appealing to him through religious activities but not from the heart. God doesn’t desire the burnt offering itself. For what use would a sacrifice be to the God who already owns everything? Instead, God desires in the contrite heart of the worshipper offering the sacrifice.

Isaiah 57

[15] For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place,…

Our God is high and lifted up! He rules over all things and He holds the universe together by His limitless power. There has never been one like Him! He has no equal! He is holy, holy, holy! Certainly this God must associate with the high and powerful if He is to associate with sinful humans at all. This is how we humans operate, and ironically, it is how the deities of every other world religion are described. But no, God is not like us or our man-made gods.

…“I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite.

Isaiah 66

[1] Thus says the Lord: “Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool; what is the house that you would build for me, and what is the place of my rest? [2] All these things my hand has made, and so all these things came to be, declares the Lord. But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.

Psalms 34:15-18

[18] The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.

God is near the lowly. He delights in a humble and contrite heart. But what has broken this heart? Certainly there are many who reject God and yet are brokenhearted over the pain and toil of this world. Scripture instead is describing someone who is brokenhearted over their own sinfulness and, in humility, asks God for mercy. This is the posture that David had when he repented of his sin:

Psalms 51

[1] (Create in Me a Clean Heart, O God) To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet went to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba. Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. [2] Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin! [3] For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. [4] Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment.

These are those of who Jesus says “Blessed are the poor in spirit” (Matthew 5). The poor in spirit are the spiritually bankrupt; those who know their sinfulness; those who know they could never earn God’s love and favor. They know they are not righteous in God’s sight. And yet Jesus

Hosea 6

[6] For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.

  • God desires that we love him. Deuteronomy 6, Mark 12:30 “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength”

1 Peter 3 - …not the removal of dirt from the body, but an appeal to God for a clean conscience.

Acts 10 - [35] but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.

  • To fear God is to have a contrite heart.

  • Godly sorrow

Spirit and truth

Psalm 51 - you delight in truth