Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” John 4:21-24
Verse 23 above tells us that our heavenly Father is seeking people who will worship him in spirit and truth. The religious leaders of Jesus’ day received some of the harshest rebukes because they acknowledge God with their lips but their hearts were far from him. Or to put it another way, their worship was not in spirit and truth. The only appropriate response to what God has done for us through the finished work of Christ is true worship. And true worship must be in both spirit and truth. But what exactly does it mean to worship in spirit and truth?
Worship is Internal
In order to worship “in spirit” we must engage the whole heart. John MacArthur says that this type of worship “must be internal, not external conformity to ceremonies or rituals.” The love that we have for God must overflow with passion as we engage in worship. This is not just placing focus on emotion for emotion’s sake, but rather our hearts recognizing and acknowledging what we understand about how amazing, marvelous and wonderful our God really is. It is seeing the beauty of Christ’s sacrifice and how God the Father proved his love for us through the sending of his son to take the punishment for our sins.
Worship in Truth
Worshiping in spirit without truth will lead to a shallow, overly emotional experience that could be compared to a high. As soon as the emotion wanes and the fervor cools, so does the worship. This is why truth is such a vital part of our worship experience.
In order to worship “in truth”, we must be properly informed about the one we are worshipping. Unless we have accurate knowledge of who God is, there is no worship in truth. We will never be able to fully grasp all that God is, but as best as we can we must worship in truth. Our worship must be “consistent with what Scripture teaches and centered on the incarnate Word” as MacArthur points out. Jesus’ perfect and sinless life, his substitutionary death, his victorious resurrection and his glorious return must be central in our worship because this is the greatest truth of all! There is also a danger in worshiping in truth without the spirit. This type of worship can be dry and passionless, and will ultimately end in legalism.
When we engage in True Worship—worship in both spirit and truth—it results in a heart overflowing in joy and appreciation of God. This True Worship is informed by Scripture and grounded in the finished work of our Lord.
This is the kind of worshipper God is seeking. Worship him today, this week, and this coming Sunday in spirit and truth. You will experience God in new and profound ways and your life will bring Him the honor and glory that he alone is due!