Understanding how our spirits join with God
God is Spirit and He is the Father of all spirits. When God created mankind, He gave each one of us a spirit in the image of His Spirit. In order to become the type of worshippers that God seeks, we need to understand what it means to worship Him in spirit and in truth. As believers, we are meant to join our spirits with God’s Spirit, and come together to be “built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”
Note: This is the first of a four-part series on our spirit, our soul, the connection between our spirit and soul, and our flesh.
John 4:23 ESV But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.
Hebrews 12:9 ESV Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live?
Genesis 1:27 ESV So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
1 Peter 2:4-5 ESV As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
The human spirit
God’s Spirit is also referred to as breath or wind (Strongs concordance: 4151. pneuma and 7307. ruach). All of us were born when God first breathed His life-giving Spirit into us at the point of our conception, even before any of our body parts was formed.
Job 33:4 ESV The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.
Zechariah 12:1 ESV … the Lord, who stretched out the heavens and founded the earth and formed the spirit of man within him:
Our spirits don’t deteriorate like our bodies do, nor do our spirits die when our bodies expire. Instead, our spirits return home to God. (This is why a dead person cannot be revived by life-saving machines once their spirit has left it. People with near-death experiences are those whom God ordained that their spirits may return to their bodies.)
Ecclesiastes 12:7 ESV and the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.
James 2:26 ESV For as the body apart from the spirit is dead…
Ecclesiastes 8:8 ESV No man has power to retain the spirit, or power over the day of death…
Luke 8:52-55 ESV And all were weeping and mourning for her, but he said, “Do not weep, for she is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him, knowing that she was dead. But taking her by the hand he called, saying, “Child, arise.” And her spirit returned, and she got up at once. And he directed that something should be given her to eat.
Our bodies may live for a maximum of 120 human years but our spirits live forever, just as God’s Spirit is eternal. Death on earth is therefore, merely a transition to the next stage of life for our spirits as God has ordained for us.
Genesis 6:3 ESV Then the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not abide in man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years.”
Hebrews 9:14 ESV how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.
The Bible refers to our current physical bodies as “tents” for our spirits. Our physical bodies are the abodes by which our spirits carry out God’s will on earth. Every spirit or spiritual being that God creates has been assigned a specific purpose. Angels, for example, are spiritual beings who minister to those God has sent them to. We too, have a purpose that God has planned for us long ago.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18,5:1 ESV So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
Hebrews 1:7,14 ESV Of the angels he says, “He makes his angels winds, and his ministers a flame of fire.” Are they not all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?
Ephesians 2:10 ESV For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
God, therefore, jealously longs for our spirits. When we make the mistake of focusing only on the things of this earth that are passing away and that only serve to please our flesh, we make ourselves enemies of God! We make the terrible error of ignoring the Spirit who first made us.
James 4:4-5 ESV You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”?
1 Corinthians 7:31-32 ESV For the present form of this world is passing away. I want you to be free from anxieties.
We are united with God through our spirit
When we repent of our sins and are baptised in the name of Jesus Christ to receive the Holy Spirit, God also gives us a new spirit and a new heart. The Bible refers to this as being “born again.” We get a new spiritual identity and become citizens of heaven.
Acts 2:38 ESV And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Ezekiel 36:26-27 ESV And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.
John 3:3 ESV Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
Philippians 3:20-21 ESV But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.
Our spirits are then also joined with the Lord. We literally become one spirit with God. It is those whose spirits are joined with the Holy Spirit that are affirmed as God’s children. (Baptism is therefore, not optional. It is part of being joined with Christ. Also, see Preparing our hearts for baptism.)
2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
1 Corinthians 6:17 ESV But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him.
Romans 8:16 NLT … For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children.
Our spirit is the means by which God communicates to us through our union with the Holy Spirit. We all have the ability to connect with God directly. Therefore, the idea that some people can hear from God and others cannot is false and incorrect. We all have the ability as long as our spirits are still with us. We simply need to understand the things that block our spiritual ears from hearing His voice. (Please refer to our next post on our soul.)
John 10:27-28 ESV My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.
We can pray with our conscious minds and we can also pray with our spirits — through unspoken thoughts, desires, and emotions. This is very likely how Adam and Eve communicated with God who is Spirit. God knew them completely as if they were transparent or naked before Him because He “read” their spirits. In turn, Adam and Eve communed with God through their own spirits as well.
1 Corinthians 14:14-16 ESV For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays but my mind is unfruitful.What am I to do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will pray with my mind also; I will sing praise with my spirit, but I will sing with my mind also. Otherwise, if you give thanks with your spirit, how can anyone in the position of an outsider say “Amen” to your thanksgiving when he does not know what you are saying?
