The Lord declares (Amos 5.23–24),
Take away from me the noise of your songs;
to the melody of your harps I will not listen.
But let justice roll down like waters,
and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.
Until we read and understand these things, until we come face to face with God in them, we will always be singing songs for worship that God does not accept. We may feel all we want on the shallow level, but unless we meet God in our inner being and come away convinced – no, overpowered – in our thoughts and feelings, we will see no God-ward change.
The cliché is that change is from the inside out. No, I tell you, change started with the cross before it came as our strengthening with power through the Holy Spirit in our inner being. We must recognize that as true in the past and the present before we can leave the deception that “from the inside out” is the whole story, for this myth is as much a source of hypocrisy as the myth that only appearances matter.
Did repentance, faith, obedience ever start from within me? No, for it was God Himself who found me, met me and turned my heart. Overemphasizing “from the inside out” has produced only Pelagianism, complacence, Stoicism, mystic existentialism and the like. But “from Christ to my inner being” aligns with the whole story of salvation.