Praising Your Way to Victory Part 3
Last week, we left you with a bit of a cliffhanger. We were talking about how you can know God better than if you had the chance to physically walk with Him in the garden like Adam and Eve. And I just know that some of you didn’t think that was possible, but Beloved, let me assure you, it is not only possible, but it should be the norm for every born-again Christian!
How is this possible? With the Holy Spirit! Jesus told His disciples in John 16:7
“It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart. I will send Him to you.”
So we can see that Jesus Himself is telling us that there would be an advantage for him to physically return to our heavenly Father, rather than staying here on earth to be with us to walk around and spend time with us. What was this advantage? I could write an entire series of blogs just on this topic alone, but concerning the topic of praise, we can have an even greater revelation of who God is because the Holy Spirit indwells believers. He gives us a far superior understanding of why God is worthy of our praise compared to someone living prior to when God released His Spirit on the Day of Pentecost. Up to that point, with the exception of rare instances when the Holy Spirit would temporarily rest upon folks, people had to lean on their own understanding of scripture.
Having a greater revelation of God’s goodness will naturally help you praise God in a way that is far more intimate and far more enthusiastic than Adam and Eve could have ever praised God. And that in itself is something to praise God for!
And speaking of enthusiasm, the kind of praise God desires is the type that is genuine and not ritualistic. I once listened to a young man opening a prayer service and he started by repeating the same three things over and over. It sounded to me as though he thought if he kept saying it enough, he might actually start to believe it! Now, don’t get me wrong, you can certainly repeat words or phrases- that’s what we do when we sing worship songs, but it has to come from a place of genuine belief and not autopilot. God wants relationship, not rituals.
In fact, in Isaiah 1:13-17 (MSG), God had some pretty direct words for people who praised Him the most elaborately, but only to tick off the “praise” box so that they could be “right” with God and continued to embrace sin:
Quit your worship charades.
I can’t stand your trivial religious games:
Monthly conferences, weekly Sabbaths, special meetings—
meetings, meetings, meetings—I can’t stand one more!
Meetings for this, meetings for that. I hate them!
You’ve worn me out!
I’m sick of your religion, religion, religion,
while you go right on sinning.
When you put on your next prayer-performance,
I’ll be looking the other way.
No matter how long or loud or often you pray,
I’ll not be listening.
It wasn’t that God expected them to be perfect. A cursory glance of some of the greatest heroes of the Old Testament shows that they made abhorrent mistakes. The commandments were given to show them that they couldn’t achieve holiness on their own and need to put their faith in the coming Messiah. But instead, they decided that they could fool God into thinking they were keeping the law if they praised loudly and often. And God got sick of the hypocrisy.
Many people unfortunately do this today. They have a ritual that can include confessing their sins, going to church (where they may sing and become extremely emotional before God and the congregation), and then ignoring God for the rest of the week. But God isn’t interested in a performance. He wants a real relationship because He loves us so very much.
So when we come to God, it’s ok that we aren’t perfect and have things we are dealing with, but we need to understand the only reason we can even come before Him so confidently is because of Jesus, who has made us righteous in Him. Not because of anything we have done. We can drop the pretense and the ritual. He’s not impressed with us if we do any of that. What impresses Him is when we put our faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ for all of our needs, including our need to praise Him.
Next time we’re going to talk about what the Bible refers to as “the sacrifice of praise.” Until then, I encourage you to be spontaneous and enthusiastic with your praise to the Lord. Be real. As you read the Word, encourage the Holy Spirit, our Teacher, to reveal to you things that you can praise God and be thankful for. You’ll be delighted at what He shows you!
We’ll be back next week with part four. Until then, we trust God to keep watch over you and be your refuge and strength.