Similar to how we have replaced being ‘in Christ’ with being ‘in church’, collectively the modern era community of believers (the Church) has replaced being ‘in the Spirit’ with being ‘in the written word’ or ‘in the Bible’. This is not meant to be. Reading the Scriptures (the Bible) is not a substitute for ‘walking in’ or ‘living in’ the Spirit. This Truth is beyond denominational name, beyond denominational interpretation, and beyond personal conviction. This Truth is God’s design: Living in the Spirit is God’s design (Old Testament and New) in that it is His plan for us (for our development and for our true life with God today). It is also His personal (God’s) design (literally) in that it is His character, even His state of being (God is spirit; John 4:24).
Made in God’s image, we also have a spirit. Salvation (of our spirit) initiates where our spirit accepts (believes; Romans 10:9) the Truth (His existence, His sovereignty, His plan, His Word Jesus, our spiritual state and need, and Jesus’s sacrifice; John 14:6) of God. Salvation is the initiation of a ‘new creature’ in us (2 Corinthians 5:17). One that has life from the Father through Jesus the Son and the Holy Spirit (John 3:1-5). Our personal spirit, or new life, is to be instructed by the Holy Spirit (John 14:26). Jesus sent the Holy Spirit for this purpose.
The Old Testament Scriptures and the New Testament Gospel and Letters and Revelations (collectively the Holy Bible) are invaluable, but they are not a replacement for the Holy Spirit. Can the book replace the Author? Or at least, is something not lost without the Author? The Holy Bible is the collective writings of men that were DIRECTLY inspired by the Holy Spirit (2 Timothy 3:16-17). These writings are literally the words penned by men as given by the Holy Spirit, the Spirit which literally searches the mind of God the Father. Thus the source of these writings is the literal mind of the God Jehovah who is holy, unblemished, sovereign and eternal. This should be an incredible thought to you and the existence of the undeniable written word (the Bible) should be one of the greatest physical evidences of the eternal God to the unsaved world. The Bible is incredible. Penned over so many years with such precision and cohesion that it could only occur through inspiration of an eternal Spirit. Wow! There must be a God right?
And, if so, there must be a Holy Spirit that is undeniable as well. Yet, many have replaced living in the Spirit with living in the Spirit’s product. Attempting to live the Christian life denying the Holy Spirit’s existence and power today would be like trying to sit on a three legged stool with one leg removed. This would be an impossible balancing act! Yet, much of the Christian community attempts it today, and yes, they utterly fall flat in their faith because of it. The Christian life is not meant to be lived with God and Jesus, but without the Holy Spirit (the third leg!).
To understand the contrast and the problem of substituting the Bible for the Holy Spirit, we need to understand the role of both the Bible and the Holy Spirit in our lives. Let’s start with the Holy Spirit. Understanding the role of the Holy Spirit is huge. We must live ‘in Christ’ but we must walk through that surrendered life ‘in the Spirit’. In the Spirit here (and in the Bible) means hearing and receiving (the conviction, the knowledge, the prompts, the calls for action) from the Holy Spirit. Both of these things lead to a supernatural spiritual healing first; a renewing of our minds to bring spiritual life versus spiritual death (John 6:63). Secondly, the instruction and development of us by the Holy Spirit also brings gifts (Isiah 11); a long list of potential gifts that can be assigned by the Spirit to us personally. The ‘walking in’ and the ‘gifting of’ the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12) produces fruit(s) that are listed out by Paul (Galatians 5:22-23). The resulting fruit becomes the proof of our being ‘in Christ’ and walking ‘in the Spirit’. Walking or living in the Holy Spirit means allowing Him to lead our life, our decisions and our actions (Ezekiel 36:27). Just like being ‘in Christ’ is a literal submission of our identity and pride (basically full surrender of ‘self’), being or living ‘in the Spirit’ is a submission of our thoughts and actions to the work of the Holy Spirit. Doing the latter allows the Holy Spirit to impact our personal spirit (the spiritual creation in our physical body) through the renewing of our mind and our path through current direction. The Holy Spirit may also come ‘on us’ or manifest ‘in us’ in power. These occasions can include supernatural miracles that He does through us. Simply reading the Bible without the Spirit, does not do any of these things (the Pharisees, of old and modern day, knew and now know the Scriptures well). Rather the Bible is a special tool of the Spirit (called the sword of the Spirit) to empower our development and functioning and that of the Kingdom of God.
In Part 2, we will discuss the Bible’s role in our lives. In the meantime, let’s personally consider whether our spiritual life is teetering on a 2-legged stool, or firmly undergirded by an amazing triune God. If the prior is the case, what do we need to do, commit or pursue to better understand the power we are missing in the active Holy Spirit?