The main business and the principal concern of the Christian should be
that of thanking, praising and adoring that blessed One who has saved
him with an everlasting salvation, and who, to secure that salvation,
left Heaven’s glory and came down to this sin-cursed earth, here to
suffer and die the awful death of the cross, that His people might be
“delivered from this present evil world” (Gal.1:4). “Praise is comely
for the upright” (Psa.33:1). But to see the upright praising God is
something which Satan cannot endure, and he will employ every art and
device to turn aside the happy Christian from such blissful
Our great enemy is very, very subtil in the methods and means he uses.
He cares not what the object may be as long as it serves to engross
the believer and hinder his giving to Christ that consideration
(Heb.3:l) and adoration (Rev. 5:12) which are His due. Satan’s aim is
gained if he can occupy the believer with perishing sinners rather
than the Lord of glory. The tactics which the devil uses with the
saints are the same he uses so successfully with the unsaved. What is
the chief thing he employs to shut out Christ from the vision of the
lost (2 Cor.4:4)? Is it not getting them occupied with their own deeds
and doings? Assuredly it is. In like manner he deals with God’s
people: he seeks to get them engaged in “service” as a substitute for
communing with Christ. It is the dragon posing as an angel of light,
stirring up the feverish nature and restless energy of the flesh, to
find some outlet that appears to be pleasing to God.
Above we have said that the great aim and chief exercise of the
Christian should be that of worshiping and adoring his blessed and
wondrous Savior, which is, really, heaven begun on earth. Yet, let it
be pointed out, this ought not to terminate at the lips, our very
lives ought to show forth His praise (1 Pet. 2:9), our daily walk
ought to be pleasing and honoring unto Him (1 Cor. 10:31), our every
act needs to be brought into conformity to His holy will (Prov.3:6).
To these statements many, perhaps all, Christians will assent. But do
they perceive what is necessarily involved? We fear not. It involves a
life’s task. And what is that? This: a constant searching of the
Scriptures with a prayerful and earnest desire to find out what is
pleasing to Him, a holy determination to discover the details of His
revealed mind. This is the service to which God has called each of His
people: to serve Him, to take His yoke upon them, to submit to His
rule over them, to be in all things in subjection to His holy will.
But, we say again, the learning of what His will really is, in all its
fullness, is a life’s task which requires and calls for the utmost
attention in the cultivation of our own soul’s garden. “Exercise
thyself unto godliness” (1 Tim. 4:7). “Take heed unto thyself” (1 Tim.
4:16). “Keep thyself pure” (1 Tim.5:22). “Study to show thyself
approved unto God” (2 Tim. 2:15). These are some of the exhortations
of Holy Writ which much need to be taken to heart by God’s dear people
in these hustling, bustling days. But, alas, they are unheeded by
And what is one of the chief causes of hindrance? What is it that in
these times so often prevents the child of God from “taking heed” unto
himself? This: he is far to much engrossed in attempting to “take
heed” for others. The woman who has spent much of the day in attending
to domestic duties, the man who has been toiling for his daily bread,
instead of spending the evening quietly in spiritual devotions,
prayerfully studying God’s Word, giving “attendance to reading” (1
Tim. 4:13), and thus feeding his soul, removing the world’s stains
acquired through the day, and conversing with his family upon the
things of God, has a round of religious meetings which he must attend,
numerous church duties which he must perform. So it is with many on
the holy Sabbath. Instead of that being, as God has designed, chiefly
a day of rest, only too often it becomes the busiest of the whole
week. No wonder that so many are little better than nervous wrecks!
And all because of departing from God’s arrangements.
It is greatly to be feared that when the saints shall stand before the
judgment-seat of Christ that everyone may receive the things done in
the body” (2 Cor. 5:10) that many of the redeemed will have to make
the sad lament, “they made me keeper of the vineyards; mine own
vineyard have I not kept” (Song of Sol. 1:6). Note carefully the first
word, it is not, “He made me keeper of the vineyards.” No, His yoke is
“easy” and His burden is “light” (Matt. 11:30); but “they.” Ah, it is
the Egyptian taskmasters who spur on the people of God to engage in
works in which the Lord has never called them to do. Martha is not
alone in being “cumbered” (weighted down) with “much serving” (Luke
The witness of our lives is far more weighty than that of our lips. If
we spent more time in secret communion with Christ, people would take
knowledge of us that we had “been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13). If we were
more diligent and painstaking to find out and to put into practice the
precepts and commands which God has recorded in His Word for the
regulation of our lives; if, in consequence, we were really walking
with Him, filled with that peace which passeth all understanding,
rejoicing in the Lord; then instead of our going to the people and
pressing upon all and sundry the precious things of Christ—thus
disobeying Him who has bidden His disciples, “Give not that which is
holy unto the dogs” (Matthew 7:6) —some, at least, would come to us
and ask “a reason of the hope” that is “in us” (1 Pet. 3:15).
