Many people worship God, but few worship
acceptably. Cain and Abel both worshipped God, but Cain's sacrifice
was rejected because he was unrighteous (Genesis 4:4-7; Hebrews
11:4; 1 John 3:12). Nadab and Abihu offered incense, but God
destroyed them: "Then Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took
his censer and put fire in it, put incense on it, and offered
profane fire before the LORD, which He had not commanded them. So
fire went out from the LORD and devoured them, and they died before
the LORD" (Leviticus 10:1,2).
Just because we worship in some way, does not
mean that God accepts our worship. We must worship according to His
What is worship?
Worship is a specific, conscious glorification of
God flowing from an inner attitude of lowly submission to His
authority and awe at His majesty.
What are some requirements for acceptable
To please God, we must worship God only.
Satan tried to persuade Christ to bow before him. He did not say:
"Don't worship God." He said: "Worship me." Jesus replied: "Get
behind Me, Satan! For it is written, 'You shall worship the LORD
your God, and Him only you shall serve'" (Luke 4:5-8). Satan's
trick did not work with Christ as it does with so
Are there not countless people who try to serve
both God and Satan? Sunday they go to some church. But Saturday
they frequent places where Satan reigns. They sing praises to God.
But during the week they use profane language. They pray to God.
But they love the world. John warns: "If anyone loves the world,
the love of the Father is not in him" (1 John 2:15). If we try
to serve God and Satan, we serve only Satan. "You shall worship the
LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve."
This also means that we may not worship people.
Peter did not allow Cornelius to bow before him. "But Peter lifted
him up, saying, 'Stand up; I myself am also a man'" (Acts
10:25,26). Many people today worship saints and the Pope who claims
to be the successor of Peter. This is a false claim because Peter
would not allow people to bow before him. We must worship only God.
When we worship people, living or dead, our worship to God is
Neither may we worship things. Paul says that God
left the nations to their lot "because they exchanged the truth
about God for a lie and worshipped and served the creature rather
than the Creator" (Romans 1:25 RSV). There are many warnings
against idolatry in the New Testament. Idolatry is a work of the
flesh (Galatians 5:20). "And do not become idolaters as were some
of them. As it is written, 'The people sat down to eat and drink,
and rose up to play'" (1 Corinthians 10:7). Idolaters will not
inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9). "Therefore, my
beloved, flee from idolatry" (1 Corinthians 10:14). "Little
children, keep yourselves from idols" (1 John
"But the rest of mankind, who were not killed by
these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, that
they should not worship demons, and idols of gold, silver, brass,
stone, and wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk"
(Revelation 9:20). God certainly is not pleased with those who bow
down before images. Yet millions of nominal Christians worship in
this unacceptable way.
Materialism is an even more prevalent form of
idolatry. A covetous person is an idolater and has no inheritance
in the kingdom of Christ and God (Ephesians 5:5; Colossians
Some worship idols in the entertainment world. In
many living rooms people bow down before a glowing, dancing, moving
electronic image. Hours are devoted to television which should be
spent serving God and fellow man.
Some worship pleasure. For others an automobile
or a house can be an idol. Some have science or education as their
god. Others devote themselves completely to their work, to some
sport or to some political system.
Things can be useful in their place. But things
are never worthy of devotion. Worship must be reserved for God, the
Creator of all things.
Many worship God, but few serve God alone. And
when we worship things or people, we cannot worship God acceptably.
"You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall
We must worship God correctly. Jesus said of the
superficially religious people of His time: "This people honors Me
with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they
worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men. For
laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men"
Christ's statement applies to many today.
Millions worship with their mouths according to traditions and
doctrines of men, while ignoring the word of God. Such self-willed
worship is vain. God does not like it.
Genuine worship must be spiritual and true, as
Christ told the Samaritan woman: "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. God is
Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth"
Old Testament worship centered in Jerusalem. It
was closely associated with outward forms and rituals. New
Testament worship must be spiritual and true. Materialistic pomp
and ceremony are out of place in Christian
The worship prescribed in the New Testament is
simple and spiritual. The first Christians sang and prayed and
admonished one another. On the first day of the week they broke
bread in remembrance of Christ.
These passages illustrate Christian
"And they continued steadfastly in the apostles'
doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers"
"Now on the first day of the week, when the
disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the
next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight"
"Now concerning the collection for the saints, as
I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, so you must do
also: On the first day of the week let each one of you lay
something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no
collections when I come" (1 Corinthians
"What is the result then? I will pray with the
spirit, and I will also pray with the understanding. I will sing
with the spirit, and I will also sing with the understanding"
(1 Corinthians 14:15).
"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in
all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and
hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the
Lord" (Colossians 3:16).
Through the centuries, however, worldly rituals
have been introduced to entertain people who do not have the spirit
of Christ. Denominations have arisen in which worship is apostate,
superficial and vain. Materialistic people are impressed by pomp
and ceremony, by costly garments and images, by flickering candles
and mechanical instruments of music. How foreign these things are
to the spirit of Christ.
God's statement echoes through the ages: "This
people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me.
And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments
Let us worship and serve God acceptably. True
worship must come from the heart. We must worship God only, and we
must worship according to His will.
"Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom
which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve
God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a
consuming fire" (Hebrews 12:28,29). "Then I saw another angel
flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to
preach to those who dwell on the earth -- to every nation,
tribe, tongue, and people -- saying with a loud voice, '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'" (Revelation 14:6,7).
The Scripture quotations in this article are from
The New King James Version. ©1979,1980,1982,
Thomas Nelson Inc., Publishers unless indicated otherwise.
Permission for reference use has been granted.
Published in The Old Paths