Chapter 6 – The Spirit is Life
In the first chapter of this book the statement was made, “The only real answer to the problem of addictive behavior is to restore light and life to our beings.” Death, physical and spiritual, is the natural consequence of sin. Mortal man needs to receive life back into his being in order to walk in victory over sin. When we receive the divine life of God into our being we are able to walk as spiritual men, both desiring and performing the will of God.
For it is God Who is all the while effectually at work in you [energizing and creating in you the power and desire], both to will and to work for His good pleasure and satisfaction and delight.
The life of God must enter into man’s being in order for man to live a life of righteousness. Apart from the life of God, all we have in these bodies is death, the principle of sin at work in us. Yahweh has made a way for men and women to receive His life inside their mortal bodies. This is through the indwelling Spirit of Christ.
But if the Spirit of Him who raised Yahshua from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Yahshua from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.
The Spirit of Christ is imparted to the believer to do much more than act as a guide. Not only does He reveal those things that Yahweh wants each individual to do, but He produces the desire to do God’s will, and supplies the power to do it. This is the result of the very life of God being present in us.
In the previous chapter we spoke of asking God to give us His Holy Spirit. Without this Spirit dwelling in us we have not truly changed. We may be forgiven for our sin by the shed blood of Christ, but we have no power to walk in victory over sin until the we receive the Spirit of Christ into our being. Without the Spirit we can have forgiveness of sin by faith in Christ, but our bondage still remains. That faith in Christ’s atoning work and the impartation of the Spirit are two separate works, is shown in the following Scripture.
It happened that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the upper country and came to Ephesus, and found some disciples. He said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” And they said to him, “No, we have not even heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.” And he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” And they said, “Into John’s baptism.” Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in Him who was coming after him, that is, in Yahshua.” When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Yahshua. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them…
Salvation in Christ Yahshua incorporates both of these events. By faith we believe and confess that Christ has atoned for our sin, and has restored our fellowship to the Father. This provision allows us to stand before God and appear righteous before Him, no longer separated by sin. The second part is equally as important. Christ does not merely provide forgiveness for sin, but He supplies all that is necessary to no longer walk in sin. This is accomplished as He sends forth His Spirit to dwell in our hearts.
The entire plan of salvation through Christ is pictured in the events of Israel leaving the slavery of Egypt and journeying through the wilderness to take possession of the Land of Promise. The Holy Spirit being given to the people in order to enable them to live lives pleasing to God is also foreshadowed there. This occurred at Mt. Sinai when Moses went up on the mountain to meet with God and he brought back down with him the Law inscribed by the finger of God on tablets of stone.
Like all the other symbols we have looked at thus far, this event provided only a shadow and a type of the good things to come. It was not the perfect provision Yahweh envisioned for man. Even as the blood of a lamb was deficient in that it was unable to completely remove the penalty of sin for all time, nor could it remove the consciousness of sin from a person’s life, so too did the Law fall far short of accomplishing those things that Yahweh envisioned for man, and would one day bring forth. Even as Yahweh planned on that first Passover to one day send His Son as the perfect sacrifice to atone for the sin of man, so too He planned on the first Pentecost to send His Holy Spirit into the hearts of men and women to create in them the desire and the power to do His will.
Yahweh chose to give mankind many parables through which we might understand the nature of His salvation, and the particulars of His plan of redemption. These shadows were not the actual thing, nor were they intended to remain perpetually, for they would one day be replaced by that which was perfect. Even so, the covenant that God made with the Israelites in the wilderness was a temporary covenant that would remain only until it was replaced by that which was perfect.
But now [Christ] has obtained a more excellent ministry, by as much as He is also the mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted on better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion sought for a second. For finding fault with them, He says, “Behold, days are coming, says the Lord, when I will effect a new covenant With the house of Israel and with the house of Judah; Not like the covenant which I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; For they did not continue in My covenant, and I did not care for them, says the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws into their minds, and I will write them upon their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be My people. And they shall not teach everyone his fellow citizen, and everyone his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for all shall know Me, from the least to the greatest of them. For I will be merciful to their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.” When He said, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete.
Even as it is no longer necessary to sacrifice a lamb each year at Passover, for Christ has been slain now at the end of this age, one time for all sin, so too has Yahweh sent forth His Spirit to produce in us a life of righteousness, bringing an end to the Law’s role in this matter. The Law was never able to make men and women righteous. The testimony of Scripture is abundantly clear concerning this. The reason it could not do so is that the Law had no capacity to produce spiritual life in the hearts of men and women. Without the life of God present within us, we cannot walk in righteousness.
Is the Law then contrary to the promises of God? May it never be! For if a law had been given which was able to impart life, then righteousness would indeed have been based on law.
With these words, the apostle Paul reveals the true deficiency found in the Law written upon tablets of stone and delivered to Moses. It was unable to impart life. This event where Moses received the Ten Commandments inscribed by the finger of God on tablets of stone, looked forward to a day when God would write His law on the hearts of men.
