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Pastor David B. Curtis

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Vain Worship

Mark 7:1-13

Delivered 06/25/2006

In our last study we saw Jesus feed over 10,000 people with five small barley loaves and two fish. What was so special about this miracle? This is the only miracle recorded in all four gospels. The feeding of the 5,000 was not really about feeding 5,000 people. It was about training twelve people. Jesus set this up in order to teach them that they have to trust Him. He can provide for their every need. This is a lesson that everyone of us needs to learn. This is what all of life is about ­ learning to trust God.

Then, after feeding the multitude, we see Jesus walking on the water. Only the One that created the seas can walk on them. But by treading on the sea, Jesus now takes a role that the Hebrew Bible had reserved for God alone:

Job 9:8 (NASB) Who alone stretches out the heavens, And tramples down the waves of the sea;

This whole discussion started in chapter 4 when Jesus calmed the sea in the middle of the storm, and they asked the question: "Who is this man that even the wind and the sea obey him?" Chapters 5 & 6 are answering that question. He is the God over all demonic forces. He the God who has power over all disease. This is the God who has power over death. This is the God who can do anything. All you have to do is trust Him.

Now as we begin chapter 7, we again see the Jewish leaders looking to attack and discredit Jesus. His popularity was very threatening to them:

Mark 7:1 (NASB) And the Pharisees and some of the scribes gathered together around Him when they had come from Jerusalem,

The scene is set in Capernaum, a place of extensive ministry by the Lord. The religious leaders of Jerusalem have been hearing more and more about this man, this Rabbi, Jesus. Now an official delegation comes to investigate Him. The fact that they approached in a body demonstrated the official nature of the investigation. They were there to test His orthodoxy and to find out more about the new expansion of His ministry.

We can be sure that the Pharisees and Scribes had come to Jesus in order to find fault with Him. We already know that they had thought in terms of His death:

Mark 3:6 (NASB) And the Pharisees went out and immediately began taking counsel with the Herodians against Him, as to how they might destroy Him.

Certain Doctors of the Law had accused Him of being in league with Satan:

Mark 3:22 (NASB) And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem were saying, "He is possessed by Beelzebul," and "He casts out the demons by the ruler of the demons."

So they were constantly looking for an occasion to attack Him.

The scribes were the official interpreters of the Mosaic law. One of their duties was the copying and preserving of the Scriptures. They had no printing presses, and each copy of the Scriptures had to be written by hand. The scribes saw themselves as the protectors of the law. It was their interpretations that formed the basis for the practices of the Pharisees.

The Pharisees were a select denomination that had emerged in the first century before Christ. The title "Pharisee" literally meant: "the separated ones." Unlike many Jews of that era, the Pharisees had remained separate from pagan Greek philosophy and pagan Greek culture. They did this by holding fast to all of the Jewish traditions.

They were the evangelicals of Orthodox Judaism. They held to the inspiration of the Holy Scriptures. They believed in the supernatural, in angels, and in a life after death.

Mark 7:2 (NASB) and had seen that some of His disciples were eating their bread with impure hands, that is, unwashed.

Notice what they were eating. They were eating bread. Where do you think they got this bread? Perhaps it was some of the leftovers from the feeding of the 5,000. They had gathered up twelve baskets full of bread - one for each disciple. And now they are snacking on that bread.

The first thing that caught the attention of these "pious men" was that some of Jesus' disciples were not observing the correct ritual with regard to cleanliness of the hands. The word for "unwashed" does not refer to hygiene, but to hands that are ceremonially washed as a religious ritual. I want you to understand that this particular ritual washing described here was an addition to the Law, for it was nowhere commanded in the Old Testament.

Commenting on verse 2, one writer states, "The initial point to note here is that this criticism of 'some of His disciples' brings out that Jesus Himself did observe these religious requirements. He did not set at nought these people's cherished beliefs. They were not directly accusing Him of such a failure. Outwardly they had no case against Him Himself, as they acknowledged."

What do you think of that? Did Jesus observe these religious requirements? We don't really know from this text. It simply says that "some of His disciples" were eating with unwashed hands. I think they are not accusing Jesus because He is not eating at the moment. If we look elsewhere, we find that Jesus didn't keep their silly rules:

Luke 11:37-38 (NASB) Now when He had spoken, a Pharisee asked Him to have lunch with him; and He went in, and reclined at the table. 38 And when the Pharisee saw it, he was surprised that He had not first ceremonially washed before the meal.

