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Tradition, Worship, and the Word of God (Matthew Sermon 70 of 151)

Tradition, Worship, and the Word of God (Matthew Sermon 70 of 151)

February 25, 2007 | Andy Davis
Matthew 15:1-20


One of the greatest issues of the human soul stands before us in the text that we're studying this week and next week. One of the greatest issues of the human soul is genuine, heartfelt worship. That's what's in front of us in Matthew 15:1-20. That's what the issue is here, and it comes at that incredibly important topic negatively. We actually have three enemies that are arrayed against pure worship in this text, and they are legalism, traditionalism and hypocrisy. These are the enemies of genuine worship. Legalism is the belief that God accepts our worship based on how well we obey rules and regulations, that God accepts us based on how well we keep the law. That's legalism. Traditionalism is the idea that the worship of Almighty God can be captured in a set of behavior patterns which are then passed on from generation to generation, and the better you conform to those patterns, the more acceptable your worship is. That's traditionalism. Hypocrisy is the most dangerous of all, essentially, it's acting, it's putting on a show, and the audience is not really God, the audience is other people. It's acting righteous when you're really not. These are the three enemies of genuine worship that are in this text.

Now, what is the setting?  Jesus has just fed the 5000; 5000 men plus women and children. He's displayed his power in an awesome way there, and then by walking on the water, He displays his supernatural power and control over the natural elements. He gets across the water and lands at Gennesaret. There He basically banishes illness with his supernatural wonder-working power so that even sick people who touched the hem of his garment are made well. In the face of such awesome divine power, there's a delegation of Jews who have come from Jerusalem to investigate him, basically to find fault. He's already guilty in their mind, they're just looking for evidence with which to condemn Him.

The Danger of Traditionalism

So that's why they're there. And as they observe Jesus and His disciples, they come up with something. They watch Him as He eats a meal. I don't like to be observed while eating meals. I like other people to be eating with me or not watching me, okay. I don't know how you are, but I don't enjoy that. Can you imagine the Scribes and Pharisees, this delegation from Jerusalem, observing Jesus. They say, "Aha, there it is." He and his disciples have violated the hand-washing law, and they're going to bring them up on charges. It has to do with the ritual hand washing that was supposed to be done, according to the tradition of the elders, before every meal, and Jesus and his disciples didn't do it. Now, where did the tradition come from? I have no idea; you're not going to find it in scripture. More about that later. It's not coming from the Bible, it's not a command of God. Where did it come from? I don't know. My guess is, so many of these traditions have a good origin, a good intention, something good that then gets encrusted in something permanent as traditionalism.

So it could be that they read the scripture that was written a thousand years before Christ by King David who was a man after God's own heart, who yearned for a heart relationship with God and so things would be displayed in his life connected to that. But David said this concerning worship. In Psalm 24:3-4 it says, "Who may ascend the hill of the Lord and who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart." So, someone after reading that would say, "Well I want to do that, I want to stand in the holy place, I want to ascend the hill of the Lord, so I must have clean hands and a pure heart. I don't know what to do about the pure heart aspect” — that's next week's sermon — “but I can certainly make my hands clean. So let's start doing the hand washing and maybe we'll work our way toward a pure heart."

Maybe some legally-minded people after that said, "You know, that's a good idea. Let's do it every meal,” and so it gets established as a tradition. It's on the basis of this tradition that these legalists, the Scribes and Pharisees, come and bring charges against Jesus. Look at verse 1 and 2, "Then some Pharisees and teachers of the law came to Jesus from Jerusalem and asked, 'Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? They don't wash their hands before they eat.'" Now The Pharisees and Scribes are professional legalists. They're there at this moment, in Matthew 15, which marks the beginning of a great escalation of hostilities between Jesus and the religious authorities in Jerusalem that will ultimately lead to His crucifixion. It starts here, in Matthew's gospel. It's where it begins.