The fact that Yahweh wrote the first Law on tablets of stone was itself a spiritual parable. He was declaring to mankind that they were presently walking in a condition of being hard-hearted. They were hardened against doing His will, desiring rather to seek their own ways. What was really necessary in order for mankind to change, to be freed from sin and begin to live a righteous life, was for mankind to receive a new heart. Mankind needed a heart that was soft and which would respond with eagerness to Yahweh’s desire for them.
“Then I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within them, and take the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in My statutes and keep My judgments and do them; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God. But as for those whose hearts follow the desire for their detestable things and their abominations, I will recompense their deeds on their own heads,” says Yahweh God. Ezekiel 36:26-27I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.
Until the day when mankind would receive the Spirit of Christ to indwell them, they would remain in their stony hearted condition. Our stony hearts could not obey the ordinances of God, always going astray. The result was broken promises and a broken covenant. The Israelites upon hearing Moses read the Law of God to them, said that it was good, and they agreed to be bound to it. However, they were never able to keep it.
This breaking of the Law was also foreshadowed at Mount Sinai. As soon as the Law had been written Moses descended the mountain to find the children of Israel worshiping before the idol of the golden calf that they had fashioned. The first of the ten commandments was a command against idolatry. Yahweh said:
“You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, Yahweh your God, am a jealous God…”
The words had barely been written on the tablets of stone before the Israelites broke the command. We see the truth of man’s condition when Moses observed the sin of the people and he cast the tablets of stone to the ground and broke them to pieces. Whenever the Law of God is written on a heart of stone it will be broken. We need to receive a new heart and a new spirit within us.
The Law of Moses therefore became a minister of death to those who received it. Rather than producing in men and women the life of God with its desire and power to walk in obedience to Yahweh, the Law merely exposed their inability to keep the commands of God. The Law revealed that men were slaves to sin, and therefore death, not life, was working in them. On that first Pentecost in the wilderness, after Moses cast the tablets of stone to the ground, he called for those who had transgressed the Law by worshiping the golden calf to be slain. On that day three thousand men were killed.
In a direct contrast to this event, on the day of Pentecost following the resurrection of Christ from the dead, the Spirit of Christ came upon those disciples who were waiting in an upper room. Peter then went out in the power of the Spirit and preached a message to those gathered in Jerusalem and on that day three thousand men were saved. The Law was a minister of death, but the Spirit brings life. The apostle Paul describes what happened at that first Pentecost in the wilderness when the Law was given.
And I was once alive apart from the Law; but when the commandment came, sin became alive, and I died; and this commandment, which was to result in life, proved to result in death for me; for sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, deceived me, and through it killed me.
The apostle Paul speaks much of the effect of the Law upon the life of one who does not have the Spirit of Christ dwelling in them. The Law stirs up sin, leading us to want to do the very thing that the commandment forbids. Apart from receiving the life of Christ, no man can live a life pleasing to God. Paul further tells us:
For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death. But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter.
The giving of the Law at Mount Sinai serves as a parable looking forward to that day when Yahweh would remove the stony heart of man and give them a heart of flesh. He would produce men and women whose desire was to do His will, and who had the power within them to carry it out. If you have been born again of the Spirit of Christ, then you have this Spirit dwelling in you, producing divine life in your members. If you have not received the Spirit of Christ, then you need to ask God to give you His Spirit.
When Yahshua walked upon this earth during the years of His ministry, He revealed to mankind an image of what man could be like when they received the indwelling Spirit. The Scriptures declare that Yahshua was tempted in all ways as we are, yet without sin. This was due to the life of God in Him. Yahshua did not overcome sin by the power of the flesh, nor by willpower, nor by gaining some hidden knowledge. He overcame by the life of God present in Him.
“It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing…”
Yahshua demonstrated before the eyes of His disciples that a man who is walking in the Spirit can overcome every desire and passion of the flesh. He then told them that He was going to depart from them in order that He might send His Spirit to indwell them, even as the Spirit was in Him.
“But 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.”
Perhaps you are beginning to understand now why the word Helper seems inadequate to describe all that the Spirit of Christ does for Believers. Understanding these truths is vital to a walk of victory over addiction. There are many people who go to twelve step programs in order to seek to overcome their addictive desires. But any twelve step program that does not include the truths we have been looking at here cannot set men and women free from the things that hold them captive. If a twelve step program does not point men to Christ alone as the One who has made atonement for sin, and if this same program does not direct men and women to their need to receive the indwelling Spirit of Christ, then it presents a false message of victory over addiction.
Then Yahshua said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.“
Any program that does not include the truth of God which we have been setting forth here, cannot set men free. If a program teaches men that it is acceptable to hold to a concept of a “god of their understanding,” and it declares that any god will do, it is a work of deception. There is salvation in only one name.
Let it be known to all of you, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Yahshua Christ the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead – by this name this man stands here before you in good health. He is the stone which was rejected by you, the builders, but which became the very corner stone. And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved.”
Only in Yahshua, Yah’s Salvation, is there deliverance. Any program that does not direct people to their need to receive the life of God into their being by being born again of the Spirit of Christ, has not declared that which men and women need to hear and understand. They are doing no more than placing a fig leaf covering over mankind, while leaving them in bondage to sin. They have not touched the problem of mankind’s stony heart. We must receive a new spirit and a new heart within us to begin to walk as overcomers in this life.
