Sanctification: Restoring the Soul through Worship

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A Sanctified Soul

Sanctification Restores the Soul of Man

So far, through our exercises in Sanctification, we have learned that part of the work of the Holy Spirit is to restore our emotions through Prayer and our minds through the study and application of the Word of God; a ministry which brings our hearts into alignment with that of the Father, and transforms our minds into ones more like Christ’s.  However, this part of the sanctification process only takes care of two of the components of our souls—leaving the third one, our all-important and powerful wills, for the Spirit to deal with.  And deal with them, He must; because unlike our emotions, which are simply expressions of how we feel, and our minds, which merely reveal what we think, our wills through their actions express what we want and who we really are.

Also, through these workout sessions, we have learned that it is God’s will for us is to be saved from our sins and be adopted into His family; as sons and daughters who have not only been redeemed by the blood of Christ, but as ones who have also been conformed or remolded into His image.  This means that we are not only to become like Jesus in His character, but we are also to share in His mission and ministry here on the earth—which, as He stated in John 4:34, 5:30, and 6:38, was to do the will of His Father

My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work;
I can do nothing on my own…because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me; and,
I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.

Your AssignmentSince doing the will of the Father was at the heart of Jesus’ mission, and since becoming like Him is the goal of our Sanctification, it stands to reason that doing the will of the Father must become the mission in our lives, as well.  This, however, is something that is a lot easier said than done!

That’s because, before coming to Christ, our wills and the actions they precipitated were dominated by our flesh—which is to say, by how we felt and by what we thought.  If our bodies hungered for or lusted after something—regardless  of whether it was appropriate or beneficial; or, if our minds harbored certain thoughts about anyone or anything—regardless of whether they were true or not—our wills would initiate actions geared toward satisfying those feelings and vindicating those thoughts.  In short, before our Salvation, with no access to or Godly input from our dormant spirits, our wills were like puppets whose strings were being pulled by our baser human instincts; instincts concerned with the pleasing and preservation of our unregenerate and ego-dominated selves.  But, all this began to change the moment we said yes to Jesus and were Born Again.
 

Salvation and the Will of Man

The goal of and long term impact of Salvation on our wills has been well described by Watchman Nee in his book The Spiritual Man, where he remarks…

What is salvation?  It is none other than God saving man out of himself into Himself.  Salvation has two facets:  a cutting off and a uniting with.  What is cut off is self; the uniting is with God.

What is self? …were we to say self is self-will we would not be too far from the mark… [because] man’s essence is in his volition…

Salvation, then, is to deliver man from his created, natural, animal, fleshly, and self-emanating will…

The gospel is to facilitate the union of our will with God.  Anything short of this is failure of the mission.  God aims his arrow of salvation not so much at our emotion or our mind, but at our will, for once the latter is saved, the rest are included.

[For] …God intends to destroy the life of the soul but not its function, so upon being joined with the Lord in life, He launches forth to renew our soul with its various parts in order that our soul may be one with our new life and consequently one with His will.[1]

In the face of such a challenging, time-consuming, and (on our parts) painful prospect as the transformation of our self-absorbed wills into ones totally given over to the pursuit of God’s will, we might find ourselves wondering if it wouldn’t have been better for us, instead of being endowed with the capacity to choose, to have been pre-programmed for obedience by God.  Surely, this would have been much easier on everyone involved; and yet, if God hadn’t designed us in this way, we wouldn’t have been created in His image and would therefore not be eligible to be adopted as His children.  For us to be like God, then, we would have to be free to choose to act in ways that He would; ways such as…

  • Choosing to do what’s right, rather than what’s expedient;
  • Choosing to do what’s in the best interests of others, even at the expense of our own interests;
  • Choosing to speak nothing but the truth, even if we are the only ones doing it; and,
  • Choosing to believe God and take Him at His Word, even though we can see no evidence of His existence; and even when our thoughts and feelings do not concur.

The failure to make this last choice—which is really the first one we each need to make—is what caused our first parents, and eventually us, to be at odds with the will of God in the first place.  For, as Genesis 3:6 relates it, in spite of the fact that Adam and Eve had been told not to eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil…

…when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.