But, as we have said above, the restless energy of the flesh longs to
find some outlet, and our hearts are only too eagerly inclined to
substitute service toward others for personal dealing with God for
ourselves. It calls for less exercise of soul to memorize a few texts
for the purpose of quoting them to someone else than it does to
measure myself by the Scriptures, confess my sad failures and beg God
to write His Word upon my heart. Ah, it is a comforting sop for our
conscience to persuade ourselves that, though our walk is so far from
being what it should be, yet we can “do our duty” in warning the
wicked, or engage in some form of “Christian service.” Yes, and Satan
will whisper in our ears, ‘You have been faithful there,’ and instead
of being humbled and chastened before God for our miserable failures
to live to Christ, our evil hearts are puffed up by the devil’s
flatteries that we have, at least, faithfully preached Christ.
Let not the reader conclude from what has been said that the writer is
opposed to either public worship or the Christian’s being engaged in
any good works for the benefit of others. Not so, though we would
earnestly warn against any attempt to worship with those who are not
walking with God, or engaging in works which are not really glorifying
to Him. Our main design has simply been to show the need of putting
first things first.
Our first great need is not seeking to minister to others, but
ourselves being ministered unto by the Lord. Our highest privilege is
not that of being engaged in service for Christ, but of enjoying daily
communion with Him. Our first obligation is not that of being
concerned over the welfare of our neighbors, but making our own
calling and election sure. Our first great task is not to serve our
fellowmen, but to serve our God by studying His Word, learning His
will, and then doing it. Our first circle of responsibility is not
towards strangers and distant acquaintances, but our own home. Our
chief ambition should not be the proclamation of Christ with our lips,
but the preaching of Him by our lives.
If we have not learned to worship God in the secret place, we cannot
do so in public assembly. If we are not ourselves really following
Christ, walking and communing with Him, it is but mockery to speak of
Him to others. If we preach Him in words but deny Him in our works,
then we are only a stumblingblock to those who hear us. If our
“service” for Christ is robbing us of the time so urgently needed for
the cultivation of our personal “vineyard,” then it is a snare and a
curse to us. Then “take heed unto thyself,” “lay aside” every weight
(Heb. 12:1) which hinders you from running the race which God “has set
before” us. As a well known hymn says, “Take time to be holy,” or,
better still, as a Scripture says, “The kingdom of God is...
righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. For he that in
these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men”
(Rom. 14:17,18). - A.W. Pink
What is worship? Praise? Yea, more; it is the adoration flowing forth from a heart which is fully assured of the excellency of Him before whom it bows, expressing its profoundest gratitude for His unspeakable Gift. There it is at once apparent that the first hindrance to worship in a child of God is lack of assurance. Whilst I entertain doubts as to my acceptance in Christ, as long as I remain in a state of uncertainty as to whether my sins were atoned for at Calvary, I cannot, really, praise and adore Him for His death for me; I cannot actually say, “my Beloved is mine, and I am His.” It is one of the favorite devices of the enemy to keep Christians in the “Slough of Despond,” his object being that Christ should not receive from them the homage of their hearts...
Another great hindrance to worship is failure to judge ourselves by the Holy Word of God. The priests of Israel did not remain at the brazen alter in the outer court of the tabernacle. It needs to be pointed out that before they passed into the holy place, there to burn incense, they were required to wash at the laver. Approach unto the laver of brass speaks of the believer’s unsparing judgment of and upon himself (cf. 1 Cor. 11:31). The using of its water points to the application of the Word to all our works and ways.
Now just as the sons of Aaron were required under pain of death (Ex. 30:20) to wash at the laver before they entered the holy place to burn incense, so must the Christian today have the defilements of the way removed before he can suitably approach unto God as a worshipper. Failure at this point brings in death, that is, I remain under the contaminating power of dead things. The defilements of the way are the result of my passing through a world which is “alienated from the life of God” (Eph 4:18). If these are not removed, then I continue under the power of death in a spiritual way, and worship becomes impossible. This is brought out fully in John 13 where the Lord said to Peter, “If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with Me.” How many Christians there are who, through failure to place their feet in the hands of Christ for cleansing, are hindered from exercising their priestly functions and privileges.
One other fatal hindrance to worship needs to be mentioned, and that is worldliness, which means the things of the world obtaining a place in the Christian’s affections, his ways becoming “conformed to this world” (Rom. 12:2). A solemn example of this is found in the history of Abraham. When God called him to leave Chaldea and go into Canaan, he compromised: he went only as far as Haran (Gen. 11:31; Acts 7:4) and settled down there. Haran was Half-way House, the wilderness lying between it and the borders of Canaan. Later Abraham fully responded to God’s call and entered Canaan, and there “he builded an altar [which speaks of worship] unto the Lord” (Gen. 12:7). But there is no mention of his building any “altar” during the years he dwelt in Haran! O how many children of God today are compromising, dwelling at Half-way House, and in consequence they are not worshippers. O that the Spirit of God may so work upon and within all of us that the language of our lives, as well as that of our hearts and lips, may be “Worthy is the Lamb”—worthy of whole-hearted consecration, worthy of unstinted devotion, worthy of that love which is manifested by keeping His commandments, worthy of real worship May it be so for His name’s sake.