The Spirit

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Once we've been taught and have believed something all of our lives, it is so difficult to accept or believe something else. It took me many years to begin to understand about the concept of the Spirit.

 It seems that most of traditional Christianity, which I grew up in, teaches that the "Holy Spirit" is a person, the third person of the Trinity1, 2 In recent years, through many trials, God has given me a different idea.

In some sense trying to understand what the "spirit" is may be difficult. In another sense, it is extremely simple. We just look at the words and see what they mean. To start with, let's examine the term "Holy Spirit" by looking up the individual words: "Holy" "Spirit". Since many the epistles of the New Testament were said to have been written in Greek, we'll look up the Greek definitions.

First,  the Greek definition of the word "Holy3" The part of the definition that fits our purpose here is "2.(physically) pure 3. (morally) blameless".

Then let's look up the Greek definition of the word "Spirit4" The part of the definition that fits our purpose here is, 3. (humanly) the rational soul 4. (by implication) vital principle, mental disposition, etc." To make it simple, we will just call it 'mental disposition.) 

Now, let's connect those two definitions: Holy (pure & blameless) Spirit (mental disposition). So, let us now put all this together. When God gives us a "Holy Spirit" He is actually give us a "pure and blameless mental disposition". To simplify it even more: "Holy Spirit" = "pure and blameless mental disposition." And to put it another way, "Holy Spirit = The strong ongoing desire to do what is right".

The Bible talks about us receiving power from on high. This makes so much sense, when God gives us [the desire to have] a pure and blameless mental disposition, we receive a power to be the kind of person that we've never been before, and we receive the ability to do things that we've never done before.


  • 1. The word Trinity is not found in the Bible. In addition, many Bible scholars question the validity of the concept the Trinity.
  • 2. G. Johnson, Is God really a MYSTERIOUS Trinity?, 2011. [Online]. Available:
  • 3. G40 (Mickelson's Enhanced Strong's Greek and Hebrew Dictionaries) G40 ἅγιος hagios (hag'-ee-os) adj. 1. sacred 2. (physically) pure 3. (morally) blameless 4. (religious, ceremonially) consecrated [from hagos "an awful thing"] KJV: (most) holy (one, thing), saint Compare: G53, G2282, G3741
  • 4. G4151 (Mickelson's Enhanced Strong's Greek and Hebrew Dictionaries) G4151 πνεῦμα pneuma (pnyoo`-mah) n. 1. a current of air, i.e. breath (blast) or a breeze 2. (by analogy or figuratively) a spirit 3. (humanly) the rational soul 4. (by implication) vital principle, mental disposition, etc. 5. (superhumanly) an angel, demon 6. (divinely) God, Christ's spirit, the Holy Spirit [from G4154] KJV: ghost, life, spirit(-ual, -ually), mind Root(s): G4154 Compare: G5590 [?]

Asking The Holy Spirit


In trying to plan a new type of project at work I had asked for advice from other professionals. On of the responses was "Ask the Holy Spirit to show you..... He is the best teacher." The  person was kind and considerate in her response and meant well. But her response got me to thinking. What is meant by that response? 

Does that mean that: 

  • the "person" of the holy Spirit gives us skills and knowledge that we haven't learned?
  • the "person" of the holy Spirit gives us special guidance about things that we wouldn't be able to do or learn otherwise
  • Atheists and unbelievers wouldn't be able to do hard stuff?

As a different way of thinking, using the concept of a "pure and blameless mental disposition" I would propose another concept. When a person thinks about what is best for everyone involved, and seeks solutions with this attitude, solutions appear and doors open up that would not otherwise have appeared. But, on the other hand, sometimes the door closes. And that's OK as well. 

Living "In the Spirit"

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Being in the spirit has much to do with our mindset and behavior. But, before we look at that, let's examine the flesh and the law.

