c) 2012' name='copyright'/>Michael DeShane Hinton: Our Spiritual Nature

Friday, May 18, 2012

Our Spiritual Nature

One of the most important phrases in the Bible is “my spirit.” It defines both human nature and who is ultimately responsible for the disposition of that nature, that is, whether we live as carnal or spiritual beings. Let us review the New Testament material upon this subject.

In the Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55) Mary says, “My spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” When Jesus died on the cross he said (Luke 23:46), “Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit.” Likewise, when Stephen was being stoned to death as the first Christian martyr, he prayed (Acts 7:59), “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Paul wrote that he served the Lord “with my spirit,” and said “my spirit” was present when the Corinthians had to discipline a church member, and sometimes when he said “my spirit” prays (Romans 1:9, 1 Corinthians 5:4, and 14:14, respectively).

In other passages we find a similar understanding. Assurance of salvation, for instance can be found in what is called the witness of the Spirit, which involves “our spirit.”

For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the spirit of sonship. When we cry, "Abba! Father!" it is the Spirit himself bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. –Romans 8:15-17

Finally, in a remarkable passage Paul says that the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets (1 Corinthians 14:32).

So we human beings, made in the image and likeness of God, have this quality, aspect, dynamic, dimension, and capacity of being, which is called “spirit,” which operates in parallel to cognition (thinking), affect (emotions), and physique (body). Just as we decide what to think, how to feel, and what to do, so we can yield our spirit to good or bad influences. Conversely, just as our health depends on “listening” to body, mind, and heart, so our spiritual health depends on paying attention to what our spirit says. In other words, that we have and interact with our spirit is a fundamental piece of self-awareness that we must possess in order to be whole, sometimes to survive, and it is especially necessary to our thriving and happiness. Not to overstate it, if that is possible, nearly everything in life is ultimately a spiritual issue.

Spiritual formation can be defined, then, as letting and empowering our spirit to form and shape and unify/integrate the other parts of our personality through legitimate and recognized techniques, the first being to receive and be filled with the Spirit of God through repentance, baptism, and faith in Christ (Acts 2:38).

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