If you are a Christian, you have no doubt heard the phrase “you must worship God in spirit and in truth.” It sounds nice and is an excellent exhortation – until we realize that, usually, no one explains it! They tell us that we must worship God in spirit and truth, but they do not tell us what it means or how to do it.
What is worship in spirit and truth? How do I worship God in spirit and truth?
Continue reading to find out more.
Where does the idea of worship in spirit and truth come from?
This idea that we worship God in “spirit and truth” comes from the conversation that Jesus had with a Samaritan woman in John 4:6-30. In this conversation, the woman was discussing places of worship with Jesus; she asked why the Jews wanted God to be worshiped in Jerusalem, but the Samaritans said on Mount Gerizim (Vv. 19-20).
Jesus then reveals something very important:
But the time is coming—in fact, it has already come—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father looks for people who adore him in that way. For God is Spirit, that is why all who worship him must do so in spirit and in truth. (John 4:23-24)
In Context: What was Jesus referring to?
The lesson that Jesus brought to the Samaritan woman was simple: the worship of God should not be limited to a geographic location or necessarily regulated by the temporary provisions of the Old Testament laws. When Jesus arrived, the separation between Jew and Gentile was not relevant – nor was the centrality of the temple of worship. Christ got equal access for all through Him.
Thus, worship became a matter of the heart (not outward actions), directed by truth, not ceremony.
What is our “spirit”?
In a previous important article, he mentions something he says in Deuteronomy 6:4, which Jesus repeats in Matthew 22:37-38. We all know it:
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind . ” This is the first and most important commandment.
To be able to worship God in spirit and truth necessarily includes loving him with all our hearts, all our souls, and all our minds.
Because our spirit is everything we are: our heart, our soul, and our mind.
That immaterial part of us that covers our emotions, our character, and our thoughts (in the previously linked article there is a more in-depth description of what our heart is, what our soul is, and what our mind is). Therefore, worship as Jesus described it requires attunement and harmonization of all that we are directed to a single purpose: pleasing Him with all aspects of who we are.
What is “really”?
The fact that our worship must also be “in truth” means that our worship is correctly informed. That is, unless we have knowledge about the God we worship (His attributes of him, his works, and his promises), we cannot worship “in truth.”
A worship of God “in truth” is different from “really” or “really.” The sincerity of our worship has nothing to do with God or his attributes. When we worship in truth, we put ourselves in the center of the reality of who he is, the knowledge of what he has done, and the confidence in what he has said.
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Worshiping “in spirit and truth”
Both our spirit and the truth and reality of who God is must be present for our worship to honor God.
Spirit without truth leads to a flat, over-emotional, euphoric experience. Once the excitement ceases – when the moment is gone – so does our worship. On the other hand, Truth without spirit can lead us to a certain kind of legalism, without joy and without passion.
The combination of both aspects of worship leads us to a joyful appreciation of God, in light of the Scriptures. The more we know about God, the more aspects of his greatness we can worship. The more we know, the deeper our worship will be. The deeper our worship, the more glorified God is.
It is the truth, and only the truth, that can properly influence our emotions in a way that honors God. The truth of God, being of infinite value, deserves infinite passion. The fact that worship is something so integral and encompassing of our being, is not limited – as Jesus rightly said – to one place, but rather we worship God with how we live. Therefore, while our expression of worship may vary (it may be more passive or expressive), what matters is who you worship and that you worship “in spirit and truth.”