NT Tuesday: Worship in Spirit and Truth [2]

Worship in Spirit and TruthIn last week’s post, we introduced our discussion on Worship as presented in the New Testament. Our thesis, if you will, was as follows: The Father seeks worshippers. As disciples of Jesus Christ, worship is a necessity – both corporately and individually. The Father desires it! Think of that, the Father desires it. But as any Master desiring something, it is to be on His terms. This by default means that it is not on our terms.

We mentioned that the first “term” for worshipping our awesome God is that our worship must be “in spirit.” The use of the term “spirit” here is in contrast to anything that is physical and external.

Let’s state the obvious negative and then approach the obvious positive. Worship of God involves NOTHING that is physical or external by its very nature except. Let’s think of some physical things that have been used in the past for worship by well-meaning disciples of Christ. The list is rather long:

  • Musical instruments. (Yes, I know they were used in the Old Testament, but we are talking about New Testament worship)
  • Incense
  • Candles
  • Idols
  • Creative lighting
  • Audio-visual effects
  • Worship Leaders
  • Worship Centers

The fact that they are used frequently does not make them biblical. In fact, both the Lord Jesus’ teaching and the practices of the Net Testament church, as recorded in the Word, would provide sufficient evidence that these methods and techniques were NOT used by first-generation Christians.

So, what does it mean to worship “in spirit.” The most important component of worshipping “in spirit” is that “God is spirit”. Jesus, Himself, told the Samaritan woman that. So we worship God, as a spirit, and God alone. Not God, plus something or someone, but God alone. In spirit also refers to us – our spirit. We do not worship God “in the flesh” or “with the flesh.” Our human spirit, as enabled by and guided by the Holy Spirit, has now the desire and the ability of praising, loving, honoring, adoring, and submitting to God.

The term “in spirit” is also a reminder to us that worship is not external, but rather internal. One cannot judge whether another person is worshipping God or not. The Lord Jesus said in Matthew 15:8 “This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.” In other words, they sounded like they were worshipping Jesus, they looked like it, but they weren’t really. They were “worshipping” on the outside, but not on the inside. That is the problem with the flesh – the flesh responds to external stimuli, the spirit responds to God and to God alone!

One last thought before we move on to the “in truth” component of worship. Worship in spirit also means that our worship is not based on tradition. Oh, how we can fall short and rely solely on tradition. You can appear to be worshipping (and not really doing so) sitting in a breaking of bread service just as easily as you can appear to be worshipping (and not really doing so) while at a “modern, contemporary” service. Our tradition does not sanctify our worship!

Next week we will look at the “in truth” component. Until then, fulfill your ministry!

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Photo credit: Chris Buggins, used with permission.

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