Receiving the Spirit is so vital to that which Yahweh desires to accomplish in the lives of His chosen people, that this matter is set forth as the true test of whether or not we are Christians.
II Corinthians 13:5
Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Yahshua Christ is in you — unless indeed you fail the test?
Christ dwells in His children by the Spirit who has been given. You may then ask, “How do I know for sure if I have received the Spirit of Christ?” The answer is that the Spirit Himself testifies to us that we are God’s children.
For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God…
There are certain branches of Christianity that teach that the proof of having received the Spirit is that one will speak in tongues, or experience some other manifestation of the Spirit of Christ. This teaching is taken from examples in Scripture of some men receiving the Spirit who had these things occur.
And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking with tongues and prophesying.
Speaking in tongues is a manifestation of the Spirit, as is prophesying, but not all men and women experience these things, nor were they ever stated by Christ or His apostles to be a test of having received the Spirit. In another place the apostle states that the indwelling Spirit does not produce these manifestations in all people.
I Corinthians 12:28-30
And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues. All are not apostles, are they? All are not prophets, are they? All are not teachers, are they? All are not workers of miracles, are they? All do not have gifts of healings, do they? All do not speak with tongues, do they? All do not interpret, do they?
These are all rhetorical questions that the apostle is asking. The implied answer in each instance is “No!” If all men and women spoke in tongues immediately upon receiving the Spirit, then Paul could not have asked this question.
We have read that the Spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God. Perhaps you are unsure of this witness, however. There are a number of reasons why you may be uncertain, even if you have received the Spirit of Christ. You may be walking in sin. Sin separates us from God, and makes it difficult to hear His voice. You may have been disturbed by false teaching, and have unrealistic expectations of what happens when Believers receive the Spirit. As mentioned before, some a believe a Christian will never sin, nor even be tempted to do so. Others declare that speaking in tongues always accompanies the receiving of the Spirit.
Many ministers fall into the ditch on the opposite side of the road as they tell people that all they need to do is pray a sinner’s prayer and confess Christ and believe they have been born again of the Spirit. Such teaching is ill informed.
I have found that it is not prudent to try to convince people that they have received the Spirit, any more than it is prudent to badger a man or woman to say a sinner’s prayer. We are told that it is the Spirit that draws men to God, and it is also the Spirit that testifies to us that we are His children.
Now, don’t misunderstand me, I am not saying that I do not believe in evangelism. If that were true I would not be writing this book. As Christians we are instructed to be led of the Spirit in all of our actions and words. We must allow the Spirit to direct us to those whom He has prepared to hear the good news of salvation in Christ. Yahshua Himself urged His disciples to use discernment in their ministry.
“Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.”
There are some things that a person needs to wrestle with for themselves. I have often heard the example cited of a chick emerging from an egg, or a butterfly emerging from a cocoon. At times an inexperienced person will witness this struggle, and fear for the chick or the butterfly and will attempt to help them out. But the struggle is necessary in order to acquire the strength to survive. Many have “helped” a chick out by removing the shell from around them only to watch the newly freed chick die as a result. The same is true of the butterfly.
It is good for people to manifest the effort required to obtain that which they need. Someone who truly realizes their sinful condition and the salvation offered in Christ should not need to be prodded to pray to God confessing his or her need. It should be impossible for us to hold them back. We would do better to pray for those who are manifesting a careless attitude toward their soul, asking God to impress upon them the peril of their condition.
The same is true concerning the indwelling Spirit. We are naturally compassionate toward the struggles of others, and are desirous of giving them some relief. However, it would be tragic for us to convince a person that they have received the Spirit if in actuality they have not. It is a healthy and desirous thing for each man and woman to press in themselves to achieve the assurance of both their salvation and their reception of the Spirit. This is why the Lord urged those who needed the Spirit to “ask,” “seek,” and “knock.”
The actual words the Lord used denote a continuous activity. They can be translated as “keep on seeking, keep on asking, keep on knocking,” until you have received the Spirit from the Father. In the same passage, which was cited in an earlier chapter, we read of the Lord’s parable where He spoke of a man needing some food to set before his visitor that arrived at a late hour. This man went to his neighbor and knocked on his door and asked for some bread to set before his guest. The neighbor replied that he had already gone to bed and could not get up. But the man persisted at the door and would not go away until his request had been satisfied.
These things the Lord spoke as an example for us. We are to manifest perseverance in receiving the Spirit. We are to be confident that if we do not go away, but keep on asking, that the Lord will see our unwavering determination, and He will give us what we ask for.
Just like the chick and the butterfly, it is necessary for the Christian to begin his new life in Christ with such an effort. Life in Christ is full of challenges, and many fall away when the going gets tough. Some have been hindered by well meaning saints who sought to spare them the early trials of faith. My advice to all those who are unsure of their having received the Spirit is to press into God until you are sure. Seek the answer from Him alone. Storm the gates of heaven until you obtain an answer of peace to your question.