What is Being Spiritual? - (and What is Spirituality? What is Spirit?)
Spirit in Revelation
A Spirit of Propaganda
Spirit in Other Words
Spirituality! Spirit! You have to admit, those words are used a lot and really, they are vague words. They can mean very different things to different people. Take spirituality. What do you think it means when you use it? Some aren't really sure about its meaning. Some like to even misuse and abuse the term or overuse it. Or they might use it without ever really defining it.
To make things even more challenging, the Bible uses the word spirit in different ways, just as it does a number of words. So context can often change a meaning and some people might not catch on to how it might be used in a different way in a particular passage.
Here are some popular conceptions of spirituality. Some interpret spirituality as a feeling, perhaps a mystic feeling, a feeling of awe and wonder, or a feeling of reverence. Maybe a sense of a greater being or a higher power than ourselves. It could be a sense of another plane of existence or the sense of spiritual entities in another existence. Some believe it is an ability to be psychic. Perhaps a greater sense of purpose and meaning in life, an awareness of a plan, maybe a divine plan. Some see it as a powerful or heightened emotional state or feeling, a raised sense of awareness, of joy, ecstasy, or bliss.
I thought it would be interesting to take a close careful look at what the Bible might suggest it means. Spirituality is a word that comes into significant use in the new testament beginning with Jesus. But interestingly, Jesus uses it in a way that is different from how the Apostles, most notably Paul, use it since the majority of letters in the New Testament come from Paul. There are several ways in which that word spirit is used. It some ways, the Bible makes it easy as it often contrasts spirituality with other things so we don't have to doubt about what it might be. We just have to pay attention.
For the most part, Jesus uses the word spirit as something that originates with God or belongs to God. Or he might speak of it as maybe being a person. The only thing to settle as whether he is being figurative in referring to it as a person or literal. But the Apostle Paul departs from that and uses it in a different context than what Jesus typically did. But that is because we translate into one English word -spirit - two separate Greek words, although those 2 words are a lot alike.
Using English letters, the word Jesus used is "pneuma." It essentially means a current of air, breath, or a breeze, wind.
The word Paul typically uses is "pneumatikos." It is the same word Jesus uses except the 5 letters added at the end - "tikos." The whole word means non-carnal, ethereal (ethereal is described by Webster's as beyond the earth, celestial, heavenly, lacking material substance, immaterial, intangible).
Jesus even used an illustration in speaking of being born again in John 3:8. Jesus said that "8 The wind blows where it wills, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know whence it comes or whither it goes; so it is with every one who is born of the Spirit."
That word "wind" is actually the Greek word pneuma, typically translated as spirit. Jesus likely spoke in Hebrew or Aramaic to most Jews so he almost certainly would have used a word in those languages that approximated wind, breath, or air. The Hebrew word would have been:
07307 ruwach roo'-akh from 07306; TWOT - 2131a; n f
In the KJV, it is translated as Spirit or spirit 232 times, as wind 92 times, as breath 27 times. Paul, using Greek to directly communicate in his letters, instead of speaking in Hebrew and then translating to Greek, picked a word he felt more appropriate to the idea he was communicating when referring to spirit. I believe that Jesus and Paul were conveying the same ideas. One can see the similar meanings of the two Greek words.
We will take a close look to understand exactly what it is in the scriptures. It is the writings of Paul I want to focus on first and the word he uses. For some important messages come from him that generally come from no one else in the Bible. Or do they? And when we understand what Paul is saying we will realize that Jesus said many of the same things but used a different way of describing them. He didn't use the word spirit to do so. He might use heavenly or godly or some other word. Even the Apostles do that at times.
7:6 so that we serve not under the old written code but in the new life of the Spirit.
8:2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set me free from the law of sin and death.
8:4 in order that the just requirement of the law might be fulfilled in
us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
8:5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.
8:6 To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.
8:9 But you are not in the flesh, you are in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Any one who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.
8:11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit which dwells in you.
8:13 for if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the
Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body you will live.
8:14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.
8:15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the spirit of sonship. When we cry, "Abba! Father!"
8:16 it is the Spirit himself bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God,
8:23 but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.
8:26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how
to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with sighs too
deep for words.
8:27 And he who searches the hearts of men knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
11:8 as it is written, "God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes that should not see and ears that should not hear, down to this very day."
2:11 For what person knows a man's thoughts except the spirit of the man which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.
2:12 Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is from God
4:21 Shall I come to you with a rod, or with love in a spirit of gentleness?
5:3 For though absent in body I am present in spirit, and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment
6:17 But he who is united to the Lord becomes one spirit with him.
7:34 how to be holy in body and spirit
14:15 What am I to do? I will pray with the spirit and I will pray with the mind also; I will sing with the spirit and I will sing with the mind also.
We see the phrases such as - new life of the spirit, spirit of life, according to the spirit, in the spirit, on the spirit, by the spirit, things of the spirit, spirit of slavery, spirit of sonship, our spirit, first fruits of the spirit, mind of the spirit, a spirit of stupor, spirit of the world, spirit of gentleness, spirit which is from God, present in spirit, the spirit of God, the spirit of the man, becomes one spirit with him, how to be holy in spirit, pray with the spirit, sing with the spirit.
