I have always loved the topic of worship, and I believe this subject is precious and shouldn’t be treated with superficiality. Throughout my life, I have sought to get a clear understanding of how to worship in spirit and in truth.
So many times we hear these words mentioned out of context and misused, such as randomly used during sermons or prayers. We need a clear understanding of this argument since it’s so vital for our spiritual life. Let’s dig into the meaning of these words to understand them clearly and receive revelation about them from the Lord.
Understanding the context
The first thing we learn when we become believers and start to read the Bible is to observe the context. Whether it is regarding how to worship in Spirit and truth or any other subject, the principles are always the same. To get a good understanding of the overall context, ask yourself these simple questions:
- What does the scripture say about God?
- What does it say about men?
- Who is talking and who is the audience?
- What is the overall context in which the words are spoken?
- What are the principles that I can apply in my life?
By applying this method, we can understand whatever we need to learn from any scripture. Sometimes we may need to do some research. Today, we will discover the meaning of Jesus’s words and teaching to the Samaritan woman at the well.
The woman at the well
First of all, I would suggest reading the whole story. We can find it in the book of John, in chapter 4 from verse 1 to 30 (John 4:1-30).
- Jesus doesn’t distance himself from the woman, but Instead, he approaches her by asking for some water. The woman is surprised that a Jewish man would ask her for
water since in the Jewish culture of that time, not only did men not speak to women but also the Jews did not speak to Samaritans as they were considered impure by the Jews.
- Jesus reveals to the woman that what He has to offer her, is much more than she could ever expect: living water!!!
- The woman desires this “living water.” Probably, she had been rejected many times in the past, therefore she had a great need for love and acceptance. She was thirsty for love and knew that in some way God could satisfy her need for love.
- The woman is sincere with Jesus – not hiding her shame of having had many men in her life, and she recognizes Jesus as a spiritual authority.
- The desire of the woman’s heart pushes her to ask Jesus for guidance about how to worship God. She wants her worship to be accepted and not meaningless.
- As a Samaritan, she was taught that Mount Gerizim was the place where one went to worship. The Jews, however, believed that Jerusalem was the place to worship God.
- Recognizing Jesus’s authority and since he was a Jew, the woman asks Him where one
should go to worship — which is the right place? In other words, which worship is accepted by God? What does God think about it?
- Jesus makes a statement by saying that you need to know who you worship. “You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews”. John 4:22 New King James Version (NKJV)
- Jesus explains what kind of worship God
desires. It’s not about a physical place. It’s about a relationship between our spirit and the Spirit of God. Jesus is teaching her how to worship in spirit and in truth. God is Spirit, and the ones who worship Him must worship in Spirit and in truth. (John 4:23-24)
Before we continue, let’s analyze what happened at the well. This is usually what happens when we want to encounter God. Keep in mind it’s never a method or a formula, but rather, a common experience.
- First, God comes to us.
- God wants to give us life.
- Inside of us, there is a desire to have
this eternal and special life/love and acceptance from God.
- There is a need for sincerity in order to encounter God; “let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith” Hebrews 10:22, New King James Version (NKJV).
- When we encounter God, we find life and freedom.
Jesus is bringing a new revelation to the world. God desires not only to be worshipped, but He desires worshippers who are longing for a relationship! These are the worshippers God is looking for. “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“. John 4:23 New King James Version (NKJV)
Up to that moment, very few people had the revelation of God as a father or as a friend, but now Jesus brings this revelation to the world. He is teaching us how to worship in spirit and truth. The cry from the world for life and for love has found an answer, and Jesus is answering by inviting us into this relationship!
How to worship in spirit and truth — The mountain of the Lord
“The time is coming when it will no longer
matter whether you worship the Father on this
mountain or in Jerusalem.” John 4:21
In this verse, we understand that God does not desire that we go and worship in a specific place. However, there is a place where we encounter God.
