Worship in Spirit and Truth?

What does it mean to worship in spirit and truth? Have you ever wondered over that question? I have, and I’m sure I have referenced this in the past, but I’m not sure I really got the point. Like many things, the meaning is simple, but I think we get so wrapped up in “knowledge” that we overlook the simplicity that is in the gospel of Jesus Christ. At least I know I have at times.

First, let’s look at some definitions. What does it mean to worship? What is ‘in truth’?

Worship is a verb. The Greek word is proskynéō which means, “to kiss towards” referring to the action of bowing down before a superior. Simply put, I think we could just say “bow down to.”

“In truth” in this context translates from the Greek word alétheia which means sincerity.

The term, “in spirit” refers to in our hearts, at least that is how I take it. We could also look at this considering the Holy Spirit which changes our own spirit into conformity with the knowledge of Jesus.

So, simply put, to worship in spirit and truth means that we are to bow down before God in sincerity– as opposed to bowing down to God pretentiously, or bowing down to things in place of God.

In other words, we do not want to be as those who “honor God with their lips but their heart is far from Him.” How is it that our hearts are turned to God? Jesus is the only way.

Worship in Spirit and Truth in Context

If you want to read about this in full context, take a look at John Chapter 4. Here you will read about Jesus and his interaction with the Samaritan woman. What did he say to her? Here are some highlights:

Verses 10-14:

10. Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.

11. The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water?

12. Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle?

13. Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again:

14. But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.

Verses 20-24

20. Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.

21. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father.

22. Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.

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.

24. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

We know that God is a Spirit, and through Jesus we are given the Holy Spirit which is also described as a fountain of living waters. Through the Holy Spirit, our hearts are convicted towards the things of God, firstly telling us that Jesus is the Son of God.

This is fundamentally important:

The only way to really worship God in spirit and in truth is by fully believing and submitting to Jesus alone as our Lord and savior.

What Do We Truly Worship?

What things in our lives do we put in place of Jesus? What might we look to for security, pleasure, sense of purpose, or joy? What knowledge do we seek? Who do we seek to please, man or God? Anything that we “bow down to” in our lives that takes the place of Jesus prevents us from submitting that area of our life to God.

When we seek to fill ourselves with anything other than the living waters, we are not going to be truly filled. We will be thirsty and continue trying to gain satisfaction from things that destroy us.

We are as the scripture in Jeremiah that says, “For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.”

As Christians, worshiping Jesus is an honor and a blessing. We do so because we are amazed at the awesomeness of God and the mercy of the Son, but it is even more than that. God does not need our worship. WE need worship, because when we submit to things other than Jesus, we are dead inside.

We cannot replace the love of Jesus with anything else in this world, but oh how we try! Our flesh wants things of this world, but through Jesus, we can overcome—and only by Jesus. We cannot hew out our own cisterns or look to other “gods.” We need “new wine skins” that only Jesus can provide.

Jesus alone is the remedy for all things that destroy our lives, and through him, we are promised life abundant.

When we place anything else in the position of worship, it does not matter how much we profess God with our mouths, our hearts are full of destruction that will lead to everlasting death. When our hearts are full of Jesus, we have life that “springs up into everlasting life”!

This article is part of the series, Acceptable Worship.

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Posted in Christian Worship

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These are the things that ye shall do: Speak ye every man the truth to his neighbour; execute the judgment of truth and peace in your gates: And let none of you imagine evil in your hearts against his neighbour; and love no false oath: for all these are things I hate, saith the Lord.  — Zechariah 8:16-17


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