The Father wants us to worship Him in spirit and in truth. He does not want us to worship according to our traditions, or according to the Old Testament.
“But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:23–24; NKJV). Read John 4:1–43.
Essentially what the woman is asking Jesus is, “Who’s right in their worship?” And Jesus didn’t put his approval on either place or form of worship. He’s declaring a new way of worship and that is in spirit and in truth. This tells me, among other things, that neither those in Judaea or Samaria were worshipping the way God ultimately wanted. The Bible is progressive revelation. In-other-words, God revealed His will over time — those before the law of Moses, those during the law of Moses, and those after the law of Moses, God was revealing more of His plan of redemption to humanity. This revelation culminates in Jesus the Messiah and the New Testament.
And if we, as Christians, aren’t worshiping in spirit and truth, then He’s not putting His approval on our method of worship. Maybe this is why we’re not seeing the results we need in our prayer lives and conduct. (I judge myself.)
I’m certainly not saying that God is rejecting our sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving because we “don’t know it all”. Contrary. “Out of the mouth of babes comes perfect praise.” No, this is more for our own edification. Have you ever wanted to go deeper in your fellowship and worship of the Lord? I know I have. And I believe there’s a Biblical way to do this. I don’t have all the answers, as this is a personal salvation where each of us has to learn to walk with God in the faith and understanding we have, but I’m hoping this will help you.
God receives the praise and worship that comes from our hearts (our spirits). We live a life of faith, not a life of rituals that can never blot out our sins or cause the heart of the worshipper to offer perfect love and praise. This scripture reveals why we don’t live by rituals but by a heart of faith: (NKJV) “Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works” (Hebrews 10:19–24).
I’m convinced that many of our personal problems (habits, sins, and failures) will be fixed if we’ll take the time to worship in spirit and in truth. I know in my own life, that’s how it’s been, and continues to be. Being consistent in daily worship brings peace, edification, hope, and spiritual fruit. The cares of the world become nonthreatening. That’s not to say that tribulation and danger doesn’t exist, but that there’s confidence in God’s protection and hope for the future. Satan is the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:3–4) and until he’s eliminated from human contact there will always be tribulation and death. God is greater than tribulation and death, and worshiping Him causes us to overcome in this life. We begin to comprehend “O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?” (1 Corinthians 15:55). In His presence is life and light. As we drift away from that presence, darkness and fear make way into our lives.
But how do we worship in spirit and truth? What is New Testament worship?
According To The Word
First, we must learn to “walk by faith, and not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). It is imperative that we receive the word of God as the final authority. Yes, we’re learning, “but if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). If we walk in the light of the Word that we have, we will stay in fellowship with Him and the rest of the Body of Christ. That is true worship. The other side of that coin is disobedience, keeping our sins, and being out of fellowship.
Paul said it succinctly this way: “This I confess to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect, so I worship the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the Law and in the Prophets” (Acts 24:14; emphasis mine). Keep in mind that the New Testament was being lived and written during the apostle’s lives. All they had was the Old Testament, the teachings of Jesus that had been passed down, and the divine revelations that Jesus had given such as we see in 2 Corinthians 12:1. Such revelations were in line with the written word of God, the Old Testament, and the teachings of Jesus. The point is, Paul says that believing the word of God is worship.
Different Kinds of Church Gatherings
“How is it then, brethren? Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification” (1 Corinthians 14:26). In New Testament worship, there is a time when the worshipers should come together to bring something to strengthen the other worshipers. I would call these believers’ meetings: a time when believers get together to worship and praise God, and to edify one another. In these meetings it’s unlikely someone who is uninformed or unbelieving (1 Corinthians 12:23) will be there.
There are different kinds of meetings (evangelizing meetings, prayer and intercession meetings, healing meetings, teaching meetings). Each has a different purpose. In the modern church, we try to mix our meetings with a little bit of everything. I’ve been to church services where everyone was known to be saved, yet, the message was geared more toward the sinner than the saint. I wonder if this is cause for so much sin, carnality, and failure in our lives and churches; that is, are the sheep being fed so they can grow spiritually and defeat the troubles they face? I know I’m born again. I don’t need to hear an evangelistic message. What I need is edification for my daily life. This is not to say, by any stretch of the imagination, that a message for salvation or giving an alter call is inappropriate. When in doubt, put it out! What I am saying is we need the spiritual tools to overcome daily trials.
From Private To Public Worship
So the question is begged, “Where do the worshipers get psalms, teachings and etceteras? In their own private worship and prayer times. For instance: “But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit” (Jude 20). And “He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself” (1 Corinthians 14:4). If we’re not built up, if we’re not edified, then we certainly can’t do the same for others. Praying in our spiritual tongue (also known as praying in the spirit) will bring spiritual strength and edification. During our time with the Lord, our hearts can be filled with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs that then can be shared with the rest of the believers when appropriate. “And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:18– 19). What we put in our hearts is what’s going to come out. “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord” (Colossians 3:16). And, “He who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God” (1 Corinthians 14:2). It’s obvious that this would be apart of New Testament worship. In our personal devotions, we are to fellowship with God and be edified. From there we are to minister it others. We are the temple of God individually and corporately (I Corinthians 3:16, Amplified Bible).
In the Old Testament only the prophet, priest, and king were anointed with the Spirit with an occasional special anointing on someone for a specific duty. In the New Testament, we all have the Holy Spirit when we’re born again (John 4:14; 20:22) and can receive the subsequent infilling of the Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues (Acts 2:4; 8:12–17; Acts 10:44–46; 19:1–6). Our form of worship has changed. We are to “be filled with the Spirit, speaking” (Ephesians 5:18), “offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name” (Hebrews 13:15), and lifting up “holy hands” (1 Timothy 2:8).
God wants us to worship Him in spirit and in truth. In fact, it’s not worship if it’s not in the spirit. He has proved time and again of His great love for us and isn’t holding our ignorance against us, but ignorance lets the devil in and quenches the Spirit. God blesses us as much as He can, but we must pursue His plans with the correct purpose – that is His purpose and not our ambition. The Old Testament is type and shadow. The New Testament is the real deal.
Stay strong and prepared!