What Should Worship Look Like? Part III


How We Present Ourselves Matters

“Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” – II Corinthians 6:17-18

   We have already disproved with multiple passages of Scripture the error which says, “I can worship God how I want and He will accept me.” Paul echoed this truth in II Corinthians 6:17-18. God told the New Testament church–which is under the covenant of grace–that unless they sanctified themselves and united with Christ in the new identity of our salvation, He would not accept worldly saints. This does not mean God will disown or revoke someone’s salvation if they live an unseparated life. It means He will not be pleased and will not bless them as obedient children. God made it plain that His children will live godly, separated lives. Disobedient or immature children may exhibit worldly behavior, but obedient and mature ones will become less like the world and more like Christ. Consider the words of Paul to the Romans: 

“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”              – Romans 12:2

Sanctification is not a new idea. It was something God made great effort to instill in His people Israel as an example to us in the church. Consider these passages where God placed great emphasis on their appearance and clothing being set apart and distinct: 

“The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so [are] abomination unto the LORD thy God.”                      – Deuteronomy 22:5

“Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I [am] the LORD.” – Leviticus 19:28 

“And the Lord said unto Moses, Go unto the people, and sanctify them to day and to morrow, and let them wash their clothes…” – Exodus 19:10

“And let the priests also, which come near to the Lord, sanctify themselves, lest the Lord break forth upon them.” – Exodus 19:22

“And thou shalt put them upon Aaron thy brother, and his sons with him; and shalt anoint them, and consecrate them, and sanctify them, that they may minister unto me in the priest’s office.” – Exodus 28:41

“And I will sanctify the tabernacle of the congregation, and the altar: I will sanctify also both Aaron and his sons, to minister to me in the priest’s office.” – Exodus 29:44

“And thou shalt sanctify them, that they may be most holy: whatsoever toucheth them shall be holy.” – Exodus 30:29

“And thou shalt put upon Aaron the holy garments, and anoint him, and sanctify him; that he may minister unto me in the priest’s office.” – Exodus 40:13

God wanted His people to be distinct and identified as a special people not like those around them. We have already established the fact that even the world recognizes what people in Church look like versus  people going to a secular event. Of course some reading this are already thinking, “But these verses applied in the Old Testament to the Levites and priests.” Well, we do not get off the hook that easily, because according to the New Covenant, all believers are priests. Consider the words of Peter: 

“Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.” – I Peter 2:5

“But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light;” – I Peter 2:9

Now consider these New Testament passages that continue the command of God for us to be separated and holy in how we live.  

“In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.” – I Timothy 2:9-10

“Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.” – I Peter 3:3-4

“What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” – I Corinthians 6:19-20

“If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which [temple] ye are.” – I Corinthians 3:17

“Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.”              – I Corinthians 10:31

It is the plan and will of Christ that His bride, the church, be sanctified “set apart” from the world and sanctified as holy people–just like the people of Israel were set apart from all the pagan nations. Consider these verses:

“Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” – John 17:17

“And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.” – John 17:19

“That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word…”                      – Ephesians 5:26

“And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.                              – I Thessalonians 5:23

“Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate.” – Hebrews 13:12

“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:”                   – I Peter 3:15

Facts To Consider:

God does not accept worldly and unsanctified people as obedient, mature children. 

We are commanded to be set apart and distinct from the world in every area of life. 


God Does Not Care How I Dress For Church

   At some point people will normally throw up the argument, “In James, it tells us not to be partial to well dressed people and that God is not either. Therefore how I dress at church is irrelevant.” They are referring to James 2:1-3. 

“My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons. For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool:” – James 2:1-3

The common faulty interpretation of this passage is that God is not interested in whether or not we dress nice for worship. The problem is James is not talking about dressing nice for worship. He is making the case for being impartial towards people who come to church–whether they are dirt poor or quite wealthy. The context of the passage makes this clear. This passage has been hijacked by those who want to dress down for church. The case holds no water. 