It seems like it is used in more than one way, even when the Greek word is the same word on all such occasions as it is in the verses I have quoted in Romans and 1 Corinthians. I am going to narrow the focus even more to help with this. It is the spirit spoken of by Paul in Romans 8.
(RSV) Romans 8:
4 in order that the just requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.
6 To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.
7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God's law, indeed it cannot;
8 and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
9 But you are not in the flesh, you are in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Any one who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.
Notice how Paul first contrasts the flesh with the spirit. We can walk according to either the flesh or the spirit. How? By setting our minds on one or the other, Paul says. But those in the spirit keep a mind on the spirit and are said to have the spirit of God and of Christ. Paul says more about this in:
16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you would.
The desires of the Spirit vs. those of the flesh. Are we starting to see a pattern?
18 But if you are led by the Spirit you are not under the law.
19 Now the works of the flesh are plain: fornication, impurity, licentiousness,
20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, party spirit,
21 envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
23 gentleness, self-control; against such there is no law.
24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. 26 Let us have no self-conceit, no provoking of one another, no envy of one another.
Ah, the fruits of the Spirit. The results or manifestations of the spirit, we might say. They are very different from those of the flesh. So if one has the spirit, then one should also have the fruits of that spirit that is said to dwell in them. If there are no fruits of the spirit, then there is no spirit. The book of James calls them works. But these are not the works of the law, but the works of love or works of the spirit. James just uses a different word to describe it. Let me show you.
14 What does it profit, my brethren, if a man says he has faith but has not works? Can his faith save him?
15 If a brother or sister is ill-clad and in lack of daily food,
16 and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, be warmed and filled," without giving them the things needed for the body, what does it profit?
17 So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.
20 Do you want to be shown, you shallow man, that faith apart from works is barren?
21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he offered his son Isaac upon the altar?
22 You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by works,
23 and the scripture was fulfilled which says, "Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness"; and he was called the friend of God.
24 You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.
25 And in the same way was not also Rahab the harlot justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way?
26 For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so faith apart from works is dead.
James makes it clear that real faith must have works. Paul says that having the spirit requires that one have the fruits of the spirit. Different descriptions of similar things. If you have the spirit, if you have the faith, you should have something to show for it in your actions, your works, the fruits that you bear.
Now some will say that faith is not justified by works. The Bible is referring there to works of the law such as circumcision and other observances of the Mosaic law. And in that definition it is true that works do not justify or save anyone. But works of faith or spirit, in contrast to works of law, are absolutely necessary if one truly has faith or the spirit. We could just as easily call them fruits of faith or the fruits of the spirit vs. fruits of the law. The fruits or results of the law are death according to Paul.
But let's get back to the idea of fruits of the flesh vs. fruits of the spirit so we can better understand spirit. I am going to list the things from Galatians using words from different Bibles so we can get a real good idea of the works/fruits of the flesh.
Fornication, licentiousness, adultery, whoredom, prostitution, uncleanness, lustfulness, lasciviousness, wantonness, evil desire, unclean things, wrong use of the senses, idolatry, worship of images, sorcery, witchcraft, enmity, enmities, hatred, strife, jealousy, jealousies, envy, envyings, desire for what another has, anger, angry feelings, wrath, murders, selfishness, fighting, rivalries, divisions, heresies, factions, dissension, sects, false teachings, party spirit, wild parties, drunkenness, drunken bouts, uncontrolled drinking and feasting, carousing, revellings, revelries.
Mentioned elsewhere in scripture are gluttons, lazy people, liars, gossip. You get the picture, right? Generally, the fruitage of the flesh means to some degree we are out of control, maybe obsessed. These are the workings of the flesh, the fruits of the flesh. They are in opposition to the spirit; contrary to the spirit; against the spirit. They are the result of Adam disobeying God and passing on the results of that rebellion, sin, or imperfection, which wears at the flesh until we die. See Romans 5:12 below.
Romans 5:12 Therefore as sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all men sinned
Now the spirit overcomes the flesh. The spirit is superior to the flesh. But the spirit is not natural in fallen humans. It takes work. We have to deaden our desires for the flesh. We have to try not to give in to the flesh which is easy to do. We have to walk according to the spirit. Let's list the fruits of the spirit, collecting words from different translations as we did for the flesh.
Love, joy, peace, patience, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, loyalty, gentleness, meekness, self-control, temperance
And I want to throw in 1 Corinthians 13:4. Here Paul says that love is the most important of all gifts and pursuits. Love tends to embrace all the things described in the fruits of the spirit which you will see. So in many respects, love and spirit are much the same. There is another article about love as a subject by itself which is linked at the end of this article.
1 Corinthians 13:4 Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; 5 it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
But now I ask, how do we show the fruits of the spirit? They are not natural to us who are born of imperfection and defect. It has to do with our brains that God gifted us with. Remember this one?
