Lies of the Enemy during Worship
INTRODUCTION: In these days there is much talk of worship wars, worship leaders, worship styles, worship music, worship workshops, etc. “It makes one wonder if we are not worshipping the very idea of worship!”
The devil's first plan of attack is to get us to worship him. He tried that with our Lord, as recorded in Luke 4:7, "If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine.” He soon found the futility of that. Not then and hardly at all since has anyone wanted to bow down and worship this foolish fallen angel.
But such a persistent enemy always has a backup plan. The Devil’s Plan B is to interfere with our worship of the living God. Satan will do anything to throw a wrench into the works and shut down or hinder our daily submission to the Lord Jesus and all that involves in prayer, commitment, study of the Word, service, going to church, etc.
Sometime ago, while sitting in church listening to a message, someone began a list of the lies Satan whispers to God's people who gather to worship Him….
Number one: "This isn't working. You're wasting your time here." This was what Martha thought in Luke 10 while she was busy in the kitchen and seeing her sister Mary just sitting there on the floor, listening and adoring the Lord.
The Lord said to Martha in Luke 10:42, “But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”
Number two: "Nothing the pastor or song leader is doing is inspiring." The services are just the same-old-same-old going through the same routine. Have you ever thought that, just maybe, your heart is not right with the Holy Spirit? Maybe you have not asked Him to give you listening ears.
Number three: "You don't feel the song you are singing, so it's pointless." Suggestion – why don’t you stop and carefully read the words sometime?
Suggestion – perhaps you need to join in with the singing. Perhaps you ought to purchase a hymnbook and daily read a hymn along with your devotions.
Number four: "You don't understand that scripture." Perhaps that is true, but it is God’s Word and in reality you are hearing from Heaven. Even the Psalmist said in Psalm 139:6, “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.” But I read it anyway and draw worship from its inspiration.
Number five: "I seem to have heard the same prayers over and over again.” But that's all right. In Romans 8:26-27 we read,
“Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. (27) And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.”
This passage teaches that the Holy Spirit takes our baby-talk and translates it into the language of Heaven that makes sense. My poor praying does not nullify my prayers or make them ineffective; it just gives the Spirit more room to work!
Number six: "Why go to church or even listen to what the pastor preaches; everyone may listen but their lives still turn out to be just hypocritical." That may be true, but it’s not the preaching; it’s your un-submissive heart to practice what the Word of God has to say.
The truth of the matter is unless you have an open submissive heart for the Holy Spirit to teach you, once you leave the service it is the Devil who will take from you the word spoken. So you go on your way the same as you did when you entered the service.
Number seven: "What difference will your little offering make?” Aw, but that's the wonderful thing about how the Lord works. He takes the coins from the widow mentioned in Mark 12:41-44 and adds them to the gifts of His other faithful children and turns it all into a river of support and provisions for His obedient laborers throughout the world.
By itself, my offering would hardly do anything. But with yours and his and hers and theirs, we are able to do amazing things!
Number eight: "You're just going through the motions. And most of the people around you are, too." Maybe so, but isn't it great that we have all learned to worship by faith. Even when we don't feel it or see what it accomplishes or know where our offerings go or receive answers to our prayers when we would like, we still gather and sing and pray, we give and love and hear and obey!
According to our Lord in John 8:44 our enemy specializes in half-truths, near truths, and bald-faced outright lies. Satan is a liar and the father of lies. The truth of worship, and this must drive him up the wall, is simply that:
It's not necessary for me to be perfect in order to worship the Lord.
It's not necessary for me to understand perfectly what we are saying or what I am doing in order to pray or serve Him.
It's not necessary for me to know why in order to obey.
It's not necessary for me to know where my offering is going, what it will accomplish, or anything else in order to give.
It's not necessary for a worship service to be exciting, new, fast, or loud in order for it to please the Father and be acceptable to Heaven.
It's just necessary that my worship be real, in Spirit and in truth. In John 4:24 we read, “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.”
Now please notice an incident on worship found in Luke 7:36-50 where we read,
“And one of the Pharisees desired him that he would eat with him. And he went into the Pharisee's house, and sat down to meat. (37) And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster box of ointment, (38) And stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment. (39) Now when the Pharisee which had bidden him saw it, he spake within himself, saying, This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him: for she is a sinner. (40) And Jesus answering said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And he saith, Master, say on. (41) There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. (42) And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most? (43) Simon answered and said, I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged. (44) And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head. (45) Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet. (46) My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment. (47) Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little. (48) And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven. (49) And they that sat at meat with him began to say within themselves, Who is this that forgiveth sins also? (50) And he said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.”
