Lesson 2 - The Human as a Spiritual Being - Part 1:
Living out of the Spirit
"So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law ... Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit." (Gal 5: 16-18,25)
Tom Marshall, in Living in the Freedom of the Spirit, says, "We make strenuous efforts not to carry out the desires of the flesh, hoping that, if we succeed, we will then be able to walk in the Spirit." This is the opposite of what Paul says in Galatians 5. Our problem is that we have only a vague idea of what it means to live in the Spirit. We have very little idea about what a spirit is! This must change. We hear preachers tell us all the time that we must do it, but how often has anyone told you how to do it? Instead, we stick with what we are all too familiar with - gratifying the desires of the flesh.
Have you ever wondered why some of us wake up in the morning, realise it is Monday, and groan? What makes Monday any different from any other day?
Or why we can watch the news on TV, or read about tragedies in the paper, and then go and read a novel or have a cup of coffee as if nothing happened?
Or why we sit through sermons in church about what it really means to live - REALLY LIVE - in the kingdom of God, and then complain all the way home about the loudness of the band while we 'worshipped'?
Is there something wrong with us? Has something in us gone to sleep?
If we are spiritual beings, then why aren't we spiritual? And what is spiritual anyway? How are we made?
If we wish to live out of the spirit, then we have to know two things:
- What is a spirit?
- What does it mean to live?
The first we usually have very confused or vague ideas about, and the second we tend to take for granted that we know what it is, so we never even think about it. If we did we might discover that we have confused mere existence, or standing up and breathing, with what Jesus called living.
What is a Spirit?
Refer to Resource Sheet 4 - What is a Spirit for more detail here.
John 4:24 says God is spirit, and in Genesis 1:27 we read that humans are made in God's image, created out of nothing by God's activity (Hebrews 11:3). But Genesis 2:7 tells us Adam was made from dust, and that God breathed life into the first man. Adam's body was created from substance, but something important about him was not.
So what was it that God created out of nothing, which became in man the image and likeness of His own Spirit-Being? He breathed [nãpah] his breath [nešãmãh = 'breath', 'wind' or 'spirit'] into the man. This human spirit was created out of nothing, that is, no substance or matter. Adam became 'the man with the living soul'. The spirit brings the body to life. As James 2:26 says: "The body without the spirit is dead."
"For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul [ψυχη' (psyche) = 'life', 'soul', 'heart', 'mind'] and spirit [πνεûμα (pneuma) = 'spirit', 'breath'], joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart [καρδια (kardia) = 'heart', 'mind']." (Hebrews 4:12)
God's Spirit creates our human spirit.
"The Spirit [rûah = 'spirit', 'wind', 'breath'] of God has made me; the breath [nešãmãh = 'breath', 'breathed', 'blast', 'spirit', 'life'] of the Almighty gives me life [hãyãh]." (Job 33:4)
God "breathed", or "en-spirited" ("inspired"), or "enlivened" us.
Soul and spirit are not the same. Spirit enters into flesh and their interaction - the relationship between them - creates the soul. The soul thus created is the human's rational, emotional and volitional faculties - mind, emotions and will. Tom Marshall, in Living in the Freedom of the Spirit, or Free Indeed, pictures it this way:
So, humans are tripartite, they have a body, soul and spirit, as mentioned in 1 Thessalonians 5:23. Three parts, inseparable, and all needing sanctification, purification and protection. Three parts, but one person.
God promises us a new heart and new (renewed) spirit and his own Spirit when we come to him (Ezekiel 36:26,27).
The presence of God's Spirit in the believer isn't given just so we can have gifts, or hear God's voice (although it is essential for these). It is so that we can stop dying and begin to live again! Yes, Jesus saves - but how does he save? The sinner is dying, not as punishment for sin, but from sheer separation from the source of life because of contamination with that which leads to death! Jesus gives us his Spirit, and our spirit, and consequently our body and soul, begins to live.
Human spirits and Holy Spirit are not the only spirits with which we have to deal. Evil spirits or demons also exist. In fact the same Greek word [πνεûμα] is used for these as well, making it difficult to dismiss them as merely a phenomenon of mental [ψυχη'] disturbance.
"One day the evil [πoνηρóν] spirit [πνεûμα] answered them, "Jesus I know, and I know Paul, but who are you?" (Acts 19:15)
Later in the course we will look at evil spirits and ministry to demonised persons.