There'd been issues up to this point, but this is where they're starting to investigate him. They're building a case against Jesus. The Pharisees and Scribes were religious leaders who made a careful meticulous study of the law of God their full-time business. That, and then teaching what they had found. They weren't just studying, however, the law of God, they also studied the tradition of the elders, and on the basis of the tradition of the elders and their personal study of the law of God, they instructed the people. They also established themselves somewhat as the religious and ethical police of the Israelite nation. They were there to blow the whistle on anything that was done contrary to the traditions.

The Origin & Danger of Legalism

What is the origin of their legalism? Simply, we could trace it back at this point to the return from exile in Babylon. The Jews had been evicted from the Promised Land because they violated the commands of God. They broke the covenant established through Moses,  so they were sent out of the Promised Land and were in exile for 70 years. Daniel underscores this as the reason in his incredible prayer in Daniel chapter 9:11, where Daniel prays  to God saying, "All Israel has transgressed Your law and turned away, refusing to obey You. Therefore, the curses and sworn judgments written in the Law of Moses, the servant of God, have been poured out on us because we have sinned against you."  Daniel underscores the fact that the Jews violated God’s law, and that's why they were kicked out.  Now, after 70 years, a very, very small delegation of Jews, the remnant, forty thousand plus people, not many people, came back under Cyrus the Great, king of Persia, and established themselves again in the Promised Land. They resolved that they were not going to do that again. They were going to adhere to the laws of God, they were going to keep close to the laws of God, so they wouldn't lose their place. It's bad enough they have to kowtow to the Gentile leaders at this point, but they are not going to violate the law. They have Godly teachers of law with them, like Ezra, for example. In Ezra 7:10 it says that Ezra devoted himself to the study and observance of the law of the Lord, to teaching its decrees and laws in Israel. That’s all well and good, that's all fine, but after Ezra came a generation of people who sought to establish a different kind of rules and regulations for the people of God. Schools of religious lawyers developed who spent their full-time debating this or that law, trying to nail down exactly what they're supposed to do in every case. The legal mindset grew and grew until it covered every single detail of their public and private lives. Everything was covered. That's the simple answer to the origin of legalism.

I think there's a deeper answer still. I think it comes from within the heart of a sinful human race who desire to work its way back to God by their own religion and their own good deeds. Basically, what we would like to do is make it right with God by following our own religion, our own way. That's what we want to do, so we're going to make the religion up and then we're going to follow it as best we can. Then God will be very pleased to accept us on that basis, so we think. It goes all the way back, in my opinion, to Cain's offering of vegetables instead of the animal sacrifice that God prescribed. He said, "I'm not going to do that. I'm not going to humble myself and go to Abel and ask for some of the firstlings from the flock. I'm going to take what I want to God, and He better accept it because I'm being generous to God."  It's the religion of Cain. 

I think if you take this and move it all the way through the ages, you're going to get to that, ultimately, with the Scribes and Pharisees. Look at Matthew 15: 9, "They worship Me in vain. Their teaching are but rules taught by men." This is a man-made religion, and it has its origin all the way back in the time of Cain. Now the highest value of the Scribes and Pharisees was outward conformity to the legal tradition. They had a whole tradition of Rabbis that had given their comments on the law. Rabbi so-and-so said such and such about this or that law and then Rabbi this and that and the other commented on what the first Rabbi said, and this is a whole school of back and forth debate over the laws of God. These verbal traditions were erected, somewhat like a safety fence against the law of God, keeping a safe zone around the commands of God, so the theory went, so that if you keep the tradition of the elders, God has to accept you because you're doing more than He told you to do. It's like 20 feet back from the precipice, they'll put up a fence. That was the whole mentality. Now after the second century AD, after Christ, a Rabbi Judah took all of these kind of Jewish traditions and wrote them down in a book called the Mishnah. In time there came many debates about the Mishnah, and those debates, back and forth, were gathered together in another book called the Gemara. And the Mishnah and the Gemara together make up the Talmud, and the Talmud is the basis of the Jewish religion up to this present day around the world.

