In my own walk of faith, one of the hardest things as a newborn Christian to grasp, is the leaving behind of the works of the flesh moving towards a walk in the Holy Spirit. The idea of “spirit” is so abstract to many who are only familiar with a worldly day to day life. What does this mean? What exactly is “spirit.” Paul tells us of two different types of “spirit”; the spirit of man and spirit of God:
“For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.“ ~ 1 Corinthians 2:11-14
The things that we know as human fleshly beings, or “man,” come from the spirit of man that is within us. By it, we know how to wake up, get dressed, communicate to other human beings, eat, drink, and at the end of the day survive in this world. Another word to describe the spirit of man is “instinct.” By the spirit of man, we also know fleshly things like lust, jealousy, malice, anger, covetousness, etc. These things come naturally to the fleshly man. Man naturally understands and relates to these things. That being said, those that are reborn in Christ are not reborn in flesh, rather they are reborn in spirit.
“Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.“ ~ John 3:3-7
The reborn Christian is not fleshly, rather they are new creation in Spirit:
“It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. The first man is of the earth, earthy; the second man is the Lord from heaven. As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.“ ~ 1 Corinthians 15:44-50
This new creation inside of us is completely spiritual, and will be raised into a new body known as a spiritual body. Our resurrection is not into flesh, rather we will be resurrected into something better, a new body and new life! Our flesh and blood cannot enter the Kingdom of God. This is difficult for some to separate from, as flesh and blood is all they have known. Some cannot imagine life without this fleshly body they’ve been born into. It is all that they can relate to in this world. Looking to the resurrected body of Christ, it had properties that our bodies don’t have. He could appear and disappear, walk through walls, change in appearance. It would be impossible for us to comprehend the fullness of the capabilities of the risen spiritual body of Christ. The baptism that brought us rebirth had a purpose.:
“Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin.“ ~ Romans 6:3-7
In order for us to be reborn, something had to die. That something is our flesh. The “body of sin” is our natural body, and it had to be buried in order for us to rise and walk in newness of life, according to a new spiritual body. The spiritual body does not serve sin, rather it is a servant of the Lord in heaven. The fullness of this spiritual body will come when Jesus raises the dead and changes the living at the last trump:
“Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.“ ~ 1 Corinthians 15:51-54
Yet today, we continue as reborn Christians living inside of natural bodies. This body is the place of our spiritual birth…remember “born in natural body, raised in spiritual body.” We are not yet raised. Both Jesus and Paul compared our life here in this earthly body to a seed, that must die in order to live and produce fruit.
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.” ~ John 12:24 (Jesus in speaking of his approaching death)
“But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come? Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die: And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain: But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body. All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds. There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another.” ~ 1 Corinthians 15:35-40 (Paul)
Paul goes on to tell us that our spiritual body is chosen by God at the resurrection. In the meantime, we live in this seed, this natural body. Many are yet babies in the Holy Spirit, drinking milk. Some have grown up in the Holy Spirit and bear much fruit. We are all at various different points in our maturity. Some are advanced and anointed to bring the gospel to the world with power as Christ did. Ask yourself, where am I in this new life? Am I a baby? A teenager? A young adult? Fully matured bearing much fruit? It is natural when you are young in spirit, to desire to be an adult, just as it is natural for a child to desire to be grown. We must learn every lesson in this new spiritual life before advancing to the next step, just as we must learn every lesson in school to advance to the next grade. It is a process of walking with the teacher.
“But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” ~ John 14:26
A Matter Of The Heart
So where can we find this place of learning? Will the Holy Spirit speak in our ear to teach us everything we need to know? We know that God can speak to your ears, but this is not the norm with Christians I’ve met and walked with. Even many walking in power confess that God doesn’t verbally speak to them. How then does the Holy Spirit communicate with us? We find in the Word and in experience, the training ground and the battle ground is one of the heart. For thousands of years, the hearts of men have been exceedingly sinful.
“Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.“ ~ Romans 1:21-25
Even under the old covenant, the hearts of men were cold as stone. For this reason the new covenant was a matter concerning the heart:
“But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.” ~ Jeremiah 31:33
The heart of man controls the actions of man. Realize, the matters of the heart are deeper than the thoughts of the mind. The things of the heart of man proceed to the mind in thought, and then out of the mouth in word, and out of the body in deed. If a heart is evil, it is evident by the words and deeds of a person.
“But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: These are the things which defile a man“ ~ Matthew 15:18-20
“A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.“ ~ Luke 6:45
In the same way, if the heart is good, it is evident by the words and deeds of a person. Here is wisdom: “heart” and “spirit” are the same thing.
