ARE YOU GUILTY OF VAIN WORSHIP?
I pose this question with no malice intent to cause offense or condemnation. I recently came to this realization and conviction through the study of the inspired word of God, and therefore my intent is to provoke the desire for a deeper study of the matter, peradventure the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation so that you may know how to truly worship him in spirit and truth.
Let me state from the outset that, the question of vain worship is by no means related to false worship, neither does it pertains to one’s free gift of eternal life and salvation. For as every believer should know, it is by grace we have been saved, through faith – and this not from ourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.
However, we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. We need to stress on these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.
One of the good works God prepared in advance for us to do is, to worship him; that means, expressing our relationship to God in reverence and adoration.
For example it is stated in the Psalms, “Oh come let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the lord our Maker. For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand” (Ps. 95:6-7).
Ascribe to the Lord O families of nations, ascribe to the Lord Glory and strength. Ascribe to the Lord the Glory due to his name; bring an offering and come into his courts. Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness; tremble before him all the earth” (Ps. 96:7-9, Ps, 29:1-2).
I highlighted two important things which I will dwell on later.
It is imperative that the matter of vain worship be thoroughly examined by all true and sincere believers, because the worse indictment which is labeled on those who worship the one and only true God is that of worshiping the true God in vain.
Jesus, quoting from the prophet Isaiah said to the Pharisees, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written; ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. And in vain they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men; for laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men.” And he said to them, “You have let go the commandments of God and are holding on to the traditions of men” (Mk.7: 6-9).
True worship in our new dispensation is defined as, “The true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship him. God is Spirit and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth” (Jn. 4:23-24).
As believers we have been given the prerogative to judge ourselves; for if we judge ourselves, we would not come under judgment. When we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned with the world.
Let us therefore judge ourselves as to whether or not we are worshiping the true God in vain.
Here are four areas to prove to ones’ self whether or not he/she is worshiping God in vain.
- Is there any biblical truth to support and validate the day and occasion you appear before God to worship?
Remember, those who worship God must worship him in spirit and truth. For example the Lord says; “When you come to appear before me, who has required this from your hand, to trample my courts?
Bring no more futile [vain, worthless] sacrifices; incense [prayer] is an abomination to me, the new moons, the Sabbaths and the calling of assemblies – I cannot endure iniquity and the sacred meeting. Your [not My]New Moons, and your appointed feasts my soul hates; they are a trouble to me, I am weary of bearing them, when you spread out your hands, I will hide my face from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not hear. Your hands are full of blood” (Isa. 1:12-15).
- Are you appearing before the Lord at his appointed [ordained] times?
The Lord said to Moses; “These are the Feasts of the Lord, holy convocations [sacred assemblies] which you shall proclaim at their appointed times” (Lev.23: 4). Moses announced to the Israelites the appointed [ordained] Feasts of the Lord beginning with the Seventh Day weekly Sabbath, the Passover/Unleavened Bread, First fruits, Feast of Weeks/Pentecost, Feast of Trumpets, Day of Atonement, Feast of Tabernacles. (Lev. 23:1-44).
You may have been deceived or misled in believing that these Festivals were designated only for the Jews, and are not relevant to the Gentiles, but I write and speak to sensible people; judge for yourselves what the scriptures say in regards to salvation for the Gentiles.
This is what the Lord says: “Maintain justice and do what is right, for my salvation is close at hand and my righteousness will soon be revealed. Blessed is the man who does this, the man who holds it fast, who keeps the Sabbath without desecrating it, and keeps his hand from doing any evil.”
“Let no foreigner who has bound himself to the Lord say, ‘The lord will surely exclude me from his people.”
“For this is what the Lord says: To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths, who choose what pleases me and hold fast to my covenant – to them I will give within my temple and its walls a memorial and a name better that sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that will not be cut off.’
‘And foreigners who bind themselves to the Lord to serve him, to love the name of the Lord, and to worship him, all who keep the Sabbath without desecrating it and who hold fast to my covenant – these I will bring to my holy mountain [kingdom] and give them joy in my house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations” (Isa.56:1-7).
Gentiles are instructed to glorify God together with his people, and not in isolation. They are instructed to, “Accept one another then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the Jews on behalf of God’s truth, to confirm the promises made to the patriarchs so that the Gentiles may glorify God for his mercy, as it is written: ‘Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles; I will sing hymns to your name.”
Again, it says, “Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people.” And again, “Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles, and sing praises to him, all you peoples” (Rom.15:7-11).
Our God is not a God of confusion. “Jesus Christ is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit” (Eph.2:14-18).
It is unequivocally clear that the times which God ordained for sacred assemblies are still in force. The bible is replete with evidences where both Jesus Christ and the apostles kept the seventh Day Sabbath.
