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Devotional - An Examination Of False Worship

Discussion in 'Thoughts for Today' started by anthony wade, Jan 23, 2013.

  1. But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. – John 4: 23 (NLT)

    The enemy uses many different schemes in his relentless attack against the Body of Christ. We talk all the time about the various false teachings and gospels that corrupt the church today. We see obviously heretical teachings rise to the top of the Christian book sales and become mainstreamed in churches that are losing their discernment day by day. We see theories of church growth that are based on carnality instead of the Spirit of God. Recently however, God has made me far more sensitive to something we do not spend a great deal of time talking about – false worship.

    First I think it is important that we recognize what worship is supposed to be. I am not sure if it is taught nearly enough in the modern church. The Bible says that God inhabits the praises of His people. Worship is a divine connection to God. It is the lifting up and magnifying of who God is in our lives, what He has done and what He has promised to do. Worship is always about God. While praise and worship of God is not restricted to just the musical realm, that is primarily what we are dealing with today. During the act of worship our entire focus needs to be on God. Lyrics are only worth what we believe them to be in relation to God. When we sing Amazing Grace we must realize that we are the wretch the song sings about! Worship is not about liking the lyrics it is about relating to them and what they say about God. We also need to be sensitive to the fact that worship lyrics will often add to our theology – what we believe. If we sing over and over again that it is better to have one day in the courts of the Lord than a thousand elsewhere we should believe that in our hearts. That lyric is taken directly from the Word of God and it highlights why it is vitally important that what we sing is actually theologically accurate. If it is not we are essentially adding false doctrine to what we believe. I have seen the rise of leaven filled worship music and I believe it is an insidious plot of Satan to taint what Christians believe and deny God of the worship He so rightly deserves. Even if only small portions are inaccurate the damage is done. The active poison ingredient in rat poison is a small fraction but it is enough to kill the rat.

    Secondly, it is important to realize what worship is not. Worship is not intended to be entertainment for the saints. Yet so often people comment on a particular worship song in terms of their personal like or dislike. That is not what worship is about beloved. The issue is not whether or not you liked it but if God found it pleasing. Our mind should not be wandering during worship. We should not be bored; waiting for the sermon. Also, there is a difference between Christian music and praise and worship. The music industry is inundated with Christian music but that is not what we are speaking about. For example, there is a song called “Stained Glass Masquerade” which details the profound problem with wearing church masks. It is an incredibly powerful song but it is not praise and worship, nor do I think would the artists claim it to be so. It is not a song that should be a part of a worship set in a church and I assume it is not because the lyrics are obviously not about God but about church itself. The real problem is that most false worship we see these days is simply not this obvious. They contain catchy choruses and flashy music. They contain smatterings of completely accurate theology surrounded by lumps of leaven. They often drone on and on consistently reinforcing what is wrong by claiming to seek some deeper level of worship. The volume is often raised to levels it need not be set at and the drum beats drive people towards and emotional response disguised as a spiritual move. Yes, we can experience an emotional response through worship but without a move of the Holy Spirit it is meaningless. Remember, the object is for God to be worshipped not for ourselves to achieve a certain level of experience.

    Now that the groundwork has been laid, I want to look at the two most prevalent forms of false worship I see today. Surely there will be more but these two are what jump out to me as I listen. Realize beloved that discernment is critical for a believer.

    Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. – 1John 4: 1 (ESV)

    We are not mindless robots called upon to recite lyrics every Sunday! Think about what you are saying with those lyrics. Think about if they line up with the Word of God. Listen to the Spirit within you. I was just at a service last week when I heard a song for the first time, and three lines in my Spirit was telling me something was wrong. I think sometimes in the modern church we confuse what discernment really is. It is not intuition. It is being able to differentiate between what is from the Spirit of God and what is from other spirits. Just as many false prophets have gone out into the world there is also false worship. Please realize this is not an indictment against those who write the songs, produce the songs, sing the songs, or even like the songs. It is an indictment of the songs themselves. This is a direct result of poor theology and poor discipleship. It does not matter how sincere the writer or the singer is. You can be sincere and sincerely wrong as my pastor likes to say. When David moved the ark to Jerusalem without following the explicit instructions from God about who and how the ark was to be handled it cost the life of Uzzah. Was David sincere in his motives? Absolutely! Was his heart in the right place? Absolutely! Did any of that matter to God? Not one bit. We like to comfort ourselves by thinking God knows our heart but God cares about our obedience.