Luke's record demonstrates to us that Jesus was in total agreement with His disciples' failure to wash their hands before they ate and, though the scribes and Pharisees specifically highlight the transgression of the disciples, it was a charge that could equally well have been laid on Jesus.

We said in the introduction to Mark that this Gospel was intended to be read by the Gentiles. Mark is writing to a primarily Gentile audience. We know that for several reasons, but one of the things that comes up many times in the Gospel is that Mark explains things that would have been very well known to a Jewish audience but not known to a Gentile audience. And this is an example of that. In verses 3 and 4 he's explaining something the Jews would have understood; the Gentiles would not have. So he has to explain it:

Mark 7:3-4 (NASB) (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they carefully wash their hands, thus observing the traditions of the elders; 4 and when they come from the market place, they do not eat unless they cleanse themselves; and there are many other things which they have received in order to observe, such as the washing of cups and pitchers and copper pots.)

Let me give you a little history to help you understand what is going on here. From the end of the Book of Malachi to the beginning of the Gospels, there is about a 400-year time period. And it was in that time period that the Pharisees, the scribes, and the synagogue all came to pass. That's really where the scribes and Pharisees got their power. They would stand before the people and read the Hebrew Scriptures, and then they would make comments on the Scriptures. Their intentions were very good: They wanted the people to walk in obedience to the Law. The problem was they did not trust that God could do that through people. They believed that they had to artificially make it happen, so they became very specific about what it meant to observe the Law.

For example, when they were dealing with issues of the Sabbath, they would define very clearly: You can do this, but you can't do that. Then somebody would raise the question, "Well, can I do this?" And they would say, "Well, you can walk 10 steps, but you can't walk 15 steps." They had a very detailed list of the do's and don'ts in order to observe the Law. This became known as the "oral tradition;" it also became known as the "tradition of the elders"-- the "oral law." About 200 years after Christ, the "oral law" was actually written down and was known as the Mishna, which still is a significant document for orthodox Jews. But at this time, it was still just an oral law, but it was very binding in the minds of the people. As a matter of fact, their oral law was as binding as the very commandments of God.

There are numerous references to the cleansing of one's clothes and even to the immersion of one's body in water, but as to the washing of the hands, there are only two places where it's mentioned in Scripture. The first occurs in Ex 30:17-21, 40:30-32 when Moses, Aaron, and Aaron's sons came in to the Tabernacle, into the presence of God, and they were commanded to wash their hands and feet. The reason here was that any defilement was to be removed from them as they came in to meet with and to minister to God.

The second occurs in Deuteronomy 21:1-9 (especially verse 6) in the situation of a man being found slain and the murderer was unknown. The elders of the nearest city had to purge the guilt of innocent blood from their midst by breaking the neck of a heifer and washing their hands in water while proclaiming their innocence.
But any connection in either of these passages with the participation in food is entirely coincidental and is imagined if drawn out from them. So just where did the scribes and Pharisees get this teaching from if their traditions were drawn from the Mosaic Law?
To the Pharisees, all Gentiles were unclean, for they did not observe any of the rules of cleanness (Leviticus 11-15) and were not careful about contact with dead things. Furthermore, anything touched by them also became unclean. And the same was true, although not to the same extent, of "sinners." A "sinner" was someone who did not tithe rightly or follow the strict purification requirements of the Pharisees.

To come in contact with either of these two groups, Gentiles and "sinners," was to be defiled. Their views thus excluded them from close contact with the majority of people. So according to them, if a man went to the marketplace, he may well accidentally be "contaminated" by contact with such people (although he would make every effort to avoid them) and would therefore need to make himself clean in accordance with the teachings of the Pharisees. In order to do so, he would need to follow out the procedures for ritual washing before he ate his meal. It was a world of religious isolation.

Please note that this argument is not about the Levitical requirements with respect to cleanness. There, anyone who touched a dead body became unclean, as did anyone who touched a woman after child birth or a skin-diseased person, or a woman during her period, or a leper, or an unclean animal. And anyone who touched anyone who had touched any of these was unclean, and so on, but this is not what the argument is about.