It’s not a physical place, but it’s still referred to as a mountain — the “Mountain of the Lord”. This is where we encounter Him.
3 Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord?
Who may stand in his holy place?
4 The one who has clean hands and a pure heart,
who does not trust in an idol
or swear by a false god.
5 They will receive blessing from the Lord
and vindication from God their Savior.
6 Such is the generation of those who seek him,
who seek your face, God of Jacob
Psalm 24 New International Version (NIV)
In light of these verses from Psalm 24, what is the way to worship in spirit and truth?
Let’s ask some more questions.
- Today, where is the temple of God?
- How do we arrive there?
- Who can go up to the temple?
- How do we worship?
- What do we offer?
- We are the temple of God, He lives in us and in our thoughts.
- Psalm 100:4 says we enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise. We seek Him and we recognize Him in our lives.
- The man who has clean hands and a pure heart. (Whoever has accepted Jesus as their savior is covered by His righteousness.)
- We worship God through a relationship with Him.
- We offer ourselves as a living sacrifice by giving our love, our service, and all of our being. (Rom 12:1-2)
First, I would like to be clear that in order to experience God and fellowship with Him we must accept Him into our lives. If we have never experienced Him in our life, we could do it now by opening our hearts just like the woman at the well did, repenting for having lived a life without Him, admitting our need of redemption (no one is without sin), and inviting Him to become the Lord of our life. We could also say that we need a real experience with Him and His Holy Spirit.
A little exercise 😉
For many of us, all this talk about mountains, worshipping in the spirit, and having a relationship with God who is Spirit, could be a bit confusing, so let’s clarify these aspects and learn how to go up the “mountain” in a practical and easy way.
In a spiritual context, when we refer to the mountains, we refer to the high places where worship used to be practiced. This is why we refer to the “high places” to the”mountains” etc.
Worshipping in spirit means that the spirit inside of us connects and fellowships with the Spirit of God as we see in Psalm 42:7. Our “deep” calls to the “deep of God”. Our deep is our spirit.
In truth means to do it in a real way — knowing the One who we worship, being honest, and being aware of the meaning of our worship.
Here is a little exercise to help us understand how to worship in spirit and truth.
God lives inside of us, and He communicates with us in many ways. One thing the Bible says, however, is to keep our mind and our focus on Him. So how do we do this? I would suggest closing our eyes and meditating on the fact that God abides/lives inside of us. Try to imagine God, perhaps that He is holding you tight. Or, you can concentrate on Biblical imagery, for example, the Throne room we see in Revelation 4 or in chapter 5. (If you are not familiar with these images, first go and read them, and then come back to the exercise).
Focus your thoughts on Him and allow Him to speak to you. You could ask Him what He thinks about you. You may be surprised by His answer and by the depth of His love for you. Keep in mind that anything we hear or understand by the Spirit must be in line with God’s word, the Bible. Thoughts of condemnation or accusation don’t come from God.
We were created to fellowship with God. This is why Jesus came on earth, to show how to worship in spirit and truth. God desires us more than any other thing in the world. Each one of us is precious in His eyes and He longs to be with us.
We may have grown up thinking that God is distant, or that we do not deserve His love because of our past experiences. God’s love, however, is a freely given gift, which we can either receive or not. It is our choice.
The woman at the well didn’t do anything to receive Jesus’s love, she simply accepted it and didn’t refuse it.
Let’s not waste the invitation God gives to us. Let’s keep our minds and thoughts on Him, and let’s live in communion with the most beautiful thing in the whole universe, God Himself.
I hope this article helps clarify the meaning of worshipping in spirit and truth since it’s not a religious act but a real relationship with our Beloved. I hope it has stirred up the desire in us to have a deeper relationship with God and has given us some tools to put it into practice. Like any relationship, it takes time to build and it must be nurtured. Through this relationship, the Holy Spirit will teach us how to worship in spirit and truth.
If you have any questions, or you would like to share your thoughts, please leave a comment below.
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