What is at the heart of worship? At the heart of worship is the saving faith of repentant sinners. To sing of God's glory from a pure heart is undoubtedly proper worship. God's holy word testifies of men and women who worshipped God exceedingly well through deeds. These deeds reveal the spirit of true worship.
"Jesus said, But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers." (John 4:23) He was responding to a woman he met whose focus for worship was on a place. Jesus declared to her that true worship is a matter of the spirit of a man. As in Genesis, we are told, "God made man from the dust of the ground, and He breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being." (Genesis 2:7)
THE BREATH OF LIFE
God gave man the breath of life, and man became a breathing creature. The word for "breath: could also be translated soul or spirit. Man is a tri-part being. In 1 Thessalonians 5:23, we are told, "Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ."
Man's body is the living organism that houses his soul and spirit. Man's soul is the place of his intellect, emotions, and will. The spirit within man communicates with God. God Spirit and those who know Him communicate with Him.
DEAD IN TRESPASSES and SINS
Paul when writing to the church in Ephesus declared this staggering reality, "And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience." (Ephesians 2:1, 2) His hearers were not dead physically, but they were dead spiritually. It is impossible to worship God when you are dead, and that means spiritually. For this reason, Jesus told the teacher in Israel, Nicodemus, "...you must be born again."
True worshippers are alive; they are have been raised from the dead in Jesus Christ. Jesus' incomprehensible sacrifice that takes away an eternal punishment for sins, and also brings resurrected life to an otherwise dead spirit. Thus, those who worship God must worship Him in Spirit and truth.
What truth? The truth that all men are spiritually dead because they are alienated from God. From birth, none of us know, trust, or love the One True and Living God. We would rather nail Him to a cross than to be unable to live out our selfish, self-exalting, and self-serving lives, in mind if not in action.
The new life that God provides transforms sinners into saints, enabling them to repent of their sins and place miraculous faith in the saving work of Jesus Christ. The perfect example of such miraculous faith is found in the story of Abraham.
THE EXAMPLE OF TRUE WORSHIP
"Now it came about after these things, that God tested Abraham, and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you.” So Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him and Isaac his son; and he split wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. On the third day Abraham raised his eyes and saw the place from a distance. Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey, and I and the lad will go over there; and we will worship and return to you.” (Genesis 22:1-5) God prevented Abraham from offering his son and offered His own Son and perfect sacrifice instead. Praise His name.
Abraham's faith and obedience declare the kind of worship that is pleasing to God. Sinful men can not manufacture it, no false religion can produce it, but Jesus's death and life can provide it. Are you willing to sacrifice the most important person or the thing that gives your life the most meaning to please God? Then Jesus told his disciples,