In Spirit and In Truth – Or Flesh and Lies?
What does it mean to worship God? We talk about it a lot, and we clarify what we think it means by quoting this scripture.
Jhn 4:23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. Jhn 4:24 God [is] a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship [him] in spirit and in truth.
But really, how do we do that? When we think about what our practice includes, we see that people arrive – more often than not, a few minutes after others have started singing. We sneak into the pew, adjust our positions, place our Bibles to our side, and maybe decide a trip to the bathroom is in order before settling in.
We finally get around to opening a song book, and sing half-heartedly those songs we like or know, humming or thumbing through the book during those songs less familiar. We’ll stand and stretch at the end of thirty minutes; nod a couple of times during a brother’s opening prayer and perhaps even muster a verbal “amen.”
For the next several minutes, we give the Preacher our most rapt attention, and at the end of the hour, hold a song book awkwardly through our journey to extend the right hand of fellowship to as many as travel through our trajectory. Then, another nod or two in the closing prayer, some friendly compliments and we’re out the door.
Now consider carefully. Have we worshipped God? And more importantly, have we worshipped God in spirit and in truth?
And if we have, how did we accomplish that? Truly, any visitor that came into our midst and sang with gusto, nodded appreciatively through the sermon and even shouted “amen” would have done as much, or more than we.
We beg the Lord to be in presence at every meeting – yet we show up with such little enthusiasm – does the Lord look at us and say “they don’t seem very excited to visit with Me.”
I’m not writing this to step on any toes – I want to understand what we should be doing. The Lord sought us to worship in spirit and in truth and says that is how we must worship Him. Are we failing Him?
There are four possibilities given the John 4:24 parameters:
Of the four options, number one, “in spirit and in truth,” is commanded. Number two is not possible and in no one’s estimation would it be called worship. Number three is what well-meaning churchgoing people of other orders attempt, but it falls far short of the command. Number four sounds like an impossibility, but consider a dying church where the candlestick is being removed. The truth is known, but the spirit has gone. It too fails to reach the goal of worship. In fact, only number one can be called worship.
Both the Spirit and Truth are required in valid worship. We know the truth portion of the command. Without a clear understanding of the doctrines of Grace, we can’t appreciate what God has done for us. That would make a difference in our ability to praise Him appropriately.
Act 18:13 Saying, This [fellow] persuadeth men to worship God contrary to the law.
This verse that accused Paul teaches us that if men can worship contrary to the law, then we must worship in accordance with a law. Not the old ceremonial law, but
Rom 8:4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
If we are obedient to God’s commandments, we are fulfilling our duty and worshipping truthfully. If we don’t know the doctrines of God, how can we tell whether or not we are hearing the truth? Anyone can sit under the sound of the doctrine and proclaim whatever they hear as truth, but that does not make it so. Knowledge is required to worship in truth.
Mat 15:9 But in vain they do worship me, teaching [for] doctrines the commandments of men. If we teach the commandments of men, we fail the truth test.
To worship in Spirit, we must be in the unity of the Spirit. We get into that condition not on our own, but through the work of God. Being born from above is necessary to worship in Spirit.
Psa 29:2 Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.
Luk 4:8 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.
We must know whom we are worshipping.
If we worship other than the One True God, we are unsuccessful in that which God has commanded.
Phl 3:3 For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.
Rev 22:9 Then saith he unto me, See [thou do it] not: for I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God.
Can you worship in spirit and in truth if you are not in the presence of like-minded brothers and sisters?
Hbr 10:25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some [is]; but exhorting [one another]: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
Rom 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, [which is] your reasonable service.
We have a reasonable service, but we have to be obedient to that service. Worshipping in spirit and in truth requires we be in the physical presence of the Lord. Wherever two or three are gathered in my name…
Mic 6:8 He hath shewed thee, O man, what [is] good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?
To worship in spirit and truth, we must have humility.
Pro 16:5 Every one [that is] proud in heart [is] an abomination to the LORD: [though] hand [join] in hand, he shall not be unpunished.
Jam 4:6 But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.
Peace. You can’t sit in a congregation with your brothers and sisters when you have offended someone and not resolved that issue. To worship in spirit and in truth, you must be in peace.
We have a reasonable service, but it takes some effort. This coming Sunday, when you begin to sing the songs of praise to our Great and Mighty God, consider what it means to worship in Spirit and in Truth. And consider, God sought you for that particular purpose. Perhaps He’s expecting something from you.
Ecc 12:13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.
Brother Royce Ellis