The Danger Of Heartless Religion: An Exposition Of Isaiah 1:2-18 -- By: Michael Barrett

Journal: Puritan Reformed Journal
Volume: PRJ 06:2 (Jul 2014)
Article: The Danger Of Heartless Religion: An Exposition Of Isaiah 1:2-18
Author: Michael Barrett


The Danger Of Heartless Religion: An Exposition Of Isaiah 1:2-18

Michael Barrett

A guide has multiple responsibilities. Not only does he lead the way and explain points of interest along the way, but he also assumes responsibility for the safety and welfare of those he leads. Usually before the adventure begins, the guide briefs his followers about any pitfalls that may lie ahead or about potential dangers that may lurk in unexpected places. It is always good to know before going into something what the risks and hazards are.

The Bible is our guide to worship that is both acceptable and pleasing to the Lord. It is not surprising, then, that along with the instructions that we are to follow, there are also warnings that we are to heed. It makes sense to start with the warnings.

In one of His frequent exchanges with the Pharisees, the Lord Jesus said, “In vain they do worship me” (Matt. 15:9; Mark 7:7). The sad danger is that vain worship is possible. Worshipping in vain is worshipping without purpose or result, in emptiness and deception. Two factors mark this worthless worship. First, it abandons God’s directives in favor of man’s traditions: “Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your traditions…teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” (Matt. 15:6, 9; see also Mark 7:7-8). Second, it is talk without heart: “This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me” (Matt. 15:8; Mark 7:6). That Christ quotes this indictment from Isaiah 29:13 indicates that it was not just a Pharisaical flaw. Heartless religion was possible in the Old Testament dispensation; it was rampant in the days of Christ’s earthly incarnation; unhappily, it pervades even the best of churches today. If we can learn anything from Christ’s appeal to Isaiah in His exposé of first- century Pharisaical hypocrisy, it is this: God has never been and will

never be satisfied with heartless worship. Heartless worship is a major pitfall to avoid.

Tragically, the notion seems to be deeply ingrained in man that formal acts of worship—whatever form they take—constitute legitimate worship that will by its very performance be accepted by God. Men tend to form their opinions of God from their estimations of themselves. Because they satisfy themselves with outward acts of ritual, they assume that God must be satisfied as well. Many people today who ar...

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