    The first form of false worship I see all the time now is music that seeks to alter the true relationship we are supposed to have with God. It seeks to turn Christ into our buddy instead of our Lord and Savior. Is God our friend? Well that all depends upon us:

    You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. - James 4: 4 (NIV)

    You are my friends if you do what I command. - John 15: 14 (NIV)

    Such wicked people are detestable to the Lord, but he offers his friendship to the godly. - Proverbs 3: 32 (NLT)

    Everyone wants to sing about friendship with God but we are not so quick to want to talk about where we stand with the world, if we are following the commands of God, or if we are living godly lives. Yes, God called Abraham friend but remember that Abraham followed God when He told him to leave everything behind and go to a foreign land. When we hear direction from God that makes us uncomfortable we often seek any reason we can to avoid it. Abraham was also willing to take a knife to the child of promise because of his faith. The bottom line is that Abraham was considered a friend of God because he allowed God to be his Lord first. That is what these three verses above mean beloved. We choose to not be a friend of the world because we have turned our lives over to our Lord. He is Lord over our lives. We do what He commands and seek a godly life because our old lives have been crucified with Christ. Celebrate that – worship that.

    Perhaps the more unseemly version of this false worship however is directed towards women. It is essentially “worship-erotica” where Jesus has become over-sexualized. Now, just for a moment imagine these are not intended to be worship song lyrics:

    The time of singing has come - And the sound of love can be heard in the land - I lay my head on Your heart - Take me to Your chambers, lead me by the hand

    Your love is extravagant - Your friendship, it is intimate - I feel like moving to the rhythm of Your grace - Your fragrance is intoxicating in our secret place - Your love is extravagant

    Sweetness overflows, pouring from your lips - Kisses from above, let the heavens drip - When it’s just me and you, I can’t remember storms - All I can do is melt into your arms

    Take me to your chambers? Your fragrance is intoxicating? Kisses from above, let the heavens drip? This is not worship it is borderline soft-core pornography. Yes there will be a Wedding Supper of the Lamb but you will not be going on the honeymoon. Don’t think for a second this does not affect impressionable girls, especially younger ones in the faith. I have seen women posting on Facebook about Jesus as their lover or husband and how they do not need men because of how deep their love is for God. Regardless of intent the innuendo associated with lyrics such as these should be evident to all willing to see. The overarching point is how is any of this worship? How does this exalt the name of Christ? It doesn’t. It creates a false Christ in the hearts of women by combining the worldly elements of romanticism with an imaginary Jesus who can fulfill all those longings man never can meet. With the “buddy-Jesus” it creates a false Christ in the hearts of men that we can relegate to the role of advisor instead of Lord. The benefit there is we get to keep living like hell while believing we are going to heaven.

    The second form of false worship I see all the time now is what I like to call “petulant-worship.” Now we must understand that it is not surprising to see this phenomena when the bless me theologies of the world are what is saturating mainstream churches across this country. Whether it is “love wins”, “grace alone”, “purpose driven” or “emergent church” – it is all based on unscriptural foundations that stem from such infamous false movements such as latter rain, name it and claim it, word faith, and the more traditional prosperity doctrines. The main message is always that God wants everyone blessed and happy and don’t worry about all those pesky do’s and don’ts. I once saw Joel Osteen tell 34,000 people that this was going to be their year of supernatural blessing – all of them. As if life is not a series of mountaintops and valleys. As if no one was going to get sick that year or possibly pass away. It is not surprising that this is the message that is wanted and sought after. Who doesn’t want to hear that this is their year!

    For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. They will reject the truth and chase after myths. – 2Timothy 4: 3-4 (NLT)

    And they are chasing after myths in worship as well. The difference is this. When we chase after false teaching, we are spectators but when we chase after false worship we are speaking the falsehoods directly to God Himself! We are singing them to Him! This bless me theology has resulted in worship songs about the blessings of God and how we are entitled to them. Across America are congregations filled with believers petulantly screaming out to God for what they feel they are entitled to from Him and it is being called worship. Consider these lyrics:

    I can feel the presence of the Lord and I’m gonna get my blessing, right now!

    The head not the tail - above not beneath - a lender not a barrower - Get your inheritance!
    Get your inheritance!

