How To Worship God in Spirit and Truth
Is there a proper way to render worship unto God? -- If we read the story of Cain and Abel in Genesis chapter 4, we find that Abel's offering of worship was accepted by God, but Cain's offering was rejected by God. So there is a proper way to come before the Lord and worship Him; but how do we do this today? Jesus gives us the basic answer of how to worship God when He said: "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. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth." (John 4:23,24)
The unique aspect about human kind is that God has created us with a spirit. The animals were created with a soul and a body, but we have been given a spirit as well as a soul and a body. Before we can properly answer the question of how to worship God, we must first understand who we are --You are a spirit, who has a soul, and you live in a body. The scriptural proof for this statement is in the chart below:
This chart above depicts the spirit of the person who has been born again from heaven. The man who has not been reborn has a wandering spirit and cannot hear or understand the things of God. However, thanks to our Lord Jesus Christ we CAN have a born again spirit that will lead us into all truth and teach us the things of God's Spirit. God's Word teaches us that in order for a person's spirit to be reborn he or she must make a confession with their mouth to another person of their belief in the Lord Jesus. Romans 10:9-10 tells us, "If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation." Also, Jesus tells us that if we confess Him before men, then He will confess you to the Father and be your advocate legally before the throne of God (Matt 10:32, Luke 12:8). Your profession of faith in Christ before another person is a legal matter in heaven, and it is only through Jesus that we can legally be reconciled back to God.
Eternal salvation is obtained by a simple heartfelt confession nothing more and nothing less. It is not about our good deeds or bad deeds, which is why this gospel is rightly called the "good news." You may not even feel anything different after your confession. God has chosen this simple method of confession unto salvation so that no one can boast in another person's eternal life. Since God knows the heart, there is no point in arguing who has been born again and who has not. Romans 10:6-8 tells us that it is not wise to say "who will ascend into heaven... or who will descend into the abyss," because the word is in your mouth and in your heart. This word of faith in your mouth and heart is the doorway into all of God's eternal life. "For God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God." (John 3:16-18)
Jesus told Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews, "most assuredly I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God." Jesus then showed Nicodemus that he was born of the flesh, but in order to enter the kingdom of God he had to be born of the spirit. There is no other name by which man can be saved except confessing the name of Christ Jesus which in itself is a sign of repentance. But our profession of faith in Christ is only the beginning point of our walk with the Spirit of God who created the universe. The next steps involve allowing your newly created spirit to influence your soul and body, and this is the harder part where we learn to take up our cross and follow Jesus. This is where we learn to worship Him in spirit and in truth: "God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth." (John 4:24)
God created your spirit, soul and body to be as one, but when we sinned in Adam, that oneness was broken and now our body (flesh) fights against the Spirit as Paul talked about in Romans chapters 6 and 7, and our flesh is in a constant warfare against our spirit. God is a Father, a Son and a Holy Spirit, but all three exist as one in unity. Since we were created in God's image, our spirit, soul and body is a similar trinity. However, SIN has killed us and this unity. Now, only our recreated spirit in Christ can renew our souls. While our spirits are born again and therefore "perfect" (Heb 12:22,23) at the point of our confession of faith, our souls must be renewed daily by the Spirit. Please see the chart above again and notice how the seven spirits of God are constantly influencing our heart, while the body is constantly being influenced by other outside forces that are often contrary to the Spirit of God. Hence the warfare is in our souls, which is why James tells us that our souls must be "saved" or renewed day by day (James 1:21).
Our soul consists of the mind, will and emotions, and your heart is the area where the spirit connects with your soul. Proverbs 4:23 says that we need to "guard" our hearts and keep them pure because the thoughts and intents of the heart will help guide the rest of our lives. God has given us a free will to make our own decisions, and our will and minds can be ordered either by the spirit or by the things around us. For this reason the book of Proverbs consistently admonishes us to pay attention to the seven spirits of God and how they "cry aloud" to us. Just a few examples include: "wisdom calls aloud," and "perceive the words of understanding," and "the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge." Also, Paul prays for us in Ephesians 1:17-18 that the eyes of our heart would be enlightened from "the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him." He prays again in Ephesians 3:16-19 that we would be "strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith." So you can see that Christ does not necessarily dwell in our hearts just because we have been born again, it is something that must be cultivated through a heart that seeks after the things of the Spirit.
These seven spirits of God are vitally important to understand. They are listed completely in Isaiah 11:2, but are expanded upon throughout the scriptures. They are: 1) the Spirit of the Lord (love) 2) the Spirit of Wisdom (truth) 3) the Spirit of Understanding (revelation) 4) the Spirit of Council (remembrance/restoration) 5) The Spirit of Might (power) 6) the Spirit of Knowledge (publishing) 7) the Spirit of the Fear of the Lord (grace).
To worship "in spirit" is to walk in obedience to the promptings of these seven spirits who dwell within the born again believer. To worship "in truth" is the other side of our balanced walk with the Lord. Walking "in truth" involves walking according to God's order and instruction, which is shown to us in His WORD. So you have a constant balance of walking in the Spirit and walking according to His truth found in His word. You cannot have one without the other. If you have all spirit and no word then you will "puff up" in pride. If you have all word and no spirit then you will "dry up" with dead religion. We must have a proper balance of worship in spirit and in truth as this figure below shows:
The best definition of worship is "free will obedience." The first use of the word "worship" in the scriptures is in Genesis 22:5 where Abraham went to "worship" on Mt. Moriah by offering Isaac on the altar. There was no music or dancing or shouting, it was Abraham's free will offering of obedience. Part of worshiping "in truth" involves ordering our times of communion with God and with one another according to God's ways. Below is a chart that helps to describe the order that God is calling His people to worship Him in truth. You can see that the old testament order for offerings of worship is a pattern or matrix to help contain the new covenant life that we have together in Christ Jesus. Again, it is a free will offering of obedience to His word (worship in truth).