“God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24).
The occasion when Jesus is speaking with the woman at Jacob’s well in Samaria gives Him an opportunity to teach a universal truth about acceptable worship: it must be in spirit and in truth.
In this teaching, Jesus cuts to the heart of what God expects from those who want to please Him in worship. First, He mentions spirit, indicating the attitude, focus, and sincerity one is to manifest and not the performance of a great deal of physical activity.
Then he mentions truth, indicating that a true worshiper must base all aspects of worship on what God specifies in His word because His word is truth. Worship not specified in God’s word, then, comes from a source outside His word.
So, to carry out the command given here, a true worshiper must conduct the service according to God’s word, he must concentrate on each item as he or she participates, and he must truly mean everything he does or says during the service. Otherwise, worship has not taken place, according to Jesus in this passage.
“and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:24).
As Paul addresses this church in Ephesus, he sends one of the most positive messages to be found anywhere in his writings. This chapter is one of his crowning pieces of teaching about living the life Jesus would have His people to live.
Having poignantly elevated unity among believers to a position of prominence in this chapter, he moves on to describe maturity in Christ, laying out the importance of every leader in equipping the saints for their new role.
He, then, details sinful behaviors Christians are to have put off when they obeyed the gospel and, here, admonishes true righteousness and holy living they are to adopt as an integral part of their lives.
Paul’s message is that all true believers are to “live the life,” meaning that all of their actions and behaviors are to emulate a life deeply rooted in the good moral principles Jesus taught and lived while He was on the earth.
“Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses” (1 Timothy 6:12).
The Apostle Paul is in the middle of some last-minute instructions to the young preacher Timothy when he describes one of the actions Timothy took to lay hold on eternal life: he made the good confession and he did it before witnesses.
Interestingly, he uses the term “good confession” not only in this verse but also in the one that follows. This is the confession Paul describes in Romans 10, requiring that it be made with the mouth and mandating that it be made as one goes toward salvation.
As well, it is the same confession Jesus ties to a promise in Matthew 10 where He makes it a requirement if we want Him to confess our name to the Father. The verbal confession of Jesus as the Son of God, then, is necessary for our salvation.
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11.1).
As Paul writes to his own people, he does everything he can to wake them up and help them to realize they must stay with Jesus and not return to their former ways of worshiping under the Law of Moses.
In doing so, he defines the word that is basic to Christianity: faith. “Faith” is the “substance,” that is, the “assurance,” of all Christian beliefs, meaning it is the foundation for everything else that followers of Jesus Christ believe.
As well, faith is the “evidence” of things we cannot see, meaning it is “the conviction, the persuasion, the complete belief in” things we can’t see. Without faith, we would be limited to the narrow world comprehended by our five senses: smell, taste, see, hear, and feel.
With faith, we open an avenue to a complete conviction that both God and Jesus Christ, His Son, exist. Faith also allows us to know with assurance that Jesus lived on the earth at one time, even though we today have never experienced Him with any of our senses.