    These are from two very popular and quite catchy praise songs. The first one is obviously wrong because we are essentially shouting at God and telling Him that we are going to get our blessing. The second one however has far deeper problems. The phrase head and not the tail and the reference to being a lender not a borrower comes from Deuteronomy 28. The condition for how we become the head and not the tail and a lender not a borrower is if we were able to keep all of the Mosaic Law – which no one was able to keep. In fact, after these references, the remaining portion of the chapter – all 53 verses – deals with the curses for disobedience and they are quite severe. The reality is modern theology would rather focus on portions of Scripture taken out of context than deal with the more difficult topics of obedience.

    Again however, the larger point is you are singing this directly to God Himself. Picture yourself standing before Christ and screaming at Him that you are going to get your blessing – right now! Can’t see it? Just picture yourself singing this song during worship because it is the same thing. What are we saying when we sing to Almighty God? This is not a show. It is not entertainment. This is supposed to be our hearts connecting with His. Here are the words of God regarding this:

    “I hate all your show and pretense—the hypocrisy of your religious festivals and solemn assemblies. I will not accept your burnt offerings and grain offerings. I won’t even notice all your choice peace offerings. Away with your noisy hymns of praise! I will not listen to the music of your harps.Instead, I want to see a mighty flood of justice, an endless river of righteous living. – Amos 5: 21-24 (NLT)

    In another part of the Bible God says that we honor Him with our lips but our hearts are far away. This is not what worship is supposed to be. In the key verse we see the response of Jesus to the Samaritan woman at the well. This was after she had asked about a disagreement that existed back then between the Samaritans and the Jews. The Samaritans believed the only place to worship God was on Mount Gerizim and the Jews felt the only place to worship Him was in Jerusalem. Jesus dismisses the pettiness of the argument and leads us to the key verse. There are two conditions that have to be met for authentic worship. It must be in spirit and in truth. Let’s deal with “in spirit” first. John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible says that this means “in opposition to all carnal conceptions of him.” How fitting indeed. When we see Jesus as an oversexed lover, a willing ATM machine, or our buddy from the bar we must realize that these are all carnal conceptions of Him. These are versions of Jesus we want or desire but it is not the real Jesus. The Bible makes it very clear that there are evil spirits in this world beloved and they are pitted against us. If we are not worshipping God in His Spirit – then we are employing other spirits. When I see some of the sexual Jesus lyrics I see the spirit of lust at work. When I see the bless me bless me lyrics I see the spirit of greed and mammon at work. There may be worship going on there but it is not worshipping God. Not without His spirit!

    Then we are also to worship God “in truth.” Simply put – is our worship lining up with the truth of the Word of God? Remember we said earlier that what we sing about affects and shapes our theology. We cannot be singing to God something that is not Biblical and call it worship. For example, one very popular worship song today contains the following line:

    And we are His portion and He is our prize

    While He certainly is our prize the first part of this lyric is completely backwards theologically. Saying that we are God’s portion implies that God needs us in order to sustain Him... to satisfy Him... to fulfill Him. Nowhere is this mentioned in the Bible. The fact is that He is our portion beloved. He has everything we need to be satisfied and fulfilled – not the other way around. Now you may not think this is a big deal but remember you are singing this to God – in worship! This is essentially saying to God that He doesn’t need anything but us instead of saying we do not need anything but Him. It is a colossal and arrogant difference.

    The last point I want to make from the key verse is the usage by Jesus of the term “true worshippers.” The implication being obvious – if there are true worshippers than there are false worshippers. If there is true worship than there is false worship. Is our worship grounded in the truth of the Word of God or does it veer into all sorts of carnality and the sensualities of this world? Is it centered solely upon the Spirit of the Living God or are there demonic spirits of lust, greed or pride dripping from the lyrics sheets? Exactly WHAT are we singing to God? WHAT are we saying to Him? Do we even consider it anymore? This is not an indictment of the intents or hearts of the people who write, produce or even like the songs mentioned here. It is a frank reminder that what we say to God matters – especially when we claim to be worshipping Him. Don’t let the schemes of Satan rob God of the worship He deserves – in spirit and in truth.

    Reverend Anthony Wade – January 23, 2013
  2. All valid and stinging points that need to be explored. I often wonder if the uber-organized church (music director, worship marshal, drama leader, etc etc) is part of the problem as well.

    Frankly: I think if church members had a deeper wall personally, they wouldn't "need" all the razz matazz.
  3. it's what they are taught and is all they know. leadership needs to start from the pulpit. I saw a video from James McDonald who said he will not allow "Jesus is my boyfriend" songs or lyrics that make people say things they dont really mean
  4. I meant "deeper walk" not "wall"....:confused:
  5. i was curious...

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