Notice again verses 37-38 “And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster box of ointment, (38) And stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment.”
Next time you find yourself in worship, let's see you do that!
The enemy, always on the job, had two harsh things to say about this woman's lovely worship:
1. "She is unworthy." In verse 39 the Pharisee who was His host dismissed our Lord for welcoming the worship of this fallen woman. She was so unworthy, he said in his spirit. And he was right, of course. She was unworthy, and so are you. Thank God according to Luke 15:2, He "receiveth sinful men (and women)."
2. "That is wasted." In the account in John 12:4-5, Judas the betraying disciple watched this woman anointing Jesus and said out loud, (here I am paraphrasing) "What a waste! That oil would have brought a year's wages for a working man! Think of all the poor people it would have fed."
John, who was present on the scene, remembered and recorded in verse 6, “Judas cared nothing about the poor, but hated to see all that money poured out on the floor and going to waste. He could think of better uses for money.”
The enemy can tell you better things to do with your money than to place it in the offering plate. He will say you are wasting your money, wasting your time, and wasting your life away by following Jesus.
The enemy will remind you that you are not worthy to worship and what is more, neither are all those others sitting around you, singing and praying as though they had good sense. As you reflect on them, turning the attention away from yourself since that was so uncomfortable, you find yourself growing critical of Christians, angry at churches and suspicious of preachers. And mad at Jesus, too, if you were honest.
That's when you know the enemy is in the house today, on the job, and doing a very effective work:
of sowing tares (Matthew 13:25),
of sowing suspicion ("has the Lord said?" Genesis 3:1),
of sowing distrust between brethren – remember in Revelation 12:10 he is "the accuser of the brethren.”
Don't let it happen, friend. Keep saying to yourself "The devil is a liar. Nothing that comes from his mouth can be trusted. I will worship poorly if that's all I can do, but worship I will!" Just do it. Worship by faith.
What Does It Mean to Worship?
How often do we hear this statement, "We go to church to worship God?" We tend to rush into church, go through what one calls worship, and then rush out of the service wondering why we ever came and what we did to worship God.
Sometimes we get so use to the order of services that it seems that we worship the order of the services. Is that worship? That is one reason I don't post the order in the bulletin. I want to be free to change whatever the hymn or the order as the Spirit of God may lead me to do so.
So what then is the worship of God?
The word worship is derived from the Old English word meaning that a person or thing is evaluated for its worth and ascribed honor or excellence based upon that worth. In our King James Bible, we see the word worship used in many ways to develop the fullest understanding of God's "worth-ship."
Let me give a list of five Greek words used in the New Testament for our English word worship that paint for us a beautiful picture of what the person, place, thing, or idea of worship is (noun), as well as the actions (verbs) prompted toward God as we worship Him in spirit and in truth.
First, Proskuneo meaning "to make obeisance, revere."
Jesus used this word in His conversation with the woman at the well regarding worship in John 4:22. Our Lord said to her, "Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews."
David himself used this figure, as he stated in Psalm 2:11-12, “Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the Way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him."
Second, Sebomai meaning "to revere; to stand in awe of." We find this word used to describe the teaching of Paul himself. In Acts 18:12-13 we read, “And when Gallio was the deputy of Achaia, the Jews made insurrection with one accord against Paul, and brought him to the judgment seat, (13) Saying, This fellow persuadeth men to worship God contrary to the law.”
Third, Sebazomai meaning "to honor religiously." Paul speaks of a guilty Gentile world in Romans 1:25 "Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshiped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen"
Fourth, Latreuo meaning "to serve." In Philippians, chapter 3:3 we read, "For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh."
Fifth, Therapeuo meaning “to cure or to heal." In Acts, chapter 17 Paul came to Athens and assembling there with the philosophers and great minds of the day, Paul once again amplified our understanding of the word worship. The Bible says in verse 22-25,
“Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars' hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. (23) For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you. (24) God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; (25) Neither is worshipped with men's hands, as though he needed anything, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things;…”
That culture that made self the center of the universe and pleasure the great end believed that if God did indeed exist, He existed outside the reach of the universe and was, at best, impersonal. Yet the Most High said in Psalm 50:10-12,
"For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills. (11) I know all the fowls of the mountains: and the wild beasts of the field are mine. (12) If I were hungry, I would not tell thee: for the world is mine, and the fulness thereof.”
