Worship can be defined as the act of honoring…bowing before…giving worth to. The act of worship involves the total self in giving praise, thanksgiving and reverence. It is not a half-hearted affair, and it is only after we distinguish between that which is and isn’t worship, with regards to God, that we can answer this question. A.W. Pink (1886–1952), in his exposition of the gospel of St. John, says this: “It is a redeemed heart, occupied with God, expressing itself in adoration and thanksgiving.” Likewise, A.W. Tozer said, “true worship was to be so personally and hopelessly in love with God, that the idea of a transfer of affection never even remotely exists.”
So, the true worship of God is distinguished by the following criteria. First, it comes from a redeemed heart of a man or woman who has been justified before God. How can one truly worship the Creator if his/her sin (rebellion) has not been dealt with?
Second, true worship of God comes from a heart that desires Him alone. This was where the Samaritan people missed the mark; they sought to worship both God and ‘idols’ (2 Kings 17:28-41), and this was reaffirmed by Christ, when He talked about true worship with the Samaritan woman who came to fetch water from the well. Nothing less than God should satisfy the heart of the saved.
Third, true worship of God is the desire to continue to grow in knowledge of God. Apart from the Bible, which we should be study continually, we need the benefit of talking about and doing the things of God. He should always be on our mind, and everything we do should be done with Him in mind.
Our hearts should be pure if we really want to worship the triune God in Spirit and in truth (John 4:24). We were made to worship the Father, but our sin has crippled us. Worship is the most natural thing for man, but until we are restored to God through the sacrifice of His dear Son, then all our worship is in vain. It is as “strange fire” before the altar (Leviticus 10:1).