Q. In the Bible, there is a scene where Jesus rebuked people saying, “You worship God in vain.” Why did He say that it was in vain when they worshiped God?
A. It is easy to think that they receive blessings if they just worship God. However, the teaching of the Bible is different. Jesus said that even though the prophets believe in Him as the Savior and do many things in His name, they will be unable to enter the kingdom of heaven (Mt 7:21-23).
People who believe in God give service to God as worship to God. If they are prophets and leaders, they must have given countless services. Nevertheless, they cannot enter the kingdom of heaven, which makes their worship meaningless.
2,000 years ago, the reason that the religious leaders worshiped God in vain is that they kept men’s rules. Outwardly they pretended to be the leaders who loved God the most and honored God with their lips but they forsook God’s command to keep men’s rules. Like the expression, “hypocrite,” they beautified their faith only outwardly.
Keeping men’s rules is worshiping God in vain
The Pharisees and teachers of the law at that time regarded men’s tradition more importantly than God’s command written in the Bible. That was why they pointed out that Jesus’ disciples broke the tradition of the elders. At that time, Jesus rebuked their faults that they broke God’s command for the sake of men’s tradition.
Mt 15:1-3 Then some Pharisees and teachers of the law came to Jesus from Jerusalem and asked, “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? They don’t wash their hands before they eat!” Jesus replied, “And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition?”
Quoting Isaiah’s prophecy directly, Jesus emphasized that worshiping God only with their lips by keeping men’s rules and forsaking God’s command is a meaningless worship that would bring about no blessings.
Isa 29:13-14 The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men. Therefore once more I will astound these people with wonder upon wonder; the wisdom of the wise will perish, the intelligence of the intelligent will vanish.”
Mt 15:7-9 You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you: “‘These people honor me with their lips, but there hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.’”
These words are not merely given to the Pharisees 2,000 years ago. If anyone forsakes God’s command and values men’s rules and tradition more highly, the wisdom and the intelligence to understand God’s profound will contained in the words of the Bible will vanish. No matter how many times or how diligently they may give worship to God, they will never receive any kind of blessing.
God’s command that Christ shows as an example
The saint that truly fears God and loves Him obeys what God commands (Jn 14:15). The one who keeps God’s command receives God’s blessing and the testimony that he knows God.
1 Jn 2:3-6 We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. The man who says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.
Jesus did not teach with only words; He taught us God’s command that we should keep by setting us an example Himself.
Jn 13:15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have
done for you.
Apostles who received such teachings of Jesus always wanted to follow the example of Christ.
1 Co 11:1 Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.
Therefore, the church that keeps God’s command, following the example of Christ is the true church that is to receive salvation. The church that keeps men’s rules as its long tradition, forsaking God’s command, is the church that has no truth and worships God in vain though they pretend themselves to believe in God outwardly like the Pharisees 2,000 years ago.
God’s command that Jesus wanted to keep the most with His disciples is the Passover of the new covenant. It was because Jesus promised that the bread and wine of the Passover of the new covenant are the flesh and blood of Jesus and by eating the bread and drinking the wine, mankind who are destined to die because of sin, can receive the blessing of the forgiveness of sins and eternal life.
Lk 22:15 And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.”
Mt 26:17-28 On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Where do you want us to make preparations for you to eat the Passover?” He replied, “Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, ‘The Teacher says: My appointed time is near. I am going to celebrate the Passover with my disciples at your house.’” So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them and prepared the Passover. … While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying “Take and eat; this is my body.” Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”
Jn 6:53-54 Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.
The church that keeps men’s rules
Though God’s command that is taught by Jesus is the Passover, many churches today do not keep the Passover. They admit that Jesus is the Lord and the Savior with their lips but when it comes to the Passover of the new covenant which Jesus established to give us eternal life, they insist that we do not need to keep it. Rather, they celebrate communion on the date that they set according to each denomination’s tradition. The meaning of the communion is all different, too.
A certain denomination teaches that when the pastor blesses the bread and wine, they turn into the real flesh and blood of Jesus and Christ stays in them. And it idolizes the bread and wine excessively by making people bow down before the bread and wine. After making absurd rules which cannot be found anywhere in the Bible, people parade it as the tradition of their church.
Another denomination insists that a communion is a simple ceremony to remember Christ’s sacrifice and it is irrelevant to the blessing of eternal life. It goes directly against the words of Jesus that said, “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life.”
These are not the only men’s rules made randomly in the world. Sunday service and Christmas that many churches keep are also men’s rules which do not exist anywhere in the Bible, either.
Sunday service and December 25th are made according to the regulations of the pagan religion. Sunday is a holy day of Mithraism that worships the sun-god and December 25th is the birthday of Mithra, the sun-god. If people think highly of the rules made by copying the regulations of the pagan religion and regard them as their great tradition like this, can they really receive salvation?
Eze 11:9-12 I will drive you out of the city and hand you over to foreigners and inflict punishment on you. … And you will know that I am the LORD, for you have not followed my decrees or kept my laws but have conformed to the standards of the nations around you.”
The past history of the Israelites who were destroyed when they conformed to the standards of the Gentiles shows the result of the people who keep men’s rules, forsaking God’s command such as the Sabbath day and the Passover. People who want to reach the eternal kingdom of heaven by receiving the blessings of the forgiveness of sins and eternal life should learn the lesson from the past history and keep the true commands of God instead of men’s rules that make people worship God in vain.