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What Does It Mean To Worship In Spirit and Truth? Part 1


what does it mean to worship in spirit and truth

A common question many Christians have is what does it mean to worship in Spirit and Truth? This question comes from the statement of Christ in John Chapter 4.

John 4:23-24 Yet the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth. For the Father seeks such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and truth.

As we look into what it means there are some foundational things that we need to understand.


First, worship is not just part of the Sunday morning praise and worship (singing) time. It's not just singing slow songs. It may include that, but there is so much more. It is a life of relationship and fellowship with God.


Worship, in a sense, is our highest calling. We were created for fellowship with God, and worship is the ultimate expression of that fellowship. All the activities that we do, prayer, singing, love, obedience, faith, reading the Bible, all the disciplines or things that as a Christian we talk about doing, praise, etc.. all can be summed up in worship. But it is not so much about the activity, but where our attention and reliance is when engaged in the activity.

In worship, we are recognizing and appreciating God for who He is. We see Him in His glory, in His majesty as the King of Kings, His righteousness and holiness, His love, the awesomeness of who He is, and approach Him and fellowship and surrender to Him with this understanding of who He is. As well, it is appreciating that I (once being lost, once being a sinner, once being bankrupt before God) am now saved, now redeemed, now His child, bought by the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, now a new creation, all my sins are gone, am now presenting myself (all of me, in complete surrender) to God and offering Him the love, the adoration, the obedience, the glory, the honor, the fear that He is due.


Worship is looking at who God is, understanding who I am, looking at what He has done for me, and relating to Him in full devotion.

To help us understand worship in a practical sense, the words in the Bible describe worship as an attitude of yielding, recognizing the one being worshipped as superior, for example:

  • Bowing the head

  • Bowing the upper part of the body

  • Being face down on the ground

This is why we are not to worship anyone else but God. He is superior and holy; He is above all; He is perfect. We must surrender and submit fully to Him. Remember, we end up serving who we worship.

The most sincere, honest, and complete approach to God is worship. So let's get back into the passage from John 4.

Jesus said, Yet the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth.

In the Bible, there are two types of worship. There is the Old Testament (OT) worship and the New Testament (NT) worship.


OT Worship is based on ceremony and ritual. For example, priests would burn incense. While this was the only type of worship that could be expressed at the time, and God honored it because it was the only type of worship that could be offered, it was not the worship that God was ideally seeking. Because Jesus had not come yet, God was getting everything ready, and He laid out rituals and sacrifices as expressions as object lessons that pointed to the day when true worship would take place. When it would be worship in spirit and truth as He desires.


NT Worship is based on worship that is Spirit and Truth. Interestingly, Jesus mentioned that there is true worship which also tells us there is false worship. All worship is not necessarily true worship. It is possible to be in a solemn, serious, even what we might call a genuine place of worship without it being true worship. The mind may be focused, the emotions may be deeply moved, a person may be fully participating, the body might be in a quiet state of prayer or meditation, and yet worship not be happening.

From what Jesus says, God seeks true worship, which is described as in Spirit and Truth. This is only possible in the New Testament because it was only made possible after the Holy Spirit was given. One key reason we receive the Holy Spirit is so that we can become this true worshipper.


John 4:23-24 Yet the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth. For the Father seeks such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and truth.

First, from this passage, we see that God is a Spirit. This is a definition of God's being or existence. Who He is. Most of us would understand this, but it is important to remember that God is not from this physical natural world. He is beyond our natural realm. He is not limited to time, space or matter. He is infinite, endless, incomprehensible. He is a Spirit.

Exodus 3:14 - And God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM," and He said, "You will say this to the children of Israel, 'I AM has sent me to you.'"

1 Timothy 1:17 - Now to the eternal, immortal, invisible King, the only wise God, be honor and glory forever. Amen.

Since He is a Spirit, it makes sense that worship of Him must be based upon who He is and therefore in His realm, and in the manner that He exists and operates by.

Many would think this talking about worshipping God in the spiritual realities, in a religious fashion, in faith. That is only partially true.

Because God is a Spirit, there must be a relationship between God (Spirit) and us worshippers in or by the means of the spirit. This can only be accomplished through the Spirit of Christ in and through us.

When God created man, He created us as a living soul, with a spirit housed in a body. On one side, our body is linked to the visible natural word through our soul, speaking of our personality, will, emotion, and Consciousness. On the other side, our body is linked to the unseen, spiritual, divine through our spirit. The soul has to decide whether it will yield itself to the spirit, linked with God and His will, or to the body and the natural world. Who will we follow? Who will we surrender to?

When Adam fell, He chose to listen to his soul. He saw that the fruit – Genesis 3:6 - was good for food, that it was pleasing to the eyes and a tree desirable to make one wise. This appealed to the natural or physical part of Adam, and as a result of Adam listening to his soul, we, through Adam, became a slave to the body and all those natural desires. Our spirit died.

Ephesians 2:1 - And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in the KJV it says - And you hath he quickened (made alive), who were dead in trespasses and sins;

Ephesians 2:3 - among them we all also once lived in the lusts of our flesh, doing the desires of the flesh and of the mind

When we are born again, a supernatural event happens; our spirit is made alive through Christ. The Holy Spirit regenerates or renews us. In fact, the Holy Spirit doesn't just revive us but comes in and lives or dwells within us. So that we are not just a renovated house, but a new creation.

As Christians, we are to live out of our spirit, being connected and in constant fellowship with God through the Holy Spirit.

1 Thessalonians 5:23 May the very God of peace sanctify you completely. And I pray to God that your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Our spirit, which should be in relationship with the Holy Spirit, being fully surrendered to the Holy Spirit, gives directions to our soul, which then directs our body. This is how we are to live; this is how we are to worship. This should impact our life each and every day, each and every moment.

Galatians 5:16 - I say then, walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. If we are going to worship in the spirit, we must walk in obedience and submission to the Holy Spirit. We can't expect to walk in the natural flesh all week, doing whatever pleases us in the natural and then turning on a switch on Sunday.


Going back and looking at false worship for a moment, in the Christian context, false worship is what is satisfying to us or trusting in ourselves. It is worship that is focused on pleasing us because it gains its satisfaction and enjoyment in the ability of what is done in the natural. For example, fasting, prayer, or going to church. All good things and these activities should be part of our lives, but we should not look in reliance or trust in these activities to please God. Or thinking of praise and worship times in church or in our personal lives. Some people are in love with worship and not necessarily in love with God. They love the songs, love the emotions, love the music, love the expressions, and the focus and attention are upon worship itself and not upon God.


True worship of God is in the Spirit.

Philippians 3:3 For we are the circumcision who worship God in the Spirit, and boast in Christ Jesus, and place no trust in the flesh,

As Paul lays it out, worshipping in the Spirit means there is "no confidence/trust in the flesh," meaning this, we must realize our absolute helplessness and inability of our natural self, our own strength, and abilities, to worship and please God sufficiently. We can only be true worshippers as we are fully surrendered and rely upon His Holy Spirit, living in us, to worship Him.

The first step in being able to worship in Spirit is to be saved, be made alive, and have the Holy Spirit come live inside.

Here are some practical thoughts (prayers) or ways to enter into worship, focusing on the Spirit to worship God as He desires.

Holy Spirit help me to worship?

Holy Spirit, how should I worship?

Holy Spirit, help me to recognize God, who He is, and what He has done.

Holy Spirit, worship through me.

Holy Spirit, I surrender and yield to you so that you can worship through me.

In the next post, we will look further into what does it mean to worship in spirit and truth.


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