The Pharisees believed that because of the possibility of unknown contamination by persons who were ritually unclean, it was necessary to wash both before every meal and in between courses. And this involved a complicated process. The water for washing had to be taken from large stone jars, which had been kept "clean" so that the water itself was kept clean. Such water could be used for no other purpose. First, all dirt had to be removed. Then the hands might be held with the fingers pointed upwards and water was poured over them and had to run down to at least the wrist. The amount of water had to be that of an egg and a half in volume. Although very small quantities of water were needed, the correct application was vital for it to render the hands clean.

Then, while the hands were wet, each had to be cleansed, seemingly with the fist of the other; probably by the joint action of rubbing the palm over the fist. But the water was now unclean so the hands were then held downwards and water poured over them again so that it began at the wrists and ran off the end of the fingers.

And if you went on a journey, you had to ensure that you had the means to do this. This was what the Pharisees required, and this was what these accused disciples had failed to do.

The rabbis told the story of one heroic Jew who had been imprisoned by the Romans, and who, when he was brought water in his dungeon, used it for purification rather than for drinking and so suffered dehydration rather than ceremonial uncleanliness.

It did not matter that not one verse of Scripture taught anything about washing hands before eating. The Jews came to accept that the oral law was of equal standing with the Mosaic Law, and, inevitably, a time came when it came to be regarded as even more important than the original Scriptures.

Mark 7:5 (NASB) And the Pharisees and the scribes asked Him, "Why do Your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat their bread with impure hands?"

The statement is far more accusatory than it appears in the English. It is in the present tense: They keep on asking this question. To walk according to something means to order your life by that principle. Here the Pharisees and scribes wanted Jesus' disciples to order their entire lives by the traditions of the elders.

Jesus defends His followers with the Word. And that sets a precedent for us - any defense of our position should be by the Word of Christ. To use His words, we must first learn His words:

Mark 7:6-9 (NASB) And He said to them, "Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, 'THIS PEOPLE HONORS ME WITH THEIR LIPS, BUT THEIR HEART IS FAR AWAY FROM ME. 7 'BUT IN VAIN DO THEY WORSHIP ME, TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE PRECEPTS OF MEN.' 8 "Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men." 9 He was also saying to them, "You nicely set aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition."

The word "hypocrites" came out of the Greek theater. It's a word that means "to wear a mask." When you are in a play, you pretend to be somebody that you're not; you put on a mask. That's what Jesus was saying: You pretend to be these religious leaders that are very spiritual and very wise, but the reality is you're wearing a mask--really, you're just selfish, arrogant, self-righteous men.

What do the capitalized letters mean? It is an Old Testament quotation. Jesus quotes here from Isaiah 29:12 through 14. In that passage, the prophet contrasts learning the Word and living by it with those who live by the traditions of men.

Isaiah wrote in the days of the divided kingdom. The Northern Kingdom of Israel had built its own temple and ordained its own priesthood. They would soon find themselves destroyed.

But this passage was not written to the Northern Kingdom; it was written to the Southern Kingdom. It was written to the people who had the true temple of God and the true priesthood and the true sacrifices. Because of what they had, they looked down their arrogant noses at the Northern Kingdom. But the Lord challenged their false worship. He said that it was all a sham. They were worshiping on the outside, but their hearts were not in it.

The word heart is kardia, which refers to the mind, the thinking. They have God talk without any thinking.

Their worship is in vain. The word "vain" is the Greek word: maten, which means: "to be void of results." Their worship has no result of honoring God; it is without purpose; mere ritual without any reality.

Mark 7:6-7 (NASB) And He said to them, "Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, 'THIS PEOPLE HONORS ME WITH THEIR LIPS, BUT THEIR HEART IS FAR AWAY FROM ME. 7 'BUT IN VAIN DO THEY WORSHIP ME, TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE PRECEPTS OF MEN.'

I want us to see from these two verses the parallel between "this people honors me" in verse 6 and "they worship me" in verse 7 shows that at the essence of all worship is the act of honoring God. Notice also that it is God they are worshiping. But their worship is vain. They are worshiping the true God in the wrong way.

