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Who are true worshipers (John 4:23)?

true worshipers

On His way to Galilee through Samaria, Jesus converses with a Samaritan and makes a profound statement about true worshipers: “Believe me, dear woman, the time is coming when it will no longer matter whether you worship the Father on this mountain or in Jerusalem. You Samaritans know very little about the one you worship, while we Jews know all about him, for salvation comes through the Jews. But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth” (John 4:21–24, NLT).

Jesus emphasizes through repetition that true worshipers worship the Father “in spirit and in truth.” To fully appreciate what the Lord is saying, we must understand the epic nature of the longstanding rift between the Samaritans and the Jews. The Jews disregarded these mixed-race Samaritans because of their impure lineage and syncretistic religion. Also, the Samaritans worshiped in a different physical location—on Mount Gerizim instead of at the temple in Jerusalem.

Jesus declared that the time had come when it no longer mattered “whether you worship the Father on this mountain or in Jerusalem.” Christ’s first point is that the where of worship has nothing to do with the integrity of worship. Neither the place nor the style of worship is relevant. The physical elements are not the primary concern. Second, Jesus indicated that true worshipers are not defined by their bloodline or race. The Father does not care if a person is a Jew, Samaritan, or Gentile. All true worshipers are one in Jesus Christ (Galatians 3:28; Colossians 3:11; Romans 10:12).

True worshipers don’t worship first and foremost in their bodies but in spirit. The act of worship is not an outward expression or physical observance but an inward attitude that acknowledges God’s worthiness and honors Him as the supreme authority over one’s life. True worshipers demonstrate adoration for an audience of One. They don’t bow down or lift their hands to be seen by others. They don’t sing to be heard by humans. They don’t fast or pray to earn worldly recognition (Matthew 6:6, 18). True worshipers exalt God alone, for His pleasure only, because He alone is worthy (Exodus 34:14; 1 Chronicles 16:25–19). They treasure God and long for His presence (Psalm 42:1–2; 63:1).

Jesus stated that true worshipers are those who worship in truth—in honesty and sincerity of heart. They examine their hearts for hidden offenses (1 Corinthians 11:27–34; Psalm 139:23–24). Their devotion is pure, wholehearted, and costly, holding nothing back (Deuteronomy 6:5; 10:12; 1 Samuel 12:24; 2 Samuel 24:24; 1 Chronicles 21:24; Mark 12:41–44).

The Bible reveals that God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit are all “truth” (Jeremiah 10:10; Isaiah 65:16; John 14:6, 16–17; 1 John 5:20; Romans 15:8); thus, true worshipers humbly center on the Godhead and not on self.

God’s Word is also truth (Psalm 119:160; Ephesians 1:13; Colossians 1:5; 2 Timothy 2:15), so true worshipers seek to grow in their knowledge of it and live by it. They follow Scripture’s call to “offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship” (Romans 12:1). They pursue holiness, obeying God’s truth made known through His Word (1 Corinthians 14:26, 40; 1 Chronicles 16:37–42; Micah 6:6–8).

True worshipers are believers “born of the Spirit” (see John 3:5–8) who worship God through salvation in Jesus Christ. They live and worship “not in the realm of the flesh but are in the Spirit” because God’s Spirit lives in them, and they belong to Jesus Christ (Romans 8:9). Only if we are in Christ, with His Spirit in us, can we genuinely worship in spirit and in truth. Instead of restricting our worship to raising hands and singing praise songs in church, we extend our God-centered devotion into every area of our lives. We worship in spirit and truth as we walk in fellowship with God through the Holy Spirit and are transformed into the image and likeness of the Son (2 Corinthians 3:18).

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Who are true worshipers (John 4:23)?
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This page last updated: October 4, 2023