Being alive in the Spirit is a life lived in obedience to the Holy Spirit.
Text: Romans 8:1-17, 12:9-12, Galatians 5:16-18
There is a life in the Spirit which is unmistakably different from the life in the flesh. It is a life of faith and absolute dependence on the Holy Spirit for guidance and His leading. Being alive in the Spirit means that we are in continual and uninterrupted fellowship with the Lord. Being alive in the Spirit does not mean that we are always speaking in tongues, but tongues helps to boost the life in the Spirit (1 Corinthians 14:2). It does not necessarily mean jumping frantically in every worship service, but that could well be a part of it if it is done from a deep love for the Lord.
Being alive in the Spirit is motivated by a deep love for God. It is motivated by a desire to live to honor the Lord and to please Him. There are some external manifestations of being alive in the Spirit which involves being zealous to share the gospel, giving Christian service in the local body of believers, yearning always to be in the will of God, and living in holiness. It is a counterfeit life in the Spirit when one does not abhor sin and yearn to live in honor of the Lord. Being alive in the Spirit ultimately brings glory and honor to the Lord. The world is challenged by such a life because it stands to judge the world for its ungodly way of living.
The objectives of this study are:
- To know what it means to be alive in the Spirit.
- To know how one begins the life of the Spirit.
- To contrast the life in the Spirit with that in the flesh.
- To know some of the manifestations of being alive in the Spirit.
- To know how to sustain the life in the Spirit.
- To know the benefits of being alive in the Spirit.
Q1. WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE ALIVE IN THE SPIRIT?
Being alive in the Spirit is Spirit is to be led by the Holy Spirit. The world cannot be led by the Holy Spirit because “the world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him” (John 14:17a). But those who have received Jesus Christ into their hearts and repented of sin are led by the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:14). The experience of the new birth by an individual, therefore marks the beginning of the work of the Holy Spirit (John 3:3-5). Thereafter, the Lord continues His work of grace int hat individual with the experience of the Holy Spirit baptism (immersing or overflow) that is accompanied with tongues (Acts 2:17-21). Deeper work of grace by the Lord could involve impartation of gifts of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:1-11) which could enable such an individual occupy an office of ministry. As all these landmark experiences are taking place, the Holy Spirit forges His nature and character in such an individual such that the fruit of the Holy Spirit becomes evident (Galatians 5:1). We may point out that these landmark experiences may take place in this sequence for some believers, while in others they may coalesce into one where at the new birth they are also being baptized in the Spirit and imparted with gifts of the Spirit. Whatever is the case, these experiences bring an individual into a unique walk of faith in which one is very deeply conscious of the leading of the Holy Spirit upon one’s life. What we must not fail to mention here, which is the crux of this lesion, is that there is the need on a regular basis “to fan into flame the gift of God” or to be refilled with the Holy Spirit so that one continues to be aglow in the Spirit (2 Timothy 1:6). It is a common experience of most believers for the flame of the Holy Spirit to smolder, and in that case, it can be fanned back when we go to seek the Lord in prayers with a desire for a new and fresh visitation from His presence. With such refreshing we are kept alive in the Holy Spirit to walk in holiness, express the character and nature of God with the fruit of the Holy Spirit being evident in our dispositions, interactions, and relationships, and zealously do the work of the Lord in His vineyard. Being alive in the Holy Spirit offers the surest way to avoid doing God’s work by the arm of flesh. The arm of flesh distorts and corrupts the excellent work of the Holy Spirit through a believer amongst the body of believers and in the proclamation of the gospel to unbelieving folks. Time and time again we witness how a good work of grace is corrupted by a believer who switches from being alive in the Spirit to being led by the arm of flesh. What is readily noticed under such circumstances is that the glory that used to be ascribed to the Lord is now ascribed to the individual. The only remedy for this kind of situation, which every believer experience at one time or another and in one shape or form, is for the individual to be humble enough to seek the Lord for a fresh anointing and visitation. Our loving father is most willing to correct that child of His and set him back on the right track,
Q2. HOW DOES THE LIFE IN THE SPIRIT BEGIN?
We had touched on that when we discussed what it meant to be alive in the Spirit. We had also indicated earlier that an individual who lives in the flesh is a slave to sin and the devil. Being sold to sin and unable to live out the righteousness of God. However, such and individual is redeemed from slavery on encountering the Lord in what is commonly referred to as the new birth experience. Here, that individual acknowledges being a sinner who is unable to deliver himself from the grip of sin and the devil, and then seeks the help of the Holy Spirit pleading for forgiveness of sin and cleansing by the shed blood of Christ on Calvary. Thereafter, the individual enters into a life in the Spirit; an adventure of faith; a walk with God.
Q3. CONTRAST THE LIFE IN THE SPIRIT WITH THE LIFE IN THE FLESH.
We could have followed the approach taught in school when contrasting, to itemize the issues in a tabular form. However, we will slightly modify that approach by itemizing the contracts of both life’s in the subsequent paragraphs.
“Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. (Romans 8:5). The individual who lives according to the flesh has a mid-set to do what his sinful nature dictates, but an individual in the Spirit has a mind set to do what the Holy Spirit would want him to do. What are the dictates of the sinful nature? – “sexual immorality, impurity, and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealously, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, orgies, and the like”. (Galatians 5:19-21). What is characteristic of the life in the Spirit? – “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law”.
“Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So, then they that are in the flesh cannot please God”. (Romans 8:7-8). In contrast, those controlled by the Spirit live a life of faith and do those things that are pleasing to God. They willingly, without any form of coercion, submit to the law of God. In other words, those who live in the flesh are enemies of God, but those who live in the Spirit are friends of God.
Those in the Spirit are alive because they have been quickened to righteousness by the power that raised Jesus from the dead, but those who are in the flesh are dead in sin (Romans 8:9-11).
Those who are alive in the Spirit are spiritual and have the capacity to live out their heart’s desires, but those who live in the flesh are slaves to sin and therefore incapacitated to do any good they intend to do (Romans 7:14-17).
Q4. WHY SHOULD THE BELIEVER DESIRE TO BE ALIVE IN THE SPIRIT?
To be alive in the Spirit is the only way by which we can maintain a vibrant fellowship with the Lord. “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God”. (Romans 8:14). Any believer who cherishes his sonship relationship with the Father would want to be alive in the Spirit always. This will sustain our heavenly vision/goal.
Q5. WHAT ARE SOME DOMINANT FEATURES OF BEING ALIVE IN THE SPIRIT?
Being alive in the Spirit is a life of faith. It is a life of dependence on the Lord. It is a life of taking God by his word and promises. Faith acknowledges always that God’s word is true and will surely come to pass in its appointed time. The life of faith is the life that pleases God (Hebrews 11:6).
Another feature of one who is alive in the Spirit is the love of God that is evidently displayed. In the life of such an individual, the God-kind of love is seen in action (1 John 4:17).
A believer that is alive in the Spirit is humble and meek (Philippians 2:5-8). Meekness should not be taken to mean timidity, but rather strength under one’s control. Humility should not be taken to mean a pious disposition but rather an attitude of always acknowledging God’s grace and sufficiency in all of one’s accomplishments; a recognition that without Him one is nothing. By a humble disposition, one who is alive in the Spirit keeps being alive and avoids short-circuiting the glorious work of God’s grace through his life. Being alive in the Spirit allows for a sustained anointing upon one’s life. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor: he has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed”. (Luke 4:18). It is that kind of sustained anointing that terrorizes the kingdom of Satan, and enables those who would turn to the Lord to be set free from their captivity.
A life of prayer is a usual feature in the life of a believer who is alive in the Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:17). A life of prayer acknowledges one’s absolute dependence on the Lord.
A life in the Spirit hungers and thirsts after God’s word; studying, meditating on, believing and obeying his word.
Q6. HOW CAN THE LIFE IN THE SPIRIT BE SUSTAINED?
To sustain the life in the Spirit requires that the believer remains yielded to the Holy Spirit at all times. In being yielded to the Holy Spirit, one ensures that one’s character and nature are not compromised by sin. The believer offers his body continually as a temple in which the Spirit of God is comfortable to dwell in (1 Corinthians 6:16-20). In other words, because of the comfort offered the Spirit of God in the temple of the believer, He has no reason whatsoever to leave the believer. In that way a sustained life in the Spirit of God is achieved.
“And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness” (Ephesians 4:23-24). The believer needs to keep the new man permanently in place so that the mind (the seat of our thought processes) is continually renewed. When the mind is renewed, we think soberly and acknowledge that our relationship with the Lord makes us victorious over the enemy.
“Let all bitterness….be put away from you…., forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:31-31). The above passage is intentionally broken for emphasis. Bitterness and an unforgiving spirit are very effective “fire extinguishers” in putting out the flames of the Holy Spirit. We must not allow them to take root in our hearts. “Looking diligently lest any many fall of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled” (Hebrews 12:15). Bitterness and an unforgiving spirit usually worm their way into our lives in very subtle ways, and then take root to the extent that our prayer lives become rendered impotent and ineffective. They stem from relationships, particularly between husbands and wives. We should take steps to use the rake of the Holy Spirit to ensure that every fiber of the root of these sins are carefully and completely eradicated.
Other ways of sustaining the life in the spirit include fellowship, witnessing, Bible study, consistent prayer life etc.
Q7. HOW LIBERATING IS IT TO BE ALIVE IN THE SPIRIT?
“For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father” (Romans 8:15). The Spirit in the life of the believer is the Spirit of sonship in contrast to the spirit of fear and bondage that once dominated such life. The Spirit of Christ gives the believer true freedom; freedom to do good and serve one another (Galatians 5:13). When a believer is alive in the Spirit, he enjoys this freedom that enables him to serve the Lord with gratitude.
Daily Living Application:
The normal Christian life is being alive in the Spirit. This kind of life is not designed for some special Christians but for all who have come into a saving knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It is for all Christians because it is the only one that allows for unfettered fellowship with God and the brethren. No believer can afford not being alive in the Spirit. It is a life of faith and dependence on the Lord. It is the life that keeps alive the flame of love for God and the brethren. It is a life of complete surrender to the leading of the Holy Spirit. It is a life that puts the devil and his kingdom in constant terror. Every believer should ensure that the life in the Spirit is not an intermittent one but rather one that is sustained. And this can be achieved by allowing the temples of our lives to be holy and comfortable as a permanent dwelling place for the Holy Spirit. As a special measure, the root of bitterness and un-forgiveness should not be allowed to take hold of our lives.
Galatians 5:16 –
“This I say then, walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh”.