What does it mean to worship God in Spirit and in truth?
Jesus said, “But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth” (John 4:23, 24). This is the only type of worship that is acceptable.
Here is declared the same truth that Jesus had revealed to Nicodemus when He said, “Except a man be born from above, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3, margin).
“Not by seeking a holy mountain or a sacred temple are men brought into communion with heaven. Religion is not to be confined to external forms and ceremonies. The religion that comes from God is the only religion that will lead to God. In order to serve Him aright, we must be born of the divine Spirit. This will purify the heart and renew the mind, giving us a new capacity for knowing and loving God. It will give us a willing obedience to all His requirements. This is true worship. It is the fruit of the working of the Holy Spirit. By the Spirit every sincere prayer is indited, and such prayer is acceptable to God. Wherever a soul reaches out after God, there the Spirit’s working is manifest, and God will reveal Himself to that soul. For such worshipers He is seeking. He waits to receive them, and to make them His sons and daughters.” The Desire of Ages, 189.
True worship must be “in spirit,” that is, engaging the whole heart. Nothing less than the whole heart will be acceptable to the Lord. Unless there is a real passion for God, there is no worship in spirit. At the same time, worship must be “in truth,” that is, truth as it is in Jesus. Unless we have knowledge of the God we worship, there is no worship in truth. Both are necessary for God-honoring worship. Spirit without truth leads to a shallow, emotional experience that could be compared to a high. As soon as the emotion is over, the worship ends. Truth without spirit, the Holy Spirit, can result in a dry, form of joyless legalism. The best combination of both aspects of worship results in a joyous appreciation of God informed by Scripture. The more we know about God, the more we appreciate Him. The more we appreciate, the deeper our worship. The deeper our worship, the more God is glorified.
Let us worship our Lord in the way God designed it to be—in Spirit and in Truth.