by Timothy C. Mitchell
“God is a Spirit, and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24).
The Lord has created all things for his pleasure (Revelation 4: 11). Because we are the few who made the choice of serving Him “the LORD [especially] taketh pleasure in his people” (Psalms 149:4). Since worshiping God is the primary reason for our being here, it is necessary that we worship Him properly and in the way He desires us to.
There is a precarious balance that must be maintained in our worship. The word precarious is derived from the same Latin root “precari” as the word prayer. Webster defines it as “dependent upon the will.” Our worship is balanced upon our will and circumstances around us. Proper worship is a unique blend of emotional response and obedience to the Word.
Let us compare our worship with an airplane. To fly straight, an airplane must have both wings level. To turn left, the left wing dips lower than the right one. To turn right, the right wing must be lower. If one wing is constantly positioned lower than the other the pilot will fly in circles. So it is with our worship. If our worship leans toward the Spirit all the time we find ourselves at risk of being spiritually hyperactive without regard to truth. Our emotions rule and are mistaken for being right like those involved in feel-good religions without commitment. If one is involved only in the letter of the law we will find ourselves judgmental; interested in only policing others and like the Pharisees, forcing them to conform. This attitude kills those whose desire to serve Him through the choice of love (II Corinthians 3 :6). There must be a balance between the two in order for us to go down the narrow path and through the straight gate.
How does one worship in spirit? Notice that the word spirit is printed in small caps. In the original Biblical language it can mean either the human spirit or the Holy Spirit.
Concerning the physical man, we are required to worship God with all our heart, soul and mind (Deuteronomy 10: 12; Matthew 22:37). Just as a spirited horse is very lively and energetic so we must respond with all our physical capabilities to the Lord. It is amazing how people can get so emotionally involved in sports yet when it comes to God they are blase. Even though one may be a “pillar in the church,” remember that we are instructed to be “lively stones” in a spiritual house (I Peter 2:5).
There is a difference between praise and worship. You may praise a person’s accomplishments whereas worship involves a deeper commitment-a submission of one’s will to another. It is easier to go through planned motions than ditch our pride and follow David as he “danced before the LORD with all his might” (2 Samuel 6:14) and he was not even Spirit-filled.
Because God is a Spirit, it is necessary for us to worship in His dimension- spiritually. Only a person who has received the Holy Ghost according to Acts 2:4 is able to totally worship God. Since the Holy Ghost is actually the same Spirit that indwelt Christ and is now released to indwell us (John 7:39), we have access to the power and joy of the Lord. Indeed, when the Bible says that “in that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, (Luke 10:21), the word rejoiced in the Greek literally means “to jump for joy.” No wonder Peter admonished “Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory” (1 Peter 1:8). I challenge you to go your next church service and obey this scripture, “quench not the Spirit” (I Thessalonians. 5: 19). Allow the Spirit to prepare you for the next step-worshiping in truth.
When we worship in truth we are in actuality obeying His Word. “To obey is better than sacrifice” (I Samuel 15 :22). God would rather we obey His Word and His minister than to smoke-screen others with pseudo spirituality-having the wrong motive when fasting, praying, tithing, and attending church-these thing we should have done and not left the other undone (Matthew 23:23.) Worshiping in truth is allowing God to tell us what to do and realizing that His way of doing things far exceeds our understanding (Isaiah 55:9). Instead of trying to figure out God, we must “walk by faith, not by sight” (II Corinthians. 5:7). Like Peter, we will walk on water when invited and not question how or why.
Truth is the source of salvation. People are saved because “when they heard this” (Acts 2:37; 19:15) they immediately obeyed God’s instructions. We are not saved by our feelings of joy or sorrow but by complete obedience to the Word of God.
Many times we judge a service by what we feel instead of what we hear. A certain new convert blurted out, “That was a great service!” When asked what the preacher preached about he commented, “I don’t remember but it was good.” If all we got from the service was a good feeling, then we failed to worship in truth. An apostolic church service will have lively spiritual worship coupled with fervent preaching that convicts and uplifts.
Worshiping in truth grows roots that anchor us when the storms of adversity claw at our soul. The purpose of Sunday school, Wednesday night Bible study, care groups, etc. is to provide regular teaching. Teaching must be a priority if maturity is to be attained. Knowledge of truth prevents sin. “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee” (Psalms 110: 11). Knowledge of the holy cleanses and teaching entwines truth around our soul like blood vessels feeding a healthy heart.
The principle of teaching the Word guarantees results and generates faith. Cast your bread upon the water and it shall return (Ecclesiastes II: 10). “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10: 17). This is where growth is secured and the back door of the church is shut. The rushing current of revival brings souls in while the still water of teaching keeps them. This is the process of John 8:31-32 where believers are instructed to continue in the Word until they become disciples and go on to discover the truth that sets them free. Consistent teaching will continually transform and renew our mind so we can establish what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God (Romans 12:2). No wonder God has magnified his Word even above his name (Psalms 138:2)!
To be acceptable unto God, our worship must be balanced. We must worship God in spirit with our emotions using the outward man of flesh. We must also worship God in truth by conforming our mind to biblical principles with the proof of obedience from an honest heart. As with Cain and Abel, God is going to inspect our offering of worship and approve or disapprove according to His requirements. Let us worship with the proper combination of spirit and truth so that our sacrifice will be such a sweet smelling savour unto the Lord that He will look down and pour out a blessing upon us.