Living in the Flesh

  • Only doing what makes us feel good or look good
  • Stopping doing anything if it gets difficult or we get "tired"
  • Attitude:
    • Uncaring: they don't care about much of anything, unless it directly and immediately benefits them.
    • Prideful. Think that the are the best while putting very little effort or thought into doing something
    • Superoptimistic: They think that everything will go along fine without any planning and without much effort.
    • Controlling: They think that they know best and try to get everyone to do things their way.
    • When things go wrong they
      • get angry
      • blame others
      • make excuses
      • justify their actions
    • Energy: When someone wants them to help, they are very tired. However, they have lots of energy doing things that they want to do.


Living by the Law

  • Only doing what I have to do.
  • Giving only enough effort to make it look like I'm doing what is required

There's not much difference between living by the flesh or under the law. They are both about "me".

Living by the Spirit

Living this way because we "want to", not because we "have to". It is our desire and intention to do what is right in every situation. Living by the spirit is living with a pure and blameless mental disposition. :

  • Continually doing our best
    • realizing that our best will vary from hour to hour and from day to day)
    • Always looking for ways to improve oneself and one's work.
  • working through problems
    • Examine what went wrong.
    • Make corrections 
  • Being helpful to others.
    • Continually looking around at how one can be of assistance to those in need
    • Being connected with others enough to know when someone really needs help versus someone who is too lazy to work.
  • Being Self-Aware
    • honest about our strengths 
    • honest about our weaknesses
    • watches for and corrects own mistakes
    • Asks for help when needed.
  • Responsible:
    • Takes care of personal and family responsibilities before helping others, yet doesn't use that as an excuse not to help others.
  • Attitude:
    • Humble: considering others better than oneself
    • Flexible, willing to make changes to specifications and expectations as necessary
    • Willing to work with people to iron out difficulties
    • Eager and willing to do what is best for everyone involved.
  • Communicative:
    • When working with or doing business with others, thinks out details and clearly tells everyone what they need to know to make wise decisions
  • Character:
    • Always tells the truth
    • Living a life of true love

When people are living by the spirit, they do far more that those living under the law. They put their whole heart into whatever they do and do things with all their might because this is what they want to do.

Internalizing the Law and Keeping In Step With The Spirit


In the recents past weeks I have been getting back into exercising with an aerobics exercise video. Even though I used this same video a year and a half ago, it's almost like I'm beginning again. I've going a little slower and paying careful attention to my foot placements, my steps, arm movements and the like. As I begin new exercises I still make lots of mistakes. In addition I've only put a medium amount of effort into it, largely because there are times when I'm unsure about foot placements or hand movements etc..

This morning something was different. Largely because I've getting good at the exercises again and don't to think about my foot placements and my hand movements, etc. I also want to do the exercises correctly, I began connecting with the exercisies more and putting more of myself and my effort into it. This had very positive effects; my heart was beating faster, I was breathing deeper, my muscles were more in tune. I was enjoying the exercising more because I "wanted" to do the exercises. I felt like it was a part of me.

As I began to realize the effect of my becoming more engaged in the exercises I began to think about the concept of the Law and of the Spirit. Also, this verse came to me "The law was meant to bring us to Christ...." and I began to understand. The law was like my video exercise instructor. She showed me what exercises to do and how to do them. But as long as I as only "following along" but never internalizing the motivation of the exercises, then they only do me a very limited amount of good. But when I began to accept the motivations of the instructor and began to put my whole heart into the exercises, then they began to have a very beneficial impact within my body.

In my the same way, the law came to show us what God expected of us. However, if we only do lip-service and minimally follow the law, we are always in bondage to the law. We are continually messing up because we continually resist having to submit to the law. The law always requires more of us than we are willing to give. However, when we finally accept the concepts and principles of the law (as it is found in Christ), we take them within us. We then realize that the law was like my exercise instructor. It merely showed us what and how to do. But it can never make us take the law internally.

As we accept the concepts of the law within us, be begin to put our whole heart into living out God's Internal Law and we are able to live a much higher life than the law could ever bring about within us. We begin to live by the Spirit of the law and keep in step with the spirit. God's Inner Law gives a desire and motivation to make the concepts of the law a part of our inner being, and thus fulfill the requirements of the law.

