Worship in Spirit and Truth

“Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:23-24)

“As a contrite heart is the most pleasing temple of God; so speaking with God in words of our own, as a child does with his father, is the best book of prayer. The most cunning method, by which Satan deceives many now, is the mistaking of an extensive knowledge and assurance of their own making, not witnessed by the Spirit, for true faith; or trusting on some outward form of worship, or having communion with others, or pretending to gospel experience and liberty, and thereby claiming the office of building up souls, though a true change was never wrought in their own hearts. For what can all our reading, prayers, going to church and sacrament, profit us, without this? Before all this shall be acceptable to the Lord, we must be renewed in our minds, and prove by our words and deeds that we are the living temples of God.”
-K. H. Von Bogatzky

Jesus tells us the old has gone and the new has now come. Paul puts it this way:

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! (2 Corinthians 5:17)

No longer bound to worship in the ceremonial way of the Mosaic Law, Jesus now shows us what is essential and necessary: to worship God in both spirit and in truth. The stress is placed on the state of our minds and of our hearts. I am reminded of a time when God spoke through the prophet Jeremiah to His people in regard to trusting in their place of worship rather than in Him. At that time in history, the Jews mistakenly thought they were safe to do all sorts of detestable practices because they worshipped in the temple of the Lord–practicing a form of outward religion, with no inward change:

This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD: “Stand at the gate of the LORD’s house and there proclaim this message: “‘Hear the word of the LORD, all you people of Judah who come through these gates to worship the LORD. This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Reform your ways and your actions, and I will let you live in this place. Do not trust in deceptive words and say, “This is the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD!”  (Jeremiah 7:1-4)

Jesus tells us we are to worship God in spirit and in truth. We are to depend on God’s Holy Spirit for strength and assistance, worshipping with sincerity of heart and bringing glory to the One we worship because we believe Him to be true. Paul says:

For it is we who are the circumcision, we who worship by the Spirit of God, who glory in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh. (Philippians 3:3)

This true form of worship begins by setting our hearts and minds on things above–earnestly seeking to bring heavenly direction to our earthly duties by fixing our attention on the eternal rather than the temporal. We are told in Colossians:

“Jesus showed us what God really wants to cleanse and purify–our hearts. Christ’s transforming work on the cross helps us to break free from desires that hold us in bondage. As we submit to God, we become like Christ, no longer wanting to offend God. Out of gratitude we obey Him from the inside out.” -Tremper Longman, Reading the Bible with Heart and Mind

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. (Colossians 3:1-4)

Take It to Heart

Simply put, the more we know Him the more we love Him. The more we love Him the more we desire to worship Him. The more we worship Him the more we desire to serve Him. Our worship of Him mirrors the condition of our hearts. The true worship which God desires from His children works from the inside out. Our worship of Him should result in personal transformation.