Sadly, when Adam and Eve were given an opportunity to prove that they would carry out the will of God, they failed the first test of “Sonship,” which was obedience to their Father.  Rather than complying with His will, they allowed their own to succumb to the desires of their flesh, and to be seduced by the promises of self-achieved divinity being offered to them by Satan, the one whose will has always been in direct opposition to God’s.

On this, Watchman Nee comments again…

We may say that there are two massive contradictory wills throughout the universe.  On one side stands the holy and perfect will of God; on the other is arrayed the defiled, defiling, and opposing will of Satan.  In between subsists the sovereign, independent, free will of man.[2]

The War of the Wills

When overwhelmed by the countless mundane issues in life, it is very easy for us to lose sight of the fact that the driving force behind everything that takes place in our lives is this unseen, on-going conflict of wills between the one Righteous Ruler of the Universe and the evil imposter who is seeking to overthrow Him.  The evil imposter is none other than the powerful fallen angel, Lucifer—who is also known as Satan, “the prince of the power of the air (Eph. 2:2),” and “the father of lies and a murderer from the beginning (John 8:44).”  His bio, in Ezekiel 28: 12-17, reads like this…

You were the signet of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.  You were in Eden, in the garden of God…an anointed cherub…blameless in your ways from the day you were created, till unrighteousness was found in you…

So I cast you as a profane thing from the mountain of God, and I destroyed you, O guardian cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire.

Your heart was proud because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor…

His arrogant ambition and the self-centered nature of his will are also noted for us in Isaiah 14:12-14…

How you are fallen from heaven, O Daystar, son of Dawn!  How you are cut down to the ground, you who laid the nations low!

You said in your heart…

I will ascend to heaven;
…above the stars of God I will set my throne on high;
I will sit on the mount of the assembly in the far reaches of the north;
I will ascend above the height of the clouds;
I will make myself like the Most High.

His opponent, of course, is God—the Sovereign, All Powerful, All-Knowing, Holy Being who not only…

…created the heavens…formed the earth and made it…[and] formed it to be inhabited;
…speak[s] the truth…[and] declare[s] what is right (Is. 45:18-19);
…gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist (Rom. 4:17);
…is light and in [whom] is no darkness at all (1 John 1:50;
…is love (1 John 4:10)….

…but is the One who could, at any time He chooses, destroy His impudent adversary with just one word from His mouth.  Instead, in His wisdom, He continues to allow him to “…prowl around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8).”  And, why is that?  Because in this cosmic battle of wills, the decision as to which one will prevail on the earth has been delegated by God to the will of each—relatively speaking—puny and seemingly insignificant human being who lives on this planet; and, is determined every time he or she is faced with the choice of doing what will satisfy his or her own selfish desires, or what will be pleasing to God.

Screwtape

Screwtape’s Perspective on Humanity

In the classic apologetic novel, The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis provides us with additional insight into the nature of this war of wills through the instructional letters that seasoned demon, Screwtape, writes to his nephew, Wormwood, a lowly demon-in-training.  Here, in a slightly abridged version of one such letter, we learn that in the view of Satan and his minions

…Humans are amphibians– half spirit and half animal…As spirits they belong to the eternal world, but as animals they inhabit time. This means that while their spirit can be directed to an eternal object, their bodies, passions, and imaginations are in continual change, for as to be in time means to change. Their nearest approach to constancy, therefore, is undulation–the repeated return to a level from which they repeatedly fall back, a series of troughs and peaks…As long as [they live] on earth periods of emotional and bodily richness and liveliness will alternate with periods of numbness and poverty…

…To decide what the best use of it is, you must ask what use the Enemy [God] wants to make of it, and then do the opposite. Now it may surprise you to learn that in His efforts to get permanent possession of a soul, He relies on the troughs even more than on the peaks; some of His special favourites have gone through longer and deeper troughs than anyone else. The reason is this. To us (demons) a human is primarily food; our aim is the absorption of its will into ours, the increase of our own area of selfhood at its expense. But the obedience which the Enemy [God] demands of men is quite a different thing. One must face the fact that all the talk about His love for men, and His service being perfect freedom, is not (as one would gladly believe) mere propaganda, but an appalling truth.