Genesis 1:26 Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
Now God is a spirit so we can rule out that we look like Him or that He has a physical body. There is more in a linked article on "Being Born Again" on this at the end of this article. "In His image" likely means that in spirit, in our minds and personalities, somehow, we reflect the essential personal qualities that God and the other spirit sons He created, all have. We are physical representatives of spirit creatures. We are similar except that we are physical/fleshly and lack the power that spirits have. We are dependant on the physical world to stay alive. Spirits have no such dependence. So how do we act like or represent spirits?
Well, despite our needs in the physical world such as air, water, food, even our desire for love and companionship, we can still show the fruits of the spirit. We can maintain the fruits of the spirit even in the face of being denied our physical needs to the point of death. We can show discipline and restraint. We can show obedience, patience, and loyalty to God's laws and requirements, which include the fruits of the spirit. It would require us to give consideration to the conflicts that would be in us. We would have to use our minds as God intended. That is why He gave us those minds. He wanted us to use them. Paul described a conflict in himself that we can all likely relate to in Romans 7:16.
16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree that the law is good.
17 So then it is no longer I that do it, but sin which dwells within me.
18 For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it.
19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do.
20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin which dwells within me.
21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand.
22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inmost self,
23 but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin which dwells in my members.
24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?
25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I of myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.
Can you see the conflict that Paul describes? He wants to do good. He loves the law of God. But his flesh, his body, wants other things. It is at war with Paul's mind. It wants the things of the flesh, things we all know quite well. Things that come from sin and imperfection. Carefully note verse 25 " I of myself serve the law of God with my mind." With what? With his mind. That precious gift from God that elevates man above the animals - in theory, right?
For example, I may be hungry. Shall I go steal food from my neighbor who might barely have enough for himself because of a famine or something? No! I would prefer death and let God bring me back to life after He fixes everything, so that we will not lack the essential things for life ever again. In the face of all denial, a spiritual man would sooner except death than to disregard God's law. You might call this mind over matter. God has given us an ability that animals do not possess much, if any, of. The ability to look at ourselves, examine ourselves, question ourselves, even judge and evaluate ourselves. From there, we can make choices about which actions we will take, what behavior we will engage in. In this way, we resemble spirits more than we do animals. Animals do not think or reason but spirits do. And so do humans . . . or at least they should!
Combating the fruits of the flesh requires using your mind. You have to stop and think, analyze, and contemplate what you might be feeling or doing and decide if it is right or not. One can't do this if one's emotions are out of control. Emotions often tend to gravitate to the flesh. Out of control is a fruit of the flesh. We want to be in control so we can do the right thing.
But can we see where this is going? Many think that being spiritual is being emotionally charged. True! It might be that they are wrong. Could they be confusing spirituality with zeal or enthusiasm? Now this may not be a popular conclusion but it is one that has the backing of the scriptures, doesn't it? Where would you say I have gone wrong?
Now this does not mean that zeal is not important. It is! But we don't want to confuse it with being spiritual. Being spiritual requires that we use our minds. Being spiritual means focusing on the things of God, heavenly things, holy things, righteous things, things concerning principle or justice, things concerning love. Being spiritual means being loving, caring, and decent; not being selfish but being selfless and giving.
Now here is another thing that the spirit is not. That is psychic or in touch with the dead. This may not be liked much, either. But remember the list of fruits of the flesh? Remember among that list was . . . idolatry, worship of images, sorcery, witchcraft. Contact with spirits, channeling, spirit mediums, divination, fortune-tellers and psychics, spells, and other things are all quite the rage today. But they are wrong according to the Bible and called fruits of the flesh. This was first mentioned in the Mosaic Law in Deuteronomy 18:10.
(Green's Literal Translation)
10 There shall not be found in you one who passes his son or his daughter through the fire, one that uses divination, an observer of clouds, or a fortuneteller, or a whisperer of spells, 11 or a magic charmer, or one asking of familiar spirits, or a wizard, or one inquiring of the dead.
12 For all doing these things are an abomination to Jehovah. And because of these filthy acts Jehovah your God is expelling these nations before you. 13 You shall be perfect with Jehovah your God. 14 For these nations whom you shall expel listen to observers of clouds, and to diviners. But as to you, Jehovah your God has not allowed you to do so.
So this would rule out a number of things that could be said to be spiritual. That doesn't mean they aren't in Webster's Dictionary definitions of spiritual. They are just not part of the Christian's/Bible's definition of spiritual.
Now at the beginning we considered some other possibilities for spiritual: a mystic feeling, a feeling of awe and wonder, or a feeling of reverence. Maybe a sense of a greater being or a higher power than ourselves. Perhaps a greater sense of purpose and meaning in life, an awareness of a plan, maybe a divine plan. Some see it as a powerful or heightened emotional state or feeling, a raised sense of awareness, of joy, ecstasy, or bliss.
Now it could seem that I was down on emotions entirely and was tossing them all out. There are may emotions that gravitate toward the flesh. Those that do so are definitely bad. But the fruits of the spirit were love, joy, peace, patience, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, loyalty, gentleness, meekness, self-control, temperance.
