On September 26th, 2009 I spoke at Fellowship of Maceió Church, in Portuguese, Igreja Batista da Comunhão, after my brother-in-law, Pastor Lon Davidson asked me to speak at there English service. I will post here the thoughts I shared while speaking. It probably is not a perfect replication of all I said but the essential points are included.
Good evening, I was surprised when Pastor Lon asked me to speak at the service but am glad to be doing so. After being asked to speak, I prayed and asked God what to speak about and the direction he pointed me was to speak about what it means to worship in spirit and truth. Tonight we focus on worship in spirit.
The main text for this topic is John 4:20-24 and it is where Jesus talks about worshiping in spirit and truth.
John 4:20-24 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 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. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”
Now in order to understand what it is to worship in spirit and truth we first need to have an understanding of worship. There are two passages that point to the essential meaning of worship.
Romans 12:1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.
John 3:30 “He must increase, I must decrease”
For the purpose of this study worship is defined as putting God at the forefront and involves elevating God and surrendering self. Now there can be whole sermons written on the nature of worship but this simple definition is central to what we are examining.
It is also good to be aware of what the issue was that Jesus was responding to. Samaritans and Jews had significant issue of who held the proper place of temple and followed God truly. Samaritans believed that the temple belonged at Mount Gerizim, Jews in Jerusalem. They really were at strong conflict; they did not like each other at all. So, yes Jesus response was contrary to both views. True worshipers worship in spirit and truth. Today we are examining worship in spirit.
In order to understand what it means to worship in spirit first we need to understand what is spirit? The bible has multiple references to spirit. 348 references in the Old testament, 350 references in the new testament. Now not all those references are referring to the human spirit, some reference the Holy Spirit, some reference evil spirits. But the bible does speak specifically about the human spirit. Here are some verses to give an example:
Psalm 51:11 “Create in me a clean heart, renew a right spirit within me”
Matthew 5:3 “blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”
Mark 14:38 “the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak”
Rom 8:16 “The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God”
The spirit is the inner most part of man. The bible tells us that we are the temple of the Holy Spirit. If you think about it, the Holy of Holies is symbolic of the human spirit. The spirit is the deepest part of humanity. The spirit is the place that Holy Spirit indwells:
1Co 6:19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own
Worship in spirit is all about God with us. It is about being indwelt with the Holy God in our spirit. It takes things away from rightness of place and into being indwelt and surrendering to the Holy Spirit.
It is all about a covenant relationship with the almighty God, where God is within us, leading us daily.
Now to understand the nature of this relationship it is important to understand the past covenants, in particular with Israel.
Do you what we refer to as the law was not the first covenant. Rather it was the second option.
God first simply wanted Israel to hear his voice and obey. The biblical reference for this is Exodus 19:5. However, the voice of God scared them and they wanted to renegotiate the terms. This is found in Exodus 20:18-19.
God agreed to renegotiate and this resulted in God using a mediator or intercessor: Moses, priests, and prophets. It resulted in the Torah, what we call the law: mediated instructions. This can be found in Deuteronomy 18:15-19
But now because of Jesus Christ we no longer need a mediator. We have a relationship with access to God through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. It is not just hearing God’s voice. It is not just following God’s mediated instructions. It is being indwelt by the Holy and living God through the Holy Spirit. There are three passages that really explain how this works:
Colossians 1:27 To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
This indicates that it is Christ in us that everything points to, it is the essential point. Yet, we know Jesus is in heaven as indicated in the next verse;
Hebrews 9:24 For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.
So Jesus is described as in us, yet He is in Heaven with the father. How can both be true? This is answered in the next verse;
Eph 3:16, 17a that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith-
Jesus is in us, through the Holy Spirit residing in our spirit.
So here is how it works. Jesus is in heaven with the father, interceding on our behalf. Our faith enables us to be redeemed through his sacrifice for our sins. This enables us to be filled with God’s presence through the Holy Spirit in our spirit. This is the dynamic of worship in the spirit. We have the Holy Spirit who communicates to Jesus who goes before the father. It is really an amazing thing to have all aspects of God interacting when we worship in spirit.
God is truly with us. His presence abides in us. So since the Holy Spirit resides in us we can begin to understand worship in spirit. It really is about an ongoing relationship with the Holy Spirit and as such with God.
Let’s look at understanding relating with the Holy Spirit a little bit more, how do relate with the Holy Spirit?
