Worship is a spirit empowered response to the greatness of God in Christ, as revealed in and according to God's word for His glory. And this morning, we are going to turn our attention to that spirit empowered portion of the definition. Worship is impossible without the Holy Spirit. True worship is impossible without the Holy Spirit. Charles Spurgeon-- you guys didn't think you'd get out of a sermon series without hearing a Spurgeon quote for me, did you?-- Charles Spurgeon said, "We always need the Spirit of God in our preaching. But I think we more especially require His divine direction and instruction when the subject is himself." So Holy Spirit, we need your help.
And I know that for many of us, as soon as someone mentions the Holy Spirit and worship, we get a little uncomfortable. The Holy Spirit can be mysterious. I think that's one of God's ways of humbling us is that we can't figure it all out. And throughout church history, his person and his work have been abused. And our day is no exception. Today the abuses range from the prosperity gospel to the new apostolic reformation, to churches such as Bethel Church, and their music arms, Bethel Music and Jesus Culture. And we're tempted to overreact. We see the abuses and we're like, “I'll take the Father, I'll take the Son, but I'm not sure about this Holy Spirit thing.” And I know that's true because I've been there. I've been there.
As I was preparing this week, I thought back to my time of working at Arby's. “Slinging beef,” we called it. It's what high schoolers do, making those classic roast beef sandwiches. But I worked with many people who were from a Pentecostal or even Holiness background and some of them, I don't want to make blanket statements, some of them loved the Lord. I believe they were Christians. But some of them would live the most impure lives you could think of. Be sexually immoral throughout the week. Curse like a sailor throughout the week. Try to cheat their timecard throughout the week. And then they go to church on Sunday, and they get the spirit and they speak in tongues. Needless to say, 17-year-old Ben did not make a lot of friends at Arby's. I told Victoria one story that I won't relate now and she said, "you're an Old Testament prophet". I said, "well thank you, that's the nicest thing you've ever said".
There are abuses when it comes to the Holy Spirit. But we're a little blind because there are also abuses when it comes to the person of Jesus. For instance, an overemphasis on his humanity to the detriment of his divinity. There's always abuses when it comes to the Trinity. So just because the ones about the Holy Spirit seem more evident or more manifest, let's not freak out. The Holy Spirit is for us and he's for our worship. We need the Holy Spirit. Without the Holy Spirit, the Christian life is not possible. Becoming a Christian is not possible without the Holy Spirit. Worshiping God in the way he accepts is not possible without him. John 4 I am sure is a very familiar passage to most of us. Jesus, John records at the beginning, he left Judea for Galilee and he records that Jesus had to pass through Samaria. He had to do it. The word "had" in Greek is "dei". And it suggests that there was a divine appointment for Jesus in Samaria.
And indeed there was because Jesus, tired from his journey, began to rest by the well and Sychar where a woman came out to draw water in the middle of the day, which was unusual because that was normally done in the morning. So as Jesus is resting, she comes and Jesus asked her for a drink. And she is a bit taken aback. Because a Jew, Jesus, was asking her a Samaritan for a drink of water, as John records for us that the Jews had nothing to do with the Samaritans. And when she asked Jesus why he asked her for a drink. He responded with, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you 'Give me a drink,' you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water." And we see throughout this passage that Jesus takes her responses, which are normally physical responses, such as here water. He takes the physical response and he teaches her something spiritual. This happens throughout the whole conversation. She didn't understand what Jesus said so she says, how are you going to draw water out of the well, you have nothing to draw it with. So Jesus again responds, "Whoever drinks the water that I give will thirst no more" and that this water will become "a spring of water welling up to eternal life", which is a reference to the Holy Spirit, confirmed by John 7:38 and 39. And obviously, who wouldn't want this water? I won't be thirsty again.