Jesus is telling them that their worship is vain. That raises the question, "WHAT IS WORSHIP?" The word "worship" means: "Honor paid to a superior being." It means: "To give honor, homage, respect, adoration, praise, and glory to God."

The Hebrew word for worship is a powerful one. It describes the physical act of actually prostrating yourself on the floor before a sovereign--someone who has complete control over you.

The English word "worship" is derived from the Anglo-Saxon "weorthscipe" --"worth" and "ship" meaning: "one worthy of reverence and honor." So, we see that worship is an honoring of God.

How do we honor God? In order to honor God, we must know Him, and the only way we can get to know God is through a study of His Word. That is why we study the Bible. The Bible teaches us that God is Holy, and we are to fear Him. Would you classify yourself as a God fearing man or woman? As God dealt with the children of Israel, He continually stressed that they were to fear Him:

Deuteronomy 4:10 (NASB) "Remember the day you stood before the LORD your God at Horeb, when the LORD said to me, 'Assemble the people to Me, that I may let them hear My words so they may learn to fear Me all the days they live on the earth, and that they may teach their children.'

Now you may be thinking that fearing God is an Old Testament concept. Are we, New Covenant believers, to fear God? Speaking of the New Covenant that was to come, Jeremiah said:

Jeremiah 32:40 (NASB) "And I will make an everlasting covenant with them that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; and I will put the fear of Me in their hearts so that they will not turn away from Me.

In the New Testament, we see an ever-increasing fear of the Lord Jesus the more men come to understand who He is. And Paul tells the Ephesians that they are to:

Ephesians 5:21 (NASB) and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.

The Bible teaches that God is holy, and that He is to be honored. We desperately need to recover a sense of fear for God in our day. By fear I don't mean terror, but reverence. We must begin to view Him in the infinite majesty that belongs to Him, Who is the Creator and Supreme Sovereign of the universe. There is an infinite gap in worth and dignity between God, the Creator, and man, the creature. The fear of God is a heartfelt recognition of this gap--not a put down of man, but the exaltation of God.

When we have a reverence for God, we will obey Him, we will keep His Word:

Psalms 119:63 (NASB) I am a companion of all those who fear Thee, And of those who keep Thy precepts.
Ecclesiastes 12:13 (NASB) The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person.

When we keep His word out of reverence, we are worshiping Him.

Mark 7:7-8 (NASB) 'BUT IN VAIN DO THEY WORSHIP ME, TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE PRECEPTS OF MEN.' 8 "Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men."

What is it that takes president in your life? Is it the tradition of men or the commandments of God? The only way to know is to spend much time in the Scriptures.

Mark 7:9 (NASB) He was also saying to them, "You nicely set aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition.

The preposition hina tells us that in order to fulfill man's traditions, you must volitionally set aside the mandates of God. And these hypocrites have done just that.

But they are not alone! Believers today, often out of sincerity, sometimes out of ignorance, and even outright antagonism, abandon what God has to say, and they go with the traditions of men. Tradition is a tremendous force in our lives. Not only was this true of them in that day; it is true of us today. Some of us are here this morning only because it is traditional to be here. Sunday is the day you go to church. All your life you have gone to church on Sunday, so you are here because it is traditional to be here.

We must always beware, lest we find ourselves worshiping traditions instead of God. During the wilderness wandering, the people of Israel murmured against God and against Moses. Because of their murmuring, God sent fiery serpents among them which bit them and caused many people to die (Numbers 21). The people came to Moses and confessed their sin and asked him to pray. So he did. And God spoke to him and told him to make a serpent of brass and put it on a pole, so that whoever looked on the serpent would live. Moses gives the order and the workmen set out to fashion the serpent. But in the meantime, people were dying. Imagine what it may have been like: People are sick, their tongues are swollen; they are racked with pain like fire in their bodies, they lie around in their tents groaning, knowing that they are dying.

Think of a wife nursing her dying husband in the tent with the children looking on. She loves him. The children love him. They can hardly stand to look on him. Their hearts are about to burst within their chest. They know he is about to breathe his last and they feel helpless, absolutely helpless to do anything about it. But then the word is passed. Moses has heard the word of the Lord. The serpent is being built. But her husband is still dying. Oh, if he could just hang on a little longer, maybe there would be hope after all. Finally it is finished. The hole is dug and the brazen serpent is raised above the people. A shout goes through the congregation: "Look! Look! Look and live!" And God begins to move. The man stands on his feet, and is healed by the power of God. Now it is rejoicing time in the camp! God has moved. And the brazen serpent is the symbol of God's action in their midst.