Joy is a feeling, an emotion, isn't it? Love is, too. Can one fully love without any feeling? Not in my opinion. Love needs to be heart-felt, so to speak, in order to really move us. Remember how James said that faith should be accompanied with works? Well, so should love, too. How about compassion? Caring? Kindness? They all should be accompanied by works. Emotions are what put things into motion. There are good emotions and bad ones. We need to cultivate those that are good, that help us display the fruits of the spirit. God has feelings and emotions. And we reflect God's image and likeness so we need to have them, too.
(RSV) 1 John 4:7 Beloved, let us love one another; for love is of God, and he who loves is born of God and knows God. 8 He who does not love does not know God; for God is love.
Clear enough, right? Of course, I don't want to leave out patience or long-suffering. They require a certain frame or state of mind. They also require some thought, understanding, and experience. If faithfulness and loyalty are not deeply felt then it is not likely that we will be faithful or loyal.
What I am saying is that it is possible that we could feel a powerful or heightened sense of emotional or feeling, a raised sense of awareness, of joy, of bliss, calmness, or serenity. Yeah, it's possible. Satisfaction and fulfillment would definitely qualify. Maybe a sense of a greater being or a higher power than ourselves? Perhaps a greater sense of purpose and meaning in life, an awareness of a plan, maybe a divine plan? Sure! Why not? How about a mystic feeling, a feeling of awe and wonder, or a feeling of reverence. God and His creation could easily inspire such feelings, couldn't they? Those kinds of emotions would be healthy and safe; they would be good for us and promote fruits of the spirit.
But like anything, some of them could be taken too far. If we have too much reverence for God's creation, we could end up worshipping that creation as some have done. We are only to worship God and avoid images or creature worship. So we now have a better idea of what being spiritual is and isn't. But this doesn't explain the meaning of spirit in every case. We still need to solve that one.
We have focused primarily on Paul till now. Let's have a look at Jesus. Here is one scripture that comes to mind.
John 3:12 If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?
Jesus makes a contrast using the words earthly and heavenly rather than perhaps fleshly and spiritually. Things pertaining to heaven are much the same as things pertaining to the spirit. The following are all from the book of John as that book seems to have a different focus on the word than as does Luke and which seems to be nearly lacking in Matthew where it seems to be primarily ethics that are discussed by Jesus without using spirit references much.
John 3:6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
In this scripture, Jesus sounds pretty much as Paul does, except that Jesus did say it first, right?
3:34 For the One whom God sent speaks the words of God, for God does not give the Spirit by measure.
This scripture was referring to Jesus himself and points out that God is not stingy with the spirit.
4:23 But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. For the Father also seeks such ones that worship Him. 24 God is a spirit, and the ones worshiping Him must worship in spirit and truth.
It helps to know the context in this one. A woman by a well was talking about where to worship. Jerusalem was, of course, the chosen place of God at that time, but Jesus told of a time when it would not matter where one worshipped. What would matter is the worship of their spirit in a spiritual way, without concern of location and that it be in truth. We know from James and Paul that worship according to the spirit would involve fruits of works of the spirit such as love, patience, peace, etc. How we worship is more important than where.
6:63 It is the Spirit that gives life. The flesh does not profit, nothing! The words which I speak to you are spirit and are life.
Here we see spirit is contrasted with flesh and life. It sounds a lot like Paul as we would expect since Paul also spoke or wrote from the spirit.
John 11:33 When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled.
This is an interesting one. His groan was apparently not an outward one but kept silent within, but felt, nonetheless.
John 13:21 When Jesus had thus said, he was troubled in spirit, and testified, and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me.
Like the previous one, this almost seems to suggest mood. But it could signify his mind as opposed to his flesh or physical discomfort. And given that he is about to be betrayed, he has good reason to be troubled.
John 14:17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.
John 15:26 But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:
John 16:13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.
These last 3 are all interesting for they all speak of the Spirit of truth. A spirit whom Jesus personifies as a male spirit whom they can receive, see (figuratively speaking), know, and that dwells within a person. This spirit is a guide, who shows and reveals things. We could assume that it is a person but I suspect this is just a literary technique which is also used in other parts of the Bible such as Proverbs, where a number of various literary techniques are used.
For one, if the spirit was a real entity, it would be hard to imagine that he literally dwells within you. It would seem more symbolic to me. The spirit of truth is also a different wording than the Holy Spirit but they seem to be the same. Jesus would seem to me to be emphasizing the truth that derives from worshipping in spirit and truth.
Just as "see" him or "knowing" him can only mean figuratively seeing or knowing him, then it would seem quite reasonable to imagine that the other aspects of this spirit of truth are symbolic, too. Of course, Jesus spoke of the disciples seeing or knowing God, as well. We can use Jesus' other references to spirit to try to understand if this is to be taken literally. But I think it pretty certain that spirit is used in different ways by Jesus, even if some forms are metaphorical. Let's look at Proverbs for a minute.
Proverbs 7:4 Say to wisdom, You are my sister, and call understanding your kinsman.
The entire 8th chapter of Proverbs and a good part of 9 both constantly describe wisdom as being a person. Should we take that literally or figuratively? Take a look.
Proverbs 8: (from Greens Literal Trans.)
