Summary: What makes our worship worthless and meaningless? How can our worship become a genuine encounter with God?
Encountering God – Part 6 - Worthless Worship
What is worship? Encountering/responding to God’s heart toward us.
Why worship? B/c we were created for this purpose.
What do we need? A relationship with God through Jesus Christ. He acted on our behalf when we were still His enemies. His love changes our hearts.
The Problem with Worship
The Lord says: "These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men”(NIV)
The Lord said, “These people claim to worship me, but their words are meaningless, and their hearts are somewhere else. Their religion is nothing but human rules and traditions, which they have simply memorized.” (GNT)
I believe that this passage tells that there are several things that make worship worthless for God’s people.
A religious spirit instead of the Holy Spirit
Let me talk a moment about a religious spirit. (I could do a series on this subject alone!)
A religious spirit is defined by author Peter Wagner as “an agent of Satan assigned to prevent change and maintain the status quo by using religious devices.”
Its attributes are:
Uses human control and manipulation & organizations to prefer the status quo over a genuine, dynamic and intimate relationship with God.
It is a huge danger for pastors and church leaders who might lead by manipulation instead of by grace.
A religious spirit seeks approval from what they do instead of from grace alone. (explain)
This religious spirit is confronted in the bible:
You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? Have you suffered so much for nothing—if it really was for nothing? Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard? (Gal. 3:1-5)
Religious spirits have been at work in the world since time began. They will do whatever they can to prevent us from enjoying a vibrant, dynamic encounter with God.
The apostle Paul, before his encounter with Christ had a religious spirit.
He practiced the most rigorous form of religion, held to the law to the highest degree, lived according to appearances the most perfected life possible among religious leaders.
Philippians 3:4-6 I myself might have confidence even in the flesh. If anyone else has a mind to put confidence in the flesh, I far more: circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the Law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless.
Yet, he had nothing worth eternity until he met Jesus: Philippians 3:3 “for we are…who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh.”
We need to ask God to expose any religious spirit in our church and replace it with true worship led by the Spirit of God.
A Religious spirit will keep you from authentic worship and lead you to think you are really doing well, perhaps that you are better than others.
A religious spirit imitates worship without the encounter with God.
It possesses the form of godliness without the power of God.
Worthless worship occurs when we prefer tradition to God Himself.
Tradition is where a church or group of God’s people have institutionalized a behavior or way of doing things.
Tradition is when we make sacred what is man made.
Like when we treasure buildings as holy places when God tells us that He doesn’t live in buildings made with human hands.
When we place things above people (like refusing to care for someone needy on Sunday because you “have to get to church”)
When we are more concerned about how things look than with how God looks at things. (like saying that testimonies are too disruptive).
Tradition also embodies the last 7 words of the church, “we’ve never done it that way before.”
Time honored traditions can squeeze the life out of worship by demanding that we do things that we don’t even know why we are doing them.
Folks, if there is no LIFE in it, get rid of it!
I asked several pastor friends to share with me real life examples of tradition interfering with worship.
One, who has travelled extensively, shared how he has been in churches that are filled with untrained Christians, who have never heard anything but a salvation message week to week. Their church tradition thinks that an altar call is the equivalent to worship.