Jesus, way back at the beginning here in Matthew 15, points to the flaw in all of it. It has to do with arrogance concerning the Word of God. Eventually, the Talmud was openly put, clearly put above scripture itself. There are open statements in the Talmud like this.  "The sacred scriptures are like water, the Mishnah is like wine, but the Gemara is like aromatic wine." So there's a hierarchy, scripture at the lowest, and then the Mishnah, and the Gemara is highest of all. Or this one, "My son, give heed to the words of the Scribes, rather than to the words of the law." Well, that's very clear, isn't it? It's better to listen to the Scribes than it is to listen to the law of God. Or this one, "He transgressed the words of the Scribes sins more gravely than the transgressors of the words of the law." There are many such statements like this in the Talmud. Jesus circled it right from the very beginning, here in Matthew 15. It's astonishing that the opinions of human beings can actually take the place of the perfect and inspired Word of God.

This legal mindset is ultimately what led to Jesus's death. You see it in His encounters with the Jews, again and again. In John chapter 5, Jesus heals a man that had been paralyzed for 38 years. So 38 years, there's this paralyzed man, and Jesus heals him. He did it on the Sabbath. I can say with full confidence He did it on purpose on the Sabbath, because He did it on the Sabbath. Everything Jesus did was on purpose.  Why did He do so many healings on the Sabbath? He was challenging their traditional understanding. Well, what happens when the religious and ethical police see this man miraculously healed. They don't see a miracle, a walking miracle, they see a mat carrier. He's a mat carrier, and so they're going to go after this guy and  say, "Who gave you the right to carry your mat? It's the Sabbath." They want to bring the penalty down on him. Eventually they bring them to Jesus, and Jesus has to stand accountable for what he's done on the Sabbath.

The ultimate example of this is in Jesus's own death trial before Pontius Pilate. The Jews are seeking to kill the only begotten son of God, the only perfectly innocent pure man that has ever lived. They want to kill Him. This is their goal, this is their plot. It's what they've been trying to do all along. They go to Pilot's house, the Roman procurator, but they will not enter the house. Why? Because they want to be able to eat the Passover and according to the tradition of the elders, if you go into a Gentile house, you will be defiled and not be able to eat the Passover. Where did that come from? It's not in the Word of God. So here it is, they're killing God in the flesh and they're trying to obey God's laws, so they think by not entering Pilot's house.

There's a whole chapter of this in Matthew 23: the sevenfold woe. "Woe you Scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites, you are like blind guides, you're like white-washed tombs. You look good on the outside, but inside you're full of dead men's bones and everything unclean." That's what's going on. Their accusation here is ceremonial defilement. “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? They don't wash their hands before they eat.” Nowhere in the Law of Moses are you going to find this requirement. If you're going to find it anywhere it would be there, and it's not there. Priests had certain washings that they had to do. There is a law in Deuteronomy, concerning the dealing with an unsolved murder. If there's a dead person found and nobody knows who did it, there's just no information, there's no lead. There's a certain pattern that they follow, and the elders would wash their hands over the sacrifice offered concerning that sin.

But there's nothing anywhere that the people of God need to wash their hands ceremonially and ritually before every meal. This is a tradition and they even acknowledge it. They do not say that Christ had broken the law of God, they're not even troubled by that. He's broken the tradition of the elders and that's worse in their mentality. Now don't misunderstand, we are not here talking about hygiene, okay? Don't think of Jesus as basically a dirty person.  When we say you should wash your hands before you eat, you do it for hygiene reasons. We are living after the time of Louis Pasteur and the germ theory. We know that we ought to wash our hands. So, ought to be done, but we're not talking about hygiene here. We are talking about ceremonial defilement, ritual uncleanness. Where did that come from? It came from human tradition, so Jesus makes a counter charge. Look at verses 3-6, "Jesus replied, 'And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition? For God said, 'Honor your father and mother' and anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death.' But you say that if a man says to his father or mother, 'Whatever help you might otherwise have received for me is a gift devoted to God,’ he is not to honor his father with it. Thus you nullify the Word of God for the sake of your tradition.’”