He really does want to fill the universe with a lot of loathsome little replicas of Himself—creatures whose life, on its miniature scale, will be qualitatively like His own, not because he has absorbed them but because their wills freely conform to His.  We want cattle who can finally become food; He wants servants who can finally become sons. We want to suck in, He wants to give out. We are empty and would be filled; He is full and flows over. Our war aim is a world in which Our Father Below has drawn all other beings into himself: the Enemy (God) wants a world full of beings united to Him but still distinct. 

And that is where the troughs come in. You must have often wondered why the Enemy [God] does not make more use of His power to be sensibly present to human souls in any degree He chooses and at any moment. But you now see that the Irresistible and the Indisputable are the two weapons which the very nature of His scheme forbids Him to use. Merely to override a human will (as His felt presence in any but the faintest and most mitigated degree would certainly do) would be for Him useless. He cannot ravish. He can only woo. For His ignoble idea is to eat the cake and have it; the creatures are to be one with Him, but yet themselves; merely to cancel them, or assimilate them, will not serve. He is prepared to do a little overriding at the beginning. He will set them off with communications of His presence which, though faint, seem great to them, with emotional sweetness, and easy conquest over temptation.

Sooner or later He withdraws, if not in fact, at least from their conscious experience, all those supports and incentives. He leaves the creature to stand up on its own legs– to carry out from the will alone duties which have lost all relish. It is during such trough periods, much more than during the peak periods, that it is growing into the sort of creature He wants it to be. Hence the prayers offered in the state of dryness are those which please Him best. We can drag our patients along by continual tempting, because we design them only for the table, and the more their will is interfered with the better. He cannot ‘tempt’ to virtue as we do to vice.

He wants them to learn to walk and must therefore take away His hand; and if only the will to walk is really there He is pleased even with their stumbles. Do not be deceived, Wormwood. Our cause is never more in danger than when a human, no longer desiring, but still intending, to do our Enemy’s [God’s] will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys…[3]

 

Servants to Sons

God’s Desire is to have Sons who Choose to do His Will over their own


Worship and the Will of God

Although he didn’t refer to it as such, the act that Screwtape is describing when a child of God chooses to obey the will of His Father—even in the face of any thoughts, feelings, or circumstances to the contrary—is something that God looks upon as Worship.  For, in spite of what we have been conditioned to believe, worship isn’t so much about what we do as we gather together in church on Sunday morning; it is more about what we do when we leave church and, going back out into the world, we come face to face with the people and situations that Satan likes to use in an attempt to get us to abandon God’s will in favor of our own.  It is then that, as we are strengthened by the Spirit and reminded that…

God is God, and we are not;
He created everything, He owns everything, and He established all the rules by which His creation operates;
He knows everything, is everywhere, and has all the power;
He is holy and always does what is right; and,
His thoughts or ideas, and His ways of doing things are better than ours; and,
He can always be trusted to do what is right, not only for us but for everyone else, as well…

…we can lay aside our will and what we want, and choose to do what Jesus would do, if He was there in our place.  This, in fact, is what Jesus did in the Garden of Gethsemane when, in the face of the Cross and in spite of His own human desires, He surrendered His will to that of His Father, so that His Father’s would be done on the earth.  What we learn, then, from His example, is that worshiping God simply means living surrendered to Him, in any and every circumstance in life, and anything less is not true worship.

With that in mind, then, we need to submit to and embrace the work of the Holy Spirit as He continues the work of restoration in our souls, so that in every situation our attitude will be…

O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker.
For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand (Ps. 95:6).

Worship the Lord

 

 

Smiley Face with Earphones2
The song of a soul restored…

 

 

[1]  Watchman Nee, The Spiritual Man (Richmond, VA: Christian Fellowship Publishers, Incorporated, 1968), Book 3, 81-83.