1 Does not wisdom call? And does not understanding speak?
2 She stands in the top of high places, by the wayside, in the houses of the paths,
3 beside the gates; before the entrance of the city, at the doors, she cries.
4 I call to you, O men, and my voice is to the sons of men.
5 Understand wisdom, simple ones; and fools, be of an understanding heart.
6 Hear, for I will speak of excellent things, and from the opening of my lips shall be right things.
7 For my mouth shall speak of truth, and wickedness is hateful to my lips.
8 All the words of my mouth are in righteousness; nothing crooked or perverse is in them;
9 they are all plain to the understanding one; and right to those who find knowledge.
10 Receive my instruction, and not silver; and knowledge, rather than choice gold.
11 For wisdom is better than jewels, and all delights cannot be compared to it.
12 I, wisdom, dwell with sense, and I find knowledge of discretions.
13 The fear of Jehovah is to hate evil; I hate pride and loftiness, and the evil way, and the perverse mouth.
14 Counsel and sound wisdom are mine; I am understanding; I have strength.
15 By me kings reign, and princes decree righteousness.
16 Rulers and nobles rule by me, and all the judges of the earth.
17 I love those who love me, and those who seek me early find me.
18 Riches and honor are with me; enduring wealth and righteousness.
19 My fruit is better than gold, yea, than fine gold; and my increase is better than the best silver.
20 I walk in the path of righteousness, in the midst of the paths of justice;
21 to cause those who love me to inherit wealth, and I will fill up their treasuries.
22 Jehovah possessed me in the beginning of His way, from then, before His
23 I was set up from everlasting, from that which was before the earth.
24 When there were no depths, I was brought forth; when there were no springs heavy with water.
25 Before the mountains were settled, before the hills, I was brought forth;
26 before He had made the earth and the fields, or the highest part of the dust of the world.
27 When He prepared the heavens, I was there; when He set a circle on the face of the deep,
28 when He set the clouds above, when He made the strong fountains of the deep,
29 when He gave to the sea its limit, that the waters should not beyond His command; when He decreed the foundations of the earth,
30 then I was at His side, like a master workman; and I was His delights day by day,
31 rejoicing in the world, His earth; and my delight was with the sons of men.
32 And now listen to me, O sons, for blessed are those who keep my ways.
33 Hear instruction, and be wise, and do not refuse it.
34 Blessed is the man listening to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors.
35 For whoever finds me finds life, and he shall obtain favor from Jehovah.
36 But he who sins against me does violence to his own soul; all who hate me love death.
1 Wisdom has built her house; she has carved out her seven pillars;
2 she has slaughtered her slaughter; she has mixed her wine; she has also set her table.
3 She has sent out her maidens; she cries on the highest places of the city;
4 The simple one, turn in here; and to one lacking heart, she says to him:
5 Come, eat of my bread, and drink of the wine I have mixed.
6 Forsake the foolish, and live, and go in the way of understanding.
7 He who reproves a scorner gets shame to himself; and he who rebukes a wicked man gets his own blot.
8 Do not reprove a scorner, that he not hate you; rebuke a wise man, and he will love you.
9 Give to a wise one, and he will be more wise; teach a just one, and he will increase in learning.
10 The fear of Jehovah is the beginning of wisdom; and the knowledge of the Holy Ones is understanding.
11 For by me your days shall be multiplied, and the years of your life shall be increased.
12 If you are wise, you shall be wise for yourself, but if you scorn, you alone shall bear it.
I am certain that I do not need to point out how obvious it is that wisdom is personified, a metaphor. I suspect it is the same with the spirit, who is referred to in the male gender and as a helper and guide, much as wisdom is in Proverbs. Let's look at Luke now.
Luke 1:17 And he will go out before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah.
Elijah certainly was full of God's spirit and power so this prophecy indicated that John the Baptist would be no less blessed than Elijah was.
1:47 and my spirit exulted in God My Savior.
Here again we see what seems to be a mood or state of mind.
1:80 And the child grew, and became strong in spirit.
Strong in the spirit might be the ways of God and the wisdom of God for Jesus did not actually have Godly powers until after he was tempted by Satan in the wilderness.
4:1 And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness.
Here the Greek word is translated in two different ways. First, Jesus is filled with the Holy Ghost, also referred to as the Holy Spirit by many Bibles. Being filled with it, it is hard for me to believe that the Holy Spirit is a being but that is another argument. Jesus is then led by the same spirit with which he is filled. So there is a divine will or spirit behind where Jesus is being guided to.
4:14 And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee: and there went out a fame of him through all the region round about.
Here Jesus has the power of the spirit so that he an perform miracles which will make him famous and give his words authority. So this power derives from God. God and spirit are nearly identical as we can see in various scriptures.
4:18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me
Lord here refers to the father. It is clearly working upon Miriam.
Luke 7:21 And in the same hour He healed many from diseases and plagues and evil spirits.
Spirits are creatures here and they are not good ones, either.
8:29 For He charged the unclean spirit to come out of the man. For many times it had seized him, and he was bound with chains and fetters, being guarded. And tearing apart the bonds, he was driven by the demons into the deserted places.
