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Worship: How is this to be accomplished today? 

Gary Googe Apr 02

Probably the most well-known Bible verse about this is this first one I’ll mention.

John 4:24

24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in Spirit and in truth. [Emphasis added]

But what exactly does it mean to worship Him in Spirit and in truth? Many works of art picture worship as a bowing down in obeisance to something or someone. Worship is clearly an expression of respect for something or someone.  But how do we do that with God and with our Lord Jesus Christ who is our Savior? Here the object of worship is not seen or touched. Is that necessary for true worship? It is not! The first time in the Bible this word, “worship” comes up is in Genesis.

Genesis 22:5-6

5 And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad [his young son, Isaac] will go yonder and worship, and come again to you.

6 And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of them together. [Emphasis added]

Sometimes people wonder where the idea of bowing one’s head for worship and prayer came from.  Is this some man-made tradition or what?

Genesis 24:26

26 And the man bowed down his head, and worshipped the Lord. [Emphasis added]

Genesis 24:52

52 And it came to pass, that, when Abraham’s servant heard their words, he worshipped the Lord, bowing himself to the earth. [Emphasis added]

Altogether this bowing is an expression of respect and many times, as it is in these passages, even worship.  There are many examples of this expression spoken of in Scripture.  There are also examples of where the object of worship was not God but things of His creation.  In other words, it was idolatry.  God gave clear warning about people doing this.  The outcome for the people of Israel doing this was always one of divine judgment.

Deuteronomy 29:26-27

26 For they went and served other gods, and worshipped them, gods whom they knew not, and whom he had not given unto them:

27 And the anger of the Lord was kindled against this land, to bring upon it all the curses that are written in this book: [Emphasis added]

This problem of worshipping false gods has been a problem for man throughout history, even now.  In every case, it involves worshiping things that are temporal, things that don’t have everlasting value. Regarding this I’m immediately reminded of an important statement in Scriptures about this.

1 Peter 1:23

23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. [Emphasis added]

But I go back to my first comments about all this in this article.  True worship always involves the truths of the Word of God.  Without a correct understanding of it and an appreciation for it, worship of God does not occur.

Mankind is prone to worship one thing or another because he quite naturally comes to realize that there is a God.  But usually, he ends up worshiping something of the creation rather than the Creator Himself.  There’s a full description of how that comes about in Paul’s letter to the Romans.

Romans 1:19-25

19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.

It is because of a statement like that that you should never trust someone who professes to be an atheist.  All atheists are liars about this!  Everyone eventually comes to realize that there is a God, a Creator.  Simple common sense says every part of creation must have a CreatorThe word of God in these next verses states this.

20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:

21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.

22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,

Then he states the inevitable outcome of this.

23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.

These are but a few of the substitutes people choose rather than their Creator.  The ones cited here take an immoral course while others may be more “sophisticated” about it, choosing other things in life to be the object or objects of their worship.

24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:

This next verse is a one-verse summary of what happens.

25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. [Emphasis added]

What do YOU give top priority to in your life? Whatever or whoever it is, it is that which is your object of worship.  To claim otherwise becomes a form of self-deception.

As I write this, the Super Bowl is about to be played.  I’ve seen that the least someone will pay for a seat in the stadium is $2,000 and some seats are selling for over $12,000.  They say resale tickets may be as high as $45,000. All this certainly makes a statement about the priority some people give to such. Quite a statement about one’s support of it is made by paying such a price. Would these people pay such a price for attending a good Bible conference. What kind of priority are YOU giving for the dissemination of the Word of God? Are you generous in your giving to a local church or however you “worship in spirit and in truth”? Without saying a word, you’ll make a clear statement that answers that question by your financial support of it. As it is often said, actions speak louder than words.  Whatever it is that we value most proves to be that which we worship

Matthew 6:21

21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. [Emphasis added]

We find that it is in the book of Revelation that the word “worship” appears far more than in any other place in the Bible.  It is one place where it becomes clear that when people don’t worship God, they’re worshipping Satan. There’s no other option.  That statement will probably come as a surprise to some, but such is the reality of the situation. Our object of worship is what we give top priority to in our lives.

It is in the coming seven-year period called the Tribulation that Satan will set himself up in the temple of God in Jerusalem for all to worship him.

Revelation 13:4-8

4 And they worshipped the dragon [a term used here for Satan] which gave power unto the beast [the man also called the antichrist]: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him?

This man will have miraculous abilities to impress many people.

5 And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things [he’ll be quite an orator] and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months.

6 And he opened his mouth in blasphemy [expressions of slander] against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven.

7 And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.

8 And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. [Emphasis added]

You may recall that when Satan first served as the top angel of God, it was then that he revolted against God. He made it clear that he wanted to be God, that is, the object of worship for all creation.  Note what he said.  We have the record of his stated desires.

