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  • William T. Howe Ph.D.

March 2, 2022

The Year of our Lord, Jesus Christ

Matthew 15:9

But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.

Can you imagine? Passing away, being brought before the Lord, only to hear Him say, “You worshipped me in vain.” Imagine the feeling. You may think: all those church services, all those ritualistic prayers, all those religious rites, all the money I gave, all the praise and worship! It was all in vain!! What a waste!!! It could happen. It can happen to anyone. To bring the point home further, Jesus said this about the religious leaders of the day. But in vain they do worship me, that is what He said.

How? How and why was their worship in vain? Teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. They taught wrong, and their students learned wrong. To understand this better consider that which Jesus said to the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4:23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. Let’s set aside for sake of brevity the fact that Jesus says worship me in Matthew 15 and worship the Father in John 4. Notice that worship is to be based in spirit and in truth. Can a person worship in spirit but not in truth? Can they worship in truth and not spirit? Evidently, they can. Or Jesus would not have said and in.

To guard against the awful situation described in the first paragraph of this devotion make sure, make doubly sure, make eternally sure that all worship toward the God of Heaven is based on both spirit and truth. Because after all, eternity is too long to be wrong. No one wants to go from a church pew into eternity only to hear “You worshipped me in vain.”

It seems that a perfect example of vain and true worship is the story found in Luke 18:10-14. Two men went to the temple to pray. One was very religious, he led a clean life, he fasted, and even gave tithes of all that came into his possession. The other stood afar off, shamed to the point that he could not even lift up his eyes to heaven, he smote his own chest, and begged God to have mercy upon him for he was a sinner. Jesus said that the first returned home unjustified, the second man, the sinner returned home justified and exalted. This is a perfect example of vain worship and true worship.

If you don’t believe that, perform a word study of “worship” in the New Testament. You will find it is almost always associated with bowing before Him in total surrender and adoration.

Until Next Time,

William T. Howe, Ph.D.

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