Here we are introduced to actual spirits as entities, invisible creatures of the spirit realm.
9:54 And seeing, His disciples James and John said, Lord, do You desire that we tell fire to come down from Heaven, and to destroy them, even as Elijah did? 55 But turning He rebuked them. And He said, You do not know of what spirit you are. 56 For the Son of man did not come to destroy men's lives, but to save. And they went to another village.
It almost seems as if Jesus is saying they can't make up their minds who it is they are following, God or the devil. They were too eager to kill it would seem. But they got straightened out by Jesus.
10:21 In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth.
Here again, mood would seem to indicated. Whether this is a long term mood or just a feeling of the moment is not as certain.
24:37 But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit.
24:39 Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.
In these last two verses, Jesus is again talking about actual spirit creatures. The disciples thought he might be demonic spirit. But as Jesus pointed out to them, he was in fleshly physical form, unlike a spirit would be.
So spirit is used a variety of ways in Luke. Most interesting are the ways that the Apostle John uses spirit or spirits in his first letter or in Revelation. Let's start with 1 John.
1 John 3:24 And by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit which He gave to us.
God gives us a spirit. An attitude? A motivation? A mood? Probably a bit of all of them and knowledge, too.
1 John 4:6 We are of God; the one knowing God hears us. Whoever is not of God does not hear us. From this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.
Here we encounter the spirit of truth again. But it does not sound like a person here. And it has an antagonist, the spirit of error. There does seem to be an attitude in people who seek truth versus those that fall for errors and lies. A spirit of truth seeks out truth and loves truth. A spirit of error will never encounter the truth and is doomed.
1 John 4:13 By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because of His Spirit He has given to us.
So God gives us His spirit. It does not sound like a person here, but more like God's pure and holy motivation, attitude, temperament, inspiration, and the like.
1 John 5:6 This is the One coming through water and blood, Jesus Christ; not by the water only, but by the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the One witnessing, because the Spirit is the truth.
Here John says that the spirit is the truth. So is the truth the witness? To some degree, I would say it could be.
1 John 5:8 And there are three who bear witness on the earth: The Spirit, and the water, and the blood; and the three are to the one.
The spirit, which I assume is the spirit which a Christian would be filled with and led by as well as the spirit at work in miraculous ways in the first century days of the Apostles. The water would likely be the baptism in obedience to Jesus' command to do so, and the blood being the blood sacrifice made by Jesus on our behalf. These 3 testify on earth. Now we will go to Revelation.
Rev. 2:7 The one who has an ear, hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
Is this a literal verse? Given that it is in Revelation, I would have my doubts. But I should point out that Jesus said the rocks would cry out if the people praising him did not (Luke 19:40). The next 5 scriptures are interesting and new to this article. One of them is from Paul in his 2nd letter to the Corinthians.
Revelation 1:10 I came to be in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and I heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet
Rev. 4:2 And at once I became in spirit. And, behold, a throne was set in Heaven
Rev. 17:3 And he carried me away into a desert, by the Spirit. And I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast
Rev. 21:10 And he carried me in spirit on to a great and high mountain
2 Corinthians 12 1 Indeed, to boast is not profitable to me, for I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord. 2 I know a man in Christ fourteen years before--whether in the body, I do not know, or out of the body, I do not know, God knows--such a one was caught up to the third Heaven. 3 And I know such a man--whether in the body or out of the body, I do not know; God knows-- 4 that he was caught up into Paradise and heard unspeakable words which it is not permissible for a man to speak.
John refers to being carried in spirit or coming to be in the spirit. I gather this means his body was not taken. Paul might clear it up a little when he refers to a time when he received visions and revelations from God, though he does not specifically state it was him, and he mentions that he did not know whether he was in the body or out of the body. It no doubt felt real but whether his actual body was involved, he can not be certain. But John seems certain that it was out of the body; that is to say, without the body involved.
I suspect this could be sort of like a very vivid dream or a hallucination. The senses seem to be alert and experiencing things. So distinguishing between that and a real physical experience is hard to do. But John says it is being caught away in the spirit or coming to be in the spirit. It is not a fleshly physical thing. If the UFO abduction experiences are real phenomena, I suspect that they experience the same type of thing, being caught away in the spirit, so to speak, but the body is not actually involved. More of a heightened hallucinogenic experience contained within the mind and supplied by an outside force or influence such as God does. I will deal with UFOs and other phenomena in another article.
Rev. 11:11 And after three days and a half, a spirit of life from God entered into them
Spirit here is a life giving force from God.
Rev. 13:15 And was given to it to give a spirit to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast might even speak, and might cause as many as would not worship the image of the beast to be killed.
Sort of like the previous scripture, a force, except that this one is not from God but brings the image to life, so to speak.
19:10 Worship God. For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.
I am not sure if this one is saying that testimony of Jesus inspires or begets prophecy or just related to the spirit of prophecy. There is obviously some link or relationship between the two.
Rev. 1:4 John to the seven churches in Asia: Grace to you, and peace, from the One who is, and who was, and who is coming, and from the seven spirits which are before His throne;
The 7 spirits are those of 7 churches in this account which I left some of out. They could be literal spirit representatives or they could easily be symbolic, too. A tough call thinks me! The next versus have to do with propaganda as far as I can tell so I put them together from different books. See what you think.