[2]  Nee, Spiritual Man, 77.

[3] C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2001), chapter 8.

The Capstone of God’s Creation

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As we wait for the curtains to re-open for Vignette #2, here at Stage #1 of God’s One Big Story, let’s take a moment to recall where we were in the Story when these very same curtains were closed so abruptly on Vignette #1—The Creation of the World.  At the time, we had just witnessed the most astounding display of power, wisdom, order, and creativity ever, as God in three Persons created, out of nothing, the cosmos and everything in it—everything, that is, except the human life which had been His ultimate objective from eternity past.  It was at this pivotal moment, when everything else in God’s created order was in place, that a light shone on the Stage and God, in His Tri-unity, announced plans for the imminent creation of a Capstone—that is, a crowning achievement, point, element, or event, for all of His work, by saying…

…Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.  And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.
(Gen. 1:26)

It was with this pronouncement that the curtains closed temporarily on the Creation Story; leaving us somewhat bewildered and confused as to why the Story would come to a screeching halt right at this particular point.  The reason for this seemingly inconvenient and unnecessary delay will become clearer to us, though, if we think back to Here at Last, at Stage #1…, where we were, for the sake of improving our scriptural navigation skills, introduced to the concept of Surfing our way through Genesis.  As we learned then, Surfing through Scripture is very much like going to a website and then clicking on one link after another, until we finally get to the information we are looking for—which, in this instance, means going to Genesis 1, and looking for the most important piece of information contained there.  This information, in verse form, will then provide us with the link needed to connect us with the action that will be taking place in next chapter.   In Chapter 1, this connecting link is found in verse 27, the Creation of Man—the very place where the curtains closed on us before.

You see, quite often when people are reading through Genesis 1 and 2, they make the mistake of thinking that there are two separate Creation Stories being recounted when, in fact, the Story that is being presented in Chapter 1 is an overview, a big picture, or a master shot of this one particular scene—while that which is taking place in Chapter 2 is the close-up of the very same scene. This is exactly where we find ourselves now, as Vignette #2 begins—we are flashing forward to view the close-up of the Creation of Man, the Capstone on all of God’s Creation! 

So, with the lights in the theatre dimmed again, and with the curtains parting once more, here is the paradisaical setting that we find on the Stage before us…

Paradise1a

The Paradise of the Early Earth

The pristine beauty of this scene serves up a such a visual feast that it is almost too much for our eyes to fully savor; and yet, almost immediately after the curtains part, our other senses are pushed to the brink of overload as the sound of a heavenly choir, somewhere off-stage, begins singing praises to God for bringing all of this splendor into existence.  Suddenly, we are so overcome by all of the majestic sights and sounds we are experiencing, that we find ourselves singing along with them…

Be exalted, O God, above the heavens!  Let your glory be over all the earth!
For your steadfast love is great to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds.
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens!  Let your glory be over all the earth!
(
Psalm 57: 5, 10-11) 

[For] The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.
(Psalm 19: 1-4)
 

Praise the Lord!  Praise the Lord from the heavens; praise him in the heights!
Praise him, all his angels; praise him, all his hosts!
Praise him sun and moon, praise him, all you shining stars!
Praise him, you highest heavens, and you waters above the heavens!
Let them praise the name of the Lord!  For he commanded and they were created.  And he established them forever and ever; he gave a decree, and it shall not pass away.
Praise the Lord from the earth, you great sea creatures and all deeps…mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars!  Beasts and all livestock, creeping things and flying birds!
Let them praise the name of the Lord, for his name alone is exalted; his majesty is above earth and heaven.
(Psalm 148: 1-6, 7,9,10,13)
 

[For] Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.
(Revelation 4:11)

Enraptured as we all are in the wonder and worship of the moment, not one of us is giving a single thought to what things looked like just six days prior to this; and yet, it is to very these things that the off-stage Narrator now redirects us, as he summarizes the events leading up to this all-important moment…

