In Spirit and In Truth

In our Women’s Bible Study at my church, we began an amazing new study and last week we learned in great depth about the story of the Samaritan woman in John 4:1-26. This passage is truly remarkable and reveals many biblical truths…far too many to discuss here…but I certainly encourage you to read and study it for yourself!

As we began to discuss this passage illustrated by a conversation between Jesus and an unnamed woman…known to us only as the Samaritan woman or the Woman at the Well…oh and a conversation that is considered the longest one on one conversation recorded in the bible…pretty significant don’t you think? Ok sorry to side track…

As we began to discuss this passage…John 4:24 caught my attention. I felt my curiosity nudging me to explore this scripture further to grasp a deeper understanding of its meaning.

For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth. John 4:24 NLT

What exactly does it mean to worship God in spirit and in truth?

Well, in order to understand what this scripture implies…we must first define the word “worship.”

The term “worship” means “worth-ship”…to attribute worth to an object. Therefore, to worship God is to attribute worth to Him.

John 4:24 begins by stating God is Spirit. This means that God is not a physical being limited to one place. He is present everywhere…omnipresent!

Why is this important?

Well, because if God is Spirit, His worship is not limited to a physical or geographical location. His worship is not limited to a place or the performance of a ceremony. He can be worshipped anywhere…at any time!

The object of worship will continue still the same, God, as a Father; but an end shall be put to all differences about the place of worship. Reason teaches us to consult decency and convenience in the places of our worship; but religion gives no preference to one place above another, in respect of holiness and approval with God. Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary

When the Samaritan woman interjects about worshiping God in a specific location, Jesus directs the conversation to a more important point…not so much the location of worship but the attitude of worship.

Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.” John 4:19-20 NIV

Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. John 4:21-22 NIV

True worship of God is not physical worship in a physical location…it is spiritual worship.

Historically, physical worship meant that worship was limited to going to one particular place and physically acting in certain ways (like going up on top of a mountain or to the Temple in Jerusalem)

However, true worship is spiritual…not physical. It is worship of your inner being and is not found in the outward actions of the flesh.

Now don’t get me wrong…even though outward physical actions can be connected to worship ie. singing praises to God, lifting your hands in surrender, offering financial gifts…

True worship is not to be found in the outward physical actions but in the inward condition of the heart. It is an inward attitude of reverence and exaltation in which outward actions can be associated, but not required.

Spiritual affections, as shown in fervent prayers, supplications, and thanksgivings, form the worship of an upright heart, in which God delights and is glorified. Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary

So what then does it mean to worship God in spirit and in truth?

In Spirit

To worship God “in spirit” means that our worship must engage our whole heart…therefore, the condition of our heart is important. Worshiping God “in spirit’ is directed by our love for Him.

And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength. Mark 12:30 NLT

To worship God “in spirit” means to worship him with an attitude of …

1. Passion and Zeal

Praise the LORD. I will extol the LORD with all my heart in the council of the upright and in the assembly. Psalm 111:1 NIV

2. Understanding

I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my understanding; 1Corinthians 14:15 NIV

3. Reverence and Respect

In the council of the holy ones God is greatly feared; he is more awesome than all who surround him. Psalm 89:7 NIV

4. Sincerity

And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ; Philippians 1:9-10 NASB

5. Glorifying Him.

Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness. Psalm 29:2 NIV

In Truth 

To worship God “in truth” means that our worship must be consistent with God’s Word.

To worship God “in truth” means that our worship must be consistent with the revelation of who God is…His attributes, actions, character, and conduct. Unless we have knowledge of the God we worship, there is no worship “in truth.”

Both are necessary in satisfying God-honoring worship. Spirit without truth can lead to a shallow overly emotional experience that could be compared to a high. Truth without spirit can result in a dry, passionless encounter that can lead to a form of joyless legalism.

The best combination of both aspects of worship results in a joyful appreciation of God…informed and motivated by God’s Word.

The more we know about God…the more we appreciate Him. The more we appreciate Him, the deeper our worship. The deeper our worship, the more God is glorified!

When we worship God in spirit and in truth…we exemplify the kind of worshiper that God seeks!

But the time is coming–indeed it’s here now–when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. John 4:23 NLT


Reflection Points:

  1. What does worship mean?
  2. Do you associate worshiping God with a specific place …like a church?
  3. What does it mean to worship God in spirit? What is the condition of your heart?
  4. What does it mean to worship God in truth? Is your worship consistent with God’s Word and who He is?
  5. Are you worshiping God in both spirit and truth?

Action Points:

  1. Read the passage about the Samaritan woman and observe their conversation about worshiping God in a specific place.
  2. Review above the characteristics of worshiping God in spirit.
  3. Continue to study and read God’s word to gain more knowledge and understanding. Then you will fully appreciate God and worship Him in truth.


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