1 John 4:2 By this know the Spirit of God: every spirit which confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God.
This is where it begins to get tricky. Is the spirit that confesses each individual or is it the expression which comes from their mouths?
1 John 4:3 And every spirit which does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not from God; and this is the antichrist which you heard is coming, and now is already in the world.
Is every spirit mean every expression? Every spirit or person who confesses or does not confess? Whatever they are, they are not from God is they do not confess Jesus as having come in the flesh which was to be equal to what Adam had before he sinned. I would say it is expressions or words that come from people, but whose origins are motivated or inspired by either God or Satan, figuratively speaking.
Rev. 16:13 And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. 14 For they are spirits of demons doing signs, which go forth to the kings of the earth, even of the whole habitable world to assemble them to the war of that day, the great day of God Almighty.
We have something coming from the mouth of the unholy trinity, as I call it. They all speak in agreement and what they speak is designed to get all the kings of the earth to join them in fighting against God. So I would say the spirits, inspired of demons and so said to be the spirits (expressions) of demons. I would say the spirits are words and propaganda whose purpose is to attack God, or more appropriately, those things which represent God here on earth like His laws and His people. This makes it more likely that the other 2 before it also refer to words or propaganda.
1 John 4:1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are from God; for many false prophets have gone forth into the world.
False prophets utter false prophecies. Again I think we are talking about words and propaganda. So we need to test what we hear to see if it is from God. The Bible enables us to determine that. It is similar to a thought expressed by Paul:
2 Corinthians 10:
3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh:
4 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)
5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;
This scripture is why I believe it is words and expressions, ideas , imaginations, thoughts, and the like, if you will, that are described as spirits and not actually people, themselves. God does not want us to focus on people but only their ideas and propaganda. It is these thoughts that are created and aimed against the knowledge of God and are to object of a Christian's warfare. A battle of wits, of ideas, of propaganda. They are sometimes described as spirits, other times in other ways as you can see here. Here is another way in which this idea plays out in scripture, again from Paul:
11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
12 For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
13 Therefore take the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
14 Stand therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness,
15 and having shod your feet with the equipment of the gospel of peace;
16 besides all these, taking the shield of faith, with which you can quench all the flaming darts of the evil one.
17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
This scripture again highlights that our war is not with people (flesh) but with spirit forces and their deceptive propaganda designed to mislead people and nations away from God. It helps us to get a feel for what a spirit can be or refer to. Below are more samples for consideration.
1 Corinthians 12:10 and to another, workings of powers, and to another, prophecy, and to another, discerning of spirits, and to another, kinds of languages, and to another, interpretation of languages.
1 Corinthians 14:32 And the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets.
1 Timothy 4:1 But the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, cleaving to deceiving spirits and teachings of demons.
In these previous three passages, there is talk of discerning spirits, spirits of prophets, and deceiving spirits and teachings. They likely have at least something to do with ideas designed either to draw us to God or lead us away from God. For this reason, perhaps, they are referred to as spirits as they have a part in the battle of the ultimate spirits, those of the almighty God and His adversary, the devil.
Hebrews 1:7 And as to the angels, He said, "Who makes His angels spirits, and His ministers a flame of fire;"
Angels are spirits so why does it say that God makes them spirits? I would say it would have to do with them influencing people as spirit can refer to influence or inspiration. I think the next scripture sort of reinforces this idea when it refers to the angels as ministering spirits who serve. The word minister, in Greek, stands for servant or slave.
Hebrews 1:14 Are they not all ministering spirits for service, being sent out because of the ones being about to inherit salvation?
2 Corinthians 3:6 who also made us able ministers of a new covenant, not of letter, but of Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit makes alive.
Romans 15:19 in the power of signs and wonders, in the power of the Holy Spirit
To help us understand spirit even better, I will show you a few scriptures where other words are used to describe spiritual or heavenly things and help us to understand spirit more clearly in all its various forms and meanings. The first account is from Galatians and has an interesting discussion.
22 For it has been written, Abraham had two sons, one out of the slave woman and one out of the free woman.
23 But, indeed, he of the slave woman has been born according to flesh, and he out of the free woman through the promise,
He of the slave woman was Ishmael. He of the free woman was Isaac, according to a promise made to Abraham by God. But notice the next verse carefully. Notice the word "allegorized." In many translations, it is render allegory. But it is making it clear and spelling it out that an allegory is being made with these two sons of Abraham. They are to represent two covenants.
24 which things are being allegorized, for these are two covenants, one, indeed, from Mount Sinai bringing forth to slavery (which is Hagar,
25 for Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present Jerusalem, and she slaves with her children),
26 but the Jerusalem from above is free, who is the mother of us all;
The Jerusalem from above! Keep this phrase in mind. Paul uses several words to describe a figurative or symbolic Jerusalem, a spiritual Jerusalem!