The Law can be defined as "standards for living an honorable and godly life", but it doesn't give us the desire or the motivation to live a holy life.

The Summary is this: Anything that we first start doing we first need some guidelines or instructions (i.e. the Law) to tell us what we are supposed to be doing. With that we still are awkward and unsteady at doing. We make lots of mistakes. If we keep with the activity long enough, following the rules and guidelines, we start to become better at doing it. If we go a step further, and develop a passion for doing it we begin to internalize all the concepts and principles about How to do it. We no longer have to continually refer to the Instruction Manual. Instead the "how-to's" have went inside us and become a part of who we are.

Walking In The Spirit

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About 12-15 years ago we were attending a church clear across town. We had been there for a few years. During a period of time I thought I was living by the spirit, and let the spirit decide whether we would go to church. There would be times when I felt led by the spirit to go to church (I felt so bonded with the church and the people) and I would would excitedly go to church. There were other times when I didn't feel "led by the spirit" to go to church. I felt lost and unconnected with anything about church, so I'd stay home. Staying home would reinforce my feeling isolated and alone, that no one cared. After a period of time of bouncing back and forth (going, not going, going, not going) I finally realized that I wasn't living by the Spirit. I was really living by my emotions. After that I made a decision to go every Sunday and then, after a while, my emotions followed my actions. I nolonger bounced back and forth about whether to go to church.

Too much of what is considered "walking in the Spirit" nowadays is really living by one's emotions, which is a recipe for disaster.

To truly understand what "walking in the spirit" means we have to go back and look again at meaning of the words [implied: holy1 = pure and blameless ] "spirit"2 = rational soul/mental disposition. So, in this sense, living by the [holy] spirit is using one's mind and intellect to discern what is the virtuous and moral thing to do any any given situation. It is putting aside that (emotional) sense of "I want to be done with this, and throw everyone out. This pain is just too much." Instead it is "putting to death" that human desire to want to be right, to want comfort and ease, to want my own happiness above all else. Walking by the spirit is an exercise of using our minds to control our emotions and do what is right in any situation.

When one first decides (yes, it is a decision) to walk in the spirit, he/she mail fail at the first attempts. That is to be expected, but one should get up and go again, and again. In addition the process often feels "mechanical", (i.e. "I'm only doing this because I have to do it because it's the "right thing to do."). One does it only because they feel like they "have to". A large part of succeeding at walking in the spirit is "letting go" of the desire to be in charge, of trying to control everything, of dieing to self, putting aside the desire to want life to be "my way". Sometimes it takes a lot persistence to follow through. At first the whole thing make seem fake, not real.  My counselor told me over and over, "fake it till you make it." Keep doing the actions until it finally becomes real to you. Whatever you do over and over again long enough eventually becomes a part of who you are.

"Walking in the spirit" is not just something you can just decide to do one day and have immediate success. (i.e. "Today I will walk in the spirit!) A large part of learning to walk in the spirit is a product of maturing. Immature people too often want immediate results. They just react according to their emotions. When the going gets tough they want to give up. Any can act nice when there are getting what they want, or if they feel good. It takes maturity to keep calm and keep a good attitude when the whole world seems to be falling down around you.

  • 1. G40 (Mickelson's Enhanced Strong's Greek and Hebrew Dictionaries) G40 ἅγιος hagios (hag'-ee-os) adj. 1. sacred 2. (physically) pure 3. (morally) blameless 4. (religious, ceremonially) consecrated [from hagos "an awful thing"] KJV: (most) holy (one, thing), saint Compare: G53, G2282, G3741 [?]
  • 2. G4151 (Mickelson's Enhanced Strong's Greek and Hebrew Dictionaries) G4151 πνεῦμα pneuma (pnyoo`-mah) n. 1. a current of air, i.e. breath (blast) or a breeze 2. (by analogy or figuratively) a spirit 3. (humanly) the rational soul 4. (by implication) vital principle, mental disposition, etc. 5. (superhumanly) an angel, demon 6. (divinely) God, Christ's spirit, the Holy Spirit [from G4154] KJV: ghost, life, spirit(-ual, -ually), mind Root(s): G4154 Compare: G5590 [?]

