John 4:23-24 – Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.
Have you ever wondered what it really means to worship God in spirit and in truth? John 4:23 says that God seeks a type of people – “…those that worship Him in spirit and in truth “. Also, it says that’s how TRUE worshippers worship! Then John 4:24 says “…God is Spirit…”, those that will be able to connect with God at this level must be those whose spirits are alive to God – in other words, a born again christian. In addition, verse 24 says we MUST worship God in spirit and in truth – meaning no other way is acceptable, right? But how do we do this? What does it really mean to worship God in spirit and in truth? How can one start worshipping God this way?
Firstly, note that God is a Spirit, so He is not subject to physical or material things e.g. the type of building, or special lighting effects (don’t get me wrong, all these are good) when we worship but instead He is more interested in ‘how’ we worship Him. This implies that He is more interested in our heart condition and the attitude with which we worship Him. Therefore to worship God who is Spirit, we have to do this with the heart and right attitude. Our whole heart must be engaged in worship for it to be acceptable to God. Jesus commanded in Mark 12:30 that we should love the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. The Psalmist also says in Psalms 111:1 that “Praise the Lord. I will extol the Lord with all my heart in the council of the upright and in the assembly”. To love the Lord with all your heart, mind, soul and strength is to worship God in spirit! But how do we love the Lord this way? It will happen when we dedicate our whole life to Him. When we surrender everything and we allow Him to have free course in every area of our life. When we focus our attention on Him. When we say, “I am yours Lord, and all I have is yours”!
Now, what does it mean to worship in truth? Firstly, the word of God is truth according to John 17:17 – Sanctify them by the truth: your word is truth. The word of God gives us instructions on how to worship God. For example, Ephesians 5:18-21 says’…speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ’ This passage gives us some clear directives on how we worship God, and there are so much more in the bible. The word will also reveal to us the truth about God’s amazing love and also who God is – these will overwhelm us and definitely help us to really worship God. I am always so humbled by the kind of love God has for me – I mean there was even no guarantee that I would accept that sacrifice but He still went ahead to sacrifice His only son for me and not only that He decided to love me forever – what love!
See these scriptures for example, what do you think – isn’t this love just so great?
John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
Isaiah 31:3 “The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness”.
Ephesians 2:4-5 “But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved.”
Romans 5:8 “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Galatians 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God. who loved me and gave himself for me.”
Talking about who God is will have to be another blog, but just for example, one of my favorite descriptions of God is in Isaiah 57:15 – The high and exalted one, who lives forever, who’s name is holy…! Another one that I really like actually is in Revelation 19:16 – …king of kings and lord of lords. Thinking through these verses will cause you to truly worship God!
Secondly, truth means reality. According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, it’s defined as ‘sincerity in action, character, and utterance’. Hence in simple terms, worshipping God in truth will mean to worship Him according to the directives in His Word i.e. The Bible, and this must be done in sincerity. Every action, attitude, and even what we say when we worship God must be real! So we need to be conscious when we are worshipping God, and not let our thoughts wonder; as we have to mean everything we say, and do in order for the worship to be in truth and thus acceptable to God.
In summary, true worship must be “in spirit,” that is, engaging the whole heart. For this to happen we must have true longing, real passion and love for God. Also, worship must be “in truth,” that is, in sincerity and with full knowledge of the God we worship through study of the bible. As we have seen in John 4:23-24, to truly worship and therefore honour God, we need to combine both i.e. ‘spirit’, and ‘truth’. Spirit without truth would lead to a shallow, and possibly emotional experience that could be likened to a ‘high’. As soon as the emotion is over, then the worship is over too – no real or lasting effect! Truth without spirit can result in a lifeless, and passionless experience that can easily lead to a form of joyless legalism – i.e. trying to please God through our knowledge (or work) but no real passion and hunger for Him. However, if both aspects of worship are properly combined, it would lead to a truly joyous appreciation of God of the universe – who alone is the wise God! The way we can truly appreciate someone is if we know something about them, so the more we know about God, the more we appreciate Him. The more we appreciate Him, the deeper our worship goes. The deeper our worship, the more God is glorified. The more God is glorified, the more glory we experience, and the more glory we experience, the greater the transformation we see in our lives.
I hope this helps you understand how to worship God in spirit and in truth and I pray your worship becomes more effective from today so that you might begin to experience and enjoy the amazing power of worship – i.e. the glory of God that changes us through and through!
Love you all x
Food for thought – Romans 12:1 says “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship”.