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In Spirit
In his journey to Galilee from Judea in the fourth chapter of John, Jesus
passed through Samaria, a land which most of the Jews would walk around
(though it took them miles out of their way) rather than through. Samaria had
been infested by men “from Babylon, and from Cuthah, and from Ava, and
from Hamath, and from Sepharim” as the king of Assyria had placed them
there following the captivity of the nation of Israel. God then sent lions upon
them to destroy them because they “feared not the Lord.”

“Then the king of Assyria commanded, saying, Carry thither one of the priests
whom ye brought from thence [Israel]; and let them go and dwell there, and let
him teach them themanner of the God of the land. Then one of the priests
whom they had carried away from Samaria came and dwelt in Bethel, and
taught them how they should fear the Lord. Howbeit every nation made gods of
their own,and put them in the houses of the high places which the Samaritans
had made, every nation in their cities wherein they dwelt. … They feared the
Lord, and served their own gods, after the manner of the nation of the nations
whom they carried away from thence. Unto this day they do after the former
manners: they fear not the Lord, neither do they after their statutes, or after
their ordinances, or after the law and commandment which the Lord
commanded the children of Jacob, whom he named Israel; … So these nations
feared the Lord, and served their graven images, both their children, and their
children’s children: as did their fathers, so do they unto this day” [2 Kings 17:

Thus, from the days of the Assyrian captivity to the time of Christ there had
been animosity between the Jew and Samaritan on two points at least: (1) the
dual allegiance of the Samaritans to Jehovah and to their idol gods; and, (2)
the incorrect worship of Jehovah by worshipping at Mt. Gerazim rather than at
the temple in Jerusalem.

This animosity between Jew and Samaritan was so intense that when Jesus
sat down and rested at Jacob’s well while the disciples went into the city to
buy food, and asked a Samaritan woman for a drink of water, she was greatly
surprised that He (being a Jew) would even speak to her (since she was a

Jesus then spoke to her of the living water which gives eternal life [John 4:9-
15]. Then after telling her to go get her husband, and reminding her that she
had had five husbands and was not now living with one who was her husband,
the woman realized He was a prophet [John 4:16-19].

Thus, the age-old animosity between Jew and Samaritan came to her mind.
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. (John 4:20-24 KJV)

“The Samaritans worshipped in Mt. Gerazim, but they so in ignorance; the law
of God showed that Jerusalem was the place to worship (Deuteronomy 12:5-
11; 1 Kings 9:3; II Chronicles 3:12). But Jesus shows the woman at the well
that she should no longer be concerned about this question, a time was
coming – and indeed had already come – when it would make no difference
whether worship took place at Mt. Gerazim, in Jerusalem, or any other place
upon the face of the earth. Under the grace of the gospel, all requirements as
to the geographical location were removed. God as a spirit is not limited as to
time or as to space, and can be worshipped in any place upon the face of the
earth. What was important was that the worship of God be accomplished by
the spirit of man according to the truth.”

As brother J.W. McGarvey wrote: “Jesus draws the mind of the woman from
the place of worship to the Person or Being worshipped, and from the form to
the spirit of worship. God seeks for genuine, and not formal worshippers, and
for those who worship him in truth; …” [THE FOURFOLD GOSPEL; p. 149]

A basic problem in dealing with acceptable worship is a defining of Jesus’
statement in John 4:23,24. Misconceptions, misunderstandings, and ignorance
of the principle of worship put forth by the Son of God in this passage have
been the source of many, if not all, of the evils that have beset Christian
worship since the days of the apostles. Therefore, a thorough understanding
of Christ’s words and all they imply must be understood to be able to
comprehend the difference and distinction between acceptable and
unacceptable worship.

What is “In Spirit”?

We have defined “worship” as: an adoration of the heart that finds itself
expressed in action toward God. To worship “in spirit” is to have the adoration
of the heart; it is the first and foremost requirement for acceptable worship.
Unfortunately, far too many assume worship takes place merely by sitting in a
pew or by going through the motions while the heart and soul may be a million
miles away. That, however, is no more worship in its true sense than is a
burlap bag  that is empty with “sand” written on it a bag of sand. True, to have
a bag of sand you must have a bag, but you must also have the sand; and, to
have worship you must have the acts, but you must also have the adoration of
the heart.

Worship: In Spirit -- A Singular Allegiance
Worship: In Spirit -- A Pure Allegiance
Worship: In Spirit -- A Practical Allegiance
Worship: In Spirit -- Understanding