For the last couple of years I’ve wondered the answer to this question. I’ve not been settled with the answers I’ve been given.
To me this verse when it says they must worship in spirit seems to me they must have the Spirit, but from the preaching I’ve been taught they say your attitude has to be right. Jesus talking to a lost woman why would he be saying her attitude needs to be right? Can you help with proper interpretation?
Thanks for this important question. In John 4:24, Jesus said to the woman at the well, “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” Your point about why would Jesus be talking about the attitude being right when talking to a lost woman is well taken. Salvation, which Jesus referenced two verses earlier, is by faith.
To worship God “in spirit and in truth” reveals that worshipping God involves the spiritual dimension based on truth. Since God is spirit, true worship of God is in the spiritual realm, and since God is truth, true worship is in accordance with truth.
To worship in “spirit” must begin with one being born of the Spirit (John 3:5-7). To be born of the Spirit or born again is to be regenerated. Through faith in Jesus, the human spirit dies with Christ and is raised with Christ a new man (Rom. 6:3-5; Eph. 4:24). This new man is created after God in righteousness and true holiness. Then the Holy Spirit moves in and indwells the regenerated human spirit. There had to be a part of the human constitution made holy in order for the Holy Spirit to move in. He who is joined to the Lord “is one spirit” (1 Cor. 6:17).
To worship in truth reveals the boundaries of how the Spirit works. The Spirit of truth always operates according to truth (John 14:17; 15:26; 16:13). Ultimately, the Holy Spirit authored the Scripture (2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Pet. 1:21). The Spirit never leads in a way that contradicts truth.
In the context of the Samaritan woman at the well, Jesus addressed the fallacy of this woman’s thinking, which made worship about the geographical place. Jesus pointed out she really didn’t know what she worshiped, and then pointed her to Himself. She believed in Jesus and began real worship in the spiritual realm based on truth.
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