What does it mean to worship God in spirit and truth? (John 4:23-24)

The phrase to worship the Lord “in spirit and truth” is derived from John 4:23-24 where Jesus says:
But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship Him.  24 God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

So what is the concept of worshipping the Father in spirit and truth? Why is God seeking after people who will worship Him in spirit and truth?

In context beginning with John 4:6-30, Jesus was having a conversation with a Samaritan woman at the well. During the conversation Jesus and the Samaritan woman began to discuss about places of worship.
The woman stated that the Jews claimed the proper place of worship was at Jerusalem while the Samaritans believed that the true place of worship was at Mount Gerizim.
However Jesus then corrects the Samaritan woman by teaching her that who you worship and how you worship is more important than where you worship.
According to Jesus, the physical place of worship does not matter to God anymore. Instead God is looking for people who will worship Him with a genuine, sincere and authentic heart or mind. God is not looking for religious, hypocritical, legalistic or superficial people. Instead God is looking for those who seek a genuine and personal relationship with Him. He is looking for people who will worship Him out of a pure heart and pure motives.

1.  John 4:24: “God is spirit…”
This speaks to the nature of God in that God is a Being who is not confined to physical spaces or to a geographic location. Therefore God’s presence is not limited to man-made structures. Instead God is a spirit Being who is omnipresent and therefore He can be everywhere at the same time.
So in regards to places of worship, Jesus was teaching the Samaritan woman that God can be worshipped anywhere or any place in the world. Furthermore, God can be worshipped at any time.


2. John 4:24: “…and those who worship Him must worship in spirit”
For us to worship God in spirit means that we must worship God from a place of authenticity and sincerity. We should desire to worship and follow Him out of a pure heart and pure motives. We should worship Him out of a desire to truly know Him and fellowship with Him. Therefore our focus of worship is not related to outward appearances or ritualism and hypocritical worship. Instead the focus is related to our inner spirit, true repentance and internal transformation because of our worship and relationship with God.


3. John 4:24: “… and truth”
This means that the worship of God must be guided by the word of God because truth is only found in the Scriptures. Therefore the Bible must be the true guide for how to worship and relate with God.
We cannot claim to be truly worshiping God whilst desiring to live in contrast with His word.
Our worship involves following sound doctrine and forsaking deceptive teachings. Our worship involves seeking God’s truth (in His word) and not the philosophies and doctrines of men.


God does not reside in a particular religious building but instead He has decided to reside inside the people whom He has regenerated through His Son Jesus Christ. It is the children of God who are the temple of God.

1 Corinthians 6:19 says: Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God?

Ultimately God is looking for true worshippers who are convicted by the desire to obey His word and people who seek Him out of a genuine heart.

God who is all knowing is able to see the hypocrisy and superficial condition of the hearts of many people. In a world filled with false religions, false gods and false teachers, God’s true desire is to fellowship with anyone who will approach Him with sincerity and a pure heart and motive. God is looking for those people who seek to obey His word and uphold the truth of His word because it is through a love and obedience to His word, that we can truly worship Him.


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