Majoring on the minors – Are we worshipping God in spirit and in truth

In Jeremiah chapter 7, Jeremiah is proclaiming God’s word to Judah.

Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, "Amend your ways and your deeds, and I will let you dwell in this place.  Do not trust in deceptive words, saying, 'This is the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD.'  Jeremiah 7:3-4 (NASB)

It doesn’t sound all that bad.  Why does God say those words are deceptive?  Well first it places the emphasis on the “Temple” of the Lord, rather than the Lord of the temple (and our Lord).  They had it completely backwards.  Second it uses repetition to lull you into a false sense of security.  Third, it evokes an emotional response rather than encouraging a relationship with the creator.  Are you feeling the warm fuzzies?

God wants us to worship Him in Spirit and in Truth (John 4:24).  Judah was not worshipping in Spirit.  Rather they were worshipping at the altar of emotion.  Judah was not worshipping in truth.  They were majoring on the minors. They were intentionally leading people away from God’s truth.

While God’s required sacrifice is a broken and contrite heart (Psalm 51:17), Judah promoted a heart of religiosity.  The temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord.  The repetition promotes a feeling of religious awe, in a sense but does nothing to endear you to the Creator.  The emotional response will assure you that you are saved because you’ve “done your religious duty”.  That’s what makes this so deceptive.

Let me say there is absolutely nothing wrong with an emotional response to God.  But as we’ve seen with Judah, emotion can be completely misplaced.  They were not worshipping the God of the temple.  They were worshipping a god they created.  And as such they appeared to be godly, but they lacked the power of a Godly life. (2 Tim 3:5)

Man makes god in his own image.  Jeremiah warns us to make sure we are worshipping the one true and living God.  Anything else is idolatry.  Trust God, not your emotions.  We must not worship a feeling.  Emotions in themselves are not bad, but can lead us astray if they are misplaced.  Make absolutely certain you are grounded in Christ.  And beware of spiritual leaders who regularly drum up emotion without solid biblical teaching.

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