The Evidence of the Holy Spirit

This is much the same as the fruit of the spirit, as shown in Galations 6

When we realize what the spirit is, as shown on this page: The Spirit, determining the evidence of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer becomes simple. It is basically seeing a person who is living an honorable, noble, loving, compassionate, truthful life. (more later)

One the strongest evidences sthat we can see is a person living a righteous (right acting) and godly (living in harmony with god and man) in the midst of intense trials and adversity. Anyone can act good for a while when everything seems to be going our way. The true test of what living by the spirit is how one thinks and acts when everything seems to be going against him. Will he hold the course (of doing what is right) no matter what happens?

Fruit of the Spirit

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To get good at anything we must be instructed in the right way and the do it over and over again until it become natural and automatic for us. Similarly, if we want to have eat fruit off of a tree, the tree must first be planted, fertilized, watered and cared for for a number of years. We are also told that what we plant is what we will reap. In a similar way, to have the "fruit" of the spirit we must do the .... of the spirit over and over again until it becomes natural. On one level it is like developing good habits, only it is much more than that. We must stop fighting against and .... accept it in our minds. So, it is a combination of changing our way of thinking and our behaviors... (more to follow)

The message here is that fruit is the result of planting and much patient tending and cultivation over many years. It's not automatic, nor does it happen instantly. We might receive the desire instantly, but the fruit comes much later.

The Law and the Spirit

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The difference between walking in the Spirit and living under the law is very simple. Those in the Spirit WANT to do what is Right. Those under the Law only do stuff because they HAVE TO do it.

You could put it simply like this.

  • Walking by the Spirit = WANTING to do what is right.
  • Living Under the Law = HAVE TO what is required.

Those who walk in the  spirit (pure and blameless mindset) WANT to do what is right. In fact they continually think about how to do the best job. The quality of their atititude and of their work continually improves.

Those who are under the Law ask, "What do I HAVE TO do? Their mindset is on what is the minimum that they can get by with and still "fulfil the law".

One major problem with this mindset is since they are not fully engaged in each tast, they don't look for ways to improve. They are only seeking to get any task done as  quickly as possible so they can go do what they really want to do. The quality of their attitude and that quality of their work both greatly suffer.

With this attititude, one who is living under the law can never truly fulfil the demands of the law.

When one is living "by the law" it is so easy to bypass the meaning of the law by redefining what we are doing so that we think we are not breaking the law. For instance, the law says, "You shall not steal." But we can get around that law. If we take something that is not ours, we can tell ourselves something like, "He (the owner of an item) probably left if there for someone to have. He probably doesn't want it any more anyway." People can twist words around to make them mean to suit one's purpose. We need to go beyond mere words to try to ind the true intent.

"The letter of the law versus the spirit of the law is an idiomatic antithesis. When one obeys the letter of the law but not the spirit, one is obeying the literal interpretation of the words (the "letter") of the law, but not the intent of those who wrote the law. Conversely, when one obeys the spirit of the law but not the letter, one is doing what the authors of the law intended, though not necessarily adhering to the literal wording."

Living "by the spirit" of the law is learning the principle of the law. Living by principles goes much deeper than merely living by the law. One can always "get around" the written law. But when one lives by the spirit, by the principle of the law, that means that one has taken the law to heart and has understood and accept the deeper meaning of the law. Once one takes the law to heart, he is no long "bound" by the law. Instead he willingly and joyfully lives in accordance with the spirit of the law. He accepts the law and is no longer fighting against the law.

The law was given for our benefit, to help us live a life of peace and wholeness. The law is meant to be our servant, not our master.

