Worshipping God in Spirit - John 4:24

By Dr. Ken Matto

John 4:24 (KJV) God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

Some in the charismatic movement attempt to try and tell us that John 4:24 is fulfilled only if one speaks in tongues. Nothing could be further from the truth because modern tongues is nothing but gibberish. There is a simple interpretation to this verse and it is not a complicated explanation. Some try to make things very complex so it would seem that they are the only ones who could bring the true interpretation.

The First Century Setting of John 4
Samaria was surrounded by many pagan nations for many years and those pagan nations all had some type of physical representations of their false god, of course, which were all idols. Some were Dagon, Milcom, and Baal. This gives us the physical setting of Samaria. John 4:5 (KJV) Then cometh he (Jesus) to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph.

Worshipping God in Spirit
The true God is a spirit and those that worship Him, must do it according to Spirit. This means that a spiritually dead person, the unsaved, cannot truly worship God, because they are dead. Those who are born again are indwelled by the Holy Spirit who makes us alive unto God and teaches us the truth about God and as we come into more and more truth about God from the Scriptures, we continually worship Him as our understanding of God grows. We then come to a realization of what He has done for us, to take us from a hell bound sinner and make us a king and priest in His Kingdom. (Rev 5:10 KJV) And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth. This is why systems like the Mosaic system cannot really be considered worshipping God because those who are offering the sacrifices of animals are not really spiritually prepared to be in God’s presence. If the law requires a certain sacrifice for a certain sin, then even a spiritually dead person can respond in the flesh accordingly.

Those who are unsaved do not have the Holy Spirit dwelling in them and this means that those unsaved in a dead church are not worshipping God, no matter how many hymns they sing or how many sermons are preached. The spiritually dead cannot worship the living God. Psalms 50:16-17 (KJV) But unto the wicked God saith, What hast thou to do to declare my statutes, or that thou shouldest take my covenant in thy mouth? {17} Seeing thou hatest instruction, and castest my words behind thee. Psalm 50:16-17 is God’s response to those who are unsaved who are trying to bring the Word of God. God does not accept it. Isaiah 59:1-2 (KJV) Behold, the LORD'S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear. True worship of God is only attainable when one is regenerated by the Lord Jesus Christ and is indwelled by the Holy Spirit. In other words, one must be born again to be qualified to worship the Lord in Spirit.

An interesting scenario which happened to the Lord Jesus Christ many times during His earthly ministry. Mark 1:34 (KJV) And he healed many that were sick of divers diseases, and cast out many devils; and suffered not the devils to speak, because they knew him. He would not allow the devils to speak as He was casting them out of the people. Jesus would not accept praise or acknowledgement from devils, only from His own people. In like manner, He will not accept praise from unbelievers especially since He is going to be their judge at the last day and if they are not elected to salvation, no amount of praise or acknowledgement will ever get them into Heaven.

So the reality is that one must be born again through the Lord Jesus Christ and then indwelled by the Holy Spirit, making them alive unto the things of God. Then and only then can God be worshipped properly and that in Spirit only. One must have the Spirit to be able to worship in Spirit. Romans 6:11 (KJV) Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.