PITFALLS OF MODERN DAY WORSHIP
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Vain worship is the most common mistake committed by sincere Christians. They are genuine in their quest to honor and glorify their Creator and have fellowship with him, but unfortunately their worship is all in vain.
This statement should not come as a surprise since the Lord himself said, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able. When once the Master of the house has risen up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open for us,’ and he will answer and say to you, ‘I do not know you, where are you from,’ then you will begin to say, “We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.”
But he will say, “I tell you I do not know you, where are you from. Depart from me, all you workers of iniquity” (LK.13:24-27).
And again Jesus quoting the prophet Isaiah said, “This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.” Then he said to them, “All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition” (Mk.7:7, 9).
The Pitfalls of Vain Worship
There are three dangerous pitfalls that lure sincere God-fearing people into vain worship, and some how they are unable to see them simply because of disobedience. They are rejecting God’s instructions regarding them, and holding on tenaciously unto the customs and traditions of men.
There is a proverbial saying that affects everyone who blatantly disobeys God. It says; “Be stunned and amazed, blind yourselves and be sightless; be drunk, but not from wine, stagger, but not from beer, the Lord has brought over you a deep sleep; he has sealed your eyes (the prophets); he has covered your heads (the seers).’
“For you this whole vision is nothing but words sealed in a scroll. And if you give the scroll to someone who can read, and say to him, “Read this. Please,” he will answer, ‘I can’t; it is sealed.” Or if you give the scroll to someone who cannot read, and say, “Read this, please,” he will answer. “I don’t know how to read” (Isa.29:9-11).
There are three dangerous pitfalls of vain worship, and they are:-
- Failure to give unto the Lord the glory and strength due to his name.
The name of the Lord is glorified and strengthened by the observance of his Sabbaths. The lord said; “Observe my Sabbaths and have reverence for my sanctuary, I am the Lord” (Lev.19:30; 26:2)
He also said, “I am the Lord your God; follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. Keep my Sabbaths holy, that they may be a sign between us. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God” (Ezek.20:19-20).
And again He says; “Surely my Sabbaths you shall keep for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations that you may know that I am the Lord who sanctifies you” (Exo.31:13). To place his stamp of authority on the Sabbath, Jesus said, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. Therefore the Son of man is also Lord of the Sabbath” (Mk.2:27-28).
The observance of the Sabbaths is what gives glory and strength to the name of the Lord. For example:-
- The weekly Sabbath (Saturday) glorifies him as the Creator of heaven and earth, and according to the angel with the everlasting gospel, we are to fear God and give glory to him, for the hour of his judgment has come; and worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water” (Rev.14:7).
- Passover/Unleavened Bread glorifies him as the Redeemer and Savior.
- Feast of First-fruits/Wave sheaf glorifies him as the Resurrected Christ, the first born from the dead, the Beginner of Life in the Spirit.
- Feast of Pentecost glorifies him as The Provider, Sustainer, Comforter, Helper
- Feast of Trumpets glorifies him as The Conqueror, Deliverer who will deliver his saints from this present evil world.
- Day of Atonement glorifies the Lord as the Sin Bearer – the one who daily bears and atones for our sins.
- Feast of Tabernacles glorifies him as the King of kings and Lord of lords, God’s spiritual temple in whom we have our permanent dwelling.
- The Eighth Day glorifies him as the Eternal, Everlasting God our Circumcision.
Unfortunately, instead of appearing before God on the days which glorifies his name as The Lord, men choose to appear before him on days he has not appointed. To this end he said thus; “When you come to appear before me, who has required this from your hand, to trample my courts? Bring no more futile sacrifices; incense (prayers) is an abomination to me.’
‘The New Moons, the Sabbaths, and the calling of assemblies – I cannot endure iniquity and the sacred meetings. Your 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).
The Lord said to the prophet Isaiah, “Day after day they seek me out; they seem eager to know my ways, as if they were a nation that does what is right and has not forsaken the commands of its God. They ask me for just decisions. They take delight in approaching God.’ Then they say, ‘Why have we fasted and you have not seen? Why have we afflicted our souls, and you take no notice? (Isa. 58:2-3).
This shows definitely that not all worship services in the name of God is acceptable before him.
- Failure to present a pure offering to the Lord when appearing before him.
We are admonished to; “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 before him” (1Chro.16:28-29; Psalms 29:1-2; Psalms 96:7-9).).
What sort of an offering can we bring to God that will be acceptable?
God truly expects an offering from the hands of those who appear before him, but will not accept anything that is defiled. For thus says the Lord; “My name will be great among the nations, from the rising to the setting of the sun. In every place incense and pure offerings will be brought to my name; because my name will be great among the nations” (Mal.1:11).
The incense of course is figurative to the sacrifice of praise that we offer to God. It is the fruit of our lips which is offered in prayer and songs, and the means by which we give thanks to his name (Heb.13:15).
The pure offering however, is more than songs of praise and prayer, and it could all be in vain if the offering is tainted, corrupted and defiled.