This is a serious attack on the Word of God according to Jesus. Notice the clear contrast. "For God said, 'Honor your father and mother,' and 'anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death.' But you say," etcetera. God said, but you said. That's the issue here. Jesus is heightening the conflict. The whole system of legalism and traditionalism was a serious attack on the word of God. Legalism is adding to and subtracting from the Word of God. That's what it is. It's going beyond what the Word of God says, or overturning or taking away from what God has commanded.

These folks added requirements that God did not give and thus they overturned clear requirements that He did give. The case that Jesus brings forward is the issue of, what's called in Mark's gospel, Corban. It's got to do with money that you can designate as a gift given to God. The tradition of the elders cropped up that if any Israelite wanted to devote a gift to God, that that took priority or precedent over any and everything that they could have done with that money, including helping their  aged parents with it. Well you know what happens. It's like "Well, all I have to do is just declare everything in my house Corban and I don't have to take care of my parents." You see the legal mindset there.

So there's a loop hole and they just drive trucks through the loop hole. That's what's going on. The fundamental issue in Jesus's mind isn't just the case study of honoring your parents. We get to that in a moment, but it has to do a scripture itself, and human response to scripture and how that feeds into worship. This is an attack on the sufficiency and the clarity of scripture. The legalist adds new laws because God hasn't given enough laws, you see. We need more laws than God gave. Or because he feels that God's existing laws aren't clear enough. God means well, but He's not a very good writer. And so what you need to do is you need to kind of help Him out by adding some extra laws and clarify what God really intended. We know what He really intended from the Word, we have to have help. This is the mentality. Do not see how arrogant this is? God needed more laws to achieve the righteous life He was seeking to achieve. He didn't make it clear. So He needs some additional help from us. This arrogance is precisely why God clearly forbade the doing of this, the adding to and the subtracting from. He does it again and again. Deuteronomy 4:2  says, "Do not add to what I command you and do not subtract from it, but keep the commands of the Lord your God, that I give you." That's not the only warning like that in Deuteronomy. This one in Proverbs 35:6 says, "Every word of God is flawless. He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him. Do not add to His words or He will rebuke you, and prove you a liar."  Then there's the most famous of all, and that's at the end of the entire Bible, at the end of the Book of Revelation.  Revelation 22:18-19 says, "I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book, if anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book and if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy God will take away from him his share in the Tree of Life and in the holy city which are described in this book."  This is very, very serious. If you add to or take away from the Book of Revelation, dire consequences come.

Look what Jesus does. Jesus instead, perfectly upholds the law of God. He cites this as an example, this idea of Corban. The issue of honoring your father and mother.  It's the fifth of the Ten Commandments. The Ten Commandments are broken in two categories, two tables of the law. There's the vertical, our relationship with God, and then there's the horizontal, our relationship with other people. This is the first and the most significant of the horizontal relationships, because God in His wisdom set children into families and He commanded the children that they should honor and obey their parents.  If they don't honor and  obey their parents, they will not honor and obey God.  This is the foundation of all ethics: children honoring their fathers and mothers. So Jesus picks this one. What does it mean to honor? I think it's important to do a word study on the word “honor.” Get a concordance, or a Bible search, and just look up the word “honor” and go through the whole Bible and you'll learn what it means to honor. 