I'm sure there was rejoicing, dancing, shouting, and praising. I'm sure people said, "Oh, the serpent . . . how glorious . . . don't do away with that serpent." And that's precisely what they did. They kept the serpent. The Bible says that they burned incense to that serpent for years until the time of Hezekiah:

2 Kings 18:4 (NASB) He removed the high places and broke down the sacred pillars and cut down the Asherah. He also broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made, for until those days the sons of Israel burned incense to it; and it was called Nehushtan.

Now, God had used the serpent. It was a means of grace to them, a means of healing. But they made it an object of worship. Hezekiah, many years later, tore it down and said, "It's just a piece of brass." You see, they had allowed the serpent to become what it only intended to symbolize. And we are in danger of doing the same thing at times.

Jesus now gives them an example of how they are setting aside the commandments of God for tradition:

Mark 7:10 (NASB) "For Moses said, 'HONOR YOUR FATHER AND YOUR MOTHER'; and, 'HE WHO SPEAKS EVIL OF FATHER OR MOTHER, LET HIM BE PUT TO DEATH';

The idea of cursing or speaking evil of father and mother is present tense, a continual dishonoring that is expressed in cursing. Old Testament Law required that a child who disobeyed their parents on three occasions should be stoned to death by the elders (Deuteronomy 21:18-21).

Paul repeats this command in the New Testament in:

Ephesians 6:1-3 (NASB) Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER (which is the first commandment with a promise), 3 THAT IT MAY BE WELL WITH YOU, AND THAT YOU MAY LIVE LONG ON THE EARTH.

Honor is from the Greek word timao, which means: "to estimate, fix the value, to honor, revere, venerate, to meet needs whatever they are." In Matthew 27, the word is used of pricing something and placing value on it:

Matthew 27:9 (NASB) Then that which was spoken through Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled, saying, "AND THEY TOOK THE THIRTY PIECES OF SILVER, THE PRICE OF THE ONE WHOSE PRICE HAD BEEN SET by the sons of Israel;

Honoring parents implies financial support. Could we see our parents all alone with no means of support, and honor them without helping them? NO! Paul used timao it the same way in Acts 28:10. Honor includes financial support. So, to honor parents means to support them.

In an ancient culture, they did not have Social Security; they did not have Medicare; they did not have nursing homes; they didn't have any of that. And if the family didn't take care of their elderly, the elderly just died. So "Honor your father and mother" had a responsibility, which included financial responsibility to make sure they're taken care of.

Mark 7:11-12 (NASB) but you say, 'If a man says to his father or his mother, anything of mine you might have been helped by is Corban (that is to say, given to God),' 12 you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or his mother;

Corban is a Hebrew word referring to: "a gift dedicated to God's service." Jesus is addressing the fact that these scribes and Pharisees had put this law into place; and while their parents desperately needed help, the only resources they had that they could use to help them (and the Pharisees, by the way, were quite wealthy), was Corban. That means they would say to their struggling parents, "You wouldn't want me to take that which is God's, would you? You wouldn't want me to break my vow, would you?" In essence, their tradition became more important than God's commandment, and they didn't do what God told them to do.

The strange thing about this dedication to God--calling your assets Corban--is that it didn't necessarily go to God. On any given moment, they could take that property and sell it and pocket the money, so it wasn't like they even lost it. It was just a legal loophole to be selfish.

The tradition of pronouncing someone's goods to be "dedicated to God" is one that was taught by the scribes and Pharisees, one that was imposed on the people, thus prohibiting the people from doing what they apparently wanted to do. It tied up their funds, making them inaccessible for acts of charity at home. The point seems to be that the Pharisees, once again, took advantage of the needy, the weak, and the helpless, by keeping children from having control over funds that would help their parents.

In this incident, our Lord taught that men dare not attempt to use "honoring God" (Corban) as an excuse for not honoring their parents. It all sounded so pious, so religious. The money, which should have been available to help parents, was "devoted to God" with the spoken formula "Corban." How could anyone fault a child for placing God above parents?