Our spirit gives us understanding of things that are beyond us. That is why we can sometimes feel when something good or bad is about to happen. We cannot explain why we have such a feeling, it is something that comes up from within us without conscious control. It is times like these that we ought to ask the Holy Spirit for revelation, wisdom, and understanding because He may be communicating something to us.
Job 32:8 ESV But it is the spirit in man, the breath of the Almighty, that makes him understand.
Ephesians 1:17 ESV that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him,
When we encounter situations where we do not know how to pray, the Holy Spirit will give us the words to pray through our spirits, according to God’s will. But this is nothing new. It is how mankind was originally created to commune with God — spirit to Spirit. This is how He knows everything we wish to speak out loud “even before a word is on our tongues”.
Romans 8:26-27 ESV Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
Psalm 139:4 ESV Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, you know it altogether.
We all need to learn how to recognise the Holy Spirit’s promptings in our spirits. He may move like a stirring or a surge in our hearts or chest area, with a sense of knowing or conviction. Our spirits simply recognise when we are potentially being inspired, warned, corrected, or embraced by God’s love. We cannot explain how we know certain things but we just do. Inspired ideas suddenly pop into us that outside our usual abilities. We may see images that are beyond the things we will be able to humanly imagine or think of, when He gives us visions. The Holy Spirit may give us words of wisdom for His people, which we will be able to discern as not being from our own intelligence.
1 Corinthians 2:9-10 ESV But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”— these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God.
When we are joined with God, spirit to Spirit, we will also begin to share the same feelings as God about who He loves and what He hates. This is how the apostle Paul’s spirit “was provoked within him as he saw that the city was full of idols” because God is provoked to jealousy and anger when His people are deceived into sacrificing to demons that they believed to be gods.
Acts 17:16 ESV Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him as he saw that the city was full of idols.
Deuteronomy 32:16-17 ESV They stirred him to jealousy with strange gods; with abominations they provoked him to anger. They sacrificed to demons that were no gods,
When we are joined with God, we will also have the ability to “build each other up in faith by praying in the power of the Holy Spirit.” It is through our spirits that we receive every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places while we are still on earth. In addition, there are spiritual gifts from God’s Spirit that we can receive through our spirits. These are amazing promises for any believer who humbly follows God’s Spirit!
Jude 1:20 NLT But you, dear friends, must build each other up in your most holy faith, pray in the power of the Holy Spirit,
Ephesians 1:3-4 ESV Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.
1 Corinthians 12:4-7 ESV Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.
Our hearts affects our spirits’ union with God’s Spirit
The condition of one’s spirit is closely linked to the condition of one’s heart.
- Disloyalty | Hearts that do not hold onto God steadfastly will lead to unfaithful spirits. | Psalm 78:8 ESV and that they should not be like their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation whose heart was not steadfast, whose spirit was not faithful to God.
- Defilement | The evil things that come out of our hearts will lead to defiled spirits. | Matthew 15:18-19 ESV But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.
- Crushed | Hearts that are brokenhearted and sorrowful will lead to crushed spirits. | Proverbs 15:13 ESV A glad heart makes a cheerful face, but by sorrow of heart the spirit is crushed.
The human heart is the centre for one’s emotions and desires, which in turn, drives one’s passions and motives. These affect us spiritually.
When our hearts are puffed up with pride, our spirits will be hardened towards God. When the sinful desires of our hearts carry us away, our spirits will turn against God. When we feel depressed, overwhelmed, or weary, our spirits struggle to pray also.
Daniel 5:20 ESV But when his heart was lifted up and his spirit was hardened so that he dealt proudly, he was brought down from his kingly throne, and his glory was taken from him.
Job 15:12-13 ESV Why does your heart carry you away, and why do your eyes flash, that you turn your spirit against God and bring such words out of your mouth?
The good news is that the Holy Spirit comes to dwell in our hearts, so as to convict us of our sins and the way to live righteously before God. He also comforts and heals broken hearts. God’s Spirit does all this so as to create a clean heart and renew a right spirit within us. Also, see The Holy Spirit as our perfect Counsellor.
Galatians 4:6 ESV And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”
John 16:7-8 ESV Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment:
Psalm 34:18 ESV The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.
Psalm 51:10-11 ESV Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
The challenge which every person faces is that our hearts are “deceitful above all things”. Through the eyes of our own hearts, we can see ourselves as being pure and having no need for God in every area of our lives. But God will weigh our spirits. He looks into the innermost parts of our very being to examine our true thoughts and intentions.
