The Bible is clear. God is not as interested in externals as He is in the human heart. He does not accept worship from everyone, but has criteria that must be met. My daily reading is only one passage in Scripture that describes the qualifications for worship.
Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? Or who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted up his soul to an idol, nor sworn deceitfully. He shall receive blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation. (Psalm 24:3–5)Holy means “other than” or “separate” and indicates something or someone that is totally dedicated to God. “His holy place” is not about the places human beings designate as special, but places that God consecrates. In the Old Testament that meant the tabernacle, then the temples that were built in Jerusalem. God commanded His people to worship in these places.
In the New Testament, the holy place is not a building. Instead, it is the human heart, but not every human heart. Holiness describes those who are dedicated and have given themselves entirely to God in humility and obedience. Worship is no longer a matter of standing in a holy place, but of being a holy person.
As this passage says, a holy person has clean hands meaning his sins are forgiven and cleansed. That person also has a pure heart, made so by the blood of Jesus Christ. This holy heart rejects idols and idolatry and embraces truth. All of this is made possible because God has blessed that heart and that person with the righteousness that comes by faith to those who embrace and accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. By Him, and only by Him, can anyone become a temple of the Holy Spirit.
Paul wrote to the church and to all Christians about this. He said:
Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s. (1 Corinthians 6:19–20)God bought me with a price. That price was the blood of His Son sacrificed for our sin, for my sin. Because of Jesus, God accepts my worship. Because He owns my body and my spirit, He can use me to bring glory to His name.
This is so incredible, yet because God says it, I know it is true. This gives more reason to worship Him. I can do it in many ways, with or without music, and in any place. However, His way is that I meet with others who also believe in Jesus and who have clean hands and a pure heart. We can sing to music or worship in silence. We can gather in a school or a church building or in an open field. What matters is that we gather, that our focus is on our God, and that we worship knowing this is an incredible privilege.