Some of us are acutely aware of the shortcomings, failures, and inadequacies in our lives. When the Holy Spirit is working on our consciences, we also become aware of our guilt in the eyes of God. The Bible says that, “…all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23 NASB). To be clear, this sin that separates us from God, applies to everyone, “...through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned” (Romans 5:12 NASB). Therefore, since we all find ourselves in this condition, how should we respond?
The prophet Micah asked the same question in the Old Testament: “With what shall I come to the Lord and bow myself before the God on high? Shall I come to Him with burnt offerings, with yearling calves? Does the Lord take delight in thousands of rams, in ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I present my firstborn for my rebellious acts, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?” (Micah 6:6-7 NASB). Notice that, when one realizes his or her guilt before God, the initial response is to perform some outward duty. The offerings listed in this passage are intentionally exaggerated in order to make the point that outward actions, no matter how grand, are no substitute for our inward condition.
Therefore, Micah replies: “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8 NASB). In another passage, we find: “Now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require from you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and love Him, and to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the Lord’s commandments and His statutes which I am commanding you today for your good?” (Deuteronomy 10:12-13 NASB) and “For I delight in loyalty rather than sacrifice, and in the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings” (Hosea 6:6 NASB). These traits are traits that originate in a heart that loves God. One cannot truly love justice, kindness, be humble, love God, love one’s neighbor, be loyal, possess the knowledge of God, walk in His ways, and obey His commandments if one’s heart has not been changed by the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. Outward observances mean nothing if one’s heart, mind, and life have not been surrendered to the will of God.
In New Testament times, we fulfill this humble surrendering by bowing to the Lord Jesus Christ. We trust in Him for our salvation; believing that He died on a cross to pay for our sins, the sins that separate us from God. Only when we truly submit to Him does our worship truly mean anything at all. Then we enter into personal saving relationship and gain eternal life.
“For My hand made all these things, thus all these things came into being,” declares the Lord. “But to this one I will look, to him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word” (Isaiah 66:2 NASB)