Worship 8

John 4:24 “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

Psalm 51:17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.

Isaiah 57:15 For thus says the high and exalted One Who lives forever, whose name is Holy, “I dwell on a high and holy place, And also with the contrite and lowly of spirit In order to revive the spirit of the lowly And to revive the heart of the contrite.

Matthew 15:8 ‘THIS PEOPLE HONORS ME WITH THEIR LIPS, BUT THEIR HEART IS FAR AWAY FROM ME 9 ‘BUT IN VAIN DO THEY WORSHIP ME, TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE PRECEPTS OF MEN.'”

Isaiah 1:13 “Bring your worthless offerings no longer, Incense is an abomination to Me. New moon and sabbath, the calling of assemblies– I cannot endure iniquity and the solemn assembly. 14 “I hate your new moon festivals and your appointed feasts, They have become a burden to Me; I am weary of bearing them.
15 “So when you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide My eyes from you; Yes, even though you multiply prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are covered with blood.

Malachi 1:10 “Oh that there were one among you who would shut the gates, that you might not uselessly kindle fire on My altar! I am not pleased with you,” says the LORD of hosts, “nor will I accept an offering from you.

In thinking through Jesus’ words about a very fundamental thought of worship, we are confronted with several questions. If worship must be in spirit and truth to be worship, then what does that say about the nature of the heart that can worship in spirit and truth? The heart (immaterial part of man, source of desires, affections, inclinations, motives) cannot be proud or it cannot worship the living God. The proud heart is not right (Habakkuk 2:4) and the proud heart is opposed by God and opposes God. As Matthew 15:8 (see above) plainly tells us, it is possible for a person to say the right things and yet the heart be as far from God as it can be.

This is something that modern Americans (and all others of all times) need to get a grip on. It seems to be that in our day we tend to think of ourselves as so free that we can choose God when we want which includes worship Him when we want and do so as we want. But that is as far from the truth as the heart that believes that to be true is far from God. The living and true God is sovereign and He must grant true worship. True worship must come from Him and it is only by grace that we worship. True worship is not an act of a free-will and at the mere whim or mere choice of a human being; it is the act of a broken heart which Christ dwells in. True worship is from the living God who dwells in the hearts of His people.

We can look at this from a slightly different angle as well. Worship is the life of God in the human soul shining forth His glory in and through that human being. In that case worship is man sharing in the very life of God as the triune God delights in Himself. However, if worship is the work of man, that is, the work of the free-will, then it is nothing more than the worship of Babylon. It is the work of the flesh and are we willing to say that the flesh can produce the true worship of the true God? We must resist that with all of our being and pursue the living God for grace to worship Him. We must ask God to work in us a humbled heart and a broken heart that He may dwell there and work in us that we may worship in spirit and truth.

We can think of the phrase “worship in spirit and truth” in different ways. We will either think of it as the standard that God gives to us and it is then up to the human to worship in that way or we will think of it as telling us what we must seek grace for. As long as God is sovereign and man is fallen, there can be no doubt that we must seek the Lord for grace to worship. This should show us that it is self-evident that people and churches should seek the Lord for grace in order to worship rather than just do what they want and offer it up. This should show us that our hearts must be the true sacrifice (see Psalm 51:17) above and without the broken spirit there is no true worship.

Perhaps when the church comes together the first part of the service should be used to humble ourselves and seek the Lord for true humility. Should we even try to worship unless our hearts are broken? Should we attempt to follow some written order of worship without humbled and broken hearts if God’s order of worship is that true worship only comes from humbled and broken hearts? This should show us how vital a broken and humbled heart is. God breaks the heart before He saves it and He must break it before we can worship. It may be the case (and is in my opinion) that apart from a humbled and broken heart God will not be pleased with anything that is done by a human being. We try to get around that using many means and ways, but the fact of the matter is that we try to do so much in our own strength (even if we deny it by our theology) that we hardly even know that it means to have a broken heart and as such what it means to seek the Lord for a broken and humbled heart.

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