I've tried to stay away from letting the dictionary define worship while doing these posts. I know what the word means, but I want to know what the Bible says it means. Often we bring preconceived ideas about what words mean to our reading of the Scripture based on our culture, upbringing, geographic location, etc. Wine is a perfect example of this. Did you know that most times when the Bible mentions wine it's actually speaking of grape juice? We (people now-a-days) always think of wine as being alcoholic, because that's what it is in our culture. In the Bible it wasn't like that. That just shows how important it is to let the Bible do the defining when it comes to our words and ideas. So, how do we do that? We have to read it, and we have to ask the Holy Spirit to give us wisdom. James 1:5. So what is worship biblically? Let's put the preconceived ideas aside. Let's forget about how the "church" defines and practices worship. Let's not go by the pastor's opinion or someone else's opinion. Let's just use the Word.
John 4:19-24 The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet. Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
This Scripture is a key passage on worship. The woman at the well brings up worship, and Jesus corrects her false perception of what exactly worship is. According to what Jesus said here worship is basically two things. It is spirit, and it is truth.
The Bible has a lot to say about truth
John 17:17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
Psalm 119:160 Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever.
II Samuel 7:28 And now, O Lord GOD, thou art that God, and thy words be true, and thou hast promised this goodness unto thy servant.
Jeremiah 10:10 But the LORD is the true God...
Romans 3:4 ...yea, let God be true, but every man a liar...
Truth is God's Word. Truth is God. True worship must conform with God's Word, because God's Word is true. We cannot worship the sun, because God has told us that is wrong. Worshipping images is wrong. Allowing worldliness to characterize our worship is wrong. Hypocritical worship is wrong. Disorderly worship is wrong. Worship that is characterized by the wants of self is wrong. Why? Because the Bible, the truth, tells us these things. Worship MUST be true.
The spirit part of this verse is a bit harder. At least it is for me. I think this is what gives people the idea that worship is a matter of the heart. I agree with this statement in part. The Bible has a lot to say about our hearts.
Proverbs 28:26 He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool... Hmmm... think about that for a minute. That's why we need Psalm 51:10 Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Jeremiah 17:9 tells us our heart is deceitful and desperately wicked. Worship is a matter of the heart. Has our heart been cleansed by God? Have our sins been forgiven? Have we been searched our heart, and asked Got to reveal any wickedness in us? Have we put pride out of our hearts? Have we died to self and completely surrendered our hearts to Christ? That's what our heart worship is. Worship is not, my heart is worshipping, so I can us whatever music I like. Worship is not about musical preference. It's not about music that reaches my heart. Why? Because all those things are about ME. Worship is about GOD!!! My feelings, desires, preferences, likes, and dislikes have ZERO to do with worship! Worship IS a matter of the heart. It's about getting my heart's focus OFF of myself and what I like and ON to God.
Notice, Jesus didn't separate spirit and truth in worship. That's because it's impossible to have true worship without both. Many today want to "worship" God using worldly means. They want to create and atmosphere of worship characterized by dim lighting, repetitious singing of mantra like phrases, and unbalanced non-musical music, all of which leads to some sort of emotional high, which apparently is supposed to be worship. When someone shows me people worshipping like this in the Scripture, I'll go along with it, but to me, this is not worshipping in truth. Where in the Bible did people worship in a darkness? Maybe it's just me, but I find the fact that a lot "worship" concerts and church worship services are dark a little creepy. Especially when the Bible says and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil (John 3:19).... just sayin'.