WORSHIP IN THE BEAUTY OF HOLINESS
By Wayne S. Walker
"Give unto the LORD the glory due to His name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness" (Psalm 29:2). The New Testament contains God’s pattern for the worship of His people under the new covenant. "But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth" (John 4:23-24). The Samaritans were a worshipping people. And they even worshipped the one true God. But under the old law, their worship was not in the right place, and so it was not acceptable to the Lord.
While the Old Testament is not God’s law for us today, it does reveal several important principles about the nature of worship that New Testament Christians need to notice and consider. We often emphasize the importance of worshipping in "truth," that is, acting in harmony with God’s instructions, and this is absolutely vital, but maybe we fail a little in the "spirit" department. To worship in spirit means more than just to worship with enthusiasm, although to hear the singing in a lot of places, we might conclude that many of us could use a little more joy and enthusiasm in our worship. The Psalmist identifies two principles that are necessary for worship to be in spirit.
First, the overarching principle that must always govern our worship is that its primary purpose is "give unto the LORD the glory due to His name." Yes, in our worship we teach, admonish, encourage, and exhort each other, but first and foremost it must be our goal to "serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear" and "offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name" (Hebrews 12:28, 13:15). We cannot truly teach and encourage others in the right way unless our utmost aim in our worship is to honor our Creator and His divine Son.
Second, all worship must be "in the beauty of holiness." Anyone, even the rankest reprobate, can, and often does, sing a song that praises God or say a prayer of thanks. I suppose that God appreciates even these efforts, but in order for worship to be genuinely acceptable to the Lord and really helpful to the worshipper, it must be the outgrowth of a sanctified heart which in turn manifests itself in "perfecting holiness in the fear of God" (2 Corinthians 7:2). I know that all of us do sin, but we cannot continually live like the devil during the week and then draw close to the Lord on Sunday by throwing Him a few bones of song and prayer. Worship in spirit is also worship in the beauty of holiness.