|IN SPIRIT AND IN TRUTH
HIS GLORY REIGNS
Sep 04 2009 08:00AM
Jesus stated the condition of the heart that alone makes our worship acceptable to God in His conversation with the
Samaritan woman at the well. The woman began to talk about the rival claims of Jerusalem and Samaria as centers of
worship. But when she began to discuss the claims of these two physical, geographical locations, Jesus turned the
conversation in a new and unexpected direction.
Jerusalem, worship the Father. Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the
Jews. But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth:
for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit
and truth." (John 4:21-24)
The words of Jesus to that woman were prophetic. Within a hundred years of that conversation the temple in Jerusalem
was destroyed and it became impossible for the Jewish people to worship there. However, before the temple was
destroyed, God made alternative provision for His people to worship Him. He transferred the requirements from a
physical location to a spiritual condition. The spiritual condition that Jesus stated was "in spirit and truth."
God actually seeks worshipers of this kind. This, to me, is one of the most exciting and amazing statements in the Bible:
that almighty God is seeking for people to worship Him. Jesus said, "The Father is looking for worshipers of this kind,
the kind that worship in 'spirit and in truth.'"
Let us look at these two spiritual, inward conditions that Jesus mentioned. In doing so, I'd like to start with the latter
requirement: "in truth."
Worshiping "In Truth"
Revelation gives us quite a list of people who will ultimately be excluded from God's presence.
idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second
death." (Revelation 21:8)
Notice the last item on this list: "all liars." Liars cannot have access to the presence of almighty God. That is why we
have to worship Him "in truth." There is a vivid example of this in the story of Ananias and Sapphira found in Acts 5.
They sold some land and brought an offering from what they had sold and laid it at the feet of the apostles.
Unfortunately, this offering was not the entire price of the land that they claimed it to be. They had kept back part of the
sum. And that cost them both their lives. They just fell down dead one after the other in the presence of God (see Acts
5:1-11). Could there be a clearer warning to us that lies and insincerity cannot have access to the presence of God?
Again, in I John, this is what the apostle John said:
darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth." (I
When we come to God, we are coming into the light. There is no room for darkness, no room for reservations, and no
room for insincerity. Everything has to be totally open. Notice the phrase, "we have fellowship with Him." Fellowship
and worship go closely together. Both fellowship and worship require unwavering honesty, sincerity, and openness.
We must worship God "in truth."
Worshiping "In Spirit"
To understand what it means to worship God "in spirit," we need to grasp the picture that the Bible provides of the total
human personality. According to Scripture, the total human personality consists of three interrelated elements: spirit,
soul, and body. This is the picture from a prayer by the apostle Paul for the Thessalonian church:
blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." (I Thessalonians 5:23)
We know what the body is. The soul is the ego - it is the attribute that says "I will" or "I will not," and "I think" or "I do not
think." It is usually identified as being made of three areas: the will, the intellect, and the emotion. These areas are
expressed as three simple statements: "I will," "I think," and "I feel." This is extremely simplified, but I think it is a valid
picture of the soul in man.
But the spirit really has only one supreme function - to relate to God. It is not the soul or the body that must worship
God, but the spirit. But we cannot really understand worship unless we understand the functions and interrelationships
of these three elements.
In Psalm 103, David said, "Bless the LORD, O my soul" (verse 1). What or who was talking to David's soul? His soul
wasn't talking to itself. So who was telling David's soul to "bless the LORD?" It was David's spirit. His spirit was on fire
because it was in contact with God. His spirit was saying, "We have go to do something about this. Do not just sit there;
do something. Get excited. Bless the Lord." The soul is the gear shift of the personality; the soul makes decisions and
then orders the body to move. That is the order of things; the spirit deals with the soul, then the soul deals with the
Let's look back for a moment to the account of the creation of man as recorded in the second chapter of Genesis:
man became a living soul." (Genesis 2:7)
There are two distinct sources to human personality. One is from above; one is from below. From above there is the
breath, the Spirit of God, breathed into man. From below there is man's physical nature, the body made of clay. The
union of spirit and clay produces a living soul, a human personality consisting of spirit, soul, and body.
But when man sinned and rebelled against God, his spirit was cut off from fellowship with God and became dead to
God. So man was then, in biblical terminology, "dead in trespasses and sins" (Ephesians 2:1).
When man turns back to God in repentance and faith, by rebirth, his spirit is renewed and made capable of restored
fellowship with God. Once again, we see the principle that fellowship and worship go very closely together. But we
have to understand that it is the spirit of man, not the soul nor the body, that is capable of this direct fellowship with God.
So it is through the reborn spirit that man can relate directly to God, person to Person, spirit to Spirit. Jesus said, "God
is Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth....." (John 4:24). It is only that same
inbreathed element of human personality that comes from God, that spirit, which is able to relate to God directly and to
worship God "in spirit."
Read the words of the apostle Paul:
that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit." (I Corinthians 6:16-17)
Paul was talking about two different ways of one person uniting with another. One is the fleshly way, sexual union: a
man with a woman. But the other is a spiritual way, a spiritual union: the spirit of man with the Spirit of God. That is an
amazing picture, but it is very clear. Just as intimately as a man can relate with a woman physically in sexual
intercourse, so a believer can relate with the Lord spiritually in the communion of worship; that is, worshiping God in
spirit. Worship is communion with God.
Neither man's soul nor his body is capable of that. It is only man's spirit that is capable of this unique and most precious
of all relationships with God, the relationship of union and communion that comes through worship. This is the highest
activity of which man is capable - worshiping God in spirit and in truth.
We must get our entire personality in tune with God and responding to Him, as He desires. Your spirit must work
through your soul to move your body. That is the way that it works. Therefore, when your spirit wants to worship God,
there is not much it can do without the cooperation of the soul and the body. And a spirit that cannot worship God
because the soul and the body do not cooperate is an imprisoned spirit. The body for that spirit is a prison, shut up,
unable to respond.
That is the problem with many Christians. We give them the Word, but we give them a very incomplete picture of church
and of worship. So now when people do experience the real thing they feel strange because we've conditioned people
to expect the abnormal.
Fortunately for us, God has provided a road map of sorts to worship. He has given us a model to follow that will lead us
into worship, and therefore into His presence. This model is "the tabernacle."
ENTERING THE PRESENCE OF GOD, by Derek Prince, Copyright 2007, Whitaker House.
|LIFE IN JESUS-MINISTRIES