The apostle Paul admonished the brethren to celebrate the Feast of the Passover/Unleavened Bread by saying; “Christ our Passover lamb has been sacrificed. Therefore, let us keep the Festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth”(1Cor. 5:7-8).
It is quite evident that the disciples kept the Feast of Pentecost, because it is written; “When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place” (Acts 2:1).
The Apostle Paul who, became converted fourteen years after the original apostles also kept the Feast of Pentecost. It is stated that, “Paul had decided to sail past Ephesus to avoid spending time in the province of Asia, for he was in a hurry to reach Jerusalem, if possible by the day of Pentecost” (Acts 20:16).
On another occasion Paul said, “I will stay on at Ephesus until Pentecost, because a great door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me” (1Cor.16:8).
Jesus Christ kept the Feast of Tabernacles. It is written: “On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, ‘If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him” (Jn.7:37-38).
During the millennium survivors from all the nations that have attacked Jerusalem will have to go up year after year to worship the King, the Lord Almighty, and to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles. Those who refuse to keep the Feast will be severely punished. (Zech.14:16-19).
- Are you appearing before God without presenting to him his offering and his bread for his offering?
Remember what is written in the Psalms. “Ascribe to the Lord the glory due to his name; bring an offering and come into his courts” (Ps.96:8).
What sort of an offering are we suppose to bring to the Lord when presenting ourselves before him?
This is what the Lord said to Moses, “This is what you are to offer on the altar regularly each day – a pleasing aroma, an offering made to the lord by fire” (Exo.29:38-40).
This pleasing aroma with all its paraphernalia is called the burnt offering. It consists of the Lamb, with its grain and drink offering. The Lamb is figurative to Jesus Christ himself, the grain offering is figurative to the broken body of Jesus Christ in the form of the Unleavened Bread, and the drink offering is figurative to the shed blood of Jesus Christ in the form of the wine. This is the expression of Christ’s love for us who “Gave himself up for us, an offering, and a sacrifice to God as a sweet smelling aroma” (Eph.5:2).
Concerning this offering, the lord said to Moses, “For the generations to come this burnt offering is to be made regularly (continuously, often) at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting before the Lord. There I will meet you and speak to you; there also I will meet with the Israelites, and the place will be consecrated by my glory. So I will consecrate the tent of Meeting and the altar and will consecrate Aaron and his sons to serve me as priests. Then I will dwell among the Israelites and be their God.
They will know that I am the Lord their God, who brought them out of Egypt so that I might dwell among them. I am the lord their God” (Exo.29:42-46).
As clearly shown, this offering is the prerequisite, the pass code so to speak, to present ones self before God, before he speaks to his servants, before the place of meeting is consecrated, and before the lord takes residence among his people.
The Apostle Paul expressed a similar sentiment when he wrote; “Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way open for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water” (Heb.10:19-22).
In concluding religious directions the apostle Paul gave the following instructions; “The high priest carries the blood of animals into the Most Holy Place as a sin offering, but the bodies are burned outside the camp. And so, Jesus also suffered outside out side the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood. Let us, then, go to him outside the camp, bearing the disgrace he bore” (Heb.13:11-13).
This offering is of paramount importance. It is the offering which the High Priest is appointed to offer on behalf of man’s sins, and it is the offering which only can cleanse the worshiper from a guilty conscience, and present him/her holy, blameless, and irreproachable in the sight of God (Heb.5:1; 8:3; Col.1:14, 22, 1Jn.1:7).
This offering is so important to God that he instructed Moses saying; “Give this command to the Israelites and say to them; “ My offering, my food [bread] for my offerings by fire, my pleasing odor, you shall take heed [be careful] to offer to me at its due season” (Num.28:1-2).
Not only can it be confirmed that Jesus Christ is indeed that fragrant offering and sacrifice to God, but Jesus Christ also confirmed the fact that he is the bread of God which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world. (Jn.6:33).
The irony of truth is, since no one can say “I have no sin” or “I have not sinned:” No one therefore can present him/herself before the Father without a sin offering being offered on his/her behalf. This offering is not offered automatically, but by the individual’s free will. (Lev. 1:3-4).
The appointed times to offer to God his food, the bread for his offering, his sweet smelling aroma has not been left to chance, or left in limbo as to how often is often, but it is clearly defined as morning and evening for the regular daily offering, on the seventh Day Weekly Sabbath, on the New Moons, and on the annual Festivals which the Lord regards as My Feasts (Read Numbers Chapters 28 and 29).
A common mistake make by most believers is that, they do not realize that forgiveness, and cleansing of sin, are entirely two different processes that are intertwined to each other. It is written; “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
Understanding spiritual things are not beyond man’s comprehension since, “What may be known about God is plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse” (Rom.1:20).
