Jesus brought the perspective of spirit AND truth in how we worship in John 4. The Samaritan woman identified two different styles of worship, questioning which way was acceptable.
Samaritan Method of Worship: In John 4:22 Jesus said of the Samaritans, “You worship what you do not know.” They were limited in knowledge, accepting only the Pentateuch of the Old Testament. Their worship was enthusiastic but they lacked the proper knowledge. — “zeal without knowledge”
Jewish Method of Worship: They accepted the entire Old Testament and hence did not lack knowledge but their hearts weren’t in it. In Mark 7:6 Jesus used Isaiah’s words to describe them, “These people honor Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me.” — “knowledge without zeal”
God Seeks Spirit & Truth in How We Worship
Jesus responded, “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.” (Jn. 4:23-24)
The Father seeks both zeal and knowledge when we worship Him. He looks for fluidity of life and absoluteness of truth, enthusiasm and sound doctrine. It isn’t a matter of balance but rather BOTH spirit AND truth. We show our love for Him through worship with ALL of our heart, soul, mind, and strength (Lk. 10:27).
Why God Seeks BOTH Spirit AND Truth in Our Worship
Let’s remember why Jesus said we’re to worship in this way — “God is spirit” (Jn. 4:24). To truly connect with God in worship, we must approach Him on the basis of who He is.
To worship without spirit misses the personal reality, or essence, of His very being. Our spirit must connect with His spirit for God is not contained in a body like us. Consequently, true worship isn’t about where we worship. Nor is it about the means of worshiping. We worship from the heart so we don’t turn into the hypocrites Jesus spoke of, merely going through the motions, when He said, “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain” (Matt. 15:8-9a)
To worship without truth leads to missing the awesome reality, or true God, He is. When we worship, we “ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name” and we “worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness” (Ps. 29:2). When worship is void of truth, it will be anemic at best, if not a pure sham. How can we say we’re worshiping God if we aren’t acknowledging who He Himself says He is? We may be worshiping some semblance of a god but not the God of the Bible.
Are you worshiping in spirit AND truth?