Worshipping in spirit and truth sounds simple, doesn't it?
However, there are plenty of Christians that are unable to explain what Jesus meant when he said that God is searching for followers who will worship Him "in spirit and in truth."
Christian readers may be familiar with the story in John 4 of an encounter between Jesus and a Samaritan woman, but it can be challenging to understand its deeper meaning.
In this article, we’ll talk about the true meaning behind worshipping in spirit and truth.
How do you define the spirit of God?
The teaching that “God is spirit” is found in John 4:24: “God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” Jesus said this to a woman from Samaria who believed one's physical location influences their worship of God.
Colossians 1:15 calls God the “invisible God,” and Timothy 1:17 praises God, saying, “To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever.”
As the Holy Spirit, God the Father has no body. As a human being, the Son of God came to earth, but the Heavenly Father did not. Therefore, Jesus Christ is God's extension and not God Himself. A comparison of God and mortal men in Numbers 23:19 highlights His honesty compared to mortals, “God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not fulfill it?
Some wonder why the word of God sometimes describes the Heavenly Father as having a body. A good example can be found in Isaiah 59:1, which mentions God’s “hand” and “ear.” Second Chronicles 16:9 speaks of God’s “eyes.” Matthew 4:4 puts words in God’s “mouth.” And in Deuteronomy 33:27, God has “arms.”
This passage displays examples of anthropomorphism or a way of describing God using anatomical terms to help us better comprehend Him. In other words, they’re simply metaphors to help us understand the truth of God.
Putting it another way, God is invisible to us since He is spirit, but we understand Him by giving Him a metaphorical body through His word.
Jesus told us we must worship in spirit and in truth. Christians value truth and worship God with the help of the spirit.
The apostle John quoted Jesus while describing the ministry of the Messiah. Of all the gospels, only John presents this type of description of spirit and truth. Many translations of the New Testament are from English into Greek to clarify what Jesus meant by specific words. Greek for worship is sebó, spirit (or spirit) is pneuma, and the truth is translated as alétheia.
But why does Jesus mention this in Scripture and what is the true meaning?
The term “worship in spirit and truth” is in the Gospel of John 4:24. It’s part of the story of the Samaritan woman at the well. Jesus met her there and told her about her life.
“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 don't 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.” The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.” Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he” (John 4:21-26).
After her encounter with Jesus, the Samaritan woman beckoned the townspeople to come to meet him, wondering out loud, “Could this be the Messiah?”
The first step in understanding the true meaning of worship is understanding what it means in context with the Christian life. Many people equate worship with church attendance or singing praises.
Although worship does include singing, it’s not the only aspect. Worship has a profound impact on our daily lives.
When we worship something, we are responding to the worthiness of what we are worshipping. For example, when we worship God, we are responding to His character and goodness.
By our conduct and attitudes, we demonstrate our belief that the character and conduct of God are worthy of love and adoration.
Worship is expressed sometimes in several ways, including teaching, giving, and praying. We also express it every day through our prayers, Scripture readings, Bible study, acts of kindness, gratitude, pure thoughts, etc.
Our spirit is at the heart of who we are. Both our volition and our emotions derive from it. Also, we know that God is a spiritual being. So to worship spiritually means to transcend the physical plane.
By bending our knees and bowing our heads alone, we don’t worship. We worship from the heart. Likewise, our worship is in keeping with what is happening in the Kingdom of God.
Truthful worship means worshiping according to God’s truth. This includes knowing who God is and what He does, so He can be worshiped as a worthy being. Our circumstances must also be known to be true. Accepting the truth about ourselves can be an act of worship, as we declare God's truth in our lives.
It’s the act of worshiping God in spirit and in truth that declares our reverence for Him.
This is done in both emotional and rational ways. It's done with an attitude of submission to God and with a heart oriented toward Him. The pursuit of Christian worship involves demonstrating to God that He is worthy of our praise through our attitudes, actions, and words.