F – TRUE WORSHIP – 6
As we realize that worship centers on God, William Temple defines worship in this way: “To worship is to quicken the conscience by the holiness of God, to feed the mind with the truth of God, to purge the imagination by the beauty of God, to open the heart to the love of God, and to devote the will to the purpose of God.”
There is a tendency today to center worship around man rather than God. Some of the questions of criticism are: What did I get from the worship? (not what honor and devotion did I give to God as I worshipped) Was I inspired and did I have a good feeling when I worshipped? (not did the Truth of God’s Word really enter my heart to be convicted and challenged to grow in my personal holiness as I contemplate on the holiness of God.) We either don’t realize, don’t remember, or don’t focus on what worship is all about. Satan does not mind our worship of God if it is not real—not in spirit and not in Truth. He delights in fake worship because it gives us a sense of false security.
All of the above is true, whether we worship in a personal way or a corporate (together) way. It has been said that if we become “bored” in church, it is a sad commentary on our heart. C.H. Spurgeon said,” They love the wheat, but they do not grind it; they would have the corn, but they will not go forth into the fields to gather it, the fruit hangs upon the tree, but they will not pluck it, the water flows at their feet, but they will not stoop to drink of it. Worship isn’t passive—it takes effort!” These have been called “pew sitters.” The mind and spirit must become engaged. It has been said that we worship inside out. It takes focus and self-discipline as well as effort. Worship is not a time to sit and be spoon-fed.
Worship begins with salvation. A person might really think he is honoring God, but is it an honor to God not to obey Him (Heb. 5:9)—to give your life to Him—to trust Him in everything—to have a faith that encompasses your life? 1 Cor.16:13; Heb.11:6. To worship God we must realize who God is. Then we believe in Jesus as His Son. As we look on the holiness of both God and His Son, we begin to recognize our own unworthiness, yes, our sinfulness Rom.3:23; Isa.59:2 We find no other way to God except through Christ as we learn how He took upon Himself all of our sin and died an excruciating death on the cross so our sins could be taken from us in forgiveness. Col. 1:22; 1 Jhn.1:7,8 Our spirits are crushed into a sincere repentance which produces not only sorrow but a complete turn-around as we seek to do not our will but the will of our Lord. Acts 3:19;2 Cor.7:10 Then we find that we must confess Christ’s name. This was important as Jesus asked the apostles who He was. He wanted them to be sure and know. Peter answered as he confessed that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the living God. Matt.16:16; Matt.10:32 So we must also confess who Jesus is.
What a joy is was to be able to symbolically wash our sins away as we follow the death in burial and then rise to walk in newness of life. Rom.6:3,4 Even angels in heaven rejoice over just one soul who has been saved. Lk. 15:10 We have then been forgiven and are given the wonderful gift of the Holy Spirit who energizes our worship. Acts 2:38 Every conversion event in the book of Acts follows this pattern. Paul relates to this process in many of his letters to the churches.
1 Cor. 2:11 John MacArthur gives a good description of how the Spirit helps us in worship. He prompts our heart, motivates our heart, cleanses our heart and instructs our heart through God’s Word. 1 Cor. 12:3
Worship includes meditation. In meditation we focus our whole mind on one subject. Today the process of meditation has become popular. People have a word or saying that is repeated over and over. Joshua gave instructions to the Israelites as to their meditation. Josh. 1:8 David worships and meditates in Ps. 119:48 Our meditation is not just empty words but we want it to be acceptable to God. Ps. 19:14 When we meditate, our minds are “set”. Where?
3:2 Meditation requires thinking. Phil. 4:8 Meditate day and night. Ps.1:2 Col.
