The Biblical Definition Of Worship
by Sandy Simpson, 3/05

1 Sam. 15:2-23  This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘I will punish the Amalekites for what they did to Israel when they waylaid them as they came up from Egypt. Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy everything that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.’" So Saul summoned the men and mustered them at Telaim— two hundred thousand foot soldiers and ten thousand men from Judah. Saul went to the city of Amalek and set an ambush in the ravine. Then he said to the Kenites, "Go away, leave the Amalekites so that I do not destroy you along with them; for you showed kindness to all the Israelites when they came up out of Egypt." So the Kenites moved away from the Amalekites. Then Saul attacked the Amalekites all the way from Havilah to Shur, to the east of Egypt. He took Agag king of the Amalekites alive, and all his people he totally destroyed with the sword. But Saul and the army spared Agag and the best of the sheep and cattle, the fat calves and lambs— everything that was good. These they were unwilling to destroy completely, but everything that was despised and weak they totally destroyed. Then the word of the LORD came to Samuel: "I am grieved that I have made Saul king, because he has turned away from me and has not carried out my instructions." Samuel was troubled, and he cried out to the LORD all that night. Early in the morning Samuel got up and went to meet Saul, but he was told, "Saul has gone to Carmel. There he has set up a monument in his own honor and has turned and gone on down to Gilgal." When Samuel reached him, Saul said, "The LORD bless you! I have carried out the LORD’s instructions." But Samuel said, "What then is this bleating of sheep in my ears? What is this lowing of cattle that I hear?" Saul answered, "The soldiers brought them from the Amalekites; they spared the best of the sheep and cattle to sacrifice to the LORD your God, but we totally destroyed the rest." "Stop!" Samuel said to Saul. "Let me tell you what the LORD said to me last night." "Tell me," Saul replied. Samuel said, "Although you were once small in your own eyes, did you not become the head of the tribes of Israel? The LORD anointed you king over Israel. And he sent you on a mission, saying, ‘Go and completely destroy those wicked people, the Amalekites; make war on them until you have wiped them out.’ Why did you not obey the LORD? Why did you pounce on the plunder and do evil in the eyes of the LORD?" "But I did obey the LORD," Saul said. "I went on the mission the LORD assigned me. I completely destroyed the Amalekites and brought back Agag their king. The soldiers took sheep and cattle from the plunder, the best of what was devoted to God, in order to sacrifice them to the LORD your God at Gilgal." But Samuel replied: "Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has rejected you as king."
Many of us are familiar with this story of Saul's disobedience.  But notice that Saul's excuse for disobeying the Lord was so that he could allegedly worship the Lord by offering sacrifices of the cattle and sheep he took from the Amalekites.  This is when the Lord, through Samuel, makes the memorable statement "Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams."  I believe this is a lesson for Christians today.

In many churches around the world the concept of "worship" has been redefined and narrowed to mean the time when Christians come together to sing songs, raise their hands, dance around, and get all excited about the Lord together in church.  For most of the younger postmodernist relativistic generation the concept of "worship" has become a thing you do once or twice a week to absolve yourself of guilt.  The more you can work yourself into a state of bliss in feeling like you are really achieving a state of "worship" by letting yourself go in the music and rhythm of the "worship" time, the more you can justify what you are doing the rest of the week when you are not "worshipping" God.  This "worship" then becomes an excuse and justification process whereby Christians can rid themselves of the guilt of not obeying the Lord in their lives.  This is not to say that true worship is not done in the time now called "worship".  It can be a time of worship, but worship without obedience is no worship at all.

The Bible defines worship and sacrifice as obedience.  We worship God by obeying the Lord.  We prove we love Him by our obedience to His Word and to the Holy Spirit.

1 John 5:3  This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome,
1 John 3:24  Those who obey his commands live in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.
Those who obey His commands remain in His love.
John 15:10  If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love.
Those who do not do not remain in His love by obedience will be as Saul who did not remain king of Israel.  Saul ended his life in disobedience to the law of Moses and the Lord by going to a medium to try to determine the outcome of a war with the Philistines instead of going to God.
1 Chronicles 10:13  Saul died because he was unfaithful to the LORD; he did not keep the word of the LORD and even consulted a medium for guidance,
Let this be a lesson to all Christians who come to church to "worship" the Lord but leave to live as they please the rest of the week.  God is looking for your sacrifice of praise, but notice that it is not the fact that you are attending a "worship" service but are an active witness for Him in the world.
Hebrews 13:15  Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise— the fruit of lips that confess his name.
Confessing the name of Jesus in a hyped up emotional "worship" service is easy.  Confessing Jesus to your non believing co-workers, family and friends is a different matter for most "Christians".  The Lord would rather have your obedience to preach the Gospel and disciple all nations than to have your "sacrifice of praise" on Sunday morning.
1 Peter 4:17  For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God?
Those who are willing to suffer for the Gospel are expressing true worship.
1 Peter 4:16  However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.
Romans 12:1  Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God— this is your spiritual act of worship.
So next time you go to church, raise your hands, and shout out to the Lord in "worship" keep in mind that He also expects you to live that worship out in real life.  Don't bring your excuses with you as Saul did thinking that your mere act of worship will be pleasing to God and will absolve you of your sin.  Confess your sins and repent of them, turning away from them.  Then your worship in the time of "worship" will be true worship.  Why?  Because it will be worship born of obedience.