The term “worship” means to show reverence and adoration. Human beings are worshippers by nature. Sometimes we worship that which is worthy of reverence (God) but, we at times misdirect our worship to worldly things such as money, work, fashion, celebrities, etc.
In the Christian faith, worship is the act of attributing reverent honor and homage to God. The New Testament uses several words to refer to the term worship. The most common one is the Greek word proskuneo, which means to bow down or kiss toward a superior (God or king) in a show of reverence.
Christians express worship through corporate singing, teaching, and giving. Worship is also expressed in our day to day lives through prayers, reading the Bible, being kind to others, showing gratitude, etc.
In John 4:23-24, Jesus said, “ But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”
What did Jesus mean by this?
What Is To Worship In Spirit?
Jesus was speaking to the Samaritan woman at the well in Samaria. The woman was surprised that Jesus knew her secret. That she had been married five times, and the man she was living with was not her husband.
She thought Jesus was a prophet and went on to talk about places of worship (Samaritans worshipped God in the mountain while Jews worshipped God in Jerusalem). To this, Jesus answered that there would be a time when people will not worship God on the mountain or in Jerusalem( John 4:21).
In this context, Jesus meant that God is not to be confined in a geographical location or regulated by some temporary provision of the Old Testament law. He is Spirit. So, He is everywhere. Jesus came to bridge the gap between the Jews and the Gentiles. We all became God’s children and gained equal access to God through Christ.
Our spirit is what makes us who we are. It includes our emotions, intellect, fears, passions, and creativity. Therefore when we worship God in spirit, it means that we do it beyond the physical. We don’t just bow down or kneel. We worship with our whole being(Psalms 103:1).
In Deuteronomy 6:4, Moses is telling the Israelites about the greatest commandment. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.” Jesus expanded this expression to include “mind”(Mark 12:30; Luke 10:27).
True worship has to come from a place of love. We can not worship something that we do not love. When we love God with our heart, soul, strength, and mind, then we will be able to worship him in spirit and truth. Unless we have a real passion for God, there’s no way we can worship in spirit.
What Is To Worship In Truth?
As we worship in spirit, we must also worship in truth. There’s no way we can do one without the other.
Worship in truth means that we should know God properly in our worship. We should truly know the God we are worshipping(Romans 10:2). This includes the knowledge of who God is and what he has done, hence why He is worthy of worship. All these have to come strictly from the scriptures.
To worship God in truth also means to do it sincerely without faking it or going through some traditional motions or rituals. It should not be hypocritical with fake words and smiles but should come from a sincere heart (Matthew 15:7-9).
True worship must engage our hearts, our affections, and our whole being. However, any affections or emotions stirred up by false doctrines are worthless.
Many people do not like the truth. This is why they work so hard at corrupting it(2 Corinthians 2:17). But for those who know the truth, it comes from God’s word( John 17:17).
When we worship in truth, we focus on the message and truth of Jesus Christ (Colossians 3:16) and not on the empty philosophies that come from the world’s way of thinking (Colossians 2:8).
How Do We Worship In Spirit And Truth?
We can not worship God in spirit and truth without the guidance of the Holy Spirit. In John 14:15-17, Jesus said to his disciples, “If you love me, you will obey my commandments. I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, who will stay with you forever. He is the Spirit who reveals the truth about God.”
With the help of the Holy Spirit, we can see God in all his glory, splendor, and power. We can understand who God is, what he has done for us, and why we must worship him. The Holy Spirit also shows us the right way of worshipping God.
In Philippians 3:3, Paul said that Christians “worship God by means of his Spirit and rejoice in union with Christ Jesus. We do not put trust in external ceremonies.”
We worship God in spirit and truth by “offering our bodies as a living sacrifice to God, dedicated to his service and pleasing to him.” (Romans 12:1) We should live a life that is holy and not conform to the standards of this world. Paul wrote in Ephesians 4: 8-9 that as Christians, we are light in the Lord. We are, therefore, supposed to live like people who belong to the light. Light produces good fruits like goodness, righteousness, and truth.
We should also be sincere in our worship. Psalms 139: 23 says, “ Examine me, O God, and know my mind; test me, and discover my thoughts. Find out if there is any evil in me and guide me in an everlasting way.” We should invite God to know us and be prepared to show Him the real us and repent our sins.
True worship is God-centered. We should desire to please God in our worship. When we focus on what pleases us instead of God, we lose the meaning of true worship. Just as the Apostle Paul wrote in Ephesians 5:10, we should find out what pleases the Lord and then do it.
True worship is humbling. When we humble ourselves before the Lord, he will exalt us(James 4:10). We should not be hypocritical and boastful, showing off so people can see us and praise us. Instead, we should approach God with a humble and repentant heart, for we are all sinners before the Lord(Luke 18:9-14).
We worship God in spirit and truth through thanksgiving(Psalm 100). We should thank God for all the great things He has done for us. Psalms 103:3-5 clearly outlines some of the things that we should be thankful for: “He forgives all my sins and heal all my diseases. He keeps me from the grave and blesses me with love and mercy. He fills my life with good things so that I stay young and strong like an eagle.”
What Happens When We Worship God In Spirit And Truth?™™
Great things happen when we worship God in spirit and truth.
- We are set free (Acts 16:16-31)
Paul and Silas were arrested, flogged, and thrown in jail for “causing trouble in the city” (they had cast out a demon from a slave girl who was working as a fortune teller for her owners). “About midnight, Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly a violent earthquake shook the prison to its foundations. At once, all the doors opened, and the chains fell off all the prisoners.”
- We invite the presence of God(2 Chronicles 5:11-14)
When King Solomon brought the Covenant Box to the temple, all the priests came together in the Most Holy Place(after consecrating themselves). The Levite musicians were all wearing their linen clothing. They started singing and praising the Lord, playing trumpets, cymbals, and other musical instruments. And as they were leaving the temple, it was suddenly filled “with a cloud shining with the dazzling light of the Lord’s presence, and they could not continue the service of worship.”
- We get victory(2 Chronicles 20:15-20)
When some messengers told King Jehoshaphat about a large army that was coming to attack him, he turned to the Lord for help. The Lord told him and the people of Judah and Jerusalem that they should not be afraid because the battle was not theirs, but the Lord’s. The Lord told them to go to the battleground and watch as He gave them victory.
When the day of the battle came, the king ordered some musicians to put on their sacred clothes and match before the army, singing praises to the Lord. When they began to sing, the Lord threw the invading army into a panic, and they began attacking each other. By the time the Judean army arrived, all their enemies were dead.
These accounts are a perfect example of what God can do for us when we worship him truly. It doesn’t matter how bad the situation is or how hopeless it seems. The Lord can do great things for all who trust and believe in Him.