Well, Jesus at that point, he asked her to call her husband and she says, well, I don't have a husband. Jesus says, you're right because you've had five husbands and the man you are with now is not your husband. And in this game of back and forth, she responds, perhaps to maybe deflect Jesus a little bit because of what he just said. She deflects the conversation and she brings up worship. Worship. She said that the Samaritans worshiped on Mountain Gerizim while the Jews worshiped in Jerusalem. She was concerned with the location of worship. Where are we supposed to worship, Jesus? And Jesus, ever the masterful teacher and conversationalist, he takes her non-spiritual thinking responds spiritually. And this is how we get to verse 23. Jesus said, "The hour is coming, and is now here when the true [true] worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth." So to worship the Father, it must be done in spirit and truth. So we can't have one, spirit, and call it true worship, or we can't have truth and call it true worship. They're closely and intimately connected. Jesus is saying the time is here for worship to look like this. The where of worship is not important, the who and how and the what of worship is most important. The Father is seeking people to worship Him in spirit and truth.
So let's take the word truth first because we spent some time on this last week. Truth refers to Scripture. Worship must be Biblical. It must be according to God's Word. The foundation for worship is the Bible. God's revelation of himself, which Hebrews teaches us, finds its fullest expression in Christ. Worshiping in spirit, worshiping in truth is necessary. There's no alternative. But what does spirit mean? When Jesus says "spirit" what does He mean? I think we get a clue first in verse 24. When Jesus said "God is spirit." What does it mean that God is spirit? Well, the Catechism tells us that it means that God does not have a body like men. God does not have physical arms, physical legs, a nose, or a mouth. God is spirit. When the Bible says that God is spirit, it is telling us that God is a spiritual being, not a material being.
Isaiah 31:3 "The Egyptians are man, and not God." And then the comparison here, "and their horses are flesh and not spirit." Isaiah saying, the power of the Egyptians is of the earth, but God is spirit. So this helps us make sense of the one of the 10 commandments that says we should not make an image of God to worship. Why? Because God is spirit. It is impossible to make an image of a spirit. So because God is a spiritual being he must be worshiped in spirit. That is to say he must be worshiped spiritually. He must be worshiped spiritually. Worship happens in the spiritual realm. The Samaritan woman was concerned with the place of worship. But Jesus is saying the place does not matter. Which is good because we we are not in Israel right now. If we had to get to Israel to worship this morning, it'd be an expensive, long trip. Worship that pleases God is spiritual worship. And Wayne Grudem provides a nice summary when he writes that we worship "in the spiritual realm, in the realm of spiritual activity."
So God is not seeking physical worship. He is seeking spiritual worship. That is the worship that pleases God. Worshiping in the spiritual realm and truth. Well, we ask another question, how do we worship spiritually? How do we worship spiritually? What does that mean? Well, at minimum, it means we approach worship with the right heart attitude. We worship from the heart, the core of our being. We would call that our spirit. We are made up of body and souls. We worship from our soul, if we want to put it that way. We desire to respond to God's greatness as revealed in the Bible. We come with a humble heart that admits that worship is about God and not us. We're worshiping from our hearts. But the fullest meaning of spiritual worship is that we worship from our spirit by and in the power of the Holy Spirit. And Jesus gives us a hint in John 4 and verse 14 when he talks about the spring of water welling up to eternal life. It's a reference to the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is here already. John records the words of Jesus in John 7:38 "Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, 'Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.'" Then John adds a comment and says, "Now this he said about the spirit."
To worship in spirit must be done in the realm and activity of the Holy Spirit. The spiritual realm is the Holy Spirit's realm. True worship happens by the Holy Spirit. For some of us, this may be a little bit of a different way to look at John 4 because the common interpretation is that we worship from our spirit only. When Jesus says spirit, he's talking about our spirit. And it is true the worship that God accepts is from our heart. It's authentic, if you will. We must worship in that way. But if you were to go home this morning or this afternoon, and read through the gospel of John, you would see that Jesus is already throughout the gospel building the case that the Christian life, being his disciple, is impossible without the Holy Spirit.
John 3, his encounter with Nicodemus he tells Nicodemus, you must be born again. Well, and how is someone born again? Jesus says it's through the Spirit. And the upper room discourse in chapters 14 through 16 Jesus talks about the utter need of the Holy Spirit to know Him, to live the Christian life, to walk in the truth. Three, three times in John 14 through 16 Jesus says that the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth, 14:17 15:26 and 16:13. The Holy Spirit is so closely connected to the truth it's impossible for us to worship in truth without him. If it's just from our spirit only, I'm not saying our spirit is left behind, it will be hard to worship. Worship that pleases God is in spirit and truth. It's spiritual. It happens in the spiritual realm, which is the realm of the Holy Spirit. But we encounter a problem here, as did the Samaritan woman. How can spiritually dead people worship God spiritually? How can we worship in spirit? We're all good theologians and we know that an intervention is going to have to happen. A change is going to have to happen. And we see from Scripture there are five truths about the work of the Holy Spirit that informs our worship. Five truths about the Holy Spirit that informs our worship.
