Worship Matters: Our Permanent Righteousness. Part 4
- Mark Altrogge Senior Pastor, Lord of Life Church
- 2002 9 Sep
The most wonderful thing about heaven will be face to face communion with Jesus Christ, the Lamb who was slain for our sins. That communion will be absolutely untarnished by any awareness of sin. In contrast to our worship here, we will not have to overcome the accusations of the enemy or our condemning hearts, for then we will be incapable of sinning. Imagine worshiping without the awareness of sin ever entering our minds. What joy that will be.
In the meantime, we live in this fallen world where the accuser of the brethren lurks, waiting to condemn us at every opportunity, especially when we enter into worship. But Scripture encourages us:
My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. -- 1 John 2:1-2 (ESV)
John Bunyan, author of Pilgrim's Progress, had many bouts with condemnation and doubt, but he overcame them by focusing on Christ, his Advocate in heaven.
The modest saint is apt to be embarrassed, thinking how troublesome she is or what a lazy good-for-nothing he has been in God's house all day. Go ahead and blush, but never forsake your advocate.
If you slip; if you do more than stumble but in fact fall flat on your face, then you can be certain that pretty soon your enemy will submit a bill to heaven for your failure. Don't worry. Go immediately to Christ as your advocate, and He will plead for you before God your judge against the devil your adversary.
Don't worry about how bad your failure was; instead, let it move you to humility and the realization of your own weakness, but then stop thinking about it, for Christ will use it for glory. In fact, the angels will shout out loud to see Him prove your innocence. After all, this is Christ's job: He is our advocate, and He takes joy in winning His people's freedom from Satan's charges. -- The Riches of Bunyan, Barbour Publishing, p. 117
When Satan "submits a bill to heaven" for your failure, which he will usually do when you want to worship or pray or commune with God, "go immediately to Christ as your advocate, and he will plead for you before God your judge against the devil."
In worship, what are you focused on more, your sin and failure, or your Advocate, your Righteousness in heaven? I heard someone say that we should take ten looks at Christ for every look at ourselves. Nothing could be more appropriate during times of worship. The enemy wants to get our focus on ourselves, and on our subjective feelings. We begin an internal self-examination. "Do I feel righteous enough? Am I pleasing enough to God? Is this worship sincere enough? Do I love God enough?" If this describes you, quit looking at yourself and look to your Righteousness in heaven!
Bunyan also wrote, "My feelings, whether they were good or bad, had nothing to do with my righteousness, for my righteousness was Jesus Christ Himself, 'the same yesterday, today, and forever.'"
So what are you going to trust when you come before the Lord in worship? Your subjective feelings, or the objective truth that your righteousness is Jesus Christ himself? This is the righteousness by which we come before a holy God in worship.
"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith" (Hebrews 12:2).
About the Author: Mark Altrogge serves as senior pastor of Lord of Life Church in Indiana, Pennsylvania, where he has also led worship since 1976. Mark has published some 200 songs of praise and worship, including "I Stand in Awe," "I'm Forever Grateful," "As Long as I Have Breath" and many other well-known compositions. He also produces the Hide the Word CD series, which sets passages of Scripture to music to create Scripture memory tools. Find out more at http://store.yahoo.com/pdi-store/hidewordpartii.html
2002 worship conference messages now available: http://store.yahoo.com/pdi-store/worcon201.html -- "Worship and the Word" is the title of a message that Craig Cabaniss gave during one of the main sessions at the 2002 A Passion for the Glory of God worship conference. You can purchase this and other messages from the conference.
Who is Sovereign Grace Ministries:
http://www.pdinet.org/about/new_name.html -- PDI Ministries became Sovereign Grace on September 1, 2002. Read about the reasons for the change here.