In the Book of John chapter 4, John provides the narrative on the Woman at the Well. This narrative provides insight to the type of worshippers God the Father seeks. John 4:23-24 states, “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” Jesus explains to the Samaritan woman at the well that the physical location of worship is not relevant. Who we are and how we live matters to God. The Father seeks those whose worship engages their spirit in the pursuit of truth.
Why must we engage our spirit in our worship? Because God, sheer being itself is spirit. When the Pharisees questioned Jesus about the greatest commandment in the law, “Jesus replied: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” (Matthew 22:37 NIV) Our worship is a reflection of our love for God. We are commanded to love God with all of our heart, soul, and mind. In other words, we are to love God with our entire being. God provided man with the honor of being created last. Unlike any other creatures that God designed, God gave man a soul. One of the ways we are created in God’s likeness through our soul (soul is interchangeable with spirit). The soul is an intelligent, immortal, and influencing active spirit. Our spirit not bones and flesh is required for true worship.
How do we worship God according to His standards if we are ignorant? The answer is simple, we cannot. Hosea 4:6 (NIV) provides a warning regarding ignorance, “My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge. “Because you have rejected knowledge, I also reject you as my priests; because you have ignored the law of your God, I also will ignore your children.” Worshipping God in truth means to worship God as His word directs. John 17:17 (NIV) says, “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.” Attempting to worship God from what the Scriptures direct us to do in worship is empty and in vain. Mark 7:7 (NIV) tells us, “They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.”
Amos 5:21-23 (NIV) illustrates how God detest vain worship. “I hate, I despise your religious festivals; your assemblies are a stench to me. Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them. Though you bring choice fellowship offerings, I will have no regard for them. Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps. But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!” If we are living sinful lives and using religious rituals and traditions for appearance sake, God will despise our worship and not accept our offerings. He desires sincere hearts and not the worship of hypocrites.
Our worship should not be dependent upon how we desire to worship God but according to what God commands. We must worship in spirit and in truth. It is not a choice between spirit or truth. Both are requirements for proper worship pleasing to God. We cannot engage into worshipping God “in truth” but not “in spirit”. Jesus said in Matthew 15:8 (NIV), “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules” Any endeavor to worship God that is not specified in the Scripture is in vain. We need to ask ourselves the question. During corporate worship services are we more concern about our image or our attitude toward God?