Sacred Worship: Offered in Spirit and Truth

Sacred Worship: Offered in Spirit and Truth

Sacred Worship: Offered in Spirit and Truth 


  • Begin with a thought that really goes against the grain of modern Christian worship: God doesn’t have to accept the worship you give him (Gen. 4:3-5; Heb. 11:4; Heb. 12:28-29). 
    • If my worship has to be acceptable, then that means that there are certain requirements. 
    • Also implies that I can worship God in a way that is unacceptable. 
    • We just assume that God has to accept—but throughout scripture he rejects sacrifices. 
  • Of course, the whole idea of “sacrifice” goes against the modern worship scene where the audience lights are dimmed and the spotlight is on the stage—we show up to receive something, not to give something. 
    • Yet, now we see that—even if I bring a sacrifice of praise—that isn’t quite enough. 
    • What then is required of this sacrifice of praise? That it be offered in spirit and truth. 
  • Worship is a sacrifice of praise, offered in spirit and truth, by grace bought sinners which transforms their lives as they give glory to God. 

Text: John 4:19-24

The Invitation to Worship 

  • Worship begins with a divine invitation; God invites us to worship Him, and allows us to reverence him and come into his presence with singing. 
    • We can’t force upon God what he doesn’t desire; in order for there to be worship, there has to first be a desire for it in the heart of God. 
    • Jesus sees God—not simply as the one who is waiting to be sought—but the one who is seeking. 
  • God is looking throughout the world for people who will truly worship Him. 
    • He commands us to worship Him yes, but he doesn’t coerce. 
    • Interesting, because God doesn’t gain anything from us worshipping Him (Acts 17:24-25).
  • So why then it is that God commands us to worship Him?
    • For one, God is worthy as the creator of all things—and the redeemer of the saved—to receive glory (Rev. 5:11). 
    • Through commanding God reminds us that He—and not anything else—is worthy to receive glory and praise for the world and everything else. 
  • Yet, is it possible that in God’s desire for us to worship Him, we see a desire of a Father who wants to commune with us—who wants to be respected and reverenced by us—because in that relationship we discover our ultimate joy? 
    • I believe so (1 Chron. 16:8-10). 
    • Notice: give thanks to God and rejoice. 
    • God seeks and desires for us to worship Him—and commands it so—so that we can be happy and joyful in knowing Him and communing with Him through worship. 
    • God commands worship for our joy. 
  • If we accept that invitation, does that mean we get to worship God in whatever way we desire? 

The Elements of Acceptable Worship 

  • Notice within the text there is this idea of the “true worshipper”—worshippers that are authentic, genuine, real, and sincere. 
    • They “will worship”—natural response of who they are. 
    • But what makes them true and accepted by the Father and people he delights in is that they worship him in a specific way: in spirit and truth. 
  • What does this mean? 
    • In Spirit 
      • Discover by way of contrast (Matt. 15:8-9): no inner reverence; all outward formal, empty words. 
        • True worship that God is seeking is first and foremost an inward spiritual outpouring of our hearts to God; it is our spirit reaching out to The Spirit—God Himself. 
        • It is a recognition of how much God means to us, our treasuring and valuing of Him, that is poured out in praise. 
        • Worship is the response of an individual who loves God with all of their being (Matt. 22:37. 
      • We see this in other passages as well (1 Cor. 14:15; Eph. 5:19): you are singing your heart out to God. 
        • Songs I wrote when Jessica and I were dating; corny, but meaningful. I put my heart into it. 
        • God wants you to be emotionally invested in worship; worship should be a passionate and emotional time for you—whatever emotion that might be (sorrow, happiness, joy, grief, anxiety). 
        • God desires to have your affections. 
        • God wants people who are so in awestruck by him that they can’t help but sing Him love songs. 
    • Yet, purely emotional worship isn’t enough to be acceptable to God (for example, you can sing a wonderful song to your loved one, but if what your saying isn’t true it doesn’t mean much). 
    • In Truth 
      • Worship in spirit and truth is placed in contrast to the false worship of the Samaritans as well as the worship of the Jews in Jerusalem. 
      • “In this mountain” and “In Jerusalem” will no longer be the location, but “in spirit and in truth.” 
      • Notice: before she can accept this truth she has to accept the brokenness of her own worship as well as the brokenness of her life. 
        • Jesus isn’t unloving when he states to her that her worship is wrong; he is exposing falsehoods so it can be filled with truth. 
          • The Samaritans, as descendants of the Israelites, had long left Jerusalem as the place of worship. 
          • Jesus informs her that, in doing so, it wasn’t simply that they didn’t know “how to worship” but that they didn’t know “what they worshipped.” 
          • That is, when we reject God’s guidance for worship we are no longer worshipping God—we are worshipping something else (many times the self). 
        • But the woman also has to be true about her life—specifically about her sin—before she can worship God properly. 
          • One of God’s greatest frustrations in the OT was with the Jews bringing sacrifices in worship and yet going home and living wickedly. 
          • Worship demands more of us; it demands that what we do here is reflected in how we live; that there is no degree of separation between how we worship and how we live. 
      • So, worshipping in truth means two things: 
        • Worshipping the true God and guided by His truth (Col. 3:16). 
          • Person: making sure that we are worshipping the God of scripture, not one made up in our own mind. 
            • Specifically, the God we see as witnessed within Jesus Christ. 
            • Interesting that, after having this discussion, Jesus directs the woman to recognizing Him as the Messiah. 
            • Jesus is the embodiment of the truth of God—as the Son of God—and we cannot properly worship God without coming to know Him first. 
          • Practice. We want to make sure that the practice of our worship is guided by truth. 
            • Lord’s Supper: we use only those elements we see within the New Testament. 
            • Singing: we don’t use instruments within our worship because we don’t see them commanded, prescribed, or implied within the NT. 
            • The practice of truth must overcome any personal preference I may have in worshipping God. 
        • Being genuine and truthful and living a life which honors the God we come to worship. 
    • When we come to God with spirits standing in awe, love, and adoration for Him—treasuring Him above all and pouring our hearts out to Him in worship—and doing it in accordance with His truth and person, he looks and say, “That’s what I am looking for!” 

The Obligation of Spiritual Worship 

  • Again, this whole concept of worshipping God in an acceptable way in which he prescribes to us exactly what we wants and we are obligated to do it is so against the grain of modern christian worship. 
    • Yet, all I see within this context is the language of obligation. 
    • Notice, if we are going to worship God, then we “must” worship Him in spirit and truth. 
    • If you are going to accept the divine invitation, then you must do it in the way God desires. 
  • If we do this, then we discover the great blessing and joy that God has commanded for our good. When worship is done in this way, its such a fulfilling and meaningful blessing. 


  • What’s interesting about this entire conversation is that it started with a request for a drink of water (v. 7-14). 
    • Jesus isn’t simply talking about water here; he is discussing satisfaction, the quenching of a thirsty spirit for God himself—something this woman was really longing for, yet she didn’t even know it. 
    • Whether you realize it or not, this is what your heart is hungry for; this is what your soul is panting and longing for: a true, spiritual communion with God in worship. 
  • He invites you to come to Him, to delight in Him, to take pleasure in Him, to stand in awe of him—and to worship Him in Spirit and truth. 


Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *