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Worship is for Whom?

There is much confusion in the churches today about the subject of “worship”. Because mankind is inherently prideful, the temptation is for worship to become man-centered instead of God-centered. In many circles, worship has become entertainment rather than the exultation of a holy God. Statements like “I enjoyed the worship today” are meaningless. Whether or not we enjoy worship is not the point. The question to ask is, “Was God glorified?”

True Biblical worship can be offered in many forms. Examples include singing (Hebrews 2:12), giving (Matthew 2:11), and honouring the Word of God (Nehemiah 8:5-6). In the Bible, we have examples of people who tried to worship God their own way, and they were punished for it (see Leviticus 10).

When discussing worship in John chapter four, Jesus taught that God must be worshipped in “spirit and in truth.” Remember that man possesses a spirit that is given life at salvation. It is with that spirit that we can communicate with God’s Holy Spirit and worship God, who is Spirit. Encouraging man to worship by appealing to his flesh with fleshly, worldly music is not possible because the Bible teaches that the spirit and the flesh are contrary to one another. Worship is not external, it is from the heart. Jesus said that it is possible to worship God in vain (Matthew 15:8-9). We cannot glorify God in worship through fleshly pleasure.

The Book of Psalms in the Bible has much to say about worship. One example is Psalms 95. In this Psalm, the writer says in verse six, “O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker.” The Biblical worship of God must be done in a spirit of true humility.

In Psalm 95 verse one is the phrase, “let us sing unto the LORD.” When we worship the LORD in song, our singing is “unto Him”. He is the audience. Performing has nothing to do with worship – that is for man’s benefit. When we perform and draw attention to ourselves, we are grieving the Holy Spirit, for His mission is to bring glory to the Lord, not to man.

In Psalm 95 verse two is the phrase “Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving.” The problem with church services is not the lack of good music, but the lack of spiritual energy. If God’s people came to church services with their hearts prepared in a spirit of thanksgiving, their singing would be with conviction and energy. High-energy music does not solve the problem of a wrong spirit, it only masks it with emotion and noise, offering a cheap replacement for true worship. We also see the phrase “make a joyful noise unto him with psalms.” The singing in worship is to have a God-honoring message, like the psalms. Repetitious, doctrine-weak choruses are for man’s benefit, not God’s. When the Jewish people worshipped God in song, those songs were filled with doctrinal power.

Worship is a topic every Christian should make sure they completely understand from the Scriptures and practice accordingly.