An example of acceptable and unacceptable worship in the Bible is that of Cain and Abel in the Old Testament. Cain and Abel both worshipped God but Abel did what God has directed, but Cain tried to worship God the way he liked.

In Genesis 4:3-5, we read “And in the process of time it came to pass that Cain brought an offering of fruit of the ground to the Lord. Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. And the Lord respected Abel and his offering, but He did not respect Cain and his offering.”

Why the Lord respected Abel’s offering and rejected Cain’s offering? The answer is in Hebrews 11:4 , “By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain.”

Abel offered his sacrifice “by faith” but Cain did not. Romans 10:17 says, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” So faith comes by the word of God. Abel offered his sacrifice by faith or according to the word of God. Thus, if we want to worship God by faith, we must worship as the word of God directs us.

By faith, Abel offered the firstborn of his flock and it was accepted by God because his worship was done in accordance to the instructions of God. However, Cain chose to ignore God’s instructions and sacrificed an offering of the fruit of the ground to the Lord which he thought is fit and acceptable to the Lord.

Cain did not offer his sacrifice according to God’s instructions, so God rejected him, his sacrifice and worship, since it was not “by faith”.

From this example we can see that our worship must be “by faith”, that is “by the word of God.”

So, if our worship is not “by faith”, that is it is not “by the word of God”, then it will be rejected just like Cain’s. If God rejects our worship then we are going to be lost.

We must obey God and do what God asks us to do and do it in the way that is pleasing to Him. If we worship God not according to His word, then we will be worshipping Him in vain and it will be useless, and we will be eternally lost.

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