Jeremiah 17:9 ESV The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?“ I the LORD search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.”
Proverbs 16:1-2 ESV The plans of the heart belong to man… All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirit.
Proverbs 20:27 ESV The spirit of man is the lamp of the Lord, searching all his innermost parts.
God’s Spirit is present throughout all of creation, He fills all of heaven and earth. His ever-present Spirit sees all the evil and the good that we do. We cannot hide from God’s Spirit. He always perceives the condition of our hearts and spirits.
Ephesians 4:4,6 ESV There is one body and one Spirit—… one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
Jeremiah 23:24 ESV Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him? declares the Lord. Do I not fill heaven and earth? declares the Lord.
Proverbs 15:3 ESV The eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good.
Proverbs 21:2 ESV Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the LORD weighs the heart.
The blessings of a broken, lowly spirit
God is passionate about the spirit He has placed within us, that our spirits should remain faithful to Him. His Spirit draws those whose spirits are humble, contrite, and lowly closer to Him. The Lord even says, “I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite”! This alone will motivate anyone who seeks to be closer to God to actively humble ourselves every day.
James 4:5-6 ESV Or do you suppose ipt is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
Isaiah 57:15 ESV For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite.
On the other hand, God actively opposes those whose spirits are proud because this is contrary to His Spirit. The Bible, therefore, calls us to humble ourselves. Humility is not part of the fruit that the Holy Spirit produces in us, it is something we need to actively chose to exercise each day.
Ecclesiastes 7:8 ESV Better is the end of a thing than its beginning, and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.
Matthew 23:12 ESV Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.
Galatians 5:22-23 ESV But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
A humble spirit will not presume to know anything but will defer to the Holy Spirit for every detail of our lives; from what is best for ourselves or the world, to the understanding of God’s truths. This is a daily choice. Such a spirit is “broken” because we recognise we have no strength in ourselves. It is when we die to everything we have held on to or trusted in for years, that we will then be “made alive in the spirit” as the Holy Spirit renews the spirit of our minds.
Ephesians 4:22-23 ESV to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds,
Psalm 51:17 ESV The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
1 Peter 3:18 ESV For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit,
Ephesians 4:22-23 ESV to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds,
All believers begin as “infants in Christ”, “people of the flesh” who follow our own customs, beliefs, and values, but as we humble ourselves to study the Bible and seek the Holy Spirit, we will begin to “understand the things freely given us by God”, as “taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.” We should all, therefore, seek to be spiritual people who are able to spiritually discern things, through the renewed spirit of our minds, as we mature in Christ.
1 Corinthians 3:1-3 ESV But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way?
1 Corinthians 2:12-14 ESV Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.
This is how we will increasingly be able to serve God with our spirits and worship Him in spirit and truth. This truth is what God reveals to us, Spirit to spirit, as we “trust in the Lord with all our hearts”.
Romans 1:9 ESV For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son…
John 4:24 ESV God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”
Proverbs 3:5-7 ESV Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.
When a person’s spirit is not guided by the Holy Spirit, however, they can claim to speak of things that are untrue and not from God. This is the mistake that false prophets make. This is why we need to “test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.” False prophets may not always be misled by evil spirits, but may be misguided by their own spirits.
Ezekiel 13:2-3 ESV “Son of man, prophesy against the prophets of Israel, who are prophesying, and say to those who prophesy from their own hearts: ‘Hear the word of the Lord!’ Thus says the Lord God, Woe to the foolish prophets who follow their own spirit, and have seen nothing
1 John 4:1 ESV Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.
Today, let us repent and pray, “Father God, forgive me for ignoring Your Spirit and living by my own human understanding and wisdom. Where my spirit struggles to be contrite and lowly before You, please use my circumstances to humble my flesh. I desire for my spirit to be be joined fully to You at all times, not in a half-hearted manner, tossed to and fro by the wiles of this world. I confess there are times when my spirit resists Your Spirit. Lord, I humble my heart before You! I am nothing without Your Spirit. Only the Holy Spirit can lead me to eternal life with You. Please purify my heart and give me a new spirit. I desire to mature in Christ and be transformed more and more into Your spiritual image. My spirit within me earnestly seeks You. In Jesus’ name, amen.”
James 4:8-10 ESV Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.
Ephesians 4:13-14 ESV until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.
Isaiah 26:9 ESV My soul yearns for you in the night; my spirit within me earnestly seeks you. For when your judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness.
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