Blog - Worshiping God in Spirit and in Truth

  • By Pastor Chad Wagner
  • on Friday, October 12, 2012
"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." - Joh 4:23-24 There was a time early in Jesus' ministry when He met a Samaritan woman at Jacob's well in Samaria while he was on His way from Judea to Galilee (Joh 4:1-7). In those days, Jews and Samaritans mixed about as well as oil and water, which is evident from the woman's response when Jesus asked her for a drink of water: she replied, "How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans." (Joh 4:9). In order to understand why the Jews had no dealings with the Samaritans, a little history lesson is needed. Back in the days of the kings, God finally had enough of Israel's idolatry and rebellion and He sent in the Assyrians and carried them away captive to Assyria (2Ki 17:22-23). The king of Assyria then brought men from Babylon and a few other nations and placed them in the cities of Samaria instead of the children of Israel (2Ki 17:24). After God sent in some lions and slew some of them because they feared not the LORD, they reasoned that it was because they knew not the manner of the God of the land, so the king of Assyria sent back one of the priests that had been removed from the land who taught them to the fear the LORD (2Ki 17:25-28). The problem was that they not only feared the LORD, but "They feared the LORD, and served their own gods, after the manner of the nations whom they carried away from thence." (2Ki 17:33). With this brief history of the Samaritans, there should be little wonder why the Jews had no dealings with them. They were half-Jews at best and outright idolatrous pagans at worst. If a Jew wanted to hurl a good insult at someone, all he would have to do is throw out the "S" word, just as the Jews did to Jesus when He told them their father was the devil: they retorted, "...Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil?" (Joh 8:48). Back to the Samaritan woman at the well.... Jesus ended up getting into a discourse with her which ended in her perceiving that he was a prophet (Joh 4:10-19), after which she told Him, "Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship." (Joh 4:20). Jesus responded by telling her "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." (Joh 4:22-24) So what does it mean to worship God in spirit and in truth? Truth is defined as: Conformity with fact; agreement with reality; accuracy, correctness, verity (OED). Therefore to worship God in truth is to worship Him in conformity with the facts of who He is, and how He wants to be worshipped, as revealed in His word "...which is truth" (Joh 17:17). To worship God in truth is to worship Him with accuracy and correctness, doing it by the book. To worship God in truth is to "... observe all things whatsoever I [Jesus] have commanded you..." (Mat 28:20) and to "... keep the ordinances, as I [Paul] delivered them to you" (1Co 11:2). To worship God in truth is to worship Jesus Christ who is "the truth" (Joh 14:6). The Samaritans on the other hand attempted to worship the LORD in a manner antithetical to truth, for it was said of them, "Unto this day they do after the former manners: they fear not the LORD, neither do they after their statutes, or after their ordinances, or after the law and commandment which the LORD commanded the children of Jacob, whom he named Israel" (2Ki 17:34). So what about worshiping God in spirit? A man's spirit is the immaterial intelligent or sentient element or part of a person, freq. in implied or expressed contrast to the body. (OED). Man is a tripartite being consisting of body, soul, and spirit (1Th 5:23) and that being the case, we can do things both in body and in spirit. Paul, teaching about the benefits of remaining unmarried, wrote in 1Co 7:34 that "...the unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit..." So we see that a thing can be done both in body and in spirit. For a man's worship to be acceptable with God, it must be done in spirit, meaning that it must be done not only with his body physically carrying out the ordinances, but also with his inner being, his spirit. The problem for most men is that the spirit that indwells them is by nature dead (Eph 2:1-3), an enemy of God and therefore not subject to the law of God (Rom 8:7), can't hear God's words (Joh 8:43,47), can't understand the things of the Spirit of God (1Co 2:14), and therefore is incapable of worshiping God in spirit. For a man to worship God in spirit, God must first take out of him his "stony heart" and put within him "a new spirit...and an heart of flesh: That they may walk in my statutes, and keep mine ordinances, and do them" (Eze 11:19-20). It is possible for a person who is unconverted, and possibly even unregenerate (not born again), to keep the letter of the law, worshipping God in truth according to the manner which God prescribed, but not to be worshipping God in spirit. Such was the case with Paul who was a regenerate but unconverted Jew who was outwardly blameless (Gal 1:15-16 c/w Phi 3:6). Under the law of Moses, a Jew could have kept every ordinance that God commanded in truth, but yet not have been worshipping God in spirit because he had not a regenerate spirit within him. The same principle holds true in the New Testament; sometimes reprobates creep into the church (Jud 1:4,13,19), and though they may be going through the motions, they are not worshiping in spirit because they have not the Spirit. Throughout Israel's history, most of the nation, which was synonymous with the church at that time (Act 7:38), were the children of the flesh (unregenerate, non-elect) and not the children of God (Rom 9:6-8 c/w Rom 9:27-29), and therefore they could not worship God in spirit, though they were all required to worship Him according to the Law. But under the New Testament, we are not born into the church as they were born into the nation/church, but rather only those who profess faith in Christ may be baptized (Act 8:36-38) which adds one to the church (Act 2:41-42,47), and that profession of faith in Christ evidences that one is born again (Joh 5:24; 1Jo 5:1); hence the reason that Jesus said "...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." (Joh 4:23). There was a change happening at that time; it was "...the time of reformation" (Heb 9:10) of God's church. If one was to worship God from that time forward, he must do it not only in truth, but also in spirit, for only those who were "born after the Spirit" (Gal 4:29) could be a part of God's church where He was to be worshipped. Though the unregenerate still sometimes end up in the church having only "...a form of godliness..." (2Ti 3:5), God only accepts the worship of true spiritual worshippers who 1) are regenerate (born again), 2) worship God in the Spirit and have no confidence in the flesh (Phi 3:3), 3) worship in a temple made of lively stones not physical ones (1Pe 2:5 c/w 1Co 3:16), 4) worship not in a natural tabernacle with a "worldly sanctuary" (Heb 9:1-2), but in the "true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man" (Heb 8:2; Heb 9:11), and 5) worship heavenly rather than geographically (Joh 4:21 c/w Heb 12:22). We should strive to be a "seeker friendly" church; but God should be the seeker that we are looking for, for "...the Father seeketh such to worship him." (Joh 4:23).
Subscribe to Pastor Wagner's Blog