John 4:24 "God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth."
When we look at this verse, we MUST see the connection between the comment about God, and the comment about worship.
How do we worship in spirit?
What is the extended context discussing?
Jesus is having a conversation with a Samaritan woman. They are discussing the comparison between Samaritan worship, and Jewish worship. Jesus endorsed the God of the Jews. However, Jesus made it clear there was going to be a change in the mechanics of salvation. No longer was the location going to be an issue, instead, this concept of 'spirit and truth' was going to be crucial. No longer was salvation going to be 'of the Jews', but 'worship in spirit and truth' instead.
How is 'spirit' being used in the context?
What ever definition we use must be connected to our worship somehow, according to context. I hope all of us see the connection between 'truth' and acceptable worship, but we also need to understand how to worship in spirit.
For the sake of time, I will state that my studies have led me to conclude 'spirit' here is being used in the same context as 1 Cor 1 & 2.In that passage we see the contrast between God's mind and the mind of the world. Between God's spirit, and the spirit of the world.
Paul, in Rom 12:1,2 states that WE must be 'transformed' in mind, to be like God's mind. We must seek out those things that are 'good, and acceptable and perfect', and conform our mind to those things. God is an attitude, a mind-set, a set of values, an understanding of righteousness and justice. God is Love. God is a mentality, and we must change our mentality to imitate Him.
John 4:21-26 is not talking about the corporality or non-corporality of God, it is talking about a system of worship, the mechanics of worship, the appropriate WAY to worship. The statement 'God is spirit' must be understood in this context.
The first part is a declaration about the nature of God. It's like the inverse of Num. 23:19, which tells us what God is not, then goes on to describe his nature (He does not lie, He need not repent, He does what He determines). John 4:24 tells us what God is, then goes on to describe in what manner He is to be worshipped.
It's a lot like the teaching method that tells you a fact, then provides the implications of that fact.
24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
God is a Spirit being - not wood or stone or mountains or Jerusalem
Worship in righteousness and truth(from the heart of the innerman) - not by the works of the flesh as in Gal.5 - for they are contrary to each other
It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man. Psalm 118:8 KJV
Obviously the context is one problem, in that the process of worship is what is being discussed.
But the greater context of scripture, with the fact that God is a material being, that mankind is created to LOOK LIKE Him, and God's body being seen by Moses, God's face being lethal for Moses to see, the promise of seeing God's face as a resurrected immortal being is found both OT and NT, these facts make the interpretation you offer impossible.
In the beginning there was nothing. What that tells me is that God existed in another place or plane, so in His other place He could have been seen as He was, but because of our sin, we cannot see Him, which could explain why seeing His face was lethal. We won't know these things until God is ready for us to know.
It was the Jews who first belived. It was them who Jesus came to redeem, and once they were redeemed, it was the Jews that took the gospel message to the Gentiles.
In the old covenant they worshipped God in the flesh. But it was also in the flesh that sin dwelt. To woship God in spirit, is to crucify the flesh. Put the flesh to death, so that only the spirit lives. The desire of the flesh is against the spirit's desires, but by putting the flesh to death, we also put those desires to death, and once they are put to death, there is nothing stopping us from "doing" that which pleases God.
In real practical and philosophical belief, Maimonides by his own admission and practice was a thorough-going Hellenist who insisted that the Jewish nation give up the simple and plain teachings of Moses on several important Old Testament doctrines and to adopt in their place the "Greek philosophical way" (notably the concepts of Aristotle). The word "Hellenist" came to mean anyone who adopted the pagan teachings of the Greeks and Romans. Maimonides was a Hellenist. He dogmatically put Aristotle before the plain teachings of Moses and the Scriptures. Many in Judaism at that time objected to Maimonides’ concepts, but within 200 years that followed his death, many of the Jewish Rabbis began to heed the teachings of Maimonides. They left the doctrines of Moses almost wholesale in order to accept and perpetuate a philosophic and inward religious motif that was based on Greek philosophy. Again, this change did not involve the externals of the Mosaic religion that made the society to appear Jewish. Maimonides still expected all Jews to keep the external and ritualistic laws of Moses.
Let me give an example of what I mean. In all places of the Holy Scriptures (and also among the Jewish Sages of the Talmudic period) God is defined in anthropomorphic terms. That is, He is consistently described as being like humans in appearance. In the first chapter of Genesis, we find that human beings are made in the likeness and image of God. And this teaching dominates all pages of the Holy Scriptures. The New Testament advocates the same thing. God is reckoned to look in body-form just like Jesus Christ (expressly so – Hebrews 1:3) and Christ Jesus is even described in his glorified condition at the present to be an anthropos (a man) (see I Timothy 2:4-6). When man observes this image of Deity, the Scriptures show that God looks like all humans. This is the scriptural teaching. Indeed, the design of the Holy Temple at Jerusalem showed the anthropomorphic appearance of God.
Maimonides, however, found this belief to be very distasteful and unsatisfactory to him. It was not the manner in which many of the philosophers of his time (twelfth and early thirteenth centuries) viewed the Creator. In order to alter this long held belief by early Jewish teachers (including all the writers of the Holy Scriptures), Maimonides dogmatically stated in his "Third Principle of the Jewish Faith" the statement that "God has no body." There was uproar among Jewish scholars at the time over his assertion (among other foreign doctrines that Maimonides taught), but within 200 years almost all scholars within Judaism accepted this teaching of Maimonides. What Maimonides did was to allegorize every statement in the Scriptures or written by the Talmudic Sages that suggested that God had body parts like a human. The symbolism of the Temple, however, gave Maimonides some major criticisms of his personal belief that God did not have a body like humans (or, that God any body at all).
Matt 3:7-10 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: 9 And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. 10 And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
And Jesus told them:
Matt 21:42-45 Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes? 43 Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. 44 And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder. 45 And when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his parables, they perceived that he spake of them.
Rom 3:1-2 What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision? Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God.
Rom 3:29-30 Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also:30 Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith.
Rom 4:13 For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.
Rom 4:16 Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all,
Paul goes on especially in chapter 11 to point out that God broke off the branches of MOST of Israel, but left a "remnant". And, God 'grafted in' the gentile believers:
Rom 11:19-23 Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be graffed in.20 Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear:
21 For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee.22 Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off. 23 And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be graffed in: for God is able to graff them in again.
Salvation now is by becoming part of the "body of Christ", the Church.
We all know sensations require the function of the brain.
We all know Godly thoughts require the function of the brain.
Chemicals can affect either one, injury can affect either one.
I agree totally we must "mortify the deeds of the flesh". BUT, I am convinced those "deeds" would NOT happen if the MIND is Godly!
Rom 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.