Let us break down the pertinent facts starting with the fact that God is spirit. We have often heard this verse but perhaps we do not understand the point Jesus was making and in order to do that we need to understand the context. Jesus is speaking to the Samaritan woman at the well. The Samaritans were reviled by the Jewish people in this day. They were considered half-breeds. The Samaritans however felt the Jews were wrong on many fronts including worship. In the context we see the woman ask Jesus about their differences. The Samaritans worshiped God on Mount Gerizim while the Jewish people insisted that Jerusalem was the only allowable place for worship. Jesus answers that it is not the location that matters when worshiping God. Yet in the middle of His response is this declaration that God is spirit. Let us turn to commentary for some insight:
"Better, God is spirit. His will has been expressed in the seeking. But His very nature and essence is spirit, and it follows from this that all true worship must be spiritual. The appeal is here made to a doctrine of special prominence in the Samaritan theology. They had altered a number of passages in the Pentateuch, which seemed to them to speak of God in language properly applicable to man, and to ascribe to Him human form and feelings. But to believe in the spiritual essence of God contained its own answer both as to place and mode of worship. -- Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers
Very interesting beloved. So it appears that the Samaritans had twisted some scripture in order to bring God down to the level of man. This doctrine of Special Prominence should sound familiar as we have been discussing it this entire devotional. Sure it is not exactly like what the Samaritans were teaching but the essentials are the same. The doctrine of Special Prominence reduces God to a more palatable level for us. And the worship reinforces the teachings. Instead of how great thou art -- it is how much He loves us. These may seem similar but they are not. They are light years apart. The lyrics for How Great Thou Art speaks to the fact that God created the entire universe and how insignificant we are in relation to that. It glorifies God. It deifies God. It reminds us of our place in the cosmic scheme of things. How He Loves Us teaches us that God is jealous for us. That we are His portion. And of course, oh how He loves us. Over and over again. And over again. That glorifies man. While it may not deify man, it strips God of His status as deity. It brings Him down to our level. Perhaps this is just human nature. To realize that God is spirit is to recognize that we are not comparable to Him. To realize God is spirit is to lift Him above us and to bow our nature down to His. It requires the humility that is simply lacking in us by nature and certainly not encouraged within modern worship that demands blessings and tells God we are His portion. Oh and calls it all worship. The Samaritan theology of Special Prominence is alive and well beloved and it robs God of who He is.
The next fact from the key verses is that the time to end this is now. Sure these verses were penned a couple thousand years ago but to God that was yesterday. The hour is already here beloved. The Bible warns us over and over again about redeeming the time we have left to present the Gospel to the lost. We have to get to the point where playing church is simply not tolerated. No more singing Highway to Hell or Purple Rain during worship (both happened in the past month). This is not a joke. It is not worshiptainment. Jesus is coming back and he will not be singing how much He loves us.
Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called faithful and true, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame on fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords. - Revelation 19: 11-16 (ESV)
Eyes of fire, dipped in blood, Jesus returns as a warrior King. Then it will be too late. It will be too late for those who spent decades singing about how great they were. Thankfully there is still time for us to put God back as spirit but it is running short. The next thing that may get overlooked is that there is such a thing as false worshipers. Jesus is directly implying this by referring to "true worshipers." In order to understand what would make a false worshiper we must see how Jesus defines a true worshiper. This is defined as someone who engages in worship in spirit and truth. Let us deal first with spirit. The ultimate irony is that the human spirit is the house for the divine spirit of God for those that are saved. That something so pure could come and dwell in something so inherently evil. That is the power of God beloved. To turn someone who is as depraved as is described in the third chapter of Romans into someone saved by the grace and mercy of almighty God. Hallelujah! Let us return however to the overall context. Remember that the question the Samaritan woman asked was in relation to where worship took place on this physical coil we call earth. That is the truth behind the answer of worshiping in spirit. The where does not matter. The physical attributes of this world do not matter. Do not reduce worship down to carnal elements and pretend that is what is required for it to be true worship. It is the indwelt Holy Spirit connecting to the spirit that is God. It transcends whatever constraints we might try and place upon it. Then how do we know true worship from false worship? That is where the truth comes in. True worshipers understand that besides worshiping in spirit it must be rooted in the truth of the Word of God. For example, one of the more disturbing trends in modern worshiptainment is the over-sexualization of the relationship we have with Christ. What better way to bring Him down to the level of man then to sing about being in an actual physical relationship with Him? Here are some popular lyrics from the worship leader of the International House of Prayer; a hotbed for heresy:
You have wanted me
Just one pulse of Your heart
You were wooing me
God is a lover, looking for a lover
So He fashioned me
Besides being closer to soft core pornography than worship this trend is very prominent within many circles of the church today. This is especially true for younger women in the faith. The problem of course is this is false worship. That is the point Jesus is making in the key verses. While the redeemed will worship in spirit and truth; the unregenerate will pretend to worship. Their faux worship will be marked by the marginalization of God to bring Him down to the level of man and the lyrics not being grounded in the truth of the Word. That is what we see today beloved. I do not mean a mention of a Bible verse here or there. False worship violates the Word on general principle. God might be a lover in the sense that He loves us but that is not how that song is portraying Him. He is not wooing us like some star crossed lover in a Harlequin Romance novel. Yes it is true that God loves us but singing how much He loves us is not worshiping Him. While there is one verse in the Bible that presents us as His portion, the entirety of Scripture teaches the reverse. To present God as being jealous without the context of worshiping false gods is in itself false. I know this is a hard teaching but the vast majority of churches today do not worship the Lord in spirit or truth. They worship the carnality of man disguised in false piety. They incite an emotional reaction from people and then pawn it off as being "spiritual." Because they are primarily dealing with unregenerate goats, they simply do not know the difference. They will continue to sing and dance about how much God loves them, how much they are due the blessings of Abraham, and how He is just a lover looking for them right up until the moment that they stand before Him and He says He never knew them.
The final point from the key verses today is that God is seeker true worshipers and that should be a source of great comfort to us. The Father is seeking such people to worship Him. True worshipers who understand that He is spirit. That His ways are so far above our ways. That He spoke the entire universe into existence. This is not someone we should be singing about wanting to date. This is not someone we merely want to sing about being our friend. This is our Lord. This is our King. This is someone worth worshiping. True worshipers understand the nature of their own wickedly deceptive hearts and thus consent to be governed by the written Word of God. We understand that the Word is God. We do not view scripture and doctrine as a box that keeps God in but rather that keeps our polluted thinking out. It is the spirit that leads us into all truth and it is the truth that assures us that our worship is true. The hour is coming and in fact is now here beloved. True worshipers are lining up to testify to the awesome nature of a God in sight of the wretchedness of our own depravity. A God who saved us in spite of ourselves, while we were yet sinners. It is for these reasons that regardless of what the devil and this world throw at us we can still sing how well it is indeed with our soul. On the other side the false worshipers are lining up as well. With their hands outstretched they gleefully sing about getting their blessing right now. With prideful hearts they sing about how the creator of the universe is jealous for them and oh how He loves them. With lustful carnal flesh they sing about being His lover. In doing so they drag Him down to the level of man and abandon the truth of Scripture. Engaging in the centuries old heresy of special prominence. These two sides are lining up beloved. The Father is seeking one of these. Make sure you line up on the right side.