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“Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our ‘God is a consuming fire.’” (Hebrews 12:28-29)
“Jesus declared, ‘Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:21-24)
God is seeking those who worship him in spirit and truth. This is what we were created for! (See “Where We’re Meant To Be: Worshiping Jesus” (Praise and Worship Series)).
When I am in this place of true, spiritual worship–in the presence of my Father–I am “home”. More than anything and with my whole being I know there is no other place where I belong, and there is no other place I would rather be. This place is my home forever. Whatever Christian assembly I may find myself in here on earth, if there is true, spiritual worship, I am at home.
Our loving Father earnestly desires every one of his children to be at home with him, worshiping him in his presence (and deep down, this is what every one of his children longs for too!) He has cleared the way into his presence through the blood of Christ (Hebrews 10:19-22, Ephesians 3:12). He longs for us to draw near to him in the Most Holy Place that we may tangibly experience him and pour out our love for him (See “Into the Most Holy Place” (Praise and Worship Series)).
Worship is actually meant to be our continual lifestyle and not just something we “do” for an hour on Sundays, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship” (Romans 12:1). What a tremendous joy it is to live in a continual state of worshiping God!
Sadly, there is much confusion in Christendom today about worship, for there are many counterfeits. Because of this, many professing Christians do not know the difference between “soulish” worship and “spiritual” worship and therefore may rarely, if ever, experience the true, tangible, holy, loving presence of God in worship.
When we engage in “soulish” worship, our Father finds no pleasure in it for he is seeking spiritual worship (John 4:21-24). I dare to say that if we do not understand what it means to be “at home” with God in his presence in worship, then it is possible we’ve never actually worshiped God in spirit and truth.
In my personal experience, I have found there is a great mixture of soul and spirit and of truth and falsehood in what we call “worship” today. On one end we can be pumped up in the flesh by impressive stage lights and a band that performs larger than life, but this is not spiritual worship. In fact, these things actually work in opposition to spiritual worship, for they can distract people from focusing on God by getting them focused on things that appeal to the soul. On the other hand, there is also dead, religious orthodoxy and vain repetitions of song lyrics. Neither is this spiritual worship.
Furthermore, some of the songs we sing today, particularly more contemporary ones, are not Scriptural truth. We cannot worship the Father in truth if we have a false heart, but neither can we worship him in truth if we are singing lies! Both of these are false forms of worship and are unacceptable to our Father. This is not what he is seeking.
I truly believe what God IS seeking is pure worship–that which is done entirely in the Holy Spirit (Philippians 3:3). It is spiritual worship that is not tainted by even the tiniest bit of flesh, and it is truthful worship that is not tainted by even the tiniest bits of falsehood.
If our hearts truly desire this kind of pure, true, spiritual worship, we will immediately become intolerant of anything, even the tiniest bit, that would rise up to taint it. We would have a hatred for things that distract us from it or lead us astray into something that is not worship. We will even loathe the mixtures of soul and spirit for we are seeking purity alone, for that is what our Father seeks.
Pure worship is the only kind of worship acceptable in his eyes, and as children of God our hearts desire to lavish this kind of worship on him.
Many useless battles (in my opinion) are waged over the outward forms of worship. I truly believe, however, that what the Father is looking at is the attitude of our hearts and the sincerity of our love. Worship is not the outward form we practice but the spiritual “electrical current” of the love and passion in our hearts flowing up to God through the Holy Spirit. It is not electric guitars nor seven verses of an a cappella hymn that taints pure worship, it is the flesh. Therefore, let us direct our battles against the flesh (soulishness) rather than towards peoples’ diverse outward expressions of worship. “The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7) (See also Romans 14.)
When we know God, we voraciously crave his wonderful, glorious presence. And the closer we draw to God, the more we cannot help but to worship him in spirit and in truth, for the immense greatness of his very being extracts it from us. Indeed in the Scriptures, those closest to the throne of God, the four living creatures, never cease day and night to worship God (Revelation 4). Amazingly, they repeat the same line of praise to God endlessly, for they are in open revelation of his being (how’s that for a repeat chorus?)
Those who seek to draw near to the Father and worship him in spirit and truth feel like aliens in assemblies of flesh-based “worship” (or soul/spirit mixtures). They are unable to go along with it. Like the man in this painting, the Spirit always inclines the hearts of his children towards “home”. True worship and the true presence of God often brings us to our knees or even causes us to lay prostrate before him, for no flesh can glory in his presence (1 Corinthians 1:29 KJV).
My journey has been like the man in this painting. When I first met God, I could not help but purely worship him for he was so wonderful to me. However, as I journeyed through Christendom, many counterfeits and false teachers confused me and led me astray. But as soon as I was exposed to that pure, spiritual worship again, my heart immediately caught the scent of Zion. After all the confusion, I found the needle of my spiritual compass was strongly pointing true north again. I found my spiritual bearings once again. God by his Holy Spirit inclined my heart towards home and began to guide me back into the truth (John 16:13) until I finally arrived back home in his presence in worship.
My hope and prayer is that God will use it to encourage and to point many other believers who have compromised (just like I have) back into the true, spiritual worship our Father is seeking.
When I first heard Jason Upton singing “In Your Presence” on You Tube, the Spirit instantly inclined my heart toward “home”. I had grown so accustomed to the soul/spirit mixtures that we are constantly bombarded with in Western Christendom. They have a numbing effect on us spiritually. However, as soon as I heard this live spiritual worship, the Spirit stripped through all false worship and all of my falseness within. The Holy Spirit unveiled just how vile soulish worship actually is to God and just how offensive I am to him when I do not worship in spirit and in truth (Isaiah 1:10-31, Malachi 1:6-2:12 ). This is a beautiful for song for those who want to make the journey back to Zion.
“In Your Presence” by Jason Upton.