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  • Writer's pictureMatt Beaney

#844. True worship is spiritual (27/6/23)

This week, our devotionals are based upon our short series on worship entitled ‘Above All’ from CCP's weekend away. In each devotional, I’ve included the recording from each session.

When Jesus taught on worship, He said:

“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. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” (John 4:21-24)

Main idea: spirit and truth worship is the outflow of a renewed spirit and encounters God in the Spirit.

To listen to the recording from this session please click below:

Worship is often thought of in material and physical ways: words, buildings, clothing, Actions, sacrifices, Incense…However true worship is spiritual - true worship is about what is happening in the unseen - in the spirit-realm.

1. There is true and untrue worship

This rich text teaches a number of things very important things regarding worship including, as with this Samaritan woman, that our worship can be wrong!

We live in a culture that says that all worship of any god is equally valuable. It doesn’t matter who or how we worship. This is because they have not heard Jesus’ words and many who have are not prepared to worship as He teaches. Worship in spirit and truth flows from a renewed heart. It’s the authentic overflow of Spirit-born love for the Father.

2. To worship in the spirit means that geography and buildings are rightly understood

There was a dispute between the Samaritans and Jews about the right mountain on which to worship God and which books of the Bible were to be accepted. Jesus corrects her, and us. He wants us to understand that mountains and holy buildings are no longer a feature of the New Covenant. This is really important and can easily creep back into our worship. Commenting on the passing of the Old Covenant and temple system:

‘By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear.’ (Hebrews 8:13)
‘And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split…’ (Matthew 18:50-51)
‘Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?’ (1 Corinthians 3:16)

3. To worship in spirit requires a new spirit (regeneration) - New birth and a new heart.

In the previous chapter in John, Jesus had spoken to Nicodemus about the need to be born again; that conversation revealed that religious people need a new heart. This conversation with the Samaritan woman revealed that those in sin - she had many broken relationships - can have and need a new heart. All must be born again! (John 3:5-8). We read of the difference that the receiving of a new spirit makes:

‘The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”’ (Romans 8:15)
‘For it is we who are the circumcision, we who serve God by his Spirit, who boast in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh.’ (Philippians 3:3)
‘But God found fault with the people and said: “The days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah…I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.’ (Hebrews 8:8-12)

I hope we can see that any ‘worship’ (acts of prayer, singing praise etc.) are only pleasing to God if they flow from a justified and renewed heart in Christ. This is vital even if it is unpopular.

4. To worship in spirit means we encounter God in the Spirit

To worship ‘in spirit’ means that the presence of the Spirit of God meets with us - with our spirit - wherever we choose to worship. The experience of our encounter with God can vary, but any time we come to God in Christ, He runs to meet with us. Jesus has promised:

“For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” (Matthew 18:20)


We need to understand that worship is about what is unseen, God is looking at our heart motives and so let’s ensure that we engage in worship with faith and expectation.

Secondly, let’s be full of faith and expectation whenever we worship personally or with the saints. If we gather with faith we will be more likely to show up and we will experience more of the Spirit’s activity among us. I’ll leave you with the words of John Bunjan that speak so well on this topic of heart worship:

‘When thou prays [worships], rather let they heart be without words, than they words without heart’ (John Bunyan)



It might be good to begin with notices. Please share from this week’s Church News.

Next week in our week of prayer. We are having a shared prayer meeting with Vineyard Life Church Richmond on Tuesday evening (in the building) so let's do all that we can to be there. Would be great to have at least 50 of our members there.


What has God been speaking to you about from His Word this week and how has this helped you / affected your life?


This week, our study is based upon the subject of our weekend away. Please ensure that you use the devotionals to catch up or review our teaching on worship from our time away.

Worship is a vital subject that is often misunderstood. We could define worship in many ways and here are a few definitions:

‘We worship what we give most worth to’ (My definition)
‘Worship is our Spirit-birthed, holistic response to the revealed and supreme worth of God.’ (My definition)
‘True worship is a valuing or a treasuring of God above all things’ (John Piper)
‘Worship is when the mind rightly understands and the heart is rightly valuing God.’ (John Piper)
‘Worship is not entertainment. Worship is when the people of God come and as priests, lift up their praises, their adoration, their affection to God.’ (R. C. Sproul).

Worship is everything that we do and it also acts of worship of various kinds.

  • Please read John 4:21-24

  • True worship is in spirit. This is about worship being from our inner person rather than as a show. What does the previous chapter in John, teach us about how to get the right heart/spirit to worship?

  • True worship is in truth. How does or can one use the Bible to worship?

  • We are told that God is seeking worshippers. How do you think that God is wanting to develop your worship?

  • Please read Proverbs 4:23 (Let’s endeavour to memorise this text.)

  • SIV - What does this text teach about worship and its effects in regard to mission?

  • SIV - How can we pray for you regarding your Serving, Investing and Inviting this week (SIV)?

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