The crux of the matter is, “With what shall I come before the Lord and bow down before the exalted God? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old?’
‘Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of oil?
Shall I offer my first born for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?” (Micah 6:8).
Definitely not, for thus says the Lord: “Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool. Where is the house that you will build me? And where is the place of my rest? For all those things my hand has made, and all those things exist, says the Lord. But on this man will I look: on him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at my word.” (Isa.66:1-2).
The Psalmist David who was an ardent worshiper of the Lord wrote; “Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? Or who may stand in his holy place?
His answer is, “He who has clean hands and a pure heart, one who has not lifted up his soul to an idol, nor sworn deceitfully” (Ps.24:3-4).
According to David clean hands is figurative to innocence; which means freedom from sin, wrong, or guilt. For he wrote; “I will wash my hands in innocence; so I will go about your altar, O Lord, that I may proclaim with the voice of thanksgiving and tell of all your wondrous works”(Ps.26:6-7).
Therefore clean hands and a pure heart are paramount when presenting one’s self to the lord.
The apostle Paul echoed similar sentiment when he wrote; “I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship” (Rom.12:1).
A body which is holy, blameless, and irreproachable in the sight of God is the prerequisite, and the pure offering that is required before one can present himself before God.
The Apostle Paul wrote; “Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which he consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, his flesh, and having a high priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water” (Heb.10:19-22).
The offering of the body and blood of Jesus Christ is what clears the conscience of the worshiper, and present him/her holy, perfect, blameless, and irreproachable in the sight of God.
This is what animal sacrifices could not achieved, for if they could have achieved this objective they would not have ceased to be offered. Therefore, when Christ came into the world he said; “Sacrifice and offering, burnt offerings and offerings for sin you did not desire, nor had pleasure in them’ (which are offered according to the law), then he said, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will, O God.’ He takes away the first that he may establish the second.’
‘By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Heb.5:8-10).
With the animal sacrifices there was a reminder of sin every year, for it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins, but with the offering of the body and blood of Jesus Christ (communion), the worshiper once purged has no more consciousness of sins.
A free will offering is also a requirement when one presents himself before the Lord, especially during the three seasonal festivals, as it is written; “Three times a year all your males shall appear before the Lord your God in the place which he chooses at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, at the Feast of Weeks, and at the Feast of Tabernacles; and they shall not appear before the Lord empty handed.
‘Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the lord your God which he has given you” (Deut.16:16-17; Exo.23:14-17).
3. Failure to Worship God in the Beauty of Holiness
To worship the lord in the beauty of holiness is to worship the Lord in an environment and state that is free from sin.
Now since no one can say; “I have no sin” neither can anyone say; “I have not sinned,” it is inconceivable to see how anyone can worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness unless he/she partakes of the cup of the new covenant of Christ’s blood which is given for the remission of sins.
Furthermore, it is stated categorically, “If you walk in the light as he (Christ) is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son purifies us from all sin” (1Jn.1:7).
Christian fellowship is with the Father and the Son, who is light and in whom there is no darkness at all. For this reason, believers are not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers because, righteousness has no fellowship with lawlessness, light has no communion with darkness, Christ has no accord with Belial, a believer has no part with an unbeliever, and the temple of God, whose temple we are, has no agreement with idols.
One can no longer worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness if they allow the uncircumcised in heart to be part of the fellowship, for thus says the Lord; “Her priests have violated my law and profaned my holy things; they have not distinguished between the holy and unholy, nor have they made known the difference between the unclean and the clean; and they have hidden their eyes from my Sabbaths, so I am profaned among them” (Ezek.22:26).
And, “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).
Appearing before God is a holy sacred assembly, the Lord is to be worshipped in the beauty of holiness. Therefore thus says the Lord, “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 the 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.7:9-11).
Frankly, when one truly considers the church’s relationship to Christ as being his body, his bride, a people called out from this world and elected as a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, his own special people, in order to proclaim the praises of him who called them out of darkness into his marvelous light, should have absolutely no fellowship with those who live in darkness.
As clearly stated, the main objective of their calling is “To proclaim the praises of God who called them out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1Pet.2:9). According to the apostle John, “This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you, that God is light and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.”
It is only “If we walk in the light as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another.” Therefore there can be no true fellowship if all parties are not walking in the light.
Therefore, to encourage or invite those who are not walking in the light, to have fellowship with those who are walking in the light, is tantamount to condoning an unlawful intimate relationship before marriage.
Modern day Christians have so flagrantly violated and disregarded these pitfalls, with such impunity, that, anyone who attempts to revive them, or draw attention to them is viewed with suspicion, and likely to be branded a cult.
But, thus says the Lord; “If the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, and the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes away any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at the watchman’s hand.’
‘Nevertheless if you warn the wicked to turn from his way, and he does not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul” (Ezek.33:6, 9).
I have done my part in pointing out the dreadful pitfalls of modern day worship, and therefore, your blood will not be required at my hand, it is your prerogative to believe or not to believe, the choice is yours.
Your brother in Christ
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