Under the Law of Moses the Israelites were required to worship God by offering animal sacrifices. There were several different kinds of sacrifices required but one thing they all had in common was that the animals had to be free of any defects. In the time of the prophet Malachi many of the people were dishonoring God by offering imperfect animals.
“A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If then I am a father, where is my honor? And if I am a master, where is my fear?” says the LORD of hosts to you, O priests, who despise my name.
But you say, “How have we despised your name?” By offering polluted food upon my altar.
But you say, “How have we polluted you?” By saying that the LORD’s table may be despised. When you offer blind animals in sacrifice, is that not evil? And when you offer those that are lame or sick, is that not evil?
He gives them a standard by which they can judge the acceptability of their offerings.
“Present that to your governor; will he accept you or show you favor?” says the LORD of hosts.
Because Jesus Christ has atoned for our sins by his death and resurrection we no longer need to sacrifice animals. We are saved by faith in Christ.
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
After we are saved we show our love for him by doing the good works he gives us to do.
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Christians do have one thing in common with the Israelties; we often dishonor God by failing to carry out the work he has given us. We can judge the effectiveness of our works by applying the standard Malachi used.
How many of us could keep our jobs if we served our earthly employers as well as we serve God?
How many of us could avoid being jailed for tax evasion if we paid our taxes as faithfully as we give to God?
How many of us would graduate from school is we studied our lessons in the same way we study our Bible?
Since salvation is a gift of God and not something we earn we won’t lose our salvation if we fail to serve God as we should but it will cost us the rewards we could have received when we get to Heaven.
For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw—each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.
1 Corinthians 3:11-15
If you find you aren’t serving God as you should and you aren’t bothered by that fact you need to consider the possibility that you aren’t really saved at all. The apostle Paul warned his readers that they should examine themselves to make sure they were saved.
Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!
2 Corinthians 13:5
You can find a good explanation of salvation here: