“Worship” is a term that we hear used much in this modern age of Christianity. We have worship leaders, worship songs, worship services, corporate worship, and a variety of other forms titled with the term.

Before we continually use the term, can we ask ourselves these questions:

1. Do we truly understand the meaning and use of worship in a Scriptural context?

2. Is it possible we are overusing or improperly using the term?

When dealing with such an important issue, such as how we demonstrate our love and devotion to God, it is paramount that we have a proper understanding and application of the act of worship. Misunderstanding the biblical meaning of worship leads to error.  

Let us start by showing a few examples of worship found in the Bible.

Biblical Examples of Worship

  1. Abraham’s servant after finding Rebekah. (Genesis 24:26-27, 46, 52)
  2. Israelites learn of God’s deliverance from the Passover. (Exodus 12:27)
  3. Gideon hears of God’s deliverance from the Midianites. (Judges 7:15)
  4. Solomon is anointed king. (I Chronicles 29:20)
  5. Ezra reads Scripture after the wall is finished. (Ezra 8:6)
  6. Wise men reach the Messiah. (Matthew 2:11)

While this is by no means an exhaustive list of worship examples, it does give a significant look at the topic and allows us to draw some conclusions.

Aspects of True Worship

1. Sacrifice (Genesis 22)

A common theme found in worship was that it involved an offering or sacrifice of some kind. 

Worship was never approached empty-handed. Just as we show our appreciation to others by bringing them something such as a card or gifts, worship of the Lord involves a tangible show of appreciation.

2. Witness of God Moving (Exodus 33:10)

We see through these examples that worship was a responsive action. These instances are a result of God giving a blessing, bringing a victory, or performing a miracle. Man cannot produce worship; it begins with the moving of God.  

Worship is more than just music or service. It is when your heart realizes how great God is and what He has done for you that only He can do, and it compels you to surrender to whatever His will is for you.

3. Spirit (John 4:24)

Worship cannot be performed in the natural man; it must be a spiritual work. The worship of God wars against our flesh. The flesh is a selfish, prideful part of us. To lift up someone other than ourselves goes against this nature. 

God is looking for those with a desire to honor Him. To offer worship to God begrudgingly or by going through the motions violates the very meaning of the act.

4. Truth (John 4:24)

True worship of God cannot be in violation of Scriptural principles. We cannot approach a holy God with offerings that are profane or unclean. 

If you desire to honor someone, you cannot offer them things that they do not like. This would be the equivalent of me trying to spoil my wife on her birthday by taking her to my favorite restaurant or activity when I know for a fact she doesn’t like it. I cannot expect it to result in a happy wife who feels loved and appreciated.

Spiritually-speaking, how can we justify trying to worship God while engaging in actions that are against His Word and then, claiming that we are lifting Him up? This scenario makes it more about the worshipper than the One being worshipped.

Man-made calls to worship end in false worship.

Examples of Man Introducing Worship on Their Own Terms

  1. The Golden Calf (Exodus 32)
  2. Nadab and Abihu offer strange fire. (Leviticus 10:1-2)
  3. Saul gives an unlawful sacrifice. (I Samuel 13:8-13)
  4. Jeroboam (I Kings 12:25-33)
  5. Golden Image (Daniel 3:5)

Final Conclusions

  • The devil wants to counterfeit worship by deceiving you into believing that worship is about how you feel at a certain moment when you listen to a certain song.
  • True worship will compel you to draw closer to Lord, not make you feel good while remaining in your current state.
  • True worship pushes you to be more holy.

Let us strive to worship God in a way that is acceptable to Him. When we substitute what God wants for what we like, does it not become more of an act of self-worship?  

When other gods are worshipped, we are robbing God of the glory He deserves for everything He has done in our life.

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Matt Waterhouse

Matt Waterhouse, GSBC Chairman of the Music Department

Bro. Waterhouse serves as the Chairman of the Music Department at Golden State Baptist College. He also serves as a pianist and singer at NVBC.