Denominationalism teaches us that we can worship God as we please. Legally yes, but to please God our worship must be on God’s terms, not ours. When Satan tempted Jesus to fall down and worship him, Jesus responded, “You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve” (Mt. 4:10). God is a jealous God and He made it very plain to Israel of old when He said, “You shall have no other gods before me. . . .” (Ex. 20:3-5).
In today’s society, men worship about everything but God. They worship men, angels, false gods, and even Satan. When Cornelius fell down at the feet of Peter to worship him, Peter said, “Stand up; I myself also am a man”. He would not allow Cornelius to worship him. Jesus sharply rebuked Satan when he tried to get Jesus to worship him (Mt. 4:8-10). John was told, “See you do it not” when he fell down to worship an angel, and was quickly told to “worship God” (Rev. 22:8-9). The Samaritan woman told Jesus that “Our fathers worshiped in this mountain (Mt. Gerizim); and you say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. Jesus said unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour will come, when you shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. You worship you know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour will come, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeks such to worship him. God is a spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (Jn. 4:20-24). Once and for all Jesus settled the issue that men ought to worship God and God only!
Man’s response to God’s desire for worship has gone from faithful worship by many to no worship at all. Most worship God in vain. Jesus accused the scribes and Pharisees, “But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” (Mt. 15:9). How sad it is when men go through a form of worship and it all be for nought! Shall we seek the Lord in vain?
Many worship to please themselves. Paul referred to “will worship” as he wrote the Colossians (Col. 2:23). Many respond to the plea of worshiping God by doing as they please in worship. This is why denominations have instrumental music as a part of their worship. It is not because God commanded it, but because it pleases man to have it. Often people say, “We like it this way” or “it sounds good”. They need to be reminded, “For even Christ pleased not himself . . .” (Rom. 15:3).
God seeks for those who will worship Him in spirit and in truth (Jn 4:23,24). To worship in spirit is to worship as the Holy Spirit gave utterance. This is how the apostles worshiped. Notice the words of the apostle Paul: “Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teaches, but which the Holy Spirit teaches; comparing spiritual things with spiritual” (1 Cor 2:13). The word “spirit” in John 4:23,24 and “Holy Spirit” in 1 Corinthians 4:13 is one and the same in its Greek form. Thus, to worship God in “spirit” is not a feeling or emotion, but rather to worship God as the Spirit revealed to the apostles. To worship in truth is to worship by the teachings of the TRUTH. Jesus said he was the way, the TRUTH, and the life (Jn 14:6). Jesus also said that God’s word is TRUTH (Jn 17:17). Jesus was also called the WORD (Jn 1:1-11). Therefore, to worship God in Spirit and in Truth is to follow the teaching of Christ and his apostles as it was revealed in the Word of God.
The Word of God must be the standard by which we worship, and not the doctrines and commandments of men which turn man from the truth (Tit 1:14). Early Christians followed this rule when “they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers” (Acts 2:42). As Peter also said, “Whosoever transgress, and abides not in the doctrine of Christ, has not God. He that abides in the doctrine of Christ, he has both the Father and the Son” (2 Jn 9).
Conclusion: Are you wasting your time in worship to God by following the the doctrines and commandments of men? Are you seeking the Lord in vain? Only God’s Word comes with the power to save your soul from hell and damnation. As Paul affirmed, “My speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power” (1 Cor 2:4). “For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit, and in much assurance” (1 Thess 1:5). We are warned against the philosophies and teachings of man which have not the power of eternal life. “Beware unless any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ” (Col 2:8). Only God’s Word has the power to save (Tit 1:2). Only God’s Word has the power to destroy (Mt 10:28 f; 2 Thess 1:7-9). Don’t seek God in vain! Follow that form of doctrine which was once delivered and preached unto all the world by the power of Jesus Christ (Rom 6:17 ff; Mt 28:18-20).