Living by the Spirit means internalizing the intent of the law. The immature person will fight against the words of the law. The law was given for a purpose, to point us to Christ. What does that mean? When we "accept Christ" we stop fighting against the "restraints" of the law. Instead, we look deeper than the mere words of the law and seek to understand the true meaning of the law. As we begin to understand and live by the true meaning of the law we begin to live by the spirit of the law. Then we have peace with God and peace with ourselves.



Living Consistantly

What does living in the spirit look like?

What is Legalism?

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It is so easy for one who is under another's authority to fire off "You are so legalistic" to those in authority. One real potential problem with this way of think is it can be used as an excuse to not follow the rules.

The rules are not the problem. No matter where we are we all under rules, guidelines. It's our attitude toward the authority that is the problem.

A driver can think and say, "following the speed limit" is so legalistic. That works out to be, "The speed laws are so legalistic THEREFORE I won't obey the laws.

It's a heart issue. First we must look at the reason for the rules.

Rules in themselves cannot be legalistic. When a supervisor applies rules, that doesn't

Rebellion against rules is a heart issue.

There are (at least) two types of "legalism", real legalism and pseudo-legalism.

The Spirit and the Flesh

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The flesh wants to be free from the constraints of the law.

The flesh refers to our immature selfish nature. A vivid example of the flesh can be seen in a two-year-old throwing a tantrum. "Mine! Mine! Mine!" he screams. He wants what he wants, and he wants it NOW!

To "be"

What does it mean to “be”. When Jesus said, “I AM”, what did he mean?

"AM" is the state of “being”. For example, if a lion is “being” a lion, then it "is" a lion, both inwardly and outwardly. It doesn't have to ''try" to be a lion. Likewise, if I were to say, I AM, then I am saying that I am in the state of "being", not trying. When we are told to “put on” righteousness and …. what is meant by that? It merely means that we are living “as” righteousness. We don't have to “try” to be righteous, but that we “are” righteous. If we “try” to be righteous, then we are doomed to failure. That is because we are trying to be something that we are not. But when we “put on” righteousness (take it inside us and make it a part of who we are), we “become” righteous. We no longer have to try to be something that we are not. Instead, when we “are” (or become) righteous, then we are acting in accord with our inner nature (our spirit).

But what does that mean practically. “Being” involves our thinking, our behavior patterns, and our actions. It starts in our thinking patterns. The transformation of “acting” righteous to “being” righteous is not instant or quick and easy. It involves putting to death our old nature and everything that goes with it. It also involves learning to monitor ALL of our thoughts and thinking patterns (taking EVERY thought captive to the obedience....) It means that we don't let ANY deceitful or impure thought have a home in us. We get rid of every selfish, evil …. thought or motive within us.

Ouch, how do we do this? This sounds impossible, and painful. From the perspective of our old way of living it is impossible.

The way that it becomes possible is that we take on the character and nature of God as our own character and nature.

This is not an instant process. Our spirit and our flesh (selfish motives and desires) are at war with one another. As we are told, we must “die to self daily”. To have progress on this path we must constantly be aware of what is going on inside us. It is much like driving a car, where a good driver is constantly watching all around him all the time, watching out for other cars, pedestrians, animals that might at any time jump out in front of us. To be drivers we must train ourselves to  be “aware” at all times, and be ready to respond to any hazardous situation that may arise. In the same way we must do this same thing inside ourselves, watching our thoughts, our reactions, and the temptations that arise....

And, when we are acting or responding, look at our hidden desires and motives. We must retrain our thinking patterns, and our behaviors.

This all begins at a deep level within us, in our spirit, into the place of our deepest desires and motives. Everything has to change, to be renewed (that is, to be retrained)

In the midst of the transformation, your desires and wishes, and wants are also transformed. We no longer try to please God. But, instead, we have taken inside our inner beings (our spirits) the nature and character of God as our source for living, as who we are. Our whole new life, all our desires and wishes are pleasing to God. Our desires are the things that God desires. We want the same things that He wants.