READ: Psalm 92, Amos 4, Luke 20, 2 Corinthians 11
Humankind loves to worship–it was for this purpose we were created. Unfortunately we often worship foolishly. We love rituals, rhythms, and regularity, for they comfort us. Though we were designed to love worship, we were never intended to worship it. We were designed to use worship as a means to love and glorify Jesus; worship is a means not an end. When worship is worshipped, Jesus is diminished and nothing is allowed to lessen the glory of God, not even worship.
“Come to Bethel and transgress,” the prophet calls. “At Gilgal multiply transgressions. Bring your sacrifices every morning, your tithes every three days. Offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving with leaven. Proclaim and announce the freewill offerings–for this you love” (Amos 4:4-5). Amos points out that man has a tendency to fall in love with worship and that when worship is idolized or twisted, it is sin.
When worship covers rebellion, it is sin. We cannot be living in unconfessed or habitual sin and then trot over to church/small group/family devotions to sing and lift our hands in praise without the hypocrisy damaging our soul and irritating Jesus. Sometimes the most pious can be the most bitter, and God is not impressed with those whose regularity in morning prayer and Bible reading is only eclipsed by their consistently poor attitude, assassinating tongue, or behind-the-scenes bitterness.
When worship is used as a drug, it is sin. Worship is not intended to make us feel good. While worship certainly satisfies us, if we make our satisfaction the aim of worship, we have made it an idol, diminished the worth of Jesus, and treated worship as an over-the-altar drug. Worship is not about us; it is about Jesus. If we worship only when we feel like it (or in order to feel better), we are indirectly saying Jesus is only occasionally worthy of adoration. The reality is that Jesus is to be worshipped because of who He is, and some of the purest worship is that which is rendered when feelings are missing or reduced. Worship is more about sacrifice than it is about feelings. We worship because of who God is, not because of what we feel or want to feel.
When worship is offered in order to be seen, it is sin. Some lift their hands and sing loud, jump around at the front, or if leading, perform in such a way that the Father turns His head away. God is insulted when what should only be presented to Him is in effect offered to other eyes. It is like a woman disrobing for someone besides her husband. Alternatively, some refuse to lift their hands, speak out, exercise a prophetic gift, or involve their emotions in enthusiastic worship of Jesus. This too is sin and is like a husband refusing to cherish his wife, lavish affection on her, because he is embarrassed for others to see how much he loves her.