God is Spirit, and His worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in Truth.”
I love this Verse of the Day because it addresses two great points about worship. Jesus taught that our worship of God must be specific and intentional. Specific addresses that worship must be spiritual. Intentional addresses that worship must be sincere. To explain spiritual matters in practical terms, I always look to the Apostle Paul for insight.
Romans 12:1 (New International Version)
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.
Romans 12:1 (English Standard Version)
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your (rational) spiritual worship.
Romans 12:1 (New American Standard Version)
Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your (rational) spiritual service of worship.
Romans 12:1 (New King James Version)
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable (rational) service.
I reprinted several translations of Romans 12:1 because I wanted you to get a diverse since of how the Greek is translated in this passage. Regardless of how the relationship to worship is presented (i.e. true and proper worship or spiritual worship), all the passages agree that acceptable worship to God is the presentation of yourself … your body as a living and holy sacrifice. In other words, true and rational worship in bodily action is how your spiritual worship is manifested. And Paul indicates to us that true worship is sacrificial in conduct and holy in nature. Acceptable worship means we have set ourselves apart (consecrated ourselves) to serve God and His Kingdom in these vessels He has given us – that is our human bodies….
Perhaps easier said than done, but spiritual worship … true worship is ultimately a sacrificial offering of our “surrendered” selves to God. It means everything we are in our inner being … our souls… is focused on pleasing Him and doing His will. That requires submission not to religious rites or human constructs; rather, it requires a reverent fear of the holy God who saved us and calls us to be holy just as He is holy. (Cf. 1 Peter 1:16) It means that we must deny ourselves and take up our cross daily and follow Jesus. (Cf. Luke 9:23) It means to do what is right and just … which is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifices. (Cf. Proverbs 21:3) And it is because of His mercy toward us that we feel compeled to do so.
Isaiah 29:13-14 (NIV)
13 The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught. 14 Therefore once more I will astound these people with wonder upon wonder; the wisdom of the wise will perish, the intelligence of the intelligent will vanish.”
You see, worship is not something we can pretend. It is not merely following a prescribed set of rules or rituals taught by organized denominations or hierarchies. Worship is ultimately the sincere, rational expression of the personal relationship you have with Jesus Christ. The closer you draw to Him … the more you submit to His authority … the more you will abide in Him (and He in you). Worship then becomes a natural expression of your life in Christ. Everything you do in your body, as a living sacrifice, is Spirit led, so it will not be contrived or feel unnatural. It will be an outpouring of the wellspring of living water within you….