This was a sham, a facade, as Jesus pointed out. This "tradition" of pronouncing something to be "devoted to God" was merely a means of setting aside the Fifth Commandment with pious appearances. True religion does not hurt the helpless, it helps them:

James 1:27 (NASB) This is pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father, to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.

Paul also applies the principle of honoring parents to believers, who are to assume responsibility for caring for their needy family, including (in the context) parents:

1 Timothy 5:8 (NASB) But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith, and is worse than an unbeliever.

Here, as in the Old Testament and in the teaching of our Lord, failure to honor parents by caring for their needs is spoken of as a most serious offense. In the Old Testament, it was a capital offense. In the New, it is a denial of the faith, making one worse than an unbeliever.

In John's gospel, we find that one of the last acts of our Lord upon the cross was done in fulfillment of our Lord's obligation to honor his mother:

John 19:26-28 (NASB) When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He said^ to His mother, "Woman, behold, your son!" 27 Then He said^ to the disciple, "Behold, your mother!" And from that hour the disciple took her into his own household. 28 After this, Jesus, knowing that all things had already been accomplished, in order that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said^, "I am thirsty."

Because Joseph had apparently died, and Jesus was the oldest son, a greater obligation for the care of His mother would fall on Him. Thus, in one of His last earthly acts, Jesus appointed John to carry out His earthly obligations. In this final act, Jesus honored His mother.

The Hillel school of Rabbis stated that if anyone expressly lays such a CORBAN on his relatives, they are bound by it and cannot receive anything from him that is covered by the CORBAN.

Mark 7:13 (NASB) thus invalidating the word of God by your tradition which you have handed down; and you do many things such as that."

The word "invalidating" is from the Greek word akuroo, which is from kurios, the word for Lord. The positive of the word means: "supreme in authority and respectable." With the alpha prefix, it is negative, so it means: "to not consider the Word as an authority and to not even respect it."

And Jesus says, "You do many things such as that." It's worthwhile to stop and think about this concept of the traditions of men versus the commandments of God. It's very important that we stay dialed into that which is from God and that which is simply a part of our tradition.

Let me give you a contemporary example of what I believe is vain worship. Does Westboro Baptist church mean anything to you? How about Pastor Fred Phelps? This is the church that is involved in protesting at the funerals of the service men. They believe that all churches are wrong except for them. This is a quote from one of their videos: "There's not a pastor of a flock anywhere in America, and in fact the word, that we know of save one, that is anything other than a wolf in sheep's clothing."

One of their posters states that: "It's too late to Pray." And in an article, they state this:

That's right, America!! It is too late to pray for the good of the USA!! The Westboro Baptist Church used to pray for the good of America, knowing that God's blessings are mighty and His hand could be stayed from punishing this wicked nation, just as He stayed His hand from punishing Nineveh. America chose to spit in the face of their Creator, instead of heeding WBC's warnings, and now it is too late to pray for this nation.

The same article also states:

It is a sin NOT to take pleasure in the wrathful outpourings of God's justice on this nation. "The righteous shall rejoice when he seeth the vengeance: he shall wash his feet in the blood of the wicked" (Ps. 58:10). That's not an invitation, it's a directive.

I think they are twisting the Scriptures for their own purpose and are thus dishonoring God. The Bible clearly states:

Proverbs 24:17-18 (NASB) Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, And do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles; 18 Lest the LORD see it and be displeased, And He turn away His anger from him.

And notice the attitude of Stephen:

Acts 7:60 (NASB) And falling on his knees, he cried out with a loud voice, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them!" And having said this, he fell asleep.

And notice how Paul said we should act:

Romans 12:14-18 (NASB) Bless those who persecute you; bless and curse not. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. 16 Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. 17 Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.

Westboro Baptist Church thinks they are worshiping God in the things they do and say. But I think their worship is vain.

Believer, is your worship vain? It is if the things you do and say as worship violate the teaching of the Word of God. Believer, examine your life by the teachings of the Word of God. Let's seek to honor God by all we say and do. We must be students of the Word so we can know what it is that honors God and what does not. We can't afford to follow tradition if it does not line up with the Word of God.

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