Today’s Devotion: Do You Worship God in Spirit and in Truth?
The Lordsaid, “When the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeks such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:23–24). The Lord requires that we worship God in spirit and in truth, for only in that way can we win His praise. But what exactly does worshiping God in spirit and in truth entail? Some brothers and sisters believe that insistently praying and reading every day is worshiping God, and some believe that attending meetings on time and going to church every week is worshiping God, and there are some who believe that toiling and working for the Lord, and giving things up and expending themselves for the Lord is worshiping God, and so on. There are many ways to practice worshiping God, but are we worshiping Him in spirit and in truth? Does God praise our practices? Let’s fellowship this together now.
1. Are We Practicing, or Clinging to Rules and Ceremonies?
From when we start believing in the Lord, although we may pray, read the Bible and singevery day, and every week we persevere with going to church, praising the Lord and listening to sermons, does worshiping God in spirit and in truth involve only these external practices? We can recall when the Samaritan woman asked the where she should worship God, and the Lord Jesus replied: “The hour comes, when you shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. … when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeks such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:21, 23–24). The Lord Jesus told people clearly God’s will and requirements, that it doesn’t matter where one worships God, nor should one follow any rule or ceremony, but rather one has to worship God in spirit and in truth; this is also our principle of practice for worshiping God. But most of the time we only focus on making effort with external practices, and we take heed to pray a little longer and say a little more; we read verses in the Bible over and over and try to learn them by heart and know them word for word; we attend church in all weathers, no matter whether it’s blowing a gale or raining, in the coldest winter or hottest summer; when we organize all kinds of activities or put on various shows to praise the Lord, we always attend with a positive attitude, and so on. From the outside, we’re expending a lot of effort and paying much price in order to worship the Lord, and it looks as though we suffer much, but how many times do we speak what’s in our hearts when we pray to God? How many times during the course of reading the Bible, singing hymns or attending church and listening to sermons do we use our hearts to get closer to God and contemplate the Lord’s words? How many times as we worship God do we seek the Lord’s will and understand the Lord’s words? Some brothers and sisters have practiced in this way for many years and yet they still don’t understand the truth, they have no knowledge of the Lord, and when things happen to them, they still sin frequently and live within the bonds and constraints of sin. In this way, we come face to face with a serious problem, which is that most of the time we spend praying, reading the Bible, going to church and listening to sermons, we are just going through the motions, and are not worshiping God in spirit and in truth, nor are we practicing the truth to satisfy God. No matter how well we may keep to these external practices, God does not praise it.
So then how can we worship God in spirit and in truth as we pray or read the Bible? Let’s read a passage of God’s words together. God’s words say, “A normal spiritual life is to live a life before God. When praying one can quiet one’s heart before God, and throughone can seek for enlightenment by the Holy Spirit, know God’s words, and can understand the will of God. When eating and drinking the words of God one can be clearer and more lucid on what God wants to do right now, and one can have a new path of practice and not be conservative, so that all one’s practice is for the purpose of achieving progress in life. For example, one’s prayer is not for the purpose of saying some nice words, or to bawl before God to express one’s debt, but rather it is to practice exercising one’s spirit, to quiet one’s heart before God, to practice searching for guidance in all things, to make one’s heart a heart that is drawn toward new light every day, to neither be passive nor lazy, and to enter onto the right track of practicing God’s words” (“Regarding a Normal Spiritual Life”).
God’s words show us the path of practice. When we pray, we should take heed to speak to God the words in our hearts and to speak real things, to confide in God our practical difficulties and real state. And when we read the Bible, sing hymns and go to church or listen to sermons, our hearts must seek the truth, seek the enlightenment and illumination of the Holy Spirit, contemplate God’s words, so that we can understand God’s will from within His words, know God and have a path to practice and enter into—only this is to worship God in spirit and in truth. If we practice often in this way, then our lives will make constant progress.
