You know the phrase, “familiarity breeds contempt?” Well in the case of a church’s gathering together for worship, familiarity can easily breed a casual, careless attitude, that forgets the sacredness of worship. I think that word sums up what worship is meant to be — Sacred. Have you ever noticed how much time God spends commanding us to recognize and remember the sacredness of that which belongs to Him? Just think about the Ten Commandments, the whole list can be brought back to the word “sacred:” Your time is sacred. Your speech is sacred. Your life is sacred. Your sexuality is sacred. Your worship is sacred. And I cannot violate those things. Why? — Because they are set apart for God, they already are His.
When the Pharisees and Herodians approached Christ to ask Him whether they should pay taxes, what did Christ say? He asked for a coin, and said, “whose image is on the coin?” They replied “Caesar’s.” And Christ said, “Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s, and render unto God that which is God’s.” Ravi Zacharias commented on this interchange one time, saying, “If they were honest questioners, I believe the question they would have immediately asked next would have been, ‘What belongs to God?’ To which Christ may have replied, ‘Whose image is on you?’
We belong to God. And as Christians we are twice His — once because He made us, and now twice because He paid for us. Everything we have is God’s, and everything we are is His. 1 Corinthians 10:31 says, “Whether you eat, or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” And I love Romans 14:8 — it’s a simple, short verse, but so powerful. Romans 14:8 says: “If we live, we live for the Lord. And if we die, we die for the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.”
We belong to Christ; and because of that, we must live our lives in accordance with His Word. In Deuteronomy 12:30-32, God is warning the Israelites against borrowing worship practices from the cultures around them, and He says, “You must be careful to do everything I command you; do not add anything to it or take anything away from it.” 1 Samuel 15:22 says, “Then Samuel said: ‘Does Yahweh take pleasure in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying Yahweh? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen is better than the fat of rams.'”
In those verses we see that the act of worshiping God is not only useless without the correct attitude, but it is detestable to God. To approach the throne of God in worship should be done with extreme caution. It needs to be preceded by an examination of our own hearts to see whether we have anything in our lives that is coming between us and God, because worship is offering to God that which is acceptable to Him. And what God finds acceptable is a life that is marked by obedience to His Word. In Matthew 5:23, Jesus says, “So if you are offering your gift on the altar, and there you remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” It’s the same point as in Isaiah 29:13, God will not accept our worship if we are not living in accordance with His Word.