Worshipping Worthily

Worshipping Worthily

A believer’s circumstances under the Law were quite different from those of a believer under grace. This is especially true when it comes to approaching God and expressing praise or thanksgiving to the Lord. The Old Testament saint was made to understand the condemnation resulting from his or her sin and the complexity involved in any cure by the variety of offerings that must be brought. Those offerings all prefigured Christ but were only types and could in themselves accomplish nothing; never setting the conscience of the worshiper free. They only served to remind him of the absolute holiness of God and his own spiritual inadequacy; his failure to “measure up”.

By bringing a burnt offering he would be reminded that he could only expect full fellowship with God by being completely devoted to His will and obedient to it — even unto death. In presenting a meal offering his conscience would recall how impure was his inner life; with a peace offering how often his thoughts and actions did not harmonize with heaven, and with the sin and trespass offerings would come the continual realization that he sinned and fell short of the Divine glory. These sacrifices were inefficient; could “never give the guilty conscience peace or wash away sin’s stain.” For, “in those sacrifices there was a reminder of sins every year.” (Heb.10:4)

Jn. 4:23,24 reveals that the Father desires worshipers who can approach Him without those feelings of inadequacy, even though they had fallen short and would continue to do so. How would they be enabled to do it now, this side of heaven? How could they burst forth in heartfelt praise if in bringing their sacrifice of praise their thoughts were turned to personal failure? It would not be possible unless, instead of thinking of themselves, they were called to focus on the perfection of their Saviour. And that is what we must realize, for the truth is, the Father has provided His own Son as our substitute and a perfect offering. Mature faith will lay hold of that truth and respond in unfettered praise.

We may think it appropriately humble when, in coming together to Break Bread, we confess to the Lord, remind our brethren or silently own that we do not measure up. But do we really think that is what the Lord has in mind; that the celebration of the New Testament feast should take us no higher than Old Testament rites and ceremonies?

Some may ask, “Is it not the proper thing to do, to confess our sins?” Of course, but not when our Lord has something else in mind. He did not intend that this weekly remembrance should force us into doing such a thing*. If we are living in the light of His teaching and walking in the Spirit, the occurrence of sin will be immediately followed by confession and restoration and not be delayed until the first day of the week. And He did not say, “This do in remembrance of your sins” but “in remembrance of Me.” We come together to be reminded, not of our contrite selves, but of His person and work.

Not what I am, O Lord but what Thou art;
That, that alone can be my soul’s true rest;
Thy love, not mine, bids fear and doubt depart,
And stills the tempest of my tossing breast.
– Horatius Bonar

*The injunction to “examine yourselves” was given to the Corinthians who, as erstwhile pagans, were perhaps accustomed to the feasting and drinking associated with the worship of their one time gods. They were to examine what they were doing, recognize the irreverence involved in such unworthy behavior and eat and drink in their homes. It has nothing to do with the heart searching sometimes recommended even among evangelicals. That is nothing but introspection which does harm to the doctrine of grace. We will never be worthy (in ourselves) to have communion with God either as individuals or corporately.

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