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Have you ever been frustrated with someone over differences you have? Has anyone ever slandered, mocked, hated, or mistreated you because of a difference between you? Have you ever seen people divided over how each decides to worship? In John 4 Jesus teaches how God wants His people to worship Him. Jesus tells us that we should worship in spirit and truth. What does this mean? How do we worship in spirit and truth?
In John 4, Jesus traveled through Samaria with His disciples and a Samaritan woman brings up a key difference between the Jews and the Samaritans – that the Jews believe the only place to worship is in Jerusalem, and the Samaritans believe it is on the mountain (v. 20). This is something I think most of us can relate to in some way. We have our beliefs about worship; how to worship, when to worship, where to worship, how not to worship… but Jesus addresses this bluntly.
23 But an hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and in truth.[a] Yes, the Father wants such people to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in Spirit and in truth.”John 4:23-24 CSB
What does it mean to worship in Spirit and truth?
Jesus tells us that the “true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and in truth.” When Jesus made this proclamation, He was saying that God the Father doesn’t want pompous displays of piousness. God does not want fancy displays. The Lord doesn’t want us to put on a show of worship.
Jesus was explaining to us that our Heavenly Father wants our hearts.
Worship in the Spirit
When we accept Christ as our Savior, we invite the Holy Spirit to dwell in us and for Him to lead and instruct us in how to live as reborn children of God. God’s Spirit dwells in us and teaches us, and also changes us, making us alive in the spirit, and leading us to worship God in the spirit, with our hearts, out of love and thankfulness to God through Christ. To worship in the spirit is to be transformed and led by the Holy Spirit and worship God with our whole heart and soul.
26 But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and remind you of everything I have told you.John 14:26 CSB
Worship in Truth
To worship in truth is to worship through Jesus, because of Jesus. Because of our faith in Jesus, we have been saved, and through His blood, we are free to worship God in the spirit, and in truth. We should worship through learning more about God through the Word of God, seeking to understand His truth and the Truth that is Jesus Christ.
6 Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.John 14:6 CSB
31 Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you continue in my word,[a] you really are my disciples. 32 You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”John 8:31-32 CSB
Living a life of worship
Worshiping in spirit and truth means to worship God with our life, truly meaning it, truly desiring to please God, through our faith and relationship with Jesus, by means of the Holy Spirit who gives us spiritual life.
To worship in spirit and truth means to worship God honestly, not for show. We can worship God in spirit and truth when we have truly accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior and have invited the Holy Spirit in to make us spiritually alive and sanctify us, leading us in the ways of glorifying and honoring God, and becoming more like Christ.
13 But we ought to thank God always for you, brothers and sisters loved by the Lord, because from the beginning[f] God has chosen you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and through belief in the truth. 14 He called you to this through our gospel, so that you might obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. 15 So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold to the traditions you were taught, whether by what we said or what we wrote.2 Thessalonians 2:13-15 CSB
How can I become a true worshiper?
To worship in spirit and truth, we must accept Jesus Christ as our Savior and then let God’s Holy Spirit guide our lives. As followers of Christ, we must learn more all the time about how to live as Christ and allow the Holy Spirit to work in us to make us more like Him. Not only to learn but to apply what we learn.
Some of the best ways to commit to true worship are:
- Develop a strong, honest, and real prayer life between you and God
- Spend time in the Bible every single day seeking to learn and grow in your relationship with God
- Fellowship with God’s people and build relationships with other Christians
- Learn to live a Christ-like life and apply what you learn as you learn
- Praise God in all circumstances
16 Rejoice always, 17 pray constantly,1 Thessalonians 5:16-17 CSB
What is some encouragement you would give to someone learning how to genuinely worship God? What are some questions you have about true worship? I invite you to share questions or encouragements you have for others, as well as how we can continue to encourage you to worship in spirit and truth as true worshipers of God.