When Jesus was tempted in the wilderness, he reinforced the biblical law of worship. Three times Jesus answered Satan’s temptations with scripture. When Satan tried to get Jesus to worship him, Jesus’s retort was: “Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve" (Matt.4:10).
The apostle Paul, in writing to the Corinthians to warn them about false teachings, mentioned “another Jesus” in 2 Cor. 11:4. And in one of his discourses, Jesus refers to himself as the “true vine”.
“Another Jesus” could mean two things: there was more than one Jesus, or it could mean the faulty, incomplete or wrong understanding on the part of the Corinthians of who Jesus really was. And “true vine” of course implies that there are “false vines”. This poses a problem to our worship; and there are four aspects to this problem.
First, we could worship the wrong Jesus wrongly, which is unworthy worship. Second, we could worship the wrong Jesus rightly, which is also unworthy worship. Third, we could worship the right Jesus wrongly, which is also unworthy worship. And fourth, we could worship the right Jesus rightly, which is the only worthy worship.
This bears repeating, the only worthy worship is worshipping the right Jesus rightly. How can this be done?
In his conversation with the woman at the well (John 4), Jesus describes the essence of true worship. True worshippers, he says, shall worship God “in spirit and in the truth”. In essence, this means that true worship must include the inseparable union of both piety and knowledge.
Examples of unworthy worship, as fervently practised by the Pharisees and scribes are numerously narrated in the gospel. Paul refers to this form of worship as “the Jews’ religion” (Gal. 1:13-14). Their piety consisted of strict compliance to man-made traditions, which took precedence over the precepts of God. This is equivalent to worshipping the wrong Jesus wrongly. Jesus’ divine verdict against them is: “This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men" (Matt. 15:8-9; cf. Isa. 29:13). True worship must be “in spirit”. It involves the inner man, demanding sincerity and love. And worship is more than the mere outward forms of devotion. Many times God has pronounced a curse against persons blindly tied to empty forms of religion. The unbelieving Jews had hearts far from the Lord, even though they were in the right place for external ordinances.
Therefore, our worship must flow from hearts of sincerity and love toward God our Saviour.
Pastor Robert Chew