Does our definition of acceptable worship unto God include what is found in Psalm 24:4, namely having clean hands and a pure heart?  It’s very sad, highly detrimental and incredibly deceiving that we have wrongly defined worship as getting a multitude of people in a building and cranking up the music in order to invoke outward, pious expressions.  There are certainly people raising their hands week in and week out, but how clean are those hands?  There are people shouting out praises to God, but how pure are those hearts, from which those mouths speak during the week?  We’ve seen that God’s concern is holy lives; not necessarily what somebody does for 90 minutes on Sundays or during some weekend conference.

This is why we need to think carefully about statements that are commonly put forth from various ministries: “Come as you are.”  “Don’t let your sin hinder you from coming to worship God with us; no matter what you have done, God will accept you.”  Of course, the blood of Christ can cover any sin and the gospel is offered indiscriminately to all, but how does one obtain forgiveness of sins and a status of being accepted by God?  The book of Acts makes that abundantly clear in many instances—”Repent and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.”  In other words, turning from sin to God and entrusting oneself to the finished work of Christ.  And you can be sure of one thing: When the Holy Spirit is doing a saving work in someone, that person will exhibit brokenness over their sin and they will be desperate for God’s righteousness, being convinced they have none of their own.  In response, God will not despise a broken and contrite heart, which are called the sacrifices of God in Ps. 51:17.  On the other hand, if one has no godly remorse and no plan of turning from sin, that is called cherishing iniquity in the heart and Ps. 66:18 says that the Lord will refuse to listen to such a one.

So on the one hand we can say: “Don’t ever let your sin keep you from turning to God in repentance for forgiveness and cleansing from that sin;” but on the other hand, we also can say: “Don’t think that God accepts your worship if you do not have a life set apart for his purposes.”
In addition to texts like Ps. 24 and Rom. 12:1-2, here’s another one that should dictate our thoughts about worship—Heb. 12:28 Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, 29 for our God is a consuming fire. 

In the end, our desire then should not be to try to make Jesus acceptable to as many people as possible, rather our desire should be to plead with God to transform our hearts so that we may become genuine, acceptable worshippers of Jesus, while helping others do the same.