I think we ought to do it because I don't think we know it very well. We're a very informal culture, and we don't do honor very well. There's an awful lot of informality, if not open rebellion, even in families these days.I think children don't really know what it means to honor their parents. I don't know that the parents know what it means, so that they can properly instruct their children. I found one as I went through the whole Bible. Now understand what I'm saying, this is an example of honor. The king of Persia brings in his evil councilor Haman and said, "What should be done for the man whom the King delights to honor?"  Haman, in his arrogance, thinks, "Well, who does he want to honor more than me? I mean, after all... " So he figures it’s going to be him, and he says, "Well here's an idea, King. For the man the King delights to honor, have them bring a royal robe the king has worn and a horse that the king has ridden, one with a Royal Crest placed on its head, and let the robe and the horse be entrusted to one of the king's most noble princes, and let them robe the man whom the King delights to honor and lead him on the horse through the city streets proclaiming before him: 'This is what is done for the man whom the King delights to honor.'" Parents, would you like that done for you? Children, would you like to do it?  I think very few of us would actually like to be paraded through the streets of Durham,  yet, look at the core of what's going on here. There is a yearning to take an individual and elevate him, so that it's obvious to everyone around that this is an honorable person. So, all humor aside, God commands children to do this for their parents. And based on Matthew 15, He intends it to the end of life.  Honor your parents right to the end.

Find out what it means to honor, children. I'll speak to the youth.  Don't get sucked into the pattern of this world of dishonoring parents. So many young people do this, the rolling of the eyes, the sighing, questioning parents, wondering if they really know what they're talking about. Isn't it a good thing that the teenagers have come along and help the parents, because they didn't know anything until they came? I don't think that's the idea, okay? The idea is, instead, no, they're not as perfect as you thought they were when you were four, and they're not like what you're thinking now, but actually these are established by God as leaders and spiritual guides. Honor them. Jesus actually went beyond that and brings in a verse from Leviticus, says, "Anyone who curses his father and mother must be put to death." Do not think that Jesus would ever coddle or wink at children disobeying or rebelling against their parents? He doesn't. It's a very, very serious matter. Jesus sites this as an example, but there's a deeper charge here that Jesus is getting at. It's not just the attitude of children to the parents. It's not even just the attitude of tradition and all of that. It really just ultimately has to do with worship. We were created by God to worship Him in spirit and truth. That's why we're here. Anything that comes and perverts or pollutes that worship has violated the very reason why we're here on Earth. 

Jesus goes to the deepest issue of all and it has to do with worship. Look at verses 7 through 9. He says, "You hypocrites, Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you. These people honor Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me. They worship Me in vain, their teaching are but rules taught by men." Jesus is here quoting Isaiah who had written, seven centuries before him, about a problem, an ancient problem, that was still with him in His day and is still with us in our day, and that is the issue of hypocrisy in worship. Isaiah 1:11-14, the prophet Isaiah speaking for God says,  "The multitude of your sacrifices, what are they to me, says the Lord. I have more than enough of burnt offerings, of rams and of the fat of fattened animals. I have no pleasure in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats. When you come to appear before me, who has asked this of you, this trampling of My courts? Stop bringing meaningless sacrifices. Your incense is detestable to me. New moons, Sabbaths and convocations. I cannot bear your evil assemblies. Your new moon festivals and your appointed feasts My soul hates. They have become a burden to Me. I am weary of bearing them." This is what the Lord said about the machinery of religion back in Isaiah's day. It is so easy for the machinery of religion to cover over a heart that is actually far from God. Very, very dangerous. We live in a nation dominated by churches. You can't drive far, especially more suburban and into urban, you can't drive far without passing a church. They are everywhere. A large percentage of the American population goes to church every Sunday. There is an outward show of religion in our country, but the real danger here is hypocrisy in worship.

