Have you ever wondered about the meaning of a word? Take the word “dishwasher,” for example. It’s an appliance lots of people have but do dishwashers really live up to all the hype? If a dishwasher really is a dish washer, why do I have to pre-clean, pre-rinse and prewash everything before I put it into the dish washer? Seems like I’ve already done most of the work. Maybe they should call them “dish follow-uppers” or something? It’s just one of those words that we think we know, but do we really?
Not to make light of the concept, but “worship” is also one of those words we think we know, but do we really? I looked up the etymology of that word, and it comes from the Old English word for “worth” referring to something or someone that is considered “significant, valuable or highly thought of,” and the Old English suffix
“-ship” meaning “quality, condition; office, position; relationship between.” So, we could say “worship” is “worth-ship,” meaning we are ascribing worth or worthiness to something or someone. We see that aspect of worship in the Book of Revelation when we see the heavenly beings there declaring: “worthy is the Lamb” when referring to Jesus (Revelation 5:11-12). Churches are supposed to ascribe that kind of worth to the Savior every time they have a worship service.
False teachers make a mockery of that by diverting worship to themselves and their false doctrine. By it, they deceive many:
“And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.” (2 Peter 2:2)
“Pernicious ways” simply means “licentious conduct.” In the OT and in the times in which Peter lived, idol worship was always tied to lustful, sensual behavior that was labeled as acts of worship to the gods. Modern-day false teachers might not overtly encourage the same kind of lasciviousness, but they do share the same philosophy: “Come as you are, stay as you are, live as you always have and we’ll put the church’s stamp of approval on your behavior – just leave a generous donation on your way out the door.” To do this, they have to water down Who God is and redefine what worship is. For them, worship is what makes the worshipper feel good and the good feeling is supposed to be a “religious experience.”
True worship is about giving God the glory due His name. Can that make His worshippers feel good? Of course. Can it be a source of joy to God’s worshipers? Absolutely. But those things are the byproducts of obedience, not an end in themselves when it comes to giving God His worth.
False teachers will use the name of God and the name of Jesus in their “worship” services and they can sound spiritual. Learning Christian-speak is easy. It only has a few key vocabulary words. Sprinkle an “amen” here and a “praise the Lord” there, and you have it. Sounding godly is easy. Being godly is where the hard work is. To get around that, false teachers offer shortcuts to the lazy and ways to earn your salvation to the proud. They have something for everyone. It’s why they can draw the large crowds and build the huge churches. In the end, however, the only things being worshipped are human pride and a god of man’s imagination.
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