What is "In the Spirit" When Worshipping God?
What does it really mean to worship God “in spirit?” (See John 4:24). That verse claims that God Himself is spirit—but what does that mean? We know that the word spirit relates directly to breath. With it, we are alive, without it we are not (see Genesis 2:7 and Revelation 11:11). However, since man was created in God’s image, we can also say that spirit is God’s character. (Genesis 6:3 and 45:27). It is that character that inspires us to speak in His name, and perform works in His name, hence 2 Timothy 3:16. And although God breathes life into us and we become talking, thinking humans, we are lifeless—eternally speaking—when we don’t claim God’s character as the lifeblood for our lives. This means that by rejecting what God stands for, we lose our chance at eternal salvation, and are subject to eternal death, rather than be eligible for salvation and eternal life.
However, God is faithful even when we are not. He still created man in His image, and therefore even an atheist is like God—in physical attributes and abilities. It is when we call upon God to dwell in us that He provides us with supernatural powers—meaning we are able to perform beyond our human tendencies and do miraculous things—such as public speaking, praying with and for others, and witnessing among others when we normally would not even have those interests or skills (see Acts 2:1-4). It is safe to say that upon death, our characters depart from us, so that we have no knowledge of the world around us in bodily absence. Let’s go back to John 4:24:
“God is spirit, and His worshippers must worship in spirit and in truth.” (emphasis mine).
Let’s rephrase it using what we’ve already learned.
“If God is breath and life, then His worshippers must worship in breath and life and in truth.”
See how the verse takes on a new, deeper meaning. In essence, we are saying that because God is living and is responsible for creating and ending life, so then His worshippers must worship by dedicating their lives to His service. This means no idol worship of any kind, including statues or trinkets, as so doing is in direct conflict with God’s laws (see Leviticus 26:1, 30 and 1 Samuel 12:21). We also know that truth is defined as the knowledge God imparts—and when there is a false sense of truth when worshipping, there is no real worship—God will remain dormant, and not actively involved in the experience. In other words, there is no blessing, and no point!
So in accepting what God stands for, we are able to worship our Lord in spirit and truth. And because of our desire to do so, we in turn receive Divine inspiration for our lives, a deeper understanding of God, and a better relationship with Him and our fellow believers in faith.