Worship 6

John 4:24 “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

Psalm 51:17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.

Isaiah 57:15 For thus says the high and exalted One Who lives forever, whose name is Holy, “I dwell on a high and holy place, And also with the contrite and lowly of spirit In order to revive the spirit of the lowly And to revive the heart of the contrite.


Isaiah 1:13 “Bring your worthless offerings no longer, Incense is an abomination to Me. New moon and sabbath, the calling of assemblies– I cannot endure iniquity and the solemn assembly. 14 “I hate your new moon festivals and your appointed feasts, They have become a burden to Me; I am weary of bearing them 15 “So when you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide My eyes from you; Yes, even though you multiply prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are covered with blood.

Malachi 1:10 “Oh that there were one among you who would shut the gates, that you might not uselessly kindle fire on My altar! I am not pleased with you,” says the LORD of hosts, “nor will I accept an offering from you.

The very first passage of Scripture from above is something of a New Testament Regulative Principle of worship. While it does not set out the particulars in terms of things to do, it does get at the very essentials of worship. Worship must be in accordance with who God is, so since the text tells us that God is Spirit it tells us that true worship must be in spirit (be spiritual and not just the outward acts of the body). Since worship must be in accordance with who God really is, then worship must be in accordance with the truth of who God is. Instead of a little statue representing God, we must know who God really is as the God of all truth. Instead of something physical representing God, we must know Him in His spiritual nature. Instead of our physical nature going through some motions, our hearts must be in accordance with Himself in truth and the worship must be from the depths of our souls. Bodily worship is not worship as God is spirit and as such we must worship Him spiritually.

The text of Scripture (John 4:24) is pointed and clear. Since God is spirit, we MUST worship in spirit and truth. In other words, if our spiritual natures or the core of our being is not in worship, then what we are doing is not worship. We can do all the external rites that we think makes us worship and be in idolatry from beginning to end. If our hearts and spiritual natures are not engaged in worship, then we are not worshiping at all or we are worshiping an idol we have manufactured from our flesh. Can the text mean anything less? Indeed it may mean more, but we must grasp the bare fact that unless our hearts are in the worship our worship is from the flesh.

This is a shot from a very large gun at what is going on in the professing churches in America today. We have some who are as dry as bones that have been in the desert for many years. On the other hand, on the other side of the spectrum we have loud music and lots of shouting. Both of those can be of the flesh as opposed to being from the spiritual nature of the soul. If we do not worship the true God, then we worship a false god. If we do not worship the true God in spirit, then we worship God (though not in reality) from and with the flesh. We can carry out our rituals with all the intensity that our flesh can come up with, but if it does not come from our spiritual nature which means it must come from Christ we do not worship the true God at all. Again, note the word “must” in the text. “Those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” All true worship must have worship in spirit and truth. If those are absent, then there is no true worship of the living God. This is true regardless of which creed we adhere to and it is true regardless of how orthodox we think we are. It MUST be there or there is no true worship.

While this may sound arrogant and the opposite of nice, that is no argument against it being the truth. It is far easier to throw stones than it is to die to self and worship the living God. Worship demands that we die to self and true worship means that we must be thrown off of all dependence on self and look to Christ to give us true worship. We cannot prepare our hearts for worship, but instead we are to seek Him who alone can prepare our hearts for worship. This is why so many church “services” focus on things that the flesh can carry out and never move those who attend to seek the true God from the depths of the soul. Who wants to go battle the flesh and perhaps be shown sin that s/he must repent of in order to truly worship? Who wants to leave all ability at the door and cry out for God to grant worship at His mere pleasure? Who wants to leave self-seeking in order to seek the living God to come down and be present with His perfect and brilliant holiness?

True worship is not only hard, it is impossible to do in the flesh of man and it can only happen if God grants it by grace. That is one reason we don’t see true worship in our day, it is because we cannot control it and we cannot do it apart from God working it in us and that is painful to our pride. Oh, indeed so many claim to believe in sovereignty, but when it comes to worship, that seems to have been forgotten. Indeed we say we live by grace, but worship by a sovereign grace? God may not follow our order of worship and we may have to have our hearts in great pain in order to seek Him. We may have to admit that we are not ready to worship and God just may not grant it that morning. Perhaps we should not ask people if they attended church, but instead ask if they worshipped the living God from the depths of their broken hearts. Perhaps we could also ask if God came to their meeting. But of course God was there, they will say, God is everywhere. Indeed, that is true. However, since God is everywhere, He is the very fire of hell as well. What we want to know is whether God made His presence felt among His people or not. That would also require them to really want Him and to even know what that meant.

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