Isaiah 14:12-14

12 How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!

13 For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:

14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. [Emphasis added]

Has he succeeded? Or is he succeeding? To a great degree he has! But in the end, he will not.  

What so many people don’t realize about this is that if they’re not worshiping God, they are worshipping Satan.  As normal and “respectable” as these people may appear to be, it is Satan that they unknowingly worship. That’s because it is his will that they’re following, not God’s. There’s not a third option on this. It is one or the other; it is God or Satan.  Have people been blinded to this truth? They certainly have!  There’s Scripture that tells us they have.

2 Corinthians 4:3-5

3 But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:

4 In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.

5 For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake. [Emphasis added]

Note what Jesus said to the religious leaders in the time of His earthly ministry.

John 8:42-45

42 Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me.

43 Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word.

44 Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.

45 And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not. [Emphasis added]

Satan lies and promotes lies about all kinds of things.  But don’t make the false assumption that he’s always promoting all the “bad” and sinful things people do.  There’s much that goes on in the world in the name of good that he promotes.  In one of my books [22 Key Promises You Can Count Onpage 154], I quote the remarks of Lewis Sperry Chafer, the founder of Dallas Theological Seminary, about this.  You’ll find him saying this in his Systematic Theology, Volume II, p. 100 (Published by Dallas Seminary Press, Dallas, Texas).  Here’s what he says.

“Next to the lie itself, the greatest delusion Satan imposes—reaching to all unsaved and to a large proportion of Christians—is the supposition that only such things as society considers evil could originate with the devil—if, indeed, there be any devil to originate anything.  It is not the reason of man, but the revelation of God, which points out that governments, morals, education, art, commercialism, vast enterprises and organizations, and much of religious activity are included in the cosmos diabolicus [the devils world].  That is, the system which Satan has constructed includes all the good which he can incorporate into it and be consistent in the thing he aims to accomplishA serious question arises whether the presence of gross evil in the world is due to Satan’s intention to have it so, or whether it indicates Satan’s inability to execute all he has designedThe probability is great that Satan’s ambition has led him to undertake more than any creature could ever administer.” [Emphasis added]

Chafer’s analysis of this is correct.  Man, often blames Satan for things that emanate from the function of man’s own sinful nature, often spoken of in Scripture as “the flesh.” Because all believers still have a sinful nature, they, too, can be guilty of these same sins unbelievers commit.  

1 Corinthians 3:1-3

1And I, brethren [fellow believers], could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.

2 I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.

3 For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? [Emphasis added]

This passage that I cite next affirms this same thing.  Here in this next passage Paul is talking about unbelievers, people who have never accepted God’s provision for their salvation.  We’re to work to avoid thinking and acting like them.  We’re only warned about this because even though we’re saved as God’s people we still have the capability of thinking and acting just like unbelievers.  If we’re not capable of such, what would be the point of such warnings to us?

Galatians 5:19-21

19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,

20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,

21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they [again, in this case he’s speaking of unbelievers] which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. [Emphasis added]

Again, please note that Paul attributes these activities to the work of one’s flesh, not Satan.  Believers are just as guilty of committing sins of all kinds as unbelievers.  All Paul’s epistles are addressed to believers, the brethren, but in all of them he’s speaking of sins believers ought not to be committing.  The reason he tells them not to do certain things is because that’s what they were already guilty of doing.  It is amazing how simple it is to see this here, but so many churchgoers seem to miss this important point.

True worship of God involves the work of imitating Christ.  We’re able to do that as believers.

Ephesians 5:1-3

1 Be ye [speaking of believers] therefore followers [MIMETES = imitators] of God, as dear children;

2 And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.

3 But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; [Emphasis added]


Worship is first and foremost an attitude and a way of thinking.  It does not necessarily involve a place or a posture.  It can and should occur anywhere and in any position whether standing, kneeling, walking, running, riding, working, or whatever.  We’re to worship God by the manner in which we think and act.  All this is to be a reflection of our obedience to our Lord and Savior.  The words He speaks to us through the writings of the apostle Paul are to guide our every move.

1 Corinthians 14:37-38

37 If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I [Paul] write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.

38 But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant. [Emphasis added]

It is in this manner that we fulfill the principle stated in that first passage we noted regarding the activity of worshiping God in spirit and truth.

Again, John 4:24

24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in Spirit and in truth. [Emphasis added]

We can’t serve Him through our flesh, our sinful nature, even the human good side of it.  Our only acceptable option is to serve and worship Him in the spirit.

Philippians 3:3

3 For we are [as believers in Jesus Christ] the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. [Emphasis added]

When he says “confidence in the flesh,” he’s talking about the so-called good or “religious” things people may do to impress God.  Those things count for nothing with Him.  We’re to learn to live by the dictates of God’s Word, especially those given to us in the writings of the apostle Paul.  It is by functioning this way that we can truly worship God.

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