First, the Holy Spirit creates spiritual worshipers. Jesus said the Father seeks people to worship Him in spirit and truth. So how do we go from being a false worshiper to a true worshiper? Through the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit. We need and we must have the new spiritual life that only the Holy Spirit can give. We just mentioned John 3. Here's verses 5 through 8 "Jesus answered, 'Truly, truly I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, 'You must be born again.' The wind blows where wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.'" Later in John chapter 6 verse 63, Jesus says "It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is of no help at all." Ephesians 2:1-5 "And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked."
So we're dead. You wanna know what dead in Greek means? Dead. There's your Greek lesson for today. We were dead. We weren't floating in the ocean waiting for someone to throw out a lifeline. We were dead. We're on the ocean floor. We "were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience." So we were living in an unholy spirit. We were worshipping in a false spiritual realm, "among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses made us alive together with Christ-- by grace you have been saved." By grace, you have been made a true worshipper.
Titus 3:5 "He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit." One more passage is Ezekiel 36 "And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules." So with this new heart that we are given, we are given the gift of the Holy Spirit. He dwells within us. He lives within us. The Holy Spirit makes us new creations so we can worship God spiritually. D.A. Carson is helpful when he writes "The worshipers whom God seeks worship him out of the fullness of the supernatural life they enjoy." Fullness of the supernatural life they enjoy. And how did that supernatural life get there? Because the Holy Spirit put it there as he applied the work of Christ to our lives. You ever thought about this, God saved you to worship Him. The goal of your salvation is not your salvation. The goal of your salvation is that you would worship God. That he would receive glory from the worshipers he creates. And if we could borrow from John Piper today, it's Great Commission Sunday, and that's why missions exist. Why? There are tons and tons and tons of people who don't worship God. And what is the Father seeking? He is seeking people who will worship Him in spirit and truth so that he will be ultimately and maximally glorified. So why does missions exist? Because of worship doesn't.
So the Holy Spirit, first we learn he creates spiritual worshipers. Second, we learn the Holy Spirit reveals Christ to us. The Holy Spirit helps us to glorify and worship Christ by revealing Christ to us. John 16, verses 14-15 Jesus says "He [referring to the Holy Spirit] will glorify me." Put a pause here for a second. Jesus is giving us a test. Not us personally but a test we can use. Some new movement comes along, claims to be the Holy Spirit, but they don't make much of Jesus? It's the devil. The Holy Spirit, notice the word will, will glorify me. I believe it's J.I. Packer talked about that the Holy Spirit is like a spotlight and he does not want to be in the spotlight. He is the spotlight, pointing to Christ, glorifying Christ. He will glorify me for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. I think Jesus means there he's mainly His glory. He will take my glory, the glory that is mine and He will reveal it to you. The Holy Spirit reveals Christ to us that we might respond to his greatness in worship.
2 Corinthians 3:18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord [Christ], are being transformed in the same image [the image of Christ] from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit." Then verse 6 of chapter 4 goes on to say, "For God, who said, 'Let light shine out of darkness,' has shown in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." So once Christ's glory has been revealed to us, we look at it and we look at it, and we look at it, and we look at it. And we look at it. And as we look at it, you know what the Spirit's doing? Making you like Jesus. Making you like Jesus. And as he makes you more like Jesus, you know what he does? He reveals more of Jesus. So Jesus becomes even more beautiful. He becomes more precious. He becomes your satisfaction. And you guess what, guess what you do then? Worship. Worship. Who created that worship? The Holy Spirit as he revealed the glory of Christ to you. The Holy Spirit reveals Christ to us. So we worship Him. We can't worship what we don't know. And it is the Holy Spirit's job, if we can put it that way, to show us Christ.
