True and False Worship of God
Not all worship pleases God. When we claim to worship God while defying Him through disobedience, our worship is futile and God no longer hears our prayers.
The Scriptures reveal a recurring pattern that should act as a warning to every Christian. God requires our obedience to His will. Even Jesus equates loving God to obeying Him.
If you love Me, keep My commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. John 14:15-18
The Scriptures reveal the heart of God towards His people. God is a God of love. He wants the best for His children. Just as parents care for their earthly children, God cares deeply for those who belong to Him. But just as earthly parents discipline their children when they rebel against their parents, God also disciplines those whom He loves. Discipline is a sign of ownership. Simply put, if we do not care what our children get up to, we cannot claim to love them. And if we truly love them, we will pay attention to what they get up, to and take appropriate steps to chastise them for their own good. This is an essential process in parenting children because children do not always know what is good or right for them.
For whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives. If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Hebrews 12:6-11
Not Everything We Do As Christians Pleases God
There is a recurring theme in the Bible that explains how we (as children of God) can land up in hot water. Not everything we do in God’s name pleases Him. God is pleased only when we serve and worship Him according to His will and His word. Just as earthly parents instruct their children for their well-being, so does God. The Scriptures that follow explain how we can move from obedience to disobedience and eventually outright defiance against God. Eventually, we are the ones who pay the price for our refusal to listen to the Lord in the first place.
- God calls and speaks
- There is either no reply or a refusal to listen to the Lord
- The person acts according to their own self-will rather than God’s will
- This results in doing evil; doing what does not please God (or knowing that what they have chosen to do does not please God)
Because I have called and you refused, I have stretched out my hand and no one regarded … Proverbs 1:24
True and False Worship
Thus says the Lord: “Heaven is My throne, And earth is My footstool. Where is the house that you will build Me? And where is the place of My rest? For all those things My hand has made, And all those things exist,” Says the Lord. “But on this one will I look: On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at My word. “He who kills a bull is as if he slays a man; He who sacrifices a lamb, as if he breaks a dog’s neck; He who offers a grain offering, as if he offers swine’s blood; He who burns incense, as if he blesses an idol. Just as they have chosen their own ways, and their soul delights in their abominations, so will I choose their delusions, and bring their fears on them; Because, when I called, no one answered, When I spoke they did not hear; But they did evil before My eyes, and chose that in which I do not delight.” Isaiah 66:1-4
The key point to consider in this passage is that people disobey God because they love their sin. They are enticed by sensual pleasures or perceived benefits that cause them to disobey God. The result of this wilful disobedience is that God chooses tailor-made delusions (for those who walk in rebellion against Him) and brings their worst fears upon them (as punishment).
The logical outcome of walking in disobedience towards God, is that He no longer hears our prayers or accepts our worship or sacrifices.
Hear the word of the Lord, you rulers of Sodom; give ear to the law of our God, you people of Gomorrah: “To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices to Me?” Says the Lord. “I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fed cattle. I do not delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs or goats. “When you come to appear before Me, who has required this from your hand, to trample My courts? Bring no more futile sacrifices; Incense is an abomination to Me. The New Moons, the Sabbaths, and the calling of assemblies— I cannot endure iniquity and the sacred meeting. Your New Moons and your appointed feasts My soul hates; they are a trouble to Me, I am weary of bearing them. When you spread out your hands, I will hide My eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not hear. Your hands are full of blood. “Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes. Cease to do evil …Isaiah 1:10-16
With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the High God? Shall I come before Him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God? Micah 6:6-8
Punishment is sure to follow
And now, because you have done all these works,” says the Lord, “and I spoke to you, rising up early and speaking, but you did not hear, and I called you, but you did not answer, therefore I will do to the house which is called by My name, in which you trust, and to this place which I gave to you and your fathers, as I have done to Shiloh. Jeremiah 7:13
Therefore I will number you for the sword, and you shall all bow down to the slaughter; because, when I called, you did not answer; when I spoke, you did not hear, but did evil before My eyes, and chose that in which I do not delight. Isaiah 65:12
Rebellion against God is as the sin of witchcraft
A stubborn refusal to obey God is a serious offence in God’s eyes. Consider this passage.
Then Samuel went to Saul, and Saul said to him, “Blessed are you of the Lord! I have performed the commandment of the Lord.” But Samuel said, “What then is this bleating of the sheep in my ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?” And Saul said, “They have brought them from the Amalekites; for the people spared the best of the sheep and the oxen, to sacrifice to the Lord your God; and the rest we have utterly destroyed.” Then Samuel said to Saul, “Be quiet! And I will tell you what the Lord said to me last night.” And he said to him, “Speak on.” So Samuel said, “When you were little in your own eyes, were you not head of the tribes of Israel? And did not the Lord anoint you king over Israel? Now the Lord sent you on a mission, and said, ‘Go, and utterly destroy the sinners, the Amalekites, and fight against them until they are consumed.’ Why then did you not obey the voice of the Lord? Why did you swoop down on the spoil, and do evil in the sight of the Lord?” And Saul said to Samuel, “But I have obeyed the voice of the Lord, and gone on the mission on which the Lord sent me, and brought back Agag king of Amalek; I have utterly destroyed the Amalekites. But the people took of the plunder, sheep and oxen, the best of the things which should have been utterly destroyed, to sacrifice to the Lord your God in Gilgal.” So Samuel said:
“Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices,
As in obeying the voice of the Lord?
Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice,
And to heed than the fat of rams.
For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft,
And stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.
Because you have rejected the word of the Lord,
He also has rejected you from being king.”
Then Saul said to Samuel, “I have sinned, for I have transgressed the commandment of the Lord and your words, because I feared the people and obeyed their voice. Now therefore, please pardon my sin, and return with me, that I may worship the Lord.” But Samuel said to Saul, “I will not return with you, for you have rejected the word of the Lord, and the Lord has rejected you from being king over Israel.”
1 Samuel 15:13-26
This passage of Scripture reveals how Saul tried to justify his wilful disobedience. He claimed that he was not personally responsible because the people took the plunder. Our sinful human nature always seeks to justify our sin but God is never fooled by our attempts to justify disobedience.
GOD IS ONLY PLEASED WITH WHAT HE TELLS US TO DO. WHEN WE DISOBEY GOD, NO AMOUNT OF PERSONAL SACRIFICE, RELIGIOUS ACTIVITY, OR SELF-RIGHTEOUS “WORSHIP” CAN HELP US. GOD WILL NOT HEAR OR RESPOND TO OUR SACRIFICES, BECAUSE WE HAVE DISOBEYED HIM AT THE OUTSET. THE ONLY OPTION IS TO HUMBLE OURSELVES BEFORE HIM AND REPENT OF OUR SIN.