These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens…[in that day] when no bush of the field was yet in the land and no small plant of the field had yet sprung up—for the Lord God had not caused it to rain on the land, and there was no man to work the ground, and a mist was going up from the land and was watering the whole face of the ground …(Gen. 2:4-6)

As soon as these words are spoken, the bright light we had seen previously in Vignette #1 reappears, and begins shining again on the same insignificant looking piece of ground that it had illuminated before.  With our attention now riveted on this spot, we hear the Narrator describe that action that is taking place on the Stage, when he says…

Then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature [soul].  And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed.  And out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food.  The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  (Gen. 2:7-9)

Our Narrator pauses for a moment in an effort to give us with a little more information about the richness and expansiveness of this Garden, by telling us that…

A river flowed out of Eden to water the garden, and there it divided and became four rivers.  The name of the first is the Pishon.  It is the one that flowed around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold.  And the gold of that land is good; bdellium and onyx stone are there.  The name of the second river is the Gihon.  It is the one that flowed around the whole land of Cush.  And the name of the third river is the Tigris, which flows east of Assyria.  And the fourth river is the Euphrates.  (Gen. 2: 10-14) 

…before returning to the action of the Story, where we learn that…

The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and keep it.  And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”  (Gen. 2:15-17) 

Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”  (Gen. 2:18)

Adam in the Garden of Eden1a

Adam Surveying His Dominion

Now out of the ground the Lord God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them.  And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name.  The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field.  But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him (Gen. 2:19-20). 

So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh.  And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man.  Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman because she was taken out of Man.”  Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.  And the man and the woman were both naked and were not ashamed (Gen.2:21-25). 

With this, we now flash back to what we heard from behind the curtain at the end of Vignette #1, as our Narrator then announced…

Adam and Eve1

“It is not good that man should be alone…”

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.  And God blessed them.  And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth…Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit.  You shall have them for food.  And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.  (Gen. 1:27-30) 

Satisfied that this, the Capstone of His Creation, is not just good but very good, God brings His work on this sixth day of Creation to an end.  With the heavens and the earth thus completed…

…on the seventh day, God finished the work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done.  So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.  (Gen. 2:1-3) 

As the curtain closes on Vignette #2, we are once again treated to the sound of the heavenly choir as it praises God…

O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is you name in all the earth!  You have set your glory above the heavens…
When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the star, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?
Yet you have made him little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor.
You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas.
O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!
(Psalm 8)

Garden of Eden1a

“…And it was very good.”

And to this, all that we can add is…Amen!

Smiley Face with Earphones2

 

Let’s continue the worship of our Wonderful Creator with Susan Boyle’s rendition of “How Great Thou Art”

 

 

 

A Pause, and a Cause, for Worship

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A Thinking Woman

A Thinking Woman…Can Be a Dangerous Thing

After each of our visits, I like to take a little time to ponder what we have been talking about so that I can try to decide where we should go in our next discussion.   As a goal-oriented person, I usually have a very good idea of where that is and just how to go about getting there; but, as is so often the case in my life, that isn’t the way it usually works out.  All too frequently in my estimation, what I consider to be my good plans are side-lined by God, and replaced by ones that He thinks are far better (imagine that!).  And this is exactly what happened as I was preparing for our visit today.   While I was all set on devoting more time to the subject of overcoming, the Lord made it clear that He wanted me to use this visit to focus on worship.  How did He do that?  Well, each time I thought about my proposed agenda, He would interrupt those thoughts with a particular song, “The Majesty and Glory of Your Name.”  Having been down this road more than once, it wasn’t long before I got the point that He was trying to make—which was, if we don’t worship first, there will be no overcoming!

Well, if worship is so important, it goes without saying that we should all have a clear understanding as to what it is. We certainly hear the term tossed about often enough; so often, in fact, that it tends to leave us with the impression that everyone who uses it must know what it is, or that they are all referring to the same thing.  Unfortunately, that isn’t really the case.  That’s because worship has too often become something so subjective and soulish that we no longer have a correct concept of its meaning, but are left, instead, to devise our own interpretations of what we think it should be.