Externals Do Not Matter; God Sees The Heart

   The classic passage twisted by those who want to dress down is I Samuel 16:7 where Samuel is reviewing the sons of Jesse in preparation for anointing the king to replace Saul. What God tells Samuel in this verse has been twisted so many times by unbelievers and believers alike that it may be one of the most twisted verses in Scripture. Nevertheless, it does not say what many want it to say. Let us examine it: 

“But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.” – I Samuel 16:7

The topic of God’s words to Samuel was moral character and had nothing to do with clothing. Samuel was looking for a king, tall and handsome like Saul. The LORD told Samuel in essence, “I know you can see the outward, but I can also see the heart.” It is not that the outward is not important, but God looks on both the external and the internal. God pointed out here that while man can see the outward, God also sees the heart. If our conclusion here is that the external does not matter, we are fools. The entirety of Scripture tells us that our outward presentation and testimony sends a message for everyone to see and judge by. The outward is important, but God sees beyond into the heart. If someone tells me that God is not concerned with the externals, then I know they have never read Leviticus, the much of the Old Testament and much of the New Testament. 

We Are Not To Judge; Only God Can Judge Me

   It always amazes me how some folks who know virtually nothing of Scripture, yet they can quote passages that suit their preferences. The most famous it seems is the one where Jesus turned water in wine at Cana. Of course, deeper study of the topic of wine in Scripture shows that Jesus did not make alcoholic wine and it was impossible for that to be what happened. Anyhow, folks sure know their Bible when it comes to taking obscure verses out of context and without cross examining other passages that show the full meaning of what is being taught. Such is the case with the next verse:

“Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.” – Matthew 7:1-2 

This verse is not saying it is wrong to make judgments concerning what people are doing. Jesus is saying that if you are quick to judge or use superficial judgment, others will judge them with the same rash judgment.  Jesus commanded us to make Biblical judgments based on fruit and based on comparing people and things to the written Word of God. Consider these verses: 

“Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?”        – Matthew 7:16

“Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.” – Matthew 7:20

“But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” – Hebrews 5:14

“Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.” – Matthew 7:24

We cannot and are commanded not to make judgments in the place of God. We cannot judge people’s hearts and motives. Only God can see these things. But we can judge the fruit people bear. Paul tells us that some people bear such evil fruit that we are to name them and mark them as people to avoid, even cast out of the church. Consider these verses: 

“Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.” – Romans 16:17-18 

On several occasions Paul made public judgment about individuals by name. That would hardly fly in the “no judge” culture of today. Yet, Paul was not wrong to make judgments based on folks’ actions, choices and fruit. To say that we are never to judge is to err severely and to ignore the vast amount of Scripture that teaches God’s people to use discernment concerning whether people are obeying the Scriptures or living in clear violation of God’s Word. The emphasis in Scripture is not that we judge people as much as we should judge their fruits. 

Is Not Worship A Cultural Issue? 

   Many say that worship dress is simply a matter of local culture and therefore it matters not how I dress for church because as long as God sees my heart, the externals are simply cultural. Well, we have already established that externals do matter to God. So we must establish whether or not worship dress is a cultural issue. The answer is yes and no. Does worship attire change from culture to culture? Yes. Obviously worship dress in the Philippines and Westminster Abbey will look different. Does the principle of dressing up for church change? No. The person in the poor village with one set of clothes wears that same set to church. Why? Because he wants to dress down? No. Because he has nothing better to wear and he is honoring God with the best he has to offer, like Abel. But someone who deliberately dresses down is doing the very same thing Cain did by not offering their best. The same application was true in the Old Testament, the life of Jesus and today. 

   I readily grant that many people have never been taught and some simply do not know what the Scriptures teach concerning worship, giving our best and such, but I also submit that the vast majority of Christians who have been saved many years and still insist on dressing down are doing so because they simply like to dress that way and have a lesser view of God’s holiness which affects their attitude towards worship and dress. 

    In Western countries, it is a historical fact that people have dressed up for church more so than everyday events. This fact has already been established earlier in this article: even unsaved people know it is morally proper and culturally expected for people to look sharp at church because it is special and done out of respect for God. Today there is an overwhelming lack of respect for God–even within the church. That really is the key problem with worship, music and dress. The reverence and respect for God is shamefully lacking. 

What About David Dancing Before The LORD? 

