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Lifting up unholy hands in worship


There is a song in Christian worship that has as part of the lyrics something about lifting up holy hands to God.

I have always had a problem with this song. How can one lift up holy hands when those very hands are filthy with the very things Jesus died for? How can we lift up holy hands without a time of repentance for the unconfessed sins of the recent past? How can we worship personally and corporately with unconfessed sin? Without repentance for personal sin, it seems our worship becomes hypocrisy and meaningless, regardless what the words of the song says.

To me, without a time of repentance at the beginning of the worship service, it’s telling the people that the sin we committed before church doesn’t really matter to God in church, when we come to worship Him, the Almighty Holy God.  Yes, our sins are forgiven for all time, but we do have to “confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins”… this was written to believers. The confession restores relationship just as it does in parent child relationships.

We cannot kneel in His Presence while dirtying up the throne room with the muck and stench of the week and think that He is pleased with our worship, that it arises up to Him as a sweet smelling incense; I think not. It’s folly to think that our praise is even heard while we wallow in the sin of the past day/week/month. “If I regard sin in my heart, God will not hear.” written by David, a man who would know…. something about the heavens being made of brass….

This also applies to communion, the most sacred time in the life of the church. I have rarely heard in any church a call for a time of confession before taking communion, except in the churches that follow the liturgical form. Even though it can become ritual (meaning predictable….which is no different than what any church does every Sunday!), it does include as part of the liturgical worship service, repentance, every Sunday. Yes, we are to do this on our own, but we don’t, aren’t reminded to, and need the reminder and modeling that having it included in the corporate service would give.

Yes, we have unsaved lost people in our services. But what a better reason to talk about repentance! One does not become a Christian or keep fellowship with God by just “accepting Jesus in my heart”. We will deal with sin the rest of our lives and it’s the reason Jesus came, to die for our sin, to take the penalty for our sin. It’s all about His sacrifice, taking our place, our penalty, not about needing a friend to guide us or be with us in hard times. Yes, that comes afterwards, but not without regular repentance. (as I type this I am convicted….) If we do not regularly acknowledge/repent that we have sinned and then accepting our forgiveness and restoration of relationship, our worship of God becomes dull and unfulfilled. We essentially tell Jesus that what He did was cool to get us out of hell and into heaven, but after we have our fire insurance, we no longer need to confess (agree with Him) our sinful natures to Him; we can just come and go without acknowledging that His sacrifice applies to the rest of our lives, not just at the time of salvation.

We do not ask God to forgive us. He has already done that. He waits for us to acknowledge we have sinned, and then we accept His forgiveness for ourselves. If we don’t, our salvation is secure, but the relationship is messed up and our worship is not accepted.

God is serious about sin. The Bible records His dealings with the sin of His people, Old and New Testament. He hasn’t changed. We just don’t see it as serious as He does. We act like it’s no big deal; we got away with it, so it must not be a big deal to God. He is more concerned about rapist and murderers and adulterers and child molesters than speed limits or gossip or greed or covetousness or gluttony or lust.  So we come presumptuous to worship, lifting up dirty hands in praise, taking Him for granted that He winks at “lesser” sins. Not a good thing to do with God Almighty, and certainly ignores the reason Jesus suffered on the Cross for us.

Want your worship to be acceptable?  Wash your hands with repentance.


From → Repentance, Worship

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