“I hate, I despise your feasts,
and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies.
Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings,
I will not accept them;
and the peace offerings of your fattened animals,
I will not look upon them.
Take away from me the noise of your songs;
to the melody of your harps I will not listen.
But let justice roll down like waters,
and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.”
Amos 5:21-24 ESV
Have you ever had anyone declare their steadfast love and devotion to you only to learn that the opposite was true? They made a profession of their fidelity, and their commitment to you, only to do what was the exact opposite of their profession. They may have even made a public display of their dedication and faithfulness, only for you to realize it was an outward display only, because their actions toward you were to the contrary.
If you have experienced this in any way or at any time in your life, then you should be able to identify with our Lord in what he is expressing here.
Now, I don’t believe that anyone of us loves perfectly all the time, but there may be exceptions. But, we aren’t talking here about perfect and faultless love and devotion. We are talking about hypocritical professions of love and devotion which are not backed by our lifestyles.
This is about saying one thing while knowingly and willfully and even premeditatedly doing another. This is about making declarations of love and devotion to God only to turn around and live for self and for self-gratification and in direct disobedience to his commands. This is about making public displays of piety and devoutness to God while knowingly and willfully committing atrocities in secret, out of the public eye.
And, this happens every day somewhere. Every day there are people who profess faith in Jesus Christ, which is a promise of devotion to our Lord, and to faithfulness, and yet they live the exact opposite of their profession. They may even make outward and public displays of their loyalty to God while in secret their loyalties are to themselves and to their fleshly desires and appetites. They may go through the motions of worship of God, too, while they truly follow after the idols of the flesh of man and of this world of sin.
How God Feels
And, here we learn how God feels about such false declarations of love, piety and devotion to him. He can’t stand them! He wants them out of his sight! He hates them with a passion. He takes no delight in them. He will not accept them, he will not listen to them, and he will not look upon them.
And, he is talking here about public gatherings of the church and of their worship services, too. He is not interested in worship that is in noise only, but which is not truly from the heart. For, true worship of God is for us to give our lives over to him, holy and pleasing to him, and for us to no longer be conformed to the ways of this sinful world, but for us to be changed in heart and mind of the Spirit of God away from sin to obedience to Christ (Rom. 12:1-2; cf. Rom. 6:1-23; Rom. 8:1-17; Eph. 4:17-24; 1 Jn. 1:5-9).
If all we do in public worship is just to sing songs with hands raised in the air to the music being played on a stage by trained musicians whose hearts and lives may be given over to the lusts of the flesh, and not to God at all, then we must know that is not acceptable worship of God.
Although singing and playing musical instruments is part of our worship of God, they are not the totality of our worship, and they are not worship at all if our hearts are not surrendered to our Lord, but if we are living sinful lifestyles, instead. So, you can have “worship” time in a “worship” service and not truly worship God at all if your profession of love to God is not followed up with walks of obedience to his commands and to the forsaking of your sinful practices.
Again, it would be just like someone professing love and devotion to their spouse while they secretly commit adultery and lie about it on a consistent and habitual basis. And, adultery takes many different forms, too. For, it is adultery to lust after someone you are not married to. And that includes habitually viewing, not just pornography, but anything that has sensuality or seductiveness in it which then causes one to lust.
And, adultery can be totally emotional and not physical, either, for many people have romantic affairs with people, maybe even via Facebook, Twitter, and other social media, too, and even via Christian discussion sites, and the like, where people meet other people online and where they interact with other people, and where they can private chat people to whom they are not married. Such affairs have destroyed many marriages, but they are like broken cisterns which do not hold water. They will never satisfy.
And, that is how God feels about us looking to other gods of this world to meet our legitimate needs (necessities) rather than looking to him alone to meet those needs. He sees it as adultery. It is how he feels when we run after the things of this world, and when we feel as though we can live for self-pleasure and for our own fleshly desires while we barely give him a passing glance, and yet publicly claim that we love him and that we worship him as LORD. He sees our actions as adultery against Him, which it is.
And, that is why he hates such hypocrisy, because if we live like this, we are habitually committing adultery against our Lord while professing the opposite. And, so he wants such false displays of righteousness out of his sight. He does not accept them as “love” or as “worship.” What he accepts as love for him is our walks of obedience to his commands and our forsaking of sinful practices. And, acceptable worship of him is to give our lives to him, holy and pleasing to him, no longer conformed to the ways of this world.
Let Justice Roll
So, what is pleasing in God’s sight? What is acceptable to him? It is that we are crucified with Christ in death to sin, and that we are resurrected with him to newness of life in him to be lived to him and to his righteousness.
It is that we walk (in lifestyle, in practice) no longer according to the ways of this sinful world and according to our sinful flesh, but that we walk according to his Holy Spirit, living holy lives which were created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
This is acceptable worship of God. And, this alone will result in inheriting eternal life with God. For, if we walk according to the flesh, we will die in our sins because we refused to die with Christ to our sins (Lu. 9:23-26; Rom. 6:1-23; Rom. 8:1-17; Eph. 4:17-24; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; Gal. 5:16-21; Eph. 5:3-6).
By Ann Aschauer
Well, some folks think that “love” means emotion,
So it comes and goes their whole life through.
Some folks never know that when the magic goes,
If you keep on lovin’, it’ll come back to you.
I was so afraid we’d lose the special feeling,
And someday we’d find our love wasn’t true,
But then God opened up my eyes and made me realize,
Love is not what you feel, it’s what you do.
And so we stood side by side at the altar,
As our wills and God’s power combined.
With His help I could say, “I do love you today,
And I will for a long, long time.”
c 1987 Ann Aschauer