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Why We Worship In Spirit and Truth

This article is based on Pastor Adrian Rogers' message, Give Him Glory.

John 4:4-24

This article is based on Pastor Adrian Rogers' message, Give Him Glory.

We Live to Give God Glory

John 4:1-24

Have you ever been to a boring worship service? No. Worshiping God is one of the most thrilling and fulfilling things that can happen to you.

What is the Greatest Commandment?

Someone asked Jesus, “What is the greatest commandment?”

Mark 12:29-30
Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one. And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment.

True worship is your supreme duty and your highest privilege.

A Conversation About True Worship

In John chapter 4, Jesus is on a journey. “He left Judea and departed again to Galilee. But He needed to go through Samaria” (John 4:3-4).

Normally, a Jew on this journey would not go through Samaria. He would detour, for two reasons:

One, a detour was the easiest way to go, along the river Jordan, where there were not so many crags and mountains.

Two, Jews went around Samaria because they hated the Samaritans—and the Samaritans returned the favor.

Who Were the Samaritans?

In 721 B.C. the rebellious people of Israel were carried into captivity. The captors carried off the noble, the educated, the strongest of the people, but left the weak, the poor, and the illiterate behind.

These Jews who were left began to intermarry among themselves, reinforcing the gene pool of weakness. Some Babylonian stragglers came and married with them. The result was a mixed race—a mongrel breed of people, with paganism brought in with the Babylonians. These were the Samaritans.

Later, the Jews would have nothing to do with these people. The Samaritans were not allowed to go to Jerusalem to worship. So, they built their own house of worship on Mount Gerizim, in Samaria.

The Woman at the Well

But now, in John 4, Jesus “needed to go through Samaria.”

John 4:5-7
So He came to a city of Samaria which is called Sychar…Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied from His journey, sat thus by the well. It was about the sixth hour. A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give Me a drink.”

The woman said, “Why are you talking to me? You’re a Jew, I’m a Samaritan; besides that, I’m a woman.”

John 4:10-16
Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water….whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” The woman said to Him, “Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw.” Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.”

She probably blushed. “The woman answered and said, ‘I have no husband.’ Jesus said to her, ‘You have well said, “I have no husband,” for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; in that you spoke truly’” (John 4:17-18).

Here was a woman bound by sin. She had a thirsty soul—and it was God she was thirsting for. She had gone from husband to husband. She was a faded flower now, living with a man without the benefits of marriage. She was bound by sin because Satan had lied to her.

Jesus’ meeting with this woman at this well was a divine appointment. He was here to tell her about drinking from the well of salvation: Himself.

Now she did what many people do when you zero in on their spiritual need—she tried to argue religion. “The woman said to Him, ‘Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship’” (John 4:19-20).

This woman needed an encounter with the living God, and that encounter is called true worship.

What Is True Worship?

Two Wrong Answers

This Samaritan woman only knew of two alternatives: Mount Gerizim or Jerusalem.

The Spirit Without the Truth

The Samaritans only kept five books of the Old Testament, called the Pentateuch. They worshiped with fervor, but not according to knowledge.

The Truth Without the Spirit

The Jews worshiped in Jerusalem. They believed the entire Bible of that day, from Genesis to Malachi. But their religion was dead. “These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me” (Matthew 15:8).

The Samaritans worshiped in ignorance, but they had zeal.

The Jews had the truth, but they rejected the spirit.

Neither understood true worship.

True Worship

John 4:21-24
Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father….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.(Emphasis added)

How to Worship in Spirit and Truth

Worship the Right God

There is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for Him” (1 Corinthians 8:6b; emphasis added). Today we are seeing a subtle move from Father God to “Mother Earth.” Have you noticed? But in order to have true worship, we must worship the right God.

Worship in the Right Place

Jesus is teaching here that God does not dwell in temples made with hands. You and I have a privilege the Jews and Samaritans never had: a way into the Holy of Holies, through Jesus Christ. So, when this Samaritan woman asked, “Where is the correct place of worship?” Jesus said, “Worship Him in spirit and in truth.” Any place, any time.

Does that mean we don’t have to come to church to worship?

Not if you read Hebrews—“Let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some” (Hebrews 10:24-25a). Attending corporate worship with God’s people says two things: God is important, and your brothers and sisters in Christ are important.

Worship in the Right Way

What does it mean to worship in spirit and truth?

In Spirit

You don’t just worship God with your hands, knees, eyes, and mouth. Worship has to come from within. If coming to church is tedious and tasteless to you, there is nothing wrong with you that a good dose of salvation won’t cure. The problem is in your heart.

To worship God in spirit, you need the Holy Spirit of God.

In Truth

Some say, “I just want to sing and pray and praise and fellowship!”

But worship has a theological base. Your worship rises no higher than your concept of God. That is why we should have expositional preaching of the Word of God, to learn the truth of God.

Worship for the Right Purpose

You did not come to get anything out of worship. You came to put something into it.

People come wanting to “get a blessing.” But here is the secret: when you forget about yourself and worship Him, there will be blessings all over you.

List of Scriptures Referenced in this Article

John 4:1-24; Mark 12:29-30; Matthew 15:8; 1 Corinthians 8:6; Hebrews 10:24-25

More Bible Verses About Worshiping in Spirit and Truth

John 14:15-17
If you love Me, keep My commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever—the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.
Acts 17:24-27
God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things. And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth…so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us…
1 Corinthians 6:19-20
Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.