Four passages help explain this better:
Ephesians 5:19 Do not be drunk with wine which leads to debauchery, but be being filled with the Holy Spirit.
We all know what it is like to be drunk with wine. It is a loss of self control. The imagery stands in contrast to being filled with the Holy Spirit. Being filled with the Holy Spirit involves a release of self, and letting the Holy Spirit fill. It is an ongoing process. Actually most English translations describe the passage as be filled with the Holy Spirit but if you look at what the actually translation is, it is be being filled. As I stated it is an ongoing process. Now lets look at the next verse that helps understand relating with the Holy Spirit.
Mat 11:28-30 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yokupon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Now you may be thinking what that verse has to do with the Holy Spirit. Well, if you examine the meaning of yoke it is clear it points to the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit leads us to the right way of living. There are actually two ways the word yoke was used that help us to understand this. A Rabbi’s (teacher) instruction for students is called a yoke. It is how a Rabbi expects his disciples to live. Now we have a more common understanding of a yoke in relations to animals. A yoke guides them in the right path or direction and keeps them from heading their own way or direction. In the same way the Holy Spirit is our guide and leads in the right path.
The next passage is really two separate verses but they really emphasize the point.
Galatians 5:16 & 25 “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” & “If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.”
We always have a choice, walk in self or live by Spirit. Go our own way, or follow the Holy Spirit. It is up to us, choose to submit to the Holy Spirit, God within, or we follow the way of self. Let’s look at this in another verse:
John 15:4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.
How do we abide in Christ, what was Jesus talking about here. Well, it is worship in the Spirit and surrender to the Holy Spirit. Worship in spirit is daily following the leading of the Holy Spirit. It is daily surrendering self to His presence. It is abiding in Jesus through the Holy Spirit. When we engage in such daily surrender God gives us many benefits. It is not about some external manifestation. It is not about some internal mystical experience. It is about God with us and daily abiding in Jesus through the Holy Spirit.
Let’s take a quick look at some of the benefits.
First the Holy Spirit gives testimony to our New Identity. Romans 8:16-17 states:
The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs–heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
The Holy Spirit also teaches us as seen in John 14:26:
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.
It is also seen in John 16:13:
When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.
Both those passages actually show the Holy Spirits function here on earth and in our relationship. Leading us and teaching us truth is one of those roles. Not only does He lead us into truth, when we ask for wisdom the Holy Spirit is the one who leads us into Wisdom.
James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.
Holy Spirit leads us to repentance and helps us overcome our flesh. I already referenced
Galatians 5:16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.
and it clearly shows the Holy Spirit has a role in our overcoming sin.
When we worship in spirit and surrender to the Holy Spirit we receive fruit. This is seen in Galatians 5:22-23 which should be familiar to you.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
When we worship in spirit and surrender we receive these things in the midst of our circumstances. They come from surrender to the Holy Spirit.
Also the Holy Spirit gives us gifts, things to use to make disciples as seen in:
1 Corinthians 12:7-11 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.
All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills. So you can see surrender to the Holy Spirit and walking in worship in spirit has many benefits. Now I want to bring this to a close and give you some questions as an application point.
In summary, worship in spirit is surrendering to God on a daily basis and following the leading of the Holy Spirit. It is ongoing relating with God. It is God dwelling in us and leading us on His path. Now it can involve righteous behavior. It can involve internal, mystical experience. It can involve outpouring and external manifestations. It can involve supernatural activity. There are places where we sense the Holy Spirit active, such as in this church. But none of these are worship in spirit. Worship in spirit is daily, ongoing surrender of self to the Holy Spirit. So for application thing about these questions:
What is more evident in your life?
Are you walking in flesh or walking in the Spirit?
Are you depending on self or things of this world for what is described as fruit of Spirit?
What is the Holy Spirit saying to you today that you need to change to walk in the Spirit and live out worshiping in Spirit?
Now I will close in prayer, take a few minutes to think about those questions and I will then pray.
Dear heavenly father, thank you for sending the gift of your Son. Thanks for sending us your Holy Spirit and truly being with us. Lord, make us aware of when we are walking in flesh and not the Holy Spirit. Draw us into deeper worship in spirit while we release self and fill us with your Holy presence through the Holy Spirit. Thank you father, for making this way for us, help us to surrender. In your name, Amen.
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