The Futility of False Worship
1 Kings 18:28-29 describes the attempts of the Baal worshipers to get their prayers answered: “And they cried aloud and cut themselves after their custom with swords and lances, until the blood gushed out upon them. And as midday passed, they raved on until the time of the offering of the oblation, but there was no voice. No one answered; no one paid attention.”
This scene seems silly to us, and it should. But we often ignore how similar these religious acts are to works performed by people today, even by us. When you look at it from God’s perspective, some acts we do today seem just as silly as cutting ourselves while dancing to a false god who will never answer.
We get into trouble when we stop depending on the grace of God through Christ alone and start trusting that our actions can earn us God’s favor. The only act that earned God’s favor for us is what Jesus did through his life, death, and resurrection. Compared to that, thinking that reading the Bible or being nice to someone could earn us favor does seem silly.
Here are some clues to know when our worship is false:
1. False worship does not confess that the true God is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Christians can also be guilty of this one when we forget who we are living for or talking to.
2. False worship attempts to earn the favor that God gives us through his grace in Christ alone. Prayer, study, loving others, and all the acts that make a good Christian do not earn grace; rather, they are means of receiving that grace from God. Christ put us in God’s presence, and our faithful actions allow us to experience that presence.
3. False worship attempts to separate God’s blessings from God’s presence. We start to focus on the things that we can get from God, rather than getting God himself. This also leads to us just giving our extras to God, rather than our whole heart, soul, mind, and strength.
If we see ourselves or another caught in false worship, let’s pray that God will kindle the burning passion of true worship in our hearts.