Worship can be defined as the act of honoring and loving a deity, idol or  person in a “selfless” manner. The act of worship involves the total self in  giving praise, thanksgiving and reverence to that deity, person or material  object. 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 the divine objective,  that we can begin to answer the above question more fully. True, biblical  worship, as defined by the scholar A. W. Pink (1886 – 1952) in his exposition of  the gospel of John, says this: “It is a redeemed heart, occupied with God,  expressing itself in adoration and thanksgiving.” Likewise, A. W. Tozer, once  regarded as a prophet of the 20th century, said, “True worship is 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 the redeemed heart  of a man or woman who has been justified before God by faith and who is trusting  in the Lord Jesus Christ alone for forgiveness of sins. How can one worship the  God of heaven if his sin has not been dealt with? Never can that worship be  acceptable that proceeds from an unregenerate heart where Satan, self and the  world hold sway (2 Timothy  2:26; 1 John  2:15). Any worship, other than that from a “washed” heart, is vain.

Second, true worship of God comes from a heart that desires Him alone. This was  precisely where the Samaritan people erred; they sought to worship both God and  idols (2 Kings  17:28-41), and this is reaffirmed by the Lord Jesus Christ when He  discourses on the subject of true worship with the Samaritan woman who came to  fetch water from the well. “You Samaritans worship what you do not know” (John 4:22). These people  worshipped God “half-heartedly” because their total affection was not set on  God. It is possible for even true believers to fall into this second error. We  might not assent to having physical idols, like the Samaritans did, but what  absorbs our will, our time, our resources most of all? Is it careers, material  possessions, money, health, even our families? Let us cry out, like King David  in Psalm 63:5,  “My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips, my  mouth will praise you.” Nothing less than God should satisfy the heart of the  regenerate man, and his response to that divine satisfaction, comparable to the  best food ever, is the fruit of lips that sing God’s praise (Hebrews 13:15).

Third, true worship of God is the desire to continue to build up our knowledge  of God. How we have lost that desire in these days! Apart from the Bible, which  we should be reading daily, we need to supplement our knowledge by reading other  good books, too. We need to fill our minds constantly with the things of God;  God should always be on our mind, and everything we do should be done with  reference to Him (Colossians  3:17; 1  Corinthians 10:31). It is interesting that the Greek word for “worship” in  Romans 12:1 can also mean  “service.” So, our daily lives should also be considered as worship. Every day  we are to offer ourselves as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God. The  church is supposed to be “squeezing” the world into its own mold, the mold of  Jesus Christ, but too often it’s the other way around.

Let us purify our  hearts if we really want to worship the triune God in spirit and in truth. Our  God is holy; He is altogether “Other,” a God who cannot share us with other  objects of our affection. Indeed, a God who WILL not share us, for the sake of  His holiness. We were made to be worshipping creatures, but the Fall has  crippled and ruined 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 but a vain thing. It is as “strange fire” before the altar (Leviticus 10:1).