Many point to the account of David dancing before the LORD as license to dance and flail about in church as something God commands and expects. This is a grave error and goes against everything the Scripture teaches concerning corporate worship. First of all, what David was doing was nothing even remotely close to the sensual and wild dancing of today. Examine the passage: 

“And David danced before the Lord with all his might; and David was girded with a linen ephod.” – II Samuel 6:14

The Hebrew word for dancing in this passage means to whirl in a circle, much like a child at play.  It was an innocent, joyful celebration at the return of God’s Ark of the Covenant. Of course some like to say, well David was naked when he did it or he exposed his nakedness. Three factors prove this false. First, David was in a public event where the priests and Levites were ceremonially carrying the Ark and recently God had struck dead someone for improperly handling the Ark. David would have insane to be underdressed at this event and God would have seriously reprimanded or even caused judgement to fall on him. Second, the parallel passage in the Chronicles tells us that David had this linen ephod over his other clothes. So even more so the nakedness argument is shredded. Michael accused him of uncovering himself, but that accusation was in regards to the fact that David lept and swirled for joy so enthusiastically that his ephod flew up and revealed his regular clothing and it made him look like a silly child at play and Michael was embarrassed. God judged Michael by not giving her children in return for her criticism of David’s joy. So David did nothing wrong here. Third, the passage in Chronicles 15:27 makes it plain that David was outside in a sort of parade when he danced for joy. He was not in the Tabernacle, Temple, Synagogue or Church. To say that David’s dance of joy is license for modern styles (wordly styles) of dancing and swaying in church is ludicrous and embarrassingly poor hermeneutics.  


Facts To Consider:

Man can only see the outward, and therefore it does matter. 

God does care about externals. 

How we look sends a message to others. 

Others are commanded to judge our actions and fruit. 

You do not have a license to do what you want without others making righteous judgment. 

We cannot judge others motives and heart, but we can judge their fruit. 

Even unsaved people recognize their should be reverence and respect for God.

Modern Christianity is shamefully lacking in reverence and respect for God. 

David’s dancing was not immodest in any way. 

David’s dancing resembled a child skipping for joy and was nothing like modern dancing. 

David’s dancing was not in a worship service and in no way sets a pattern for worship services. 


We Must Worship In The Spirit And In The Truth of Scripture

“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. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” – John 4:23-24

   Everyone loves to quote this passage as justification to do whatever they want in church and blame it on the Spirit within them. They say, God wants us to worship Him in the Spirit. The problem is they leave out the last three words of the passage: “and in truth”. The truth is the Scriptures and ALL they teach concerning worship. If people adhered to ALL the Scriptures taught on worship, the controversies of modern worship would immediately disappear, because there is no controversy in Scripture. Everything is black and white ink on the pages of God’s Word. 

   We are called to be different. That is inconvenient to many,  but does not change the fact. Consider the words of Peter: 

“But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light;” – I Peter 2:9

We are called to live in the light of God’s holiness and His Word. When Christians insist on worshipping like the world, using music like the world and looking like the world, there is no light in that, only darkness. There is no salt in that, only a worthless testimony. There is no value to a Christian’s life unless it is light and salt in this dark, corrupt world. Our worship is determined by our view of God’s holiness. 

   Choosing to live as salt and light will draw heat not only from the world, but from Christians who are living in disobedience. There is no way to avoid being persecuted if you live a godly life. Consider the words of Paul to Timothy: 

“Persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but out of them all the Lord delivered me. Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.” – II Timothy  3:11-13 

The simple, yet profound choice you must make regarding worship is the same choice Joshua put forth to Israel. Your choice will be based on your view of God’s holiness, your reverence for God and your love for Him as the One who is “High and lifted up”, the One at whose name the Seraphim cry “Holy, Holy, Holy”. 

“And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” – Joshua 24:15


Copyright – 2020 – Voice In The Wilderness Ministries – Rev. Kenneth D. Willis

Sermon: “He Entered Once”

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Jesus as high priest

How does Christ deal with sins of believers after they become Christians?

What happens if I die with unconfessed sin?

Will I answer for my sins at the Judgment?

All these questions and more are answered from the plain teaching of Scripture.