Norman E. Sewell
Not all who worship choose to worship God. Historically worship of some kind has been offered to some perceived deity almost from the beginning of time. The children of Israel often turned away from worshipping God to serving the idol gods of the people round about them. Worship generally refers to an act of reverence or adoration offered to another. It seems to be part of our human nature to worship something or someone greater than ourselves. The people in the city of Athens were very religious, even having an altar “TO THE UNKNOWN GOD” (Acts 17:23).
Obviously God desires that our reverence, our respect, our adoration be directed to Him as our creator and the sender of Jesus to be our Savior. When Satan tempted Jesus he invited Jesus to worship him (Matthew 4:8-9). Jesus replied by quoting from the Scriptures, “for it is written, You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve” (Matthew 4:10 nkjv). If we choose to believe in, obey and serve God, then we need to know how to properly worship Him. Many seem to truly believe that we may offer whatever kind of worship we wish and that God will accept it and be pleased with it. Let’s see if we can determine whether or not that is true.
In the gospel of John, chapter 4, we find Jesus sitting at a well outside the city and beginning a conversation with a woman of Samaria about living water. Because the worship of the Samaritans was different from that of the Jews she asked Jesus about it. His reply is very interesting. “You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him” (John 4:22-23). God wants worshippers but He wants those who worship “in spirit and truth.” “Spirit” here does not refer to the Holy Spirit but seems to refer to worship that is offered from your own spirit. Paul refers to this as praying or singing with the spirit and with the understanding (I Corinthians 14:15). Jesus even called the Pharisees “hypocrites” saying “These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from me” (Matthew 15:9).
Our worship before God must be sincerely offered from our hearts. But it takes more than that. Jesus also said that the worship that God accepts be in “truth.” Can our worship be in “truth” if it is based on human teaching rather than God’s truth? Back to Jesus’ warning to the Pharisees about their worship: “And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men” (Matthew 15:10).
Without even dealing with the specific instructions and examples of worship that we find in the New Testament (that’s for a latter study) we have seen that it does make a difference how we worship. If you choose to worship God then make sure you worship as He directs, not as you please. Offer Him what He deserves and in the way that pleases Him!