In my experience, few Christians give careful thought to worship. We tend to think that if we’ve gone to church and sung a few songs then we’ve worshipped and God is pleased. The Bible, however, has something different to say. Jesus Himself held up two factors that distinguish true worshippers - spirit and truth. In John 4:23, He said, “The hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.”
What does it mean to worship the Father in spirit and truth?
1. True worshippers worship in truth.
This means we worship what is true about God. Worship is inherently theological. If we worship God for something other than who He is, we’re not worshipping Him in truth. For instance, if you worship a god who merely exists to meet your every desire, bow at your every command, or serve as your self-help coach - you’re not worshipping in truth. Similarly, if you worship a god that is petulant, inattentive, or disinterested - you’re not worshipping in truth. Unless we’re worshipping God for what’s true about Him as revealed in His Word, what we’re doing is not the worship God desires.
But notice, worship is more than just singing the right things about God. We have to sing the right things the right way.
2. True worshippers worship in spirit.
This means we’re to worship with the core of our being. We’re to worship with our hearts. We’re to sing with sincerity and emotion. Spurgeon said, “God does not regard our voices, he hears our hearts and if our hearts do not sing we have not sung at all.” Worship is about the head and the heart. Worship that is all head and no heart is lip-service, but worship that is all heart and no head lacks substance.
According to Jesus, the key to true worship is both spirit and truth. Here’s the big idea:
Our worship should be powered by truth and permeated with emotion.
So is the worship you bring God each week in spirit and truth? Do you worship what is true about Him? Is your worship emotive and sincere? If one of these factors is missing, how you’re going about what you consider to be worship has hijacked what Jesus has defined as true worship. Until we worship in spirit and truth we may be a lot of different things, but we’re not true worshippers.