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VAIN WORSHIP:

(Some of the Bible verses quoted in this study have had comments added in brackets. The sole purpose of this study technique is to emphasise or introduce a line of thought. All verses KJV unless otherwise stated).

Many Christians today, accept the teaching that 'believing' in the 'name of Jesus' will bring them salvation. The Bible indicates however, that more is required to attain salvation than 'believing in His name';
(Jam 2:19) Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.

It appears that more is required than 'believing in His name'. Lets hope so, otherwise Satan will be in heaven.
Many people also conclude that God accepts all our worship. If this is so, then I ask you what is 'vain worship'?

The word 'vain' means; not yielding the desired outcome, fruitless, lacking substance or worth, of no benefit, to no avail, without success.

So what did Jesus mean when He said;
(Mat 15:9) But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.

Jesus made this comment after being questioned by the Scribes and Pharisees, as to why His disciples were eating without having washed their hands.
It was a 'tradition' of the elders to wash before eating, and even today is still a common sense thing to do.
Jesus also remarks on another of their 'traditions', which had made the commandment of 'Honouring thy Father and Mother' of no effect.
Jesus introduces the subject of worship, tieing it to the event of the elders enforcing a man made tradition.

He takes this opportunity to compare the relationship between traditions and God's commandments.
Notice from the verse, that the worship Jesus refers to, is directed to Him. He is not talking about worship that is being mis-directed to a false God;
He says, in vain they do worship Me.

The worship is being directed to the right God, but is fruitless. Here is a clearer look at what makes the worship in vain;
(Mar 7:7) Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.

Jesus makes it very clear, that He does not approve of 'mans traditions' being used as a replacement for any of God's commandments.
Again this can be seen in;
(Col 2:8) Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.

This theme is also seen in;
(1Pe 1:18) Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers;

It appears that any violation of the commandment of God, in the process of presenting worship to God, makes the worship unacceptable to Him. It lacks substance and is fruitless; or in the words of Jesus, it is 'in vain'. It is also clear that adopting traditions from pagan religions in presenting worship to God is also unacceptable. Speaking of these pagan traditions it is said;
(Deu 12:4) You must not worship the LORD your God in their way.

Jesus also indicates that prayer can also be in vain, being of no benefit and unacceptable;
(Mat 6:7) But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.

Such prayer is identified as vain repetitions. This could mean only two things; that there is repetition within a prayer, or there is repetition of a prayer.
The fact that Jesus said; for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking, could fit either situation.
Jesus wants our prayer to be from the heart. If we recite pre-formulated prayers not even written by us, is such a prayer from our heart?
This is one point we would need to consider. What would make such a prayer even worse, is when it is recited regularly by an individual or congregation, to a point where it is said like a robot, through habit, in many cases not even comprehending the words that are leaving their mouths.
Their minds wander, some perhaps thinking about what they will have for lunch when they get home, while they recite their prayer.

Another verse that helps us identify that there is more to being saved than believing in Jesus is;
(1Co 15:1) Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.

This verse makes it very clear that a person can believe in the gospel of Jesus, and not be saved.
Here we see that we are saved by complying with the 'conditions' given in the gospel; I declare unto you the gospelBy which also ye are saved.

It is clear; that unless we conform to the conditions of the gospel, we are not saved, and ye have believed in vain.

These next verses give us a clue, on which part of the gospel such a person is lacking;
(Jam 1:22-26) But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass (mirror): For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty (Ten Commandments, see James 2:12), and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed. If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain.

Again this word 'vain' appears, and demonstrates that a whole man's religion can be in vain, or fruitless, if not conforming to God's will.
(1Co 15:57) But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory (over sin) through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.

This verse shows us that even our labor on behalf of the Lord, can be in vain if we do not accept the victory offered to us. Notice in this next verse that 'our labor' to fulfil God's will for us, is not actually 'ours', but God's,
(1Co 15:10) But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.

From this next verse, we'll see that not only can a person believe and labor in vain, one can also receive grace in vain;
(2Co 5:21) For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also, that ye receive not the grace of God in vain.

The Grace of God is in vain, or becomes fruitless, if a person does not co-operate with the power of the Holy Spirit, given to overcome sin. Some Christians believe that 'grace' is a licence to continue sinning. The following verse shows this is not the case;
(Rom 6:15) What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.

We know that sin is disobedience to God's Ten Commandment law;
(Rom 7:7) What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.

Many Church leaders deceive their followers with the teaching that continued disobedience to God's law is forgiven, and overcoming sin is not important;
(Eph 5:6) Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.

Besides love for our saviour, obedience to His law is the key;
(Rom 6:16) Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants (God's or Satan's) ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, OR of obedience unto righteousness (and eternal life).

We don't keep God's law to be saved; we are saved by Grace, which is 'unmerited mercy' or favor. We will however be judged by God's law;
(1 Joh 4:17) Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgement: because as he is, so are we in this world.

(Heb 10:26,27) For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgement and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.

(Jam 2:10-13) For whoeverso shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. For He that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law. So speak ye, and do so, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty. For he shall have judgement without mercy…

Keeping the commandments is the appropriate response to God's love, and to His saving Grace. We keep God's law because we love Him;
(John 14:15) If ye love me, keep my commandments.
(Jam 2:20) But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?

Jesus taught us we are not to remain servants to sin;
(John 8:34) Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.

Unless someone is converted from their slavery to sin, they will die;
(Jam 5:20) Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.

The purpose of being born again is to call upon the power offered by Jesus to overcome sin;
(Rom 6:6) Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.
(1 John 5:18) We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not.
(1John 3:9) Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.
(Rom 6:12) Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.
(1Co 15:34) Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame.
(Rom 2:13) For it is not merely those who hear the law who are righteous in God's sight. No, it is those who do the law, who will be justified.

Now some might say, it is impossible to not sin.
Who brought sin into this world?
Satan.
Who overcame sin by walking sin free on the earth?
Jesus
Who has more power: - Jesus or Satan?
(1Jo 4:4) Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you (Jesus), than he (Satan) that is in the world.

To deny a person can overcome sin; is to deny that Jesus has more power than Satan.
It is not our own strength by which we overcome sin, but the strength of Jesus.

Without Him we can do nothing;
(John 14:5) I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.
(Eph 2:8,9) For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.
(1Co 15:10) But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.

By praying for the strength to overcome sin, and believing you will receive it; it will be given!
(1Jo 1:9) If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (empower us to sin no more).
(John 1:12) But as many as received Him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God
(Phil 2:13) For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.
(Phil 4:13) I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

With time, the indwelling Spirit of Christ (Holy Spirit) will make us like Him;
(1 Joh 4:17) Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgement: because as he is, so are we in this world.
(1 Pet 2:21,22) For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: WHO DID NO SIN, neither was guile found in his mouth…
(Rev 3:21) To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame

Once God has given us the victory over our sins, He even promises that we will not be tempted more than we can withstand;
(1 Cor 10:13) There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

Jesus makes it easy, the power is there for the asking!
(Luk 11:9) And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.

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