Andrew Murray on ‘Worshipping in the Spirit' #2.2
In chapter three of The Indwelling Spirit, Andrew Murray focuses on worship, a topic close to his heart. He starts off by quoting John 4: 23-24
Yet a time is coming and has now come when true worshippers will worship the Father in Spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshippers the Father seeks. God is Spirit, and his worshippers must worship in Spirit and in truth.
So what does true worship entail? Murray puts it this way:
In worship I gather my being and present it to God. I offer Him the adoration and glory that is due Him.
But not all worship is in Spirit and in truth, says Murray. Only the worship inaugurated by Jesus through the giving of the Holy Spirit is well-pleasing to the Father. It is also the purpose for which the Holy Spirit is within us.
Soul, Spirit and flesh
Murray now turns to the Biblical Psychologist Johann Tobias Beck (1804-1878) to explain what he perceives as the differences between the concepts soul, spirit and flesh.
God created man a living soul. For Murray the soul is the seat and organ of man’s personality and consciousness. It is linked on one side through the body with the outer visible world. On the other side, it is linked through our spirit with God.
The soul now has to decide whether it will yield to its spirit’s promptings, and through it to God and His will, or to the worldly desires of the flesh.
Because the soul is under the power of the flesh, the Bible speaks of man as having become flesh. In 1 Corinthians 2:12, it also speaks of a fleshly wisdom and a spiritual wisdom. This explains why our worship of God can sometimes be in the power of the flesh instead of the Spirit.
The Holy Spirit
We are given a new spirit in our inmost being at regeneration, and then within that spirit, the Holy Spirit.
To worship God in Spirit and in truth refers to worship that God works in us through the Holy Spirit, rather than what we can effect through our natural powers.
Murray states that Truth here refers to the substance of reality, namely Jesus imparting himself to us. To explain this further, he quotes John 1:14b,17:
We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. . . . For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
Becoming true worshippers
Unfortunately, says Murray, not all worshippers are true worshippers. This remark not only refers to an unregenerate person, but also to us at various times. As Murray puts it:
The mind might be intensely occupied, the feelings moved, the will strongly stirred, and yet there might be at the same time very little spiritual worship that stands on the truth of God.
This is especially true if our worship stems from our own efforts and is not Spirit-breathed.
If we would become true worshippers, we need to realize the following:
- The danger of worshipping in the flesh
- The fact that our minds may delight in the study of God’s Word, but without the insights given by the Spirit.
- That our efforts to work up right feelings must be given up.
- That every approach to God must take place under a distinct and quiet surrender to the leading of the Holy Spirit.
- That we need to wait in faith before God for the Spirit to lift us heavenward.
- That we need to terminate the waiting with adoring worship, giving God the praise, thanks and honor that belong to Him alone.
Murray ends by reminding us that worship is so important because the manifest consciousness of the Spirit’s presence takes place while we worship. We can do so without words or by simply saying Amen and Hallelujah, as recorded in Nehemiah 8:6:
Ezra praised the Lord, the great God; and all the people lifted their hands and responded, “Amen! Amen!” Then they bowed down and worshipped the Lord with their faces to the ground.
The twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshipped God, who was seated on the throne. And they cried: “Amen, Hallelujah!”
© Olea Nel
Murray, Andrew, The Indwelling Spirit. Minneapolis: Bethany House, 2006, chapter 3.