2. Do We Expend Ourselves for God for the Sake of Loving and Satisfying Him?
After they start believing in the Lord, many brothers and sisters give things up and expend themselves for the Lord and they carry out their tasks amidst great adversity. Some often make donations, some are busy with spreading the, some preach the gospel wherever they go, and some even abandon their marriages and serve the Lord for the rest of their lives…. And so, many brothers and sisters believe that this is to worship God in spirit and in truth. But have we ever considered whether we pay this price and expend ourselves really in order to love the Lord and satisfy the Lord? Actually, if we think about it carefully, although we work and preach the gospel for the Lord, sometimes we can still show off ourselves and testify about ourselves through talking about the Bible. By doing this, we can win the esteem and endorsement of others, and establish our own position and image; though some brothers and sisters give things up, expend themselves, and toil and work, yet they possess many impurities, and they do these things for the sake of gaining rewards and crowns, and so that they may enjoy the blessings of the heavenly kingdom…. We can then see that we pay a price and expend ourselves not with an honest heart out of consideration for God’s burden and to satisfy God’s will, but rather we work, preach the gospel, give things up and expend ourselves in order to satisfy our own selfish desires, and we struggle for our own futures and positions. This is not worshiping God in spirit and in truth. Paying a price and expending ourselves in this way is making bargains with God, and it cannot win the Lord’s praise. The Lord Jesus said, “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name? and in your name have cast out devils? and in your name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess to them, I never knew you: depart from me, you that work iniquity” (Matthew 7:22–23). The Lord condemned the people who preached and worked for Him as people who worked iniquity. This was because they did not worship God in spirit and in truth, nor did they expend themselves sincerely for God. Instead, they wished to work for the Lord in return for rewards and blessings. They struggled and toiled for the sake of their own final destinations, and for fame, fortune and status, and ultimately, not only did they not win the Lord’s praise for the price they paid and for expending themselves, but on the contrary, they were condemned by the Lord. Take the Pharisees of that time, for example. From generation to generation, they read the Bible and kept attending the temple in all weathers in order to worship Jehovah God. They traveled over land and sea to spread the gospel of Jehovah, they expended themselves by giving up their families and businesses, and they suffered much. But nothing they did was done for the sake of loving God or satisfying God, but rather it was all done for the sake of their own positions and livelihoods. When the Lord Jesus came to perform His work, they knew perfectly well that the work and words of the Lord Jesus possessed authority and power, and that it all came from God, and yet they did not seek or investigate it whatsoever. They just delimited the Lord relying on their own conceptions and imaginings, believing that a man who was not called Messiah could not possibly be God. In particular, when they saw the number of common people following the Lord Jesus continuing to grow, they became afraid that no one would follow them anymore, and that their positions and livelihoods would no longer be maintained. And so, they took every opportunity to exploit any weakness in the Lord Jesus and to attack, judge, condemn and blaspheme against Him, until finally they nailed the Lord Jesus to the cross. From this, we can see that the Pharisees did not worship God in spirit and in truth. They appeared pious on the outside, but their essence was hypocritical and deceitful, and therefore the Lord Jesus upbraided them, saying, “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!” (Matthew 23:13).
The Lord Jesus said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37). God requires that we seek to love Him, and we should expend for God and busy ourselves working for God upon the foundation of loving God and satisfying God. We should consider God’s burden with an honest heart and satisfy His will, free from any taint or making any personal bargain, and not for the sake of gaining blessings or crowns—only this is to worship the Lord in spirit and in truth. Take Peter, for example. After the Lord Jesus resurrected, He asked Peter three times: “Simon, son of Jonas, love you me? … Feed my sheep” (John 21:16). From His question, Peter understood the Lord’s requirement and the task the Lord had entrusted to him: To seek to become someone who loved and satisfied God, to do everything in his power to feed God’s sheep and to complete God’s commission. Peter etched the task the Lord had entrusted him with in his heart, and in his later work, he sought even more to love God and satisfy God with all his heart and soul. He spread the Lord’s gospel in every direction, and he bore witness to the Lord’s words and will to even more people. In his work, he exalted the Lord and bore witness to the Lord in every way, and he led brothers and sisters using the truth he understood, he brought them all before the Lord and made them honor the Lord as great. Furthermore, when Peter encountered persecution and adversity, he was able to swear loyalty to the Lord unto death so that, in the end, he dedicated everything he had, even his life, to the Lord. He was crucified hanging upside down, thus bearing testimony to his extreme love for God and his willingness to obey till death. Peter worshiped God in spirit and in truth, he expended himself for God with a heart that loved God and, in the end, he became someone who delighted the Lord, and whom the Lord praised.
From the above fellowship, we can see that if we want to worship God in spirit and in truth, then we should take heed to use our hearts to get closer to God, understand God’s will and requirements from within His words, practice God’s words in our real lives, and not cling to all kinds of ceremonies and rules. At the same time, we must be able to sincerely give things up and expend ourselves for God without asking for anything in return or laying down any conditions, but instead we should love and satisfy the Lord with all our heart and soul. In this way, we will worship God in spirit and in truth, and only by practicing in this way can we understand the truth and allow our lives to grow, and only then will we win God’s praise by expending ourselves.