Thursday, September 23, 2004

WORSHIP RIGHT FOR THE RIGHT REASON

There's a right and a wrong reason for most anything you do. It's good to get married for love, but wrong (or less right) to get married for social status. There's a right reason for having children. To have little slaves wouldn't be a good reason though. When it comes to obeying God's commands, there is a right and wrong reason to do so. It goes to motives and faith. He wants people to obey Him for the right reasons. Consider the following Old Testament example:
"Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took their respective firepans, and after putting fire in them, placed incense on it and offered strange fire before the LORD, which He had not commanded them. 2 And fire came out from the presence of the LORD and consumed them, and they died before the LORD. 3 Then Moses said to Aaron, "It is what the LORD spoke, saying, 'By those who come near Me I will be treated as holy, And before all the people I will be honored.'" So Aaron, therefore, kept silent" (Lev. 10:1-3)


The first thing we learn from this incident is that God's people ought to do exactly what God has commanded. Because the two priests offered "strange" fire on the altar of incense, God killed them. They brought "strange" fire before the Lord, which means "foreign, alien, or profane": that which had not been commanded. We know this from what is stated in Leviticus 16:12 where God said for the priests to get the fire from the sacrificial altar. It's apparent Nadab and Abihu did otherwise. They ignored God's instruction and it displeased Him. Now secondly, and more to the point here, God told the priests why they were to do it according to His command. God told the Old Testament priests that whatever touched the sacrificial altar was holy (Exodus 29:37). This explains why the priests had to follow the instruction specifically. By getting fire from another source, the priests not only brought strange fire, but they also brought what was unholy. If Nadab and Abihu had paid closer attention to the reason for God's particular instruction, they would have avoided the grave error.

What application does this have for Christians? First, only that which is holy can be brought before God. Peter writes, "be holy yourselves also in all your behavior" (1 Pt. 1:15). The one who approaches God must be holy in all his ways. Second, we too must do what God said. The New Testament says to worship by singing, giving, preaching the Word, drinking the fruit of the vine and eating the unleavened bread, and praying. It would be sinful to have jelly on the communion bread, or to with instruments, or baptize infants. God said what was to be in the communion: fruit of the vine and unleavened bread. God authorized singing as the only music in His worship. And God commanded immersion for the remission of sins. Each one can be confirmed in the Word, but anything beyond these is "strange." Third, do what God says for the reason He gives. With each of these items just mentioned, there is the command and the reason for doing them. It matters why we sing, give and pray. It matters why we assemble. It matters why we fellowship and baptize. When God gives a reason behind a command, it must be done for that reason. Change the reason, and it is not pleasing to God. Be sure to take care that you worship God for the right reason.

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