Take the 2-minute tour ×
Christianity Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for committed Christians, experts in Christianity and those interested in learning more. It's 100% free, no registration required.

In the early verses of this scripture, Jesus tells the woman that we wouldn't need to go to the mountains or Jerusalem to worship.

...God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. (John 4:20-24)

The spirit part is pretty clear to me but what do we make of worshiping God in truth?

Do we focus on worship in truth as being about the right way of worship or having the right mindset or perhaps it far transcends the idea of correctness?

share|improve this question

4 Answers 4

What does it mean to worship in truth?

John 4:23-24 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. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

Jesus announced a change in worship. Location centered worship was to fade away and be replaced by worship in spirit and truth. In a way "spirit" is the means by which we can worship as opposed to coming to a physical location.

Romans 8:15-16 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:

We have an example of how to worship without truth.

Luke 18:11-12 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.

We also have an example of worship in truth.

Luke 18:13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.

The Pharisee thought he was righteous and was probably factual about his fasting and tithing. However, the truth is that trying to impress God with our accomplishments is foolish. If we look at ourselves in truth, we can only respond with humility.

share|improve this answer

Catholic Perspective

[I]n Spirit and in Truth, i.e. in and via the Holy Spirit and Jesus Christ, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

Jn 14:6 (RSVCE)
6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me.

In the Order of Mass, at the conclusion of the Eucharistic Prayer, and just before the Communion Rite, the priest takes the chalice and the paten with the host and raising both, he says:

Through him1, and with him, and in him,
O God, almighty Father,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
all glory and honor is yours,
for ever and ever.

The people acclaim: Amen.

1. [The One on the paten]↩

share|improve this answer

This is from a VERY specific perspective, and other perspectives are likely to have a different answer (and possibly take offense, though none is meant.)

From the perspective of my Fundamental, Independent Baptist Church, which regards the Bible ad God's word, written by men as inspired by the Holy Spirit, and therefore, inerrant and infallible. (Starting out rather legalistic and then getting realistic)

To worship in truth means to worship as God has revealed Himself to us. To not twist Biblical teaching and statements to distort their meaning.

For example:

  • Some believe that God is a loving God, and would never send someone to Hell. They think that somehow, God will overlook their sins because of His love for him.
    • From our point of view, this is not worshiping in truth, it's idolatry - making a god to suit ourselves, rather than accepting the hard truth that Hell is real, and that without the saving grace of Christ, all are doomed to an eternity there. The truth that god does allow us to spend an eternity in hell if we choose to reject Him in spite of His love.
    • The Churches that teach such things, and the people that choose to follow them are teaching and following the doctrines and commandments of men, rather than those of God. (Matthew 15:8-9)

Of course, as evidenced on this site, "not twisting Scripture" is not such a clear thing. It is quite possible for two people to read the same Bible and come to vastly different conclusions about what it says.

One of the distinctive traits about us is that we hold very closely to the idea of sound doctrine. We probably emphasize it too much over love and being a light in the world through good works. But even among ourselves, there are things we don't agree on.

Still, I think that worshiping God, as He revealed Himself, to the best of our ability, is a good definition of worshiping in truth.

share|improve this answer
I don't know why but I think your answer makes more sense to me. Jesus cautions us about putting on a show before men whiles here he talks about worship to God in his true nature. +1 With that being said, will it be prudent for a new member of the Christian faith to weigh and study doctrines to see which one best (objectively) depicts the truth about God before deciding on where, how and with whom he should worship and fellowship? –  Nok Apr 22 '12 at 12:41
For instance, I'd want to check on the trinity doctrines just to make sure I'm not making an 'idol' for myself mistaken to be God the creator. What if I am a bit wrong in who I thought God truly is? –  Nok Apr 22 '12 at 12:48

So to worship in spirit means to do so with full purpose of heart.

(KJV) Matt 15:8-9 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, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.

The Lord was speaking about the Pharisees here who outwardly followed all of the commandments of the law of Moses, but inwardly they were vile sinners. Later in the chapter Christ talks about how it is not what goes into us that defiles us (talking about the law of Moses restrictions on food and washing before eating) but what comes out of our hearts. So to worship in truth is to not only worship outwardly but to also worship in your spirit and heart because that is what truly defines a man's belief.

share|improve this answer
I get it now. I had to think it over, but you are interpreting that as "worshiping truthfully, not just for show" as opposed to "worshipping the true God". Interesting perspective. Funny how we can read the same thing and understand it completely differently. Thank you for giving me another way to look at it. –  David Stratton Apr 21 '12 at 4:55
Yep, I find that that happens a lot. One of the reasons I like talking with people of other faiths. And why I like this site. –  ryan Apr 21 '12 at 5:44
Well said. I was about to write a post about worshiping out of a "sincere" heart, but this nails it. +1 –  Jas 3.1 Apr 21 '12 at 23:04

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.