c) 2012' name='copyright'/>Michael DeShane Hinton: The Idea of Spirit, Continued

Saturday, June 2, 2012

The Idea of Spirit, Continued

Another use of the word “spirit” in the New Testament supports the conclusion that a person can be overtaken or characterized by a quality of being, sometimes by choice and sometimes not.  In this context the idea communicated is the pervasiveness or triumph of that quality over other qualities.  It is not necessarily attributable to “a spirit” as if an alien being (a demon, for instance) had possessed the person, though that does occur, but it speaks more to the fact that we are ourselves spiritual beings with the capacity to have and to hold perspectives, modes of operation, or personality traits that are, again, deeply rooted, acquired, chosen, persistent, and dominant.  This uncelebrated aspect of personality, this spiritual-ness of the human being, is the key to understanding human nature, both in our greatest deficits and greatest victories.  An addict, for instance, may find his body wracked, mind addled, and feelings disturbed, but something from deep inside can keep him alive and/or functioning, and can even lead him out of bondage and set him free if accessed and developed.  Heroes are seldom lauded for their strength alone, wit alone, or their great compassion alone but because of their spirit, who use their gifts in the face of great hardship because underneath their other attributes is a foundation of courage and faith, which are spiritual qualities.  At the conclusion of the Matrix Trilogy, for instance, Agent Smith asks Neo with raging frustration, “Why do you keep getting up?”

The following passages use “spirit” in the way described above:

For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” –Romans 8:15

As it is written,

“God gave them a spirit of stupor,

eyes that would not see

and ears that would not hear,

down to this very day.” –Romans 11:8

Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. –1Corinthians 12:2

What do you wish? Shall I come to you with a rod, or with love in a spirit of gentleness? –1 Corinthians 4:21

Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, “I believed, and so I spoke,” we also believe, and so we also speak … -2 Corinthians 4:13

Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. –Galatians 6:1

I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him … and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds. –Ephesians 1:16-17 and 4:23

This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already. –1 John 4:3

We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error. –1 John 4:6

The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. –Revelation 19:10

We are taught to think that everyone is a mixed bag of belief and motivation.  For most purposes in life that is a useful proposition.  But the spiritual perspective outlined here and previously creates the possibility that someone can be completely one way or another due to an underlying spiritual condition.  On more than one occasion I have found in pastoral counseling a subject that seems totally clueless about life and his own life in particular.  Likewise, I have known clergy colleagues that regardless of Biblical reference or logic of argument will not confess the deity of Christ or the sacrificial nature of his death.  Not only that but they protect their ground as if it is taken turf that will not be yielded back, spirit of error-style.  Conversely, we know some as saints because the core of their being is devoted to goodness and truth – in the manner of a spirit of gentleness.

1 comment:

Brenda said...


As always, I enjoy reading your articles on spiritual matters. You write so eloquently and with such depth and precision, penetrating the heart, the mind, and the spirit. Keep up the excellent work that God has called you to do.

Be blessed,