Next, we see the Holy Spirit empowers the Christian life. We see this best in Ephesians 5:18 "Be not drunk with wine," but what? "Be filled with the Spirit addressing one another." So the Holy Spirit empowers. He enables us to live a life of worship in the church. So we come together and we sing. We teach one another through our singing, we admonish one another through our singing. And that happens through the Holy Spirit, being filled with the Spirit. Paul goes on, we've been in Ephesians so I'm not going to go over it all, but the Spirit enables, he empowers our worship in the church, in our marriages, as husbands and wives, as parents and as children to obey right in the Lord. And then in our work. And because we've been in Ephesians 5:18 so much we will go on to the next point.
The Holy Spirit next he sanctifies us. This is an area where we, I'm part of that we, don't give enough thought to when it comes to our worship. The Holy Spirit is the one conforming us to the image of Christ. He uses Scripture to accomplish that. He's making us holy. Ever wondered why he's called the Holy Spirit? A part of the reason is because he himself is holy. But a big reason for that is he's making us holy. His name reveals his role. He's the one who creates the fruit of the Spirit in our lives. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. And each of those are a description of Christ's character. He was full of love. He was full of joy. Kindness. He's so kind. We see that we put sin to death by the power of the Holy Spirit. Dad said once that the Holy Spirit is the divine executioner of our sin. Romans 8:13 "if you live according to the flesh, you will die." But, thank goodness for that little conjunction, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, he will live.
It is impossible to see God without holiness. Hebrews 12 "Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord." I think we can apply that by saying if we're not able to see God without holiness, we cannot worship God without holiness. Which means we must confess and deal with our sin. We need to be strong in the Lord and the strength of his might. We need to be wearing the armour of God at all times. We need to be thinking about what we're doing. Does this honor God? Does this glorify God? If I watch this YouTube video, will it glorify God? Will it honor God if I watch this show? Will it honor God, will it glorify God if I listen to this song? Will it honor God, will it glorify God if I hang out with this person? Will it honor God? Will it glorify God? Will cheating on my timecard at work, will it honor God, will it glorify God? The Holy Spirit is given to us to make us like Christ which makes our worship pleasing to God because we will worship as Jesus did in spirit and truth. Romans 12:1, which is where we, Lord willing, we'll be next week says "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 spiritual worship." Could it be if you are dissatisfied with your life of worship, it is because you are not pursuing holiness? That your life is grieving the Holy Spirit?
Finally, the Holy Spirit enables our worship. And Phillipians 3:3, Paul writes, I love the clarity of Paul here, "For we are the circumcision who worship by the Spirit of God." Case shut. We're done. Thanks, Paul. All we need. We worship by the Spirit of God. And we put no confidence in the flesh. So how do we worship, according to Paul? By the Spirit of God. Our flesh, our attempts at physical worship, they offer nothing when it comes to worshiping God in the way that pleases Him. But what is of great benefit to us is the Holy Spirit, a precious gift from the Father and from the Son to us. I think it was Agustine who said, "Father command what you will and give what you command." So God, through Jesus, tells us you must, no other option, you must worship in spirit and truth. And then guess what he gives to us? The Holy Spirit. Why? So we can worship in spirit, we can worship spiritually. He gives us the Holy Spirit so we can know the truth. We can know the one who is the truth, Jesus Christ.
So worship is a response to the greatness of God and Christ and that response is empowered by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit uses the gospel to change our hearts of stone to hearts of flesh. He makes us spiritual worshipers. He gives us hearts that are alive to God and dead to sin. He keeps us true worshipers by revealing Christ's glory to us, as found in Scripture. He keeps us true worshipers by making us more like Jesus. He keeps us true worshipers by empowering every facet and detail of the Christian life. And as we worship, he's fueling our worship. He is the force behind it, if I could put it that way. Without him, we would not know God. And without him, we would not be able to worship God.
So we should praise God for the Holy Spirit. He lives within us. I don't think we think of it this way he, he loves to help those that he has united to Christ. You know, who brought you into relationship with Christ? The Holy Spirit. And you know what he loves to do once he's brought you into that relationship to Christ? Help you. Why? Because it makes Jesus look glorious. He lives to magnify the greatness of Christ and he will help us do the same for the glory of Christ. So worship is a Spirit-empowered response to the greatness of God in Christ.