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.
C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): Our Lord gave a very brief, but I think a very instructive description of what this worship was to be. If you observe carefully the words, you will see that it was a distinguishing kind of worship, for he mentions a true worshipper. There had been but little distinction before; so long as they all passed through the same outward form they all seemed to be worshippers; but a distinction was now to be made clear and manifest. Merely outward worshippers were now false worshippers, and only those who pressed into spiritual worship were to be regarded as true…The worship under the Christian dispensation which God ordains, and which he accepts through Christ Jesus, is a worship distinguished by an inward vitality from the outward worship of the carnal mind. It is the worship of a child towards a father, feeling within himself a kinship with the divine; it is a worship wrought in us by God the Holy Ghost, because the Father has sought us out and taught us how to worship him. It is a worship which is not outward, but of the inner man, and occupies not hand, eye, and foot, but heart and soul and spirit: and it is a worship which is not professional and formal, but real, hearty, earnest, and so acceptable before God.
STEPHEN CHARNOCK (1628-1680): Without the heart it is no worship. It is a stage play. It is an acting a part without being that person, really. It is playing the hypocrite.
C. H. SPURGEON: There they stand both alike with bended heads, perhaps both repeating the same words, but the Saviour distinguishes: “There is,” saith He, “a false worshipper, and there is a true worshipper, and he alone who is spiritual is true.”
STEPHEN CHARNOCK: A spiritual worshipper performs not worship for some hopes of carnal advantage; he uses ordinances as means to bring God and his soul together, to be more fitted to honour God in the world, in his particular place…We are, then, spiritual, when we have the same [purpose] in our redeemed services, as God had in His redeeming love, viz., His own glory.
MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): The glory of God is the great thing we must aim at in everything we do in religion. In this centre the lines of all our actions must meet.
JOHN FLAVEL (1630-1691): Nothing must lie nearer thy heart, if thou be a Christian, than the glory of thy God; all ends, interests, and designs, must be subjected to that; and whatsoever cannot be subordinated, must be rejected.
ANDREW FULLER (1754-1815): It is by the love of God that all our actions are directed to His glory. Unbelievers cannot understand how this is. Whether they eat or drink, or whatsoever they do, it is merely for their own gratification, and they cannot conceive of any other [purpose] to be answered. Yet it is easy to perceive how men can make every thing subservient to that which their hearts are set upon, whether it be their interest, or the gratification of their desires. Love to a fellow creature will render every thing we do subservient to the object. All the labours and journeys of a loving head of a family are directed to their comfort; and all the busy cares of an affectionate wife to the honour and happiness of her husband. If then God be the supreme object of our love, whether we eat of drink, or whatsoever we do, we shall do all to His glory.
C. H. SPURGEON: A Christian, aiming at another object beside his Lord’s glory, is sure to spend a poor, unprofitable life. He is an idolater, and his entire character will be faulty…Let us make it a matter of heart-searching as to whether we ourselves have been in the habit of worshipping the Father in spirit and in truth.
ANDREW FULLER: If we secretly wish to appear great among our brethren, to magnify ourselves or our party, or to figure in the religious world as persons of extraordinary zeal, all is naked to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do, and, depend upon it, He will have no delight in us. But if our eye be single, our whole body shall be full of light.
STEPHEN CHARNOCK: Such base scents will rise up in our worship from the body of death which cleaves to us, and mix themselves with our services, as weeds with the fish in the net. David, therefore, after his people had offered willingly to the temple, begs of God that their “hearts might be prepared to him,” I Chronicles 29:18―that their hearts might stand right to God, without any squinting to self-ends.
HORATIUS BONAR (1808-1889): We are apt to think, that there is such a difference between our open sins and our religious exercises, that any defilement attaching to the latter must be so inconsiderable in itself, and so outweighed by the sacredness of the act performed, that no particular account need to be taken of these sins. God’s estimate is very different indeed. His eye sees the sins of our religious services in another light, as being no less heinous than other iniquities, and needing special forgiveness no less than they. Not merely our open transgressions—our scarlet and crimson sins—need pardon, but our holy services, our good words and deeds, our prayers, our praises, our worship, our breaking of bread at the table of the Lord. In every one of these there is such an amount of sin cleaving to, and mingled with, every act, and feeling, and thought, and word, as to render them in themselves so miserably defective and defiled, as to be utterly unacceptable in the sight of the Holy One.
PHILIP DODDRIDGE (1702-1751): The best act that the best man ever did, contains in it that which is worthy of condemnation…The best prayer I ever offered up in my life deserves damnation.
HORATIUS BONAR: Thou shalt make a plate of pure gold, and grave upon it, like the engravings of a signet, HOLINESS TO THE LORD…And it shall be upon Aaron’s forehead, that Aaron may bear the iniquity of the holy things, which the children of Israel shall hallow in all their holy gifts; and it shall be always upon his forehead that they may be accepted before the LORD, Exodus 28:36-38. What was thus foreshadowed afar off by Aaron, as Israel’s high priest, has been fulfilled to us in Jesus of Nazareth, God’s own anointed Priest―this High Priest, whose holiness is so infinite, whose ministry is so prevailing, bears the iniquity of our holy things. He does for us what Aaron did for Israel. But he does it in substance, not in figure; he does it so effectually that “the worshippers once purged have no more conscience of sins,” Hebrews 10:2. He does it also by his own holiness, not by a figurative or typical holiness, but by that which is really and truly His own, for He is the infinitely Holy One. And it is as God’s own holy High Priest, that he bears the iniquity of our holy things. It is just because He is so holy, that He is so peculiarly fitted to bear iniquities like these.
C. H. SPURGEON: How cheering is the thought, that when the High Priest bore the iniquity of the holy things He wore upon his brow the words, “Holiness to the Lord:” and even so while Jesus bears our sin, He presents before His Father’s face not our unholiness, but His own holiness.