NEWSLETTER

March 2014

AVOIDING VAIN WORSHIP


Psalm 50 contrasts the exalted, transcendent being of God with the vain worship of fallen man. It also provides the saint with life changing truths describing the kind of worship which is pleasing to the Lord, and thus transforming to the believer. Four principles can be gleaned from the text to avoid vain worship.

1. SEEK THE FACE OF GOD:

At the outset, Ps 50 reveals that useless/vain worship is a failure of sinners to respond to the glory of God. The One to be worshipped is “The Mighty One, God, the Lord”, [Yahweh, the self-existent One], V.1. He is therefore the “perfection of beauty”, V. 2. “Fire devours before Him, and it is very tempestuous around Him”, V. 3.

Thinking that God was far less than He is, Israel offered up animal sacrifices while they held onto their cherished sin. They cast His Word carelessly behind them as if it were needless trash, V. 17. With such idolatrous hearts, Israel approached God in worship thinking that their animal sacrifices earned them merit from God.

But God loathed this external religion. Therefore He rebukes them for their vain worship. The Lord states, “For every beast of the forest is Mine, the cattle on a thousand hills. I know every bird of the mountains, and everything that moves in the field is Mine”, V. 9-11. The Lord has no need for animal sacrifices since He owns every-thing in heaven and earth.

This Psalm rebukes professing believers for offering up worship motivated by corrupt notions of who God is. Regarding their vain worship, the Lord states, “These things you have done and I kept silence; you thought that I was just like you, V. 21.

To avoid vain worship, we must seek the face of our God, Ps 105:4, Ps 27:8. Seeking God’s “face” is a metaphor describing the saint who, like Moses in Exod 33:18, longs for God to manifest His
glory. Those who draw close to the Lord will inevitably be taken by the Spirit into true worship which is the overflow in the saint of his encounter with the grandeur of God’s glory, Ps 63:1-5

2. WORSHIP THROUGH THE CROSS:

Those who seek the face of God do not need to be told to worship Him through the cross; to them any other path is preposterous. Contrasting the vain with the sincere, the Lord describes true worshipers as His “godly ones”, and “those who have made a covenant with Me by sacrifice, V. 5.

Those who draw near keenly sense their brokenness and hopelessness apart from grace. He is holy. We are utterly sinful. Our flesh strives against His Spirit, while His Spirit strives against our flesh, Gal 5:17. Every moment spent apart from the Spirit’s enabling power is detestable to the Lord, Hab 1:13. Our need to come to the cross is endless. Those who walk in close
fellowship with their God of glory worship the Lord in profound humility and contrition. Gratitude for the gift of God’s death on the cross should saturate our worship.

3. CLING TO CHRIST:

Seeking to cultivate meaningful worship, the Lord exhorts His godly ones. “Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I shall rescue you and you will honor Me”, V. 15. Our worship is to be a heartfelt response of profound gratitude to God for His deliverance from our many troubles. Too often we lose the joy of worship through our own independence. We can do nothing apart from Christ, Jn 15:5, but we can do all things within His will because He continually strengthens us, Phil 4:13.

Those who honor God in sincere worship have experienced His rescuing grace. Our troubles are many. “Man is born for trouble, as sparks fly up-ward”, Job 5:7. Often we do not even see our need because we are spiritually myopic. We battle against the powers of darkness, Eph 6:10-18. The world seeks to conform us, Rom 12:2. Our flesh wages war within us, 1 Peter 2:11.

Let us behold the path of righteousness set before us by our Shepherd, Ps 23:3. Only through God’s ongoing power to rescue can we walk on this path. There is no daily victory in God’s grace without clinging to Christ, Ps 63:8. Let Him rescue our needy souls. Then we shall honor Him fervently.

4. ORDER YOUR WAY:

Psalm 50 closes with God’s terrifying warning regarding vain worship, and a transforming encouragement concerning true worship. “Now consider this, you who forget God, or I will tear you in pieces, and there will be none to
deliver”. V. 22 “He who offers a sacrifice of thanksgiving honor Me. And
to him who orders his way aright I will show the salvation of God.” V. 23

Worship is a response to God’s display within our souls of the power and mercies of His great salvation. But when we hold onto cherished sins, we forfeit this divine showcase of grace. All sin grieves the Spirit, and particularly spoken words which are not edifying to others because they are not motivated and empowered by Him, Eph 4:29-30. Sin blocks the experience of God and the grandeur of His saving work within our hearts, Is 59:2. Sin
produces vain worship, and it blocks true worship. The one who blesses God in worship is he who “orders his way aright” yearning for God’s display of His salvation.



Pastor Blain


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Community Church of the Santa Ynez Valley
240 E. Highway 246
Buellton, CA 93427