Wednesday Night Lesson: ‘The Holy Spirit and Our Worship’

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We continue tonight in our study of the Holy Spirit and we direct our attention to His involvement in our worship.

Ephesians 2:19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; 20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; 21 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: 22 In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.

So often we think that the primary reason God saves us is to keep us from spending eternity in hell. Indeed that is true, however there is an even greater and more important reason for why God saves us. God saves us so that He might redeem for Himself a people who will worship Him. And as we will see tonight, it is by the Spirit that we are able to worship God in a way that is pleasing to Him.

One of the most familiar and important passages on spiritual worship is John 4. Here we see Jesus having a conversation with a Samaritan woman and during the conversation the woman says –

John 4:19 The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet.  20 Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say , that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.

21 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. 22 Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. 23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. 24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

I. What is Worship?

The first question we must answer is ‘what is worship?’ The simplest definition of worship is – “Attributing worth to something.” John MacArthur describes worship as to: ‘give homage, honor, reverence, respect, adoration, praise, and glory to a superior being.’ The word used in John 4 refers to the kissing of a hand in order to show great respect and reverence. That fits well with what we read in Psalm 95 – “0 come let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the Lord our maker. For He is our God.”

II. Worship that is Acceptable to God

Next we must consider what is worship that is acceptable to God. Note again Christ’s conversation with the Samaritan woman –

John 4:23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. 24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

A. Unacceptable Worship

Not all worship is acceptable to God and there are several reasons why. Consider this passage found in the gospel of Mark –

Mark 1:23 And there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit; and he cried out, 24 Saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? Art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God. 25 And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, and come out of him.

A little later in the gospel of Mark, we find another incident where a demon is said to have ‘worshipped’ Christ, and again Jesus refused to receive the demon’s worship. Why? It’s because worship that is pleasing to God is not only attributing worth, it is also giving adoration that is based upon sincere affection. What is the greatest commandment? Is it not to love the Lord our God?  Worship that pleases God comes from a heart of sincere love.

God is displeased with the worship of false gods. He is just as much displeased with false worship of the true God. This is seen in the book of Malachi.

Malachi 1:6 A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master: if then I be a father, where is mine honour? And if I be a master, where is my fear? saith the LORD of hosts unto you, O priests, that despise my name. And ye say, Wherein have we despised thy name? 7 Ye offer polluted bread upon mine altar; and ye say, Wherein have we polluted thee? In that ye say, The table of the LORD is contemptible. (Something to be despised, worthless) 8 And if ye offer the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? And if ye offer the lame and sick, is it not evil? Offer it now unto thy governor; will he be pleased with thee, or accept thy person? saith the LORD of hosts.

11 For from the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same my name shall be great among the Gentiles; and in every place incense shall be offered unto my name, and a pure offering: for my name shall be great among the heathen, saith the LORD of hosts. 12 But ye have profaned it, in that ye say, The table of the LORD is polluted ; and the fruit thereof, even his meat, is contemptible. 13 Ye said also, Behold, what a weariness is it! and ye have snuffed at it, saith the LORD of hosts; and ye brought that which was torn , and the lame, and the sick ; thus ye brought an offering: should I accept this of your hand? saith the LORD.

One translation states it as – “You profane me when you say, ‘Worship is not important, and what we bring to worship is of no account.” In other words – ‘Who cares?’

We know that the Lord was very kind and compassionate, even with sinners. Yet, at the same time, He often became angry with the religious leaders. Note what He said in His rebuke of them –

Matthew 23:27 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.

Unacceptable worship is worship that lacks sincerity of the heart. It is void of the thing God desires the most – our love for Him.

B. Acceptable Worship

John 4:23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. 24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

Jesus teaches us that there are two parts to acceptable worship: In Spirit and In Truth.

1. In Spirit

True worship is more than ritual or tradition. It is a spiritual experience in the heart.

a.   It may affect us physically

Paul tells us in Romans 12:1 that reasonable worship involves the offering of our bodies as a living sacrifice.

b.   Yet it originates within us spiritually

The reason we offer our bodies as living sacrifices is because it is our heart’s response to the mercies of God. John MacArthur says that true worship – ‘manifests the life of God within you.’ No wonder the Spirit of God is necessary for true worship. True worship is the Spirit of God crying out from within us.

2. In Truth

To worship God in truth involves two things:

a. It involves a worship of God’s truth

True worship is worship that is in agreement with God’s nature and character. It’s worship that corresponds with His Word.

We read from the book of Psalms – Ps 51:6 Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts…

Paul wrote to the Ephesians – Ephesians 6:24 Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen

Joshua commanded the people – Joshua 24:14 Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the LORD.

b. It involves a worship that is true

It’s more than singing or emotional expression. It is worship that truly worships.  As AW Pink writes – “Speaking out of our heart unto the God we love.” We read from the gospel of Matthew – Matthew 15:8 This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. 9 But in vain they do worship me …

Jesus said to the Samaritan woman – “… the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth…”

Conclusion –

What a wonderful privilege it is to worship God. What a wonderful power is available to help us. Living within the heart of every believer is the Holy Spirit who is eager to build through our worship a spiritual habitation for God.

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