“God is a spirit and His worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” (John 4:24 NIV)
It is probably because of this passage and some others that reference God as a “spirit” that many naysayers casually belittle Believers by calling God a ghost. Ghosts are spirits of the dead, therefore God is The Spirit of life since He was neither born nor died, He simply is. For those of us who know God, not just believe “in God” we know Truth.
What was going on when Jesus had to make this distinction? Jesus had sent His disciples to purchase food and He waited for them by a well and had a conversation with a Samaritan woman–a no-no for a Jewish people to interact with the Samaritans (then). At any rate, Jesus told the woman all about herself and a conversation rose about where a person should worship. And the following is Jesus’ response to her:
“Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.”
What were the Samaritans worshipping? Idols (images) with altars set up in the mountain who served no purpose other than pagan worship. Unfortunately, the debate about where a person should worship is still going on between some factions of Christians and what Jesus said, then, is true now. God, the Father is seeking those who will worship Him in the spirit (allowing His spirit to interact with our own) and in truth (with knowledge of who He is and how He wants us to live).
There are many people who go to church buildings out of tradition, but for no real purpose or knowledge. They go through the motions of singing songs, praying empty prayers, and listening to sermons with half an ear. I know people who attend a church service on a regular basis, but then they claim they don’t know if they believe the Bible or not. If they don’t know if the Bible is true or not, why are they wasting their time going into a building? These are those who believe “in God” but do not Believe God.
This is the point Jesus was trying to make to the Samaritan woman and those who Believe God, not just believe in Him. We cannot believe God if we don’t know His Word. His Word reveals who He is and for those who understand this, we know we do not have to be in a specific place to worship Him–acknowledging all He has done for us and giving Him praise for who He is.
For this reason, many church services are devoid of the Spirit of God, because His spirit is not welcomed due to the traditions of man, taking precedence over the leadership of Holy Spirit. None who are led by Holy Spirit would encourage anyone to live in opposition to God’s Word. None who are led by Holy Spirit would call God said was wrong, right nor what He said is right, wrong. None who are led by Holy Spirit would deliberately entice anyone to live a life apart from the knowledge of God and His purpose for our lives.
When we become so complacent as leaders in the church that we choose not to stir people with Truth and allow God’s Word to convict of sin, we are merely going through the motions of a bland, flavorless service. We are told to preach the Word–whether it is convenient or not, whether people want to hear it or not and we are to say what God says, not just teaching a “feel-good, sugarcoated messages” because we don’t want to offend sinners. If we are afraid to offend those in sin and choose to offend God instead, we place ourselves in a position to know His wrath.
Satan isn’t concerned about the leaders in some churches; he has already recruited them as commanders in his army. What they have forgotten is this–the payment for sin is death. And this is why there are so many spiritually, dead churches–devoid of life–because Satan’s job is to kill, still, and destroy. Can we not see that is exactly what is happening around us today?
Be filled with the Spirit of God and know Holy Spirit will not dwell in an unclean temple, but meditate on The Word, knowing there is life in The Word of God, leading us to closer relationship with Him and giving us power–to stay bold and courageous–to say what God says. Worship Him in Spirit and in the Truth of His Word.
More of what Jesus said and why, next time!