What is hypocrisy? The Oxford English Dictionary says a hypocrite is one who falsely professes to be virtuously or religiously inclined, one who pretends to have feelings or beliefs of a higher order than his real ones, hence, generally, a dissembler or a pretender. A simpler definition is, a hypocrite is somebody who says one thing and lives another. The practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs which your own behavior doesn't line up with. Those are all fine working definitions. I prefer a much simpler one. The word hypocrite is actually a Greek word brought straight over, letter by letter, into the English language. It means an actor. You remember the ancient Greek tragedies and comedies and the actors would wear masks made of clay. Either the faces would be sad, if it was a tragedy or it would be happy if it was a comedy, depending on the role that the actor was playing. It didn't matter at all what the actor was feeling at that moment. What mattered was the performance. The performance had to be winsome and believable. This was acting. This is the word hypocrite. It's an actor. Now, some of our culture's greatest heroes are actors and actresses. We may applaud the range and the skill of their acting. Maybe one man could play a president and then in the next role, a homeless street person and then in the next role, Napoleon and then the next role, an idiot savant institutionalized, but able to do amazing things. We look at this one actor and we applaud the range by which they can believable portrays of all these different emotions and attitudes. They're acting. Now, all of that's fine, but it's terrible when you bring it in here on Sunday morning, when you bring it to your worship life.

Jesus said in John chapter 5, "I know you, I know that you do not have the love of God in your hearts." He is the one with eyes of fire who searches our hearts and knows what's inside. We can't fool Him and we know it. The audience isn't God anyway, for the hypocrite. The audience is other people. Jesus said, "Everything they do is done for men to see." [Matthew 23] Jesus also said in John 5, "How can you believe, if you accept praise from one another and yet you make no effort to obtain the praise that comes from the only God." This is the danger of hypocrisy.  Ritual hand-washing is just an outward show. It shows everybody how religious you are, but there's nothing inside, your heart is far from God.

 What is true worship? The essence of true worship, is a heart inflamed by the Spirit of God, based on God's character and actions as revealed in the Word of God. That's true worship. God, by His Spirit, takes some aspect of His character, or some action of His in the past, and presses it home to your heart by the power of the Spirit of God so that your heart is inflamed with that truth. You love God. You yearn for Him. You're moved within. You want to see Him, you'd give anything to be with Him right now, but since you can't be you'll go ahead and speak and sing and cry and laugh and rejoice and be sorrowful, depending on what God is revealing of Himself and your situation too. That is genuine worship, and it is pleasing to God. It is actually delightful to God, it's a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to the living God.  He cannot be fooled and He will not accept a counterfeit, and that's the real danger going on in this text.

True worship versus hypocrisy. True worship versus traditionalism and legalism. When I speak of traditionalism, do you understand what I mean? It's so important that we don't make a mistake here. Traditionalism is different than tradition. Do you understand that? Jaroslav Pelikan, a teacher of theology and church history at Yale, made it a vital distinction.  It's this: "Tradition is the living faith of the dead; Traditionalism is the dead faith of the living." I think what happens is, the Spirit of God moves powerfully at a particular moment and everybody notes it and everybody senses it. The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound. The spirit of God has moved, and people say, "What an incredible time that was! Now, what happened? What songs did you use, what technique did you use, what approach did you take? Let's do that again."

I read about one church  over 50 years ago, where a revival broke out right about the time they played the hymn "Spirit of God Descend Upon My Heart." So they made a commitment that they would play that song at the end of every single worship service from then on. Well, I don't need to tell you that the Spirit of God didn't move equally the same every single time from then on. And after decades of this song, one of the most courageous figures in church history stepped forward and just didn't choose that as the closing hymn. What a moment that must have been for everybody. Some greatly relieved, others, greatly shocked, and that is the issue of traditionalism rearing its head. The Spirit moves in a powerful way, but He doesn't move the same way every single time. And to try to capture the wind in some behavior pattern, some human behavior pattern, it cannot be done. Woe to us, if we try. It's one thing to note it, say, "God did this, this is what He chose to do at that moment. Let's learn from it," etcetera. But to try to legislate it now, that's traditionalism.