27 for it has been written, "Be glad, barren one not bearing; break forth and shout, the one not travailing; for more are the children of the desolate rather than she having the husband." [Paul quotes Isa. 54:1]
28 But, brothers, we are children of promise according to Isaac.
Paul says that we, writing to Christians in Galatia, are children of Abraham, due to inheriting the promise made to Abraham for spiritual children whereas Ishmael represents the children of the fleshly covenant, the law of Moses, and the fleshly children of Israel who rejected God's son, and therefore, God.
29 But then, even as he born according to flesh persecuted the one according to Spirit, so also now.
30 But what says the Scripture? "Cast out the slave woman and her son, for in no way shall the son of the slave woman inherit with the son of the free woman." [Paul quotes Gen. 21:10]
31 Then, brothers, we are not children of a slave woman but of the free woman.
What I am trying to show here is that there are figurative, symbolic, spiritual descendants of Abraham; ones who become heirs of the promise to Abraham, symbolized by Isaac who was the child of promise to the free woman. The next account is from Hebrews.
Hebrews 11:10 for he looked forward to a city having the foundations of which the builder and maker is God.
We are given a hint of a city whose foundation was built by God and not men.
Hebrews 11:16 But now they stretch forth to a better, that is, a heavenly land. Therefore, God is not ashamed of them, for Him to be called their God; for He prepared a city for them.
A heavenly land? That's what it said! Sounds like a contradiction of terms, doesn't it? The city will prove to by heavenly/spiritual as well.
Hebrews 12:22 But you have drawn near Mount Zion, even the city of the living God, to a heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels,
Paul now makes it clear that this city is none other than heavenly Jerusalem, complete with a heavenly Mount Zion. It was referred to as Jerusalem above in Galatians.
Hebrews 13:14 For we do not have here a continuing city, but we seek the city coming.
The city Christians await for is not a city on earth but one from above, a symbolic one you might say, or a heavenly one. A city of promise, of the new covenant started by Jesus.
Rev. 3:12 He that overcometh, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go out thence no more: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God, and mine own new name.
Here we are told more about this heavenly Jerusalem, here called new Jerusalem, and we see that it comes down out of heaven from God and that there are to be figurative pillars in the temple of this new Jerusalem, which are actually people. The next verse shows much the same. And in verse 3 which I did not bother with, God resides with mankind with the new Jerusalem acting like a helper and a bride to God and His son. 21:10 also showing the same.
Rev. 21:2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband.
Rev. 21:10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God
Rev 7:4 And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel.
I quoted this passage because it becomes clear when one is familiar with all the passages of Paul, that the 144,000 children of Israel are Christians, both Jew and other nationalities as well. I am writing a separate article to address this topic, though.
15 For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation.
16 Peace and mercy be upon all who walk by this rule, upon the Israel of God.
Here Christians are called the Israel of God. Not the literal physical fleshly nation of Israel, who descended from Abraham, but those who inherited the promise made to Abraham. Spiritual Israel, if you will.
To summarize the New Testament scriptures, we have seen a number of different ways in which the word spirit is used. How spirit is used helps us to better understand what it is to be spiritual or have spirituality. As you can see, spirit is a vague word at times. But one thing we have to help us is that spirit is not the only word used to explain spiritual things. Heavenly is also used. Love, God, and other words are closely associated with spirit. In fact, it would seem that spirit, heaven, and God can often be used interchangeably.
I could go into the Old Testament scriptures for more descriptions of spirit but I believe the New Testament offers all the definitions of the Old Testament and much more. The only thing I could point out is that the word spirit is never personified as it is in the New Testament. Wisdom maybe, but not spirit. Whether the trinity is a valid concept or not, it was not one that was recognized before Jesus. But that would be another article, wouldn't it?
Spirit can be an entity like God or one of His spirit sons, often referred to as angels or even wicked rebellious spirits called demons. It can refer to motive or intention, mood or attitude. It is contrasted with fleshly things that have bad results or results that are in opposition to God. It can refer to ideas, thoughts, speech, or propaganda, both good and bad. Yes, spirit can be both a good and bad thing. When from God or in harmony with God, it is, of course, good, pure, and holy. It can refer to something immaterial.
But Christians are commanded to seek only the good and Godly spirit orientation. They are to stay away from the bad spirit influences or to resist spirit influences in opposition to God. We pursue the things of God, including the spirit of God.
But for the most part, being spiritual means to use one's brain so that one does not follow their fleshly desires that conflict with God's spirit. To avoid fleshly natural inclinations, we need to give thought to ourselves and what we do. We need to take stock of ourselves and make a self-examination. This is quite different from being extremely emotional. Not that zeal and passion should not be a part of us but they must at all times be subject to God and His ways and spirit. People who react emotionally first, and not give careful thought to how and why they are reacting, could actually come under Satan's influence and spirit.
Really, it is our brains and our ability to analyze our selves that separates us from the animals and enables us to reflect God's image and likeness. We want to take advantage of the gift and use it as it was intended to be used. To ignore it and follow our fleshly instincts would be a tragic waste of God's great gift of life.
Being Born Again
Love, the Most Important Christian Pursuit
|The Heavenly Destination
Tolerance and Individual Belief
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