Worshiping God in Spirit and in Truth
By Atif Himadeh
“God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24). “Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve” (Matthew 4:10). God alone is worthy of worship; no human being deserves to be worshiped. Anyone who bows down before a mountain, a tree, a rock, a bird, another human being, or an animal is an idol worshiper.
God says in the second commandment, “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them…” (Exodus 20:4-5). This commandment forbids the making of idols or images of anything in heaven, on earth, or below the earth. This means that it is forbidden to make an image of the Lord Jesus Christ, for He is in heaven and everywhere else. It is also forbidden to make an image of the Virgin Mary or any of the saints, for they are in heaven. Making idols or images of what is in heaven is a greater sin than making idols and images of Buddha, as do the Buddhists, who are idol worshipers.
Just as it is forbidden to make idols or images of what is in heaven, it is also forbidden to make an idol or an image of anything on earth, be it animal, plant, bird, fish, an inanimate object, or a person, even if that person is a prophet or an apostle. The making of such idols or images for the purpose of worship is idol worship, which is an abomination to God. God said, “Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them.” It is forbidden for anyone to make, worship, or serve idols or images, because God said in the second commandment, “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them…” (Exodus 20:4, 5).
Only God, the Creator of the heavens and the earth, is to be worshiped (“Thou shalt worship the Lord they God, and him only shalt thou serve”). God is to be worshiped in spirit and in truth. We are not to worship or serve idols or images. Many people have gone astray by worshiping the sun, the moon, trees, rocks, cows, plants, animals, or insects. Worshiping God should not be limited to one direction, focused on any single object on earth or in heaven. Whosoever worships the omnipresent God does not limit the direction of his worship, but worships God in spirit and in truth with no consideration for the north, south, east, or west because God is omnipresent.
God also says, “…nor serve them.” Serving God, in this context, refers to worshiping Him, that is, bowing down before Him or praying to Him. Praying without bowing down is considered worship. Since God commanded us to worship Him only, we are to pray to Him only. That means that we are to come only to Him with our prayers and supplications; we are not to pray to saints or apostles or prophets or angels. Whosoever prays to anybody except God, the Creator of the heavens and the earth, is an idol worshiper, whose prayers God will not answer.
Does God listen to people’s prayers? God does not listen to the prayer of a sinful person. Human beings – including saints, prophets, and apostles – are sinners according to the Bible: “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23); “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10); “They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one” (Psalm 14:3). Since we are all sinners and there is none righteous, God does not listen to the prayers of sinners on earth. The Bible says, “And he saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor: therefore his arm brought salvation unto him; and his righteousness, it sustained him” (Isaiah 59:16). This verse clearly shows us that God did not find an intercessor among men, so “his arm brought salvation unto him,” that is, God Himself performed the work of salvation. Isaiah says, “I, even I, am the Lord; and beside me there is no saviour” (Isaiah 43: 11), for everyone has sinned and failed to satisfy God.
God did not find a mediator (or savior) among men, so “God was manifested in the flesh,” in the Lord Jesus Christ in order to be that Savior: “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Isaiah tells us that the Lord is the Savior, and Acts tells us that Jesus Christ is the Savior, so Jesus Christ is the Lord. That is what the angels proclaimed when the Lord Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem: “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11).
Because every human being is a sinner, God does not allow them to approach him as sinners – neither by prayer, nor after death. God, the Creator of the heavens and the earth is forgiving and merciful, and He wants to forgive the sins of every human being: “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:3-5). God wants everybody to be saved, and that’s why He performed the work of salvation for human beings. Neither an animal nor an angel could be the savior of mankind, and God did not find among human beings anyone righteous who could be the savior.
God allowed the lamb to be the symbol of salvation to make men aware of their need for salvation, but a lamb is not an acceptable sacrifice to God, because lambs do not have an immortal spirit as man does. Animals like lambs, doves, or cows cannot redeem man’s immortal soul. The only one who can is a righteous man who did not commit even one sin during His entire earthly life. The prophet Isaiah said, “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth” (Isaiah 53: 5-7). Isaiah went on to say, “…By his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities” (Isaiah 53:11). When we examine the words “and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all,” we see that the Lord is the one who placed our sins on a Man brought to the slaughter as a lamb. Verse 11 (“By his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities”) shows us that the man who bore our iniquities is God’s “righteous servant,” not His “righteous servants,” that is, there is only One who is righteous in God’s eyes.
As the New Testament indicates, the man who is to perform the work of salvation must be righteous and have an eternal spirit: “But Christ…Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us…How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” (Hebrews 9: 11, 12, 14). The Lord Jesus Christ is the only One born with an eternal spirit. He was conceived through the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary: “And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:35).
God ordained salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ before the world began: “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you” (1 Peter 1:18-20). Before the world began, God ordained salvation through the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, God manifested in flesh. Before God created the world, He laid down a divine plan for God to become flesh in the Lord Jesus Christ and to die on the cross. His death on the cross as God in flesh, the Lord Jesus Christ, was not the result of weakness or an inability to get down from the cross or arise to heaven: “…Then came they, and laid hands on Jesus, and took him. And, behold, one of them which were with Jesus stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and struck a servant of the high priest’s, and smote off his ear. Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword. Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?” (Matthew 26: 50-54). Christ did not die on the cross defeated, but victorious over Satan: “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage” (Hebrews 2:14, 15). Christ’s death on the cross was a victory over Satan, and it was in accordance with the plan God laid down before the foundation of the world.
The Lord Jesus Christ is God in flesh: “And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory” (1 Timothy 3:16). God was manifest in the flesh as Christ: “To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them…” (2 Corinthians 5:19). It is no wonder, then, that Christ said, “…he that hath seen me hath seen the Father…” (John 14:9).
As stated previously, God alone is to be worshiped (“Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve”). Therefore, every human being and angel is to worship the Lord Jesus, and whosoever does not, is disobeying God’s laws, just as Satan did: “And again, when he bringeth in the first-begotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him” (Hebrews 1:6). The first-begotten who was brought into the world is the Lord Jesus Christ. God commanded all the angels to worship God in flesh, the Lord Jesus. God commanded human beings and angels to worship God alone, and since Jesus Christ is Lord, as the angels said, we need to worship and serve Him. Whosoever does not worship the Lord Jesus will go to hell to be with the disobedient Satan.
Believe on the Lord Jesus, who was born of a virgin and died on the cross for you, shedding His blood to forgive your sins, and rose again on the third day. Whosoever believes on Him will not perish but have everlasting life.
Believe on Him, and pray to Him, saying, “Lord Jesus, from now on I will not worship or serve anyone but you, because you are God in flesh. I confess that I am a sinner and ask you to forgive my sins and give me everlasting life. I ask this in the name of the Lord Jesus.”