“For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.” ~ Romans 2:28-29
So then, you as a living soul serve whatever spirit that is reigning in you, whether that is the spirit of man, the spirit of Satan/evil spirits (possession), or the spirit of God. There is a difference between these three that must be understood, as we can hear with our hearts from all three as a reborn Christian. The heart at times can be a battleground, a war in spirit between enemy spirits- the spirit of God carrying the most power. Please note, one who is not reborn in Christ does not possess the spirit of God and his condition is dangerous.
The Spirit of Man
The spirit of man is just as we heard earlier in scripture, a voice of the flesh. By it we know how to survive in this world of flesh, and we also sympathize with lust, covetousness, greed, envy, strife, bitterness, and many other sins that come natural as the offspring of Adam. It naturally hungers for food, and thirsts for drink. It worries constantly about business, money, security, earthly dwellings and things. These are all things of the spirit of man. You could call it “your flesh speaking.” That being said, this voice of the spirit of man is easily silenced by the spirit of God. A reborn believer may hear from the spirit of man often, but the voice of God quickly overrides it. These are temptations of the flesh that come to every human being, and we cannot be ignorant of this. These temptations lack the power to imprison someone like that of an evil spirit, but sympathizing with the flesh can leave a door open to an evil spirit/spirits seeking a new home.
The Spirit of Satan, Evil Spirits/Demons, Possession
The spirit of Satan/evil spirits, demons and possession is another situation altogether. In the case where an individual, even a reborn believer, is possessed by an evil spirit or spirit of Satan (meaning the evil spirit has made a home in them), the voice in the heart is much stronger, as are the thoughts that are produced by it, and the actions and deeds that follow. These are cases where an individual cannot help himself. He is a prisoner to whatever sin the evil spirit is leading him to commit. This may be one who looks at pornography and cannot stop no matter how much they desire to, or one who cannot stop lying, fornicating, committing adultery, gossiping, smoking, doing drugs, drinking alcohol and other addictions, harming themselves via suicidal thoughts and harming others, etc. They may know and understand something is a sin, and they may want to stop, but they can’t. This is possession. Evil Spirits, Demons and Satan can inflict harm on an individual up to and including death through sickness, accident, or other means. These are strongholds that must be broken by Jesus through deliverance. Jesus uses other believers as tools to cast these unclean spirits out for good, freeing the inflicted from the bondage. One can also cry out to Jesus themselves for deliverance, and this can be accomplished in many cases. Many such examples were given in scripture of deliverance, examples of mentally insane people becoming well, the mute speaking, the sick healed, etc, and this continues to happen today all over the world. Nothing has changed.
The Spirit Of God
The spirit of God, is the heart and mind of God in you. It is also known as the Holy Spirit, the teacher, comforter and friend. It is a free gift given by God at the point someone is baptized with the Holy Spirit in rebirth. As we engage in true prayer and meditation on the Word of God, the Holy Spirit teaches us the ways of God, the law of God, the heart of God, and everything about him. Guidance from the Holy Spirit leads only to obedience to God and his way, law, and word. This Holy Spirit can bring us revelation on things we never understood before, and shines light on things that are in darkness. The Holy Spirit is fire in our hearts for righteousness, justice and love. Its food is the Word of God, the bread of life. This voice is powerful, and faith that is rooted in the Holy Spirit leads to expression in power- tongues, healing, deliverance from evil spirits and demons, miracles, prophecy, words of wisdom, etc. It is the reborn believer’s goal to be possessed completely by the Holy Spirit, which will become expressed in the thoughts of the mind, in word and in deed. To heed the voice of the Holy Spirit in the heart, is to walk according to the Spirit of God.
The battle is one of the heart, and we must not be ignorant of where this is taking place. Evil spirits, and the spirit of man constantly are seeking to be heard, and evil spirits are eager to make a home in any willing body. It is our daily job as a new creation to examine our hearts to ensure we are serving our Creator. Ask yourself- does the Word of God live within me all day long? Are my thoughts ruled by God’s word and promises? What are my thoughts consumed with? It will be evident what spirit you are serving when you closely examine your thoughts, words and deeds every day. This walk with the Holy Spirit must be renewed constantly. Today, our fleshly existence is a time where we discover our identity in Yeshua, Jesus Christ, our Savior, and Satan and his Evil Spirits and Demons are conquered, Praise God. This battle is unseen, but very real. We urge you to take it seriously. We hope this article has blessed you.