Worship must be in Truth. We know that the early church continued in the apostles’ doctrine. They were inspired both to speak and write. Acts 2:42 Paul told Timothy to attend to doctrine. 1 Tim. 4:13 In
3:16 the church was told to let the word of Christ dwell in them with wisdom. We are to study to show ourselves approved of God. 2 Tim. 2:15 We need to know what the Word says that we may be able to handle it correctly. Study (not just read) requires that we study a subject in its entirety and not take just one verse to prove our point or to make a doctrine out of it. Col
Rom. 12:1,2 As we present out whole being to God to worship Him acceptably, we need to review the areas of study we have covered. Rom. 1:21 First, we must recognize God for who He is in all of His glory and power in creating our world and in particular—creating us and giving us life in the image of Himself. Gen. 1:27 God always was, is, and always will be. Even in His all-power, He is ever merciful to us. Eph. 2:4 At the same time, God is a just God and at the appointed time, which only He knows, will bring us into account for our lives—whether we have lived for Him (pleasing Him) or have lived for self to satisfy our own desires. Matt. 10:28 If we really realize who God is, our lives will be lived for Him.
Our second consideration is realizing what worship is. Our worship has been important to God since the beginning. Jhn. 4:23 God shut His acceptance of Jewish worship in the O.T. because it was improper in that it was insincere and they were not living to please Him. Hos. 5:6 The Pharisees in the N.T. were also guilty of wrong worship. They were only going through formalities and not really worshipping. Matt. 23:25,26 This brings us to the point of remembering—just what is worship. Many descriptive words were used to help us understand but here we will use three—honoring, praising, thanking God. Heb. 12:28,29
As we realize who God is and what worship is, let us review the responsibility of us as the worshipper. God wants our worship but we must have accepted His Son and the salvation offered by Him. As we are aided in our worship by the Holy Spirit, given when we accept salvation, we still have personal effort that is necessary. Worship must become a way of life. Since God is everywhere all of the time, we can worship Him anywhere and any time. Jer. 23:24 After we have accepted His salvation, we must remain faithful and have lives that are pleasing to Him our entire life. Gal. 5:16 God knows our hearts and is well aware if we truly love Him and want to serve Him and be pleasing to Him or if we, just like the Pharisees, are going through formalities in our worship. Matt. 15:3 We can’t deceive God but we do sometimes, maybe many times, deceive ourselves.
We find that in addition to worshipping alone as we live a life of worship, we are enjoined to worship together which we call corporate worship. Heb. 10:25 This was the example of the early church. Today we follow their example. Our worship together must be centered on God and pleasing Him, not on pleasing people. Our corporate worship is not an entertainment competition. Scripture gives us several reasons we worship together. We encourage one another in love and good works. Heb. 10:24 Our love for one another grows when we are together. We identify with things we can do to serve others as we serve God. God is with us as we meet together. Worshipping together brings a remembrance to us. Lk. 22:19 It increases our knowledge and spirituality as we are edified. Worshipping is a command that is important to God.
Casual worship and worship with lives that are not pleasing to God is a reproach upon Christ and His church. God is worthy of our godly fear. We found that faithful men in the O.T. had a godly fear. The apostles who walked with Christ still had a godly fear. We, too, must have that godly fear as we recognize who God is and worship Him.
With our fear we must also have a great humility as we recognize our sinful condition before the Lord. Ps. 66:2; 1 Pet. 5:6 Even with salvation, we are nothing except through Christ. 2 Cor. 5:21 This reflects in our worship. All worship should contain thankfulness. Col. 3:17 Col. 4:2 We have so much for which to be thankful as we recognize God’s mercy which He exhibits toward us .Jam.4:8
So as we come to our final summary, how sincere is our worship? Are we play-acting with our formalities? Are we worshipping in ways we want to be pleased? Whether alone or together, let us bow our spirits with clean hands (works to serve and please God and not for our own honor), pure hearts (spirits that want to walk with God and focus on things that are pure in His sight), in spirit (as the Holy Spirit leads us in sincere love of God and others), and in Truth (for no worship is acceptable to God that is not according to His Word). Ps. 24:4; Jhn. 4:24
…with clean hands and a pure heart…in spirit and in Truth.