In the days of the prophet Amos, the people of Israel were offering sacrifices of thanksgiving to the Lord, observing the festivals commanded in the Law of Moses, bringing their freewill and peace offerings and their tithes, and filling the temple with songs of praise to Him (Amos 4:4-5; 5:21-23; 8:3, 5). And yet God was not pleased with them! Why not?
In his preaching Amos identified many of the sins of the people. The poor were oppressed and cheated by the rich (Amos 4:1; 5:11; 8:4-6); the righteous could not receive justice in the courts of the land (Amos 2:6; 5:12) and the affluent were materialistic (Amos 4:1-3; 6:4-7), that is, concerned only about their material things. Idolatry and sexual immorality were rampant (Amos 4:4; 2:7-8). How could the same people who were worshiping the Lord with sacrifices and religious festivals also commit such acts?
The answer is that the people of Israel had separated their religious service to God from their daily lives. They offered a ritualistic worship to God which did not reflect heartfelt allegiance and then immediately returned to the sinful practices of their daily lives. For them, religion was only something to be practiced in the presence of a priest, on specific days or in a special place. The rest of the time they violated God’s commandments regarding justice, righteousness and purity without remorse. What was God’s reaction to such conduct? "I hate, I despise your feast days, And I do not savor your sacred assemblies. Though you offer Me burnt offerings and your grain offerings, I will not accept them, Nor will I regard your fattened peace offerings. Take away from Me the noise of your songs, For I will not hear the melody of your stringed instruments. But let justice run down like water, And righteousness like a mighty stream" (Amos 5:21-24).
God desires that we worship Him, but devotion to God which does not affect our daily conduct is useless religion. The Bible confirms that God has never been interested in receiving ritualistic religion divorced from daily life. We cannot live like a child of the devil from Monday to Saturday and then slip in among the sons of God on Sunday and expect that God will not notice, that He will accept our worship (1 John 3:8-10)! Even the irreligious recognize the inconsistency (hypocrisy?) in those who worship God on Sunday and cheat their clients on Monday, break the law on Tuesday, abuse their children on Wednesday, etc.
Mindless devotion to ritual does not make us better people nor glorify our Creator (read Matthew 23:23 for a clear application of this principle). We must "die" to the sinful practices of the world and allow Christ to live in us, not only on Sunday, but every day (Galatians 2:20)!