Worship in Spirit and Truth—Not Spirit or Truth

The truth we know and believe about God stands at the very heart of worship and separates the true and living God from worthless idols.

Just as the heart is engaged in worship, so must the mind be engaged. More than an intellectual comprehension of the truth about God, the mind is engaged in the worship of who God is, how God saved us, and why our lives should be consistently reflecting the glory of God.


When Jesus passed through Samaria rather than bypassing the people, he demonstrated a pressing need to keep the divine appointment of the Father and to meet a very specific woman at a well used well. In Jesus interaction and conversation with her which can be seen in the fourth chapter of John’s Gospel—we see something very important about the subject of worship. According to Jesus, the worship that God demands is from the spirit and truth rather than spirit or truth.

This is not two different types or styles of worship; rather it’s two sides of the same coin. Biblical worship involves worshipping God in both spirit and truth.

God Demands Worship in the Spirit

The woman at the well was focused on the place of worship, specifically Gerizim. However, she was not focused on the heart of true worship. Genuine worship of God proceeds from the heart. It’s not driven by location, attire, styles, nor is it based on other cultural things. True worship comes from the heart or it’s not true worship at all. Stephen Charnock, the great puritan writer wrote the following:

Without the heart it is no worship; it is a stage play; an acting a part without being that person really which is acted by us; a hypocrite, in the notion of the word, is a stage player…. We may be truly said to worship God, through we [lack] perfection; but we cannot be said to worship him, if we [lack] sincerity. [1]

In some circles, worship has become so stiff and stale that it’s choked all joy from the people. Often such styles have taken the primacy over and above the joy of worshipping God from the heart. A mind that’s renewed in the gospel and a heart that is totally surrendered to God produces a joyful worship of God. Biblical worship involves the engagement of mind and emotions—the totality of who we are inwardly. True worship cannot happen apart from the heart being properly and fully engaged.

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