I don't want you to misunderstand. There's an essential place of tradition in our faith. I hope you don't think that we are responsible to reinvent Christianity every generation. We're not starting from scratch. Brothers and sisters have gone before us and have lived faithful God-honoring lives and we ought to learn from them. Even more significantly, the Word of God itself has been passed on to us and that is tradition. It's literally the Greek, the passing on of something from one to another. It's essential to our salvation. It says in 1 Corinthians chapter 15, "What I received, I passed on to you as of first importance, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried. And that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures." So we have to have tradition is the foundation of our gospel.

We are a people who are in love with the new and fresh and exciting. We have to be told the tradition is going to continue to be part of our faith. Walmart has almost 4000 stores. They study the shelf life of an object based on how well it's doing in sales. A new object has about a week or two to prove itself and then it's gone and the shelf space goes another place. USA Today prints lists of what's hot and what's not, alright, and you can read and find out what's hot and what's not. That's really exciting and interesting, find out what's in. Some things are moving so fast that even a traditional website can't keep up, you got to have the blog and the blog is going to tell you what was hot three days ago.

True Worship

A church should not try, nor can it keep up with this bewildering change.  We have the word of God which has never changed. Jesus said, "Heaven and Earth will pass away, My words will never pass away." But it is churches, above all, that need to be told not to embrace traditionalism, because it's so easy for something to get captured and say, "God wants us to do it this way." There's a balance. What then is true worship? Well, three key observations. First of all, it is not man-made, but it's initiated by God. It is revelation, then response. Jesus asked the disciples, "What about you, who do you say that I am?" Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God," and Jesus said, "Blessed are you, Simon, son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man but by My Father in Heaven."  That is the foundation of true worship.

worship is a revelation of jesus christ to the individual heart by the spirit of god

It's a revelation of Jesus Christ to the individual heart by the Spirit of God, by the heavenly Father. He reveals Christ to you. You realize you need a Savior, that you're a sinner and that you cannot be saved by tradition or by your good works, or your own approach. You know it's not going to survive Judgment Day and so you come to the cross, you kneel in your heart and  say, "Jesus, save me." Maybe  you're not a Christian, you've come here today, because you're invited by someone. You say, "Oh, church is just full of hypocrites." Well, so it is. There's not one of us that perfectly lives up to our standards, but a healthy church is where you go get healed of your hypocrisy. Let me say to you, as an unbeliever you will not survive Judgment Day. You will not survive based on how well you keep your standards. Be honest. Do you keep your standards perfectly well? You need Jesus. Trust in Him, believe in Him for the salvation of your soul. That's the foundation of true worship, the revelation of Jesus Christ directly to the heart by the Spirit of God.

worship is not based on human rules 

Secondly, it's not based on human rules, but based on the Word of God. We don't need a bunch of people telling us rules and regulations on how to worship, rather they flow from the word of God. 

worship is not hypocritical 

Thirdly, worship is not hypocritical, but it's from a heart drawn close to God. But what to do if your heart isn't drawn close, if you know your heart is cold toward God? By way of application, I wanna ask you a simple question, whether you're Christian or non-Christian. You came here today, came into this place, First Baptist Church in Durham. Were you acting today? Are you acting now? Acting interested in the sermon. Were you acting in worship? Who's the audience? What's going on, really, in your life and in your heart? Don't worry about the hypocrites out there, worry about what's going on in your heart. Are you putting on a mask? Is your life genuinely controlled by the Spirit of God or are you leading a double life, sucked away by the allurements of the world, but you know you need to maintain the religious outward appearance for some human reasons. Are you acting? Can I urge you to take the mask down and get honest with God? He already knows you. John 5:30, "I know you. I know you do not have the love of God in your heart," Jesus said. If it's not the way it should be, I urge you to repent, I urge you to get right with God, I urge you to say, "Lord, I don't want to be an actor, an actress. I don't want to be a hypocrite. I want to be genuine in my worship of Almighty God."

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