You see, our God was not fashioned by men's hands and is not cared for by our skill or worship. Listen to this:
Paul said in Acts 17:28, "in him we live, and move, and have our being.” According to Colossians 1:18, "Jesus Christ is to have the preeminence in all things." In Isaiah 43:7 His glory is the chief aim of men, and from Ecclesiastes 12: 13, “To fear Him is the conclusion of the whole matter.
Therefore, it is idle to talk of worship if the Being (God) worshipped was not raised above the worshippers by such qualities and attributes as inspired reverence and trust.
The entire definition of "worth-ship" is "affection, allegiance, reverence, awe, submission, devotion, service, and absolute recognition of the sovereignty of God through His work of Creation."
So, who is it we are Worshipping? Having established a basic, biblical understanding of worship, let us examine the object of our worship.
As worldly "worship styles" borrowed from the pop culture continue to permeate some of our churches, it seems as if the congregation is "worshipping" the praise team or even glorying in the feelings of euphoria produced during "praise and worship" music.
Is it possible that those called upon to "entertain the Gospel" worship the accolades of a swooning crowd and miss the ultimate goal of corporate worship? In all of our complexity in worship, have we indeed missed the simplicity that is in Jesus Christ?
Here is the point, don’t miss it – “Worship is all eyes on Jesus Christ, all that I am focused on all that He is.” Hebrews 12:2 tells us, "Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith."
So as we sit in our church on any Lord's Day, may we ask ourselves the following question: "What am I worshipping?" Someone answered it this way:
Dear preacher, are you worshipping the response of the people, the accolades you receive, the position you hold, or the salary you graciously earn?
Dear singers, are you worshipping the praise of men, the joy of singing, or the emotion you can create in the hearts and ears of men through the power of music?
Dear worshipper, are you worshipping the glory of your church, the prestige of your pastor, or the recognition you may receive for being faithful?
Remember this very accurate and true statement "Only one life, 'twill soon be past; only what's done for Christ will last."
Can you spell worship? It is high time that we get our eyes back on the Lord Jesus Christ! It is one thing to be a pagan on Mars' hill worshipping false deities in the wrong way. It is quite another to be saved by God's grace, called by His Spirit and loved by His Son, and still miss the Object of worship!
Only the Lord Jesus Christ is worthy of
our worship. Worship God!
Worship is the celebration of God. When we worship God, we celebrate Him; we extol Him, we sound His praises, and we boast in Him.
Worship is not the casual chatter that drowns out the piano prelude. We celebrate God when we allow the prelude to attune our hearts to the glory of God by the means of the music.
Worship is not the mumbling of prayers or the mouthing of hymns with little thought and less heart. We celebrate God when we join together earnestly in prayer and intensely in song.
Worship is not self-exalting words or boring clichés when one is asked to give a testimony. We celebrate God when all of the parts of the service fit together and work for a common end.
Worship is not grudging gifts or compulsory service. We celebrate God when we give to Him wholeheartedly and serve Him with integrity.
Worship is not haphazard music done poorly, not even great music done merely as a performance. We celebrate God when we enjoy and participate in music to His glory.
Worship is not a detached endurance of a sermon. We celebrate God as we hear His Word gladly and seek to be conformed by it more and more to the image of our Savior.
Worship is not the hurried motions of a "tacked-on" Lord's Table. We celebrate God pre-eminently when we fellowship gratefully at the ceremonial meal that speaks so centrally of our faith in Christ who died for us, who rose again on our behalf, and who is coming again.
Worship is like a thoughtful gift in a celebration of a birthday, as a special evening out for an anniversary, as a warm eulogy in a celebration of a life. A worship service is a celebration of God.
In Psalm 100: 1-5 we read, "Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands. Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing. Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise.' be thankful unto him, and bless his name. For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.”
Now as we close this message why not this week take the time to meditate on the words of Terry York's hymn, "Worthy of Worship," letting them filter through your mind and heart.
Worthy of worship, Worthy of praise,
Worthy of honor and glory;
Worthy of all the glad songs we can sing,
Worthy of all of the offerings we bring.
Worthy of reverence, Worthy of fear,
Worthy of love and devotion;
Worthy of bowing and bending of knees,
Worthy of all this and added to these.
Almighty Father, Master and Lord,
King of all kings and Redeemer,
Wonderful Counselor, Comforter,
Friend, Savior and Source of our life without end.
You are worthy, Father, Creator.
You are worthy, Savior, Sustainer.
You are worthy, worthy and wonderful;
Worthy of worship and praise.
If God has spoken to your heart after reading the sermon "Lies of the Devil during Worship" right now talk to God about what He has spoken to you.
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