Is a person who spills milk on the floor brake the glass, begs for forgiveness, and grants forgiveness, negated automatically from cleaning the messy floor? Absolutely not! Without picking up the broken pieces of glass, clean the floor with water and detergent, the floor remains unclean and hazardous. In like manner, confession without the application of the blood of Christ through the cup of the new covenant which Christ instituted on the night before he was led to be crucified, there is no forgiveness.
Also, an offence or a transgression is not resolved simply by acknowledging one’s guilt and confessing to a Lawyer. The matter is resolved only when it is brought before the Magistrate or Judge, where the lawyer intercedes or pleads on behalf of the offender.
In like manner, sins are not forgiven unless Christ intercedes on our behalf. He does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for his own sins and then for the people’s, for this he did once for all when he offered up himself. But like every high priest he is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices on behalf of our sins, and this offering is the bread of God and the cup of the new covenant of his blood which only can satisfies the will of God.
The blood of Jesus Christ has a three-fold application.
- Universal salvation of all humanity from the death penalty incurred by the sin of the first Adam. As it is written; “Just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men” (Rom.5:18).
- Remission of individual’s sins committed prior to conversion. As it is written; “Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth to be a propitiation by his blood, through faith, to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time his righteousness, that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (Rom.3:24-26).
- Sins committed after conversion. It is written; “My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense – Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins: and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world” (1Jn.2:1-2).
- Are you appearing before God without distinguishing the difference between the holy and the profane?
This is the word of the Lord which came to the prophet Isaiah concerning the sins of Jerusalem is, “Her priests do violence to my law and profane my holy things; they do not distinguish between the holy and the common; they teach that there is no difference between the unclean and the clean; and they shut their eyes to the keeping of my Sabbaths, so that I am profaned among them” (Ezek.22:26).
Again the word of the Lord came to Ezekiel concerning the house of Israel and said. “O house of Israel let us have no more of all your abominations. When you brought in foreigners, uncircumcised in heart and uncircumcised in flesh, to be in my sanctuary to defile it – my house – and when you offered my food, the fat and the blood, then they broke my covenant because of all your abominations. Thus says the Lord God; ‘No foreigner, uncircumcised in heart or uncircumcised in flesh, shall enter my sanctuary, including any foreigner who is among the children of Israel” (Ezek.44:7, 9).
The prophet Jeremiah also received a word from the Lord saying, “Stand in the gate of the lord’s house, and proclaim there this word and say, ‘Hear the word of the Lord, all you of Judah who enter in at these gates to worship the Lord!
‘Behold, you trust in lying words that cannot profit. Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, burn incense to Baal, and walk after other gods whom you do not know, and then come and stand before me in this house which is called by my name, and say, we are delivered to do all these abominations?’
‘Has this house, which is called by my name, become a den of thieves in your eyes? Behold I, even I, have seen it; says the Lord” (Jer.7:9-1).
In the New Testament, believers are categorized as, “A chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own special people, in order that they may proclaim the praises of him who called them out of darkness into his marvelous light, who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy” (1Pet.2:9).
The Lord’s instruction to this holy nation is, “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols?
For you are the temple of the living God as God has said; I will dwell in them and walk among them, I will be their God and they shall be my people. Therefore, come out from among them and be separate says the Lord, do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you shall be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty” (2Cor.6:14-18).
Christian fellowship is not just among believers, because according to the apostle John, it is also with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. Therefore, since Christian fellowship is with the Father and his Son Jesus Christ who is light, and in him there is no darkness at all, anyone who is not walking in the light, and is not prepared or willing to have his/her sins forgiven, and be cleansed by the blood of the New covenant, should not be a part of the fellowship.
For, “If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son, purifies us from all sin” (1Jn.1:6-7).
It takes only a little bit of leaven to leaven the whole dough. It takes only one in the midst of the worshipers whose sins have not been forgiven to corrupt, contaminate and defile the worship service, and cause it to be an abomination before God. This is why the offering we are asked to bring and come into his courts is of such intrinsic importance. It is only through this offering can we worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness.
When someone tries to obey the Lord’s command which says, “My offering, my food [bread] for my offerings by fire [zeal], my pleasing odor, you shall take heed to offer to me in its due season;” others regard this effort as enslavement. But here is what the word of the Lord says; “Thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin [man’s independent nature, doing what seems right in one’s own eyes], you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted. You have been set free from sin [man’s independent nature] and have become slaves to righteousness” (Rom.6:17-18).
In closing I ask the question again, are you guilty of worshiping God in vain? Let the word of God and your conscience Judge you.
With brotherly love
Essentials Of Life Ministry Inc.
Add comment to this page: