A Disturbing "Form" Of Worship
This people honoreth Me with their lips; but their heart is far from Me.
But in vain do they worship Me,
teaching as their doctrines the precepts of men.
Formality is a peril of man’s worship. Trying to represent religious truths in a ritual and ceremony is condescending to man’s ability to worship God. The problem with many in worship is allowing ritualism to enslave us, and then believe our consciences are clear.
This distresses our Lord when the spirituality of a man’s religion is gone, but he keeps up his ritual. Sometimes, he will even become more exact in obeying rules and try to persuade himself that “formality” - not spirituality - is the “reality” to worship. Worship becomes honor without heart. How dead can that religion be?!?
Worship is a holy activity that comes as a result of a wise order of one’s life. It is bearing honorable responsibilities. It is taking part in spiritual activities. It is bringing the body into subjection. It is a life motivated by faith, joy, hope, and love. If our lives are of this nature, nothing will restrain us from expressing our religion. If your religion is as it should be, there will be a natural flow of honoring God in all areas of life.
Religion is also a state of mind and heart. It is a spiritual relationship with God (John 4:23,24) into which every Christian is brought. It is a fastening of man’s love upon the One who has done so much for him. It is a fixation upon God first, and no other has a priority but Him (Matthew 6:33). Religion is established upon a trust the soul has in the Creator to provide and sustain through times that are good or bad. Religion is the sanctifying of our will’s choice to the choice of God’s will. Such a religion will offer worship that is full of glory and honor.
What produces a religion and worship in its truest from is sincerity. Sincerity is something Christ petitioned from His followers. Sincerity the psalmist prayed for, and the prophets exhorted often. Sincerity depends on whether the worshipper is true to himself. To God he must be true. He must be true to his fellow man. A man can only become a true worshipper not just by lip and act, but by how true he is. Isaiah 1 speaks of God’s rebuke upon Judah for their “vain oblations,” “multitude of sacrifices,” “appearances,” and “calling of assemblies.” They were without sincerity. They were far from being true. They believed formality and ritual would be a good “cover” for their insincerity. God was not impressed with them and neither will He be with such a disturbing “form” of worship from us. One thing we must conquer quickly is the vice of modern religion - doing greater, more elaborate things in worship than what is really in our hearts to do.