Over the last several months, we have been exploring the war that is continually fought between God’s Spirit in our hearts and the sin and self that reside in our soul and body (the “flesh”).
We shared that the key to winning this war is learning how to make faith choices to “put off” the flesh and “put on” Christ. As we do this on a daily basis, we’ll be able to enter God’s presence and worship Him.
Worshiping the Lord is always contingent upon our cleansing. Listen to Psalm 24:3-4, “Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord [to worship Him]? Or who shall stand in His holy place? He who hath clean hands, and a pure heart, who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.”
The Lord is saying that if our heart is cleansed and God’s Spirit able to come forth, then we’ll be able to enter His presence and commune with Him.
If our heart is covered with grease (as Psalm 119:70 describes) and God’s Spirit quenched by sin or self, then our worship will be an empty religious act, not changing us at all nor impressing anyone else, least of all the Lord.
In his recent Pulpit Series newsletter, Pastor David Wilkerson said:
“...a Christian can pray diligently without ever really worshipping. Indeed, it’s possible to be a prayer warrior and inter-cessor and still not be a worshipper of God. You can plead for your unsaved children, pray for the needs of an entire church, be holy and meek in seeking God’s burden—and yet never truly worship Him!
“...in short, worship cannot be learned! It’s a spontaneous outbreak—the act of a heart that’s been overwhelmed by a revelation of God’s glory and His incredible Love for us.”
Definition of Worship
The Greek word for “worship” in the New Testament is proskuneo (which actually means “to kiss”). It’s the same word used for a dog licking his master’s feet. Worship means to prostrate oneself in homage, to bow down the self and to exalt God. It’s the submission of our entire being to God. Worship is the union of our spirits with God’s Spirit in the Holy Place of our hearts. (Romans 8:26)
Worship means to ascribe “worth” to a being or object. In other words, whatever we value or place the highest worth on, is what we worship. Interestingly enough, the attributes of the “worldly” gods we worship seem to eventually manifest their characteristics in us. Rather than Christ’s image being carved into the walls of our soul, these ungodly characteristics become inscribed there. Psalm 135:18 tells us that we become like what we worship.
A great example of this is the country of Egypt. Egypt used to worship the scarab beetle, which is actually a dung beetle found in manure piles. If you visit Egypt today, you’ll notice that the Nile river bed is covered with dung and fecal material, as the cattle, animals and even children relieve themselves there. The countryside is filthy. Trash is everywhere. Egypt is also a country that is preoccupied with death (mummies, etc.). The whole country has become like what it has worshiped—the dung beetle. It’s a culture of death and decay and refuse.
We do become like what we worship! Our values, our priorities and how we live our lives revolve around what we commit our-selves to. The bottom line is that the object of our worship be-comes the guiding force in our lives.
If we want to become more Christ-like and begin to glorify Him more, we must learn to worship Him more. The changes in our inner being only occur when we are in the presence of the Lord. The Lord says in Exodus 25:22, “And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat.” And He promises to, “Show [us] the path of life: [for only] in Thy presence is fulness of joy; [and] at Thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” (Psalm 16:11)
This last verse is saying that only in His presence can He fill us with unspeakable joy and the strength to withstand any circumstance. (Nehemiah 8:10d) And as a result, we’ll be able to share His glory to an even greater degree.
Why Worship Is Important
Worship, then, is important because it releases blessings in two directions: we come into the Lord’s presence by loving and adoring Him; He, then, makes Himself known by communicating His Love back to us through revelation and insight and joy. Worship, in other words, is a two-way communication. We worship the Lord; He then meets with us and changes us.
On a recent trip to Israel, we visited the Temple Institute in Jerusalem where the guide made an interesting statement. She said, “The priests worshiped the Lord in the Holy Place, specifically at the Incense Altar. It was here that they felt the connection was made between man and the Lord.” I was so excited to hear this because so many of my books surmised this, but I had never actually heard it stated that way until this particular trip.
Worship is a two-way connection that occurs at the altar of our hearts. It consists of not only receiving God’s Love (and being changed), but also of loving Him. Communion and worship are all about mutual affection—both giving and receiving. He ex-tends His Love to us and we reciprocate by loving Him with all our heart, mind and soul. Worship strips away “self” and allows God to continue to conform us more into His image.
The key to worship, however, is that it can only be done “in the spirit,” not in the flesh. Just as Pastor Wilkerson said, we can spend hours a day in prayer telling the Lord how much we love Him, but if we are unsanctified, then we really haven’t worshiped at all!
It’s only by the Spirit that we can apprehend God and it’s only by the Spirit that we can honor, adore and glorify Him. God’s Spirit is the only One who can re-create us in the likeness of Christ. John 4:24 tells us that since God is a Spirit, those that worship Him must worship Him “in spirit and in truth.” (Truth, here, simply means in sincerity and honesty.) (Romans 1:9)
So, learning how to worship the Lord in spirit is critical. (1 Chronicles 16:29; Psalm 29:2; 95:6-9; Matthew 4:10; John 4:24; Philippians 3:3)
It’s not a once a week function, but should dominate our lives seven days a week. Sunday worship is meaningless, unless it has been preceded by six days of cleansing, loving and communing with the Lord.
“Give the Lord the glory due unto His Name; worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.” (Psalm 29:2)
To be continued next month: “Jesus, A Whole New Way to Worship.” This article has been excerpted in part from Nan’s book Reflections of His Image. Be sure to see this and other King’s High Way products.