Church Members Greeting One Another

Surveying Church Members

I would be willing to wager a guess that if we did a survey of people as they were leaving their respective churches, asking them for their definitions of worship, we would get some or all of the following answers:

  • Worship is the meeting together of believers for fellowship, prayer, and the preaching of God’s Word;
  • Worship is the regular practice of prayer and Bible study;
  • Worship is the giving of tithes and offerings for the support of the church;
  • Worship is the giving of time and talents to do works of service and/or charity;
  • Worship is the singing of songs of praise to God; and,
  • Worship is the experience by some of being transported to other realms in moments of ecstasy.

On the surface, each of these definitions has merit, for each one represents a form that worship can take; however, if we could look below the surface—that is, to the motives of some of those engaged in these activities, we would probably find that much of what passes today as worship is more emotional than spiritual, and more about us than it is about God.  That’s because, all too often:

  • When we come together, instead of doing so to exalt God, we are looking to be entertained;
  • When we pray or study the Bible, we are doing so with the intention of getting something from God rather than learning about Him and His will for us;
  • When we give of our money, instead of giving joyfully and sacrificially, we do so out of obligation or with the expectation of being rewarded by God with material prosperity;
  • When we give of ourselves to the service of others, oftentimes, we are more interested in scoring points with God, or in impressing others with our piety; and,
  • When we sing our songs of praise, or revel in the ecstasy of those mountain top experiences, we quite often do so for our own temporary pleasure, instead of allowing God to use these experiences to bring about lasting changes in our lives.
What worship is about

True Worship

Now, knowing what we know about God, can we honestly say that this is really the kind of worship that He desires from us; or, is it the kind that Jesus was describing when He said to the woman at the well, in John 4:23-24:  “But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.  God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth”?  Obviously, the answer to this question is “no,” but how are we to know what it really means when Jesus tells us that true worship must be in spirit and in truth?

In our effort to answer that, let’s start with the truth part first.  You see, before any of us can come to God in worship, the truth that we must acknowledge is this:

  • That God is God, and we are not;
  • That, as God, He created everything, He owns everything, and He established all the rules by which His creation operates;
  • That, as God, He knows everything, is everywhere, and has all the power;
  • That, as God, He is holy and always does what is right; and,
  • Because of all of this, God’s thoughts or ideas, and His ways of doing things are better than ours;
  • Meaning, that when we come to Him, we can always trust Him to do what is right, not only for us but for everyone else, as well.

As for the spirit part, what Jesus is telling us is that when we come to God in worship, we must do so through a meeting of our spirits with the Spirit of God, and not through any fleshly means.  You see, here is the way this spiritual connection is supposed to work:  when God decides that He wants to tell us something, He has His Spirit speak to our spirits, and then our spirits deliver those messages to our souls.  Our souls—or, our minds, emotions, and wills—are then supposed to communicate God’s directions to our bodies for their implementation.  Our bodies and souls are, in fact, what constitutes the flesh, or that which is perishing; while our spirits are the parts of our beings which are like God and which will live on forever.  So, if we attempt to come to God through our flesh, He will not accept us or our worship—for, as Jesus told Nicodemus in John 3:6, “…that which born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the spirit is spirit,” indicating a separation existing between the two which cannot be eliminated.

Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane

Jesus at Worship in the Garden

What this means is, that when we come to God in worship, we open our spirits to His Spirit, we acknowledge His superiority and authority over us, and we bring our wills into alignment with His will, for the ultimate purpose of establishing His Kingdom, or His rule and His reign of righteousness, here on the earth, even as it already exists in heaven.  This, in fact, is what we see Jesus doing in the Garden of Gethsemane when, in the face of the Cross and in spite of His own human desires, He surrenders His will to that of His Father, so that His Father’s will would be done on the earth.  What we learn, then, from His example, is that worshiping God simply means living surrendered, and that anything less is not true worship.  And why did He, and why should we, worship in this way?   For no other reason than the majesty and glory of His name, hallelujah!

 

 

Smiley Face with Earphones2

The Metro Singers and their rendition of, “The Majesty and Glory of Your Name.”