How To Worship In The Spirit – Part 1
“Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshippers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshippers must worship him in spirit and truth” John 4:23-24
One of the primary factors to being a true worshipper is that we worship in spirit. In fact, Jesus says we must worship him in spirit and truth. There is no question about it – worship has to be “in spirit”. Any other worship is false worship. Worshipping God in vain. So what does it mean to worship in spirit?
I am told that the book of John, where we find this statement by Christ, was written in a single case. That means we don’t know whether Jesus was saying “spirit” or “Spirit”. As you will see, that makes little difference to us, and over the next three chapters we will look at three things we can learn from this scripture. They are that we (1) worship with our spirits, (2) we worship by the Holy Spirit and (3) we worship in the spiritual realm.
Let’s examine the first of these phrases:
Worship with Your Spirit
I Thessalonians 5:23 states “May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless”. This verse gives a convenient definition of our make up as born again human beings. We can clearly see that there are three parts to our make up. We are spirits, who have souls and live in physical bodies. Worship is an activity that should find its source in our spirits, as opposed to our souls or bodies. Please understand it will affect all of our being when we engage in worship, but the driving force must come from the spirit. To understand what that means, we must understand the difference between the three parts of our make up and how they interact with each other and affect our lives.
Body, Soul and Spirit
Firstly, you live in a body. This is the physical “tent” in which you live as a person. God has saved you and promises to “Give life to your mortal body“ Romans 8:11. But you will one day lose your body through death and be given a new resurrection body at the coming of Christ.
Secondly, you have a soul. This is generally understood as your emotions, mind, desires and will. This is the part of you that is being constantly matured and developed into the image of Christ. When your soul acts independently of your spirit, this is what the Bible calls living in the flesh, or by the sinful nature.
Thirdly, you are a spirit. Your spirit was dead (or separated from God) before you were born again. At the point of salvation God made your spirit alive, as his Spirit birthed new life within you. It’s as though your spirit is re-energize towards God and comes alive towards him and in him. You are, from that point on, spiritually alive to God. In fact, God says you are now“One spirit with Him” 1 Corinthians 6:17.
“For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature” Galatians 5:17
Here is a vital lesson to learn in the light of worship: Because you are a three-part person, you have different drives and desire sources stirring within you as a Christian. You have the desires of your body (E.g. I’m tired, hungry), the desires of your soul (E.g. feelings, logic, wants), and the desires of your spirit (E.g. conviction, obeying God’s prompting, fulfilling truth).
Your spirit is the source of godly driving force. It is the avenue through which communication comes from God to you. Scripture says, “The Spirit leads into all truth”. This means the Holy Spirit will constantly be igniting, inspiring and convincing you to fulfil God’s desires, as God is truth.
Your soul and spirit each have desires that are asking for fulfilment. Often these different sources are crying out with opposite desires. A part of you will want to follow God, another part will be crying out to rebel. Like little baby birds in a nest, straining open mouthed to be satisfied, each part of you calls out for attention. The important factor is to learn how to follow God and his will communicated to you through your spirit, whilst appreciating the very human needs of your soul and body.
In all of life then, we have a choice. To live by the Spirit, or to live by our “flesh”. In the context of worship Jesus makes it clear -“True worshippers MUST worship in SPIRIT”
David Told His Soul What to Do
David understood this when he sang “Praise the Lord O my soul” in Psalm 103. He realised his soul would not always lead him as he should be led and may even rebel against his own spirit. He had to tell his soul to praise God. He also stated “Why so downcast O my soul – Put your hope in God” (Psalm 42:5). He was saying “C’mon soul, stop being miserable. Worship God!”. He had the revelation that at times he had to deal aggressively with his sinful nature in order to live a godly life and follow God’s Spirit.
Let’s translate this to the area of your own worship life. When you get up early in the morning, or attend a meeting at your church, your body may be crying out “I’m tired”. Your soul may saying “I’m fed up. I don’t feel like God loves me”. But what truth is God’s Spirit stirring in your spirit? “Worship me, adore me, follow me, I love you, yield to me, I want to bless you”. He will be calling out to relate to you, asking for your surrender and worship. What do you do? Jesus said “True worshippers worship in spirit”.
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