Spirit and life cannot be separated because it is the Spirit who releases the resurrection life in us. God intends that we live extraordinary lives as Jesus did, surrendered to the Spirit and learning to walk in the spiritual abundance purchased for us on the cross.
It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. (John 6:63)
We all desire abundant life – the kind portrayed in the Bible and reflected in the lives of both biblical characters and those vibrant believers we meet along the way. I have absolutely no doubt that this is part of the salvation ‘package’ that Jesus bought and paid for with His blood and broken body. I also love the word ‘abound’ because it is so powerfully suggestive of a life that exists beyond the limitations of our natural existence. We look at Jesus and see that He is the epitome of vibrant, supernatural life. It may be hard for us to grasp that this is what God intends for each one of us. The beautiful truth, however, is that Spirit and life are given to those who are reborn in Christ. It is the same vibrant, abundant life Jesus enjoyed – part of our inheritance as sons of God.
Spirit and life and real abundance.
We need to properly understand what abundance really means from God’s perspective. It is, first and foremost, a spiritual principle – that of more than enough. Like prosperity, abundance has somehow taken on connotations of financial or worldly provision, yet this is not God’s first priority. Material blessings are simply the outworking of a far deeper and richer abundance, that of Spirit and life. While we may be reluctant to accept this truth, it’s entirely possible to have spiritual abundance and not have material abundance. That’s simply because what happens in the natural realm is a reflection of the spiritual. It starts with our spiritual condition and, according to His purposes and time, will flow into our natural lives. Too many believers fall into condemnation because the perception is that unless material abundance manifests, there’s something wrong with our spiritual walk or we’re out of God’s will.
If we’re looking to define abundant life, we need only to look at the fruits of the Spirit. Our spiritual condition manifests in these fruits. They are the spiritual abundance that God releases into our lives in response to our walk with and surrender to Him. The key here is the Spirit, because as today’s verse reminds us, true abundant life comes through the Spirit. The only true measure of real abundant life is through the manifestation of the fruits of the Spirit. Obviously, it’s something we grow into. As we mature spiritually, so our ‘harvest’ of spiritual fruits will increase. It has nothing to do with us and everything to do with His work in us. Spirit and life work together to bring forth the fruit that God has purposed for each one of us – in abundance, as He has promised through Christ.
Spirit and life are inseparable.
It’s absolute truth that abundant life is freely available to us from the moment of salvation. Every good thing that God desires for us is already ours. We simply have to begin a journey of faith and learn to walk in it. But it requires a surrender on our part because Spirit and life cannot be separated. We cannot have life without the Spirit, and this means we must be yielded to the Spirit. On a practical level, we start off with our old habits of walking in the flesh. Self fights tooth and nail to remain in control, and our natural habits and long-learned patterns predominate. The beginning of our journey to abundant life is learning to recognise and to yield, one at a time, those things that hinder the Spirit’s work in us. It’s a slow and often frustrating process of learning to let go.
To understand the dynamic between Spirit and life, we can look to Christ. Everything about Jesus points to abundant life. Even His death on the cross pointed to the resurrection and the ultimate victory over death. In all things, He walked in submission to the Spirit. Everything He did was Spirit-led and Spirit-empowered. Jesus did nothing in the flesh because He knew the ‘flesh avails nothing’ as today’s verse reminds us. For those believers who have never been filled with the Spirit, this is a tragic truth. Without the Spirit, and without full and obedient surrender to the Spirit, it is not possible to know the abundant supernatural life God intends for every believer. We need only look at creation for confirmation of this. God spoke, and it was through the power and work of the Spirit that life came into being – our world and everything in it.
Spirit and life and God’s Word.
Jesus is God’s Word made incarnate, which is why we speak of the Living Word. He is the visible representation of the Word, a living example of everything God has said and promised. Yet Jesus walked in the Spirit, because the Spirit is the enactment of the power that manifests the Word. To understand this, we can look again to creation. God spoke – His Word – and the Spirit fulfilled. Spirit and life are therefore the fulfilment of the Word, of everything God has said and promised and revealed to us through Christ. This emphasises the importance of the infilling of the Spirit. The promises of God are freely available to everyone who is born again of Spirit. It’s rather like receiving a notification of a parcel. It’s ours, but we haven’t taken possession of it yet. The Spirit is the means by which the parcel – life – is delivered.
Jesus only spoke God’s Word. He said nothing that did not come from the Father, which is why all His Words were life. They were infused with the power of the Spirit to transform us and overcome the flesh. Spirit and life lift us into the supernatural kingdom of God. We can be born again and continue to live in the flesh where God’s Word has little or slow impact on us and on our lives. Or we can be filled with the Spirit and live in surrender to the Spirit. This allows Him to work in and through us and bring forth spiritual fruit in God’s timing and purposes. Our spiritual condition – abundant life – will begin to overflow and change our natural condition. It starts with the Word and is effected by the Spirit in power to fulfil the will of God in us.
Spirit and life and the flesh.
Despite our best intentions, the flesh will continue to clamour for control throughout our lives. We are creatures of habit by mortal nature, and old patterns and responses and instincts still remain active. The greatest enemy of the spirit in us is not the devil as we might think. It’s the flesh, because Satan will often simply use our own fleshly weaknesses against us. The self is always ranged against the work of the Spirit and will resist surrender at all costs. This is why every believer desperately needs to be filled with the Spirit. We need to walk in yieldedness to the Spirit of power who can resist the flesh when we cannot. When we first set off on our journey of faith, we still rely on things familiar – our old fleshly habits and responses. Spirit and life, however, are the counterpart to our old way of doing things.
The truth is that the flesh is corruptible and will remain so. It brings death, because that’s the spiritual outworking of the fall. Anything that is of the flesh is doomed to failure and brings corruption. Unless we learn to walk in Spirit and life, we will still have one foot in the world and so hinder our progress in Christ. What this means is that we need to be aware of the conflict and continually, as the Bible says, crucify the flesh. Too often, believers somehow imagine that this is something we have to achieve in our own strength and ability. The truth, however, is that we simply need to remind the flesh that it is dead, that it died with Jesus on the cross. That’s it. There’s no complicated process of self-flagellation or condemnation. It’s a simple identification with what Jesus has already accomplished on our behalf.
Spirit and life and resurrection power.
The life we have in in Jesus is no ordinary life. It is extraordinary. When we look at Jesus as our example, we must look at both the Son of Man and the Son of God – the before and after of the cross – for a complete understanding. Both these titles share one common attribute. Abundant, resurrection life. The same power that raised Christ from the dead is at work in us. The same power that placed His life miraculously in Mary’s womb continues to give life to us. The new creation isn’t simply a comfortable and encouraging turn of phrase. It’s a spiritual reality. That which is dead – self – is reborn in spirit through resurrection power. This is the power contained in the abundant life God has given through Jesus. He intends that we walk transformed lives, not in the corrupt power of the flesh but in Spirit and life.
Lord, forgive our limited understanding of abundant life through Your Spirit. Help us to see beyond the limitations of our natural understanding to Your resurrection power which both saves and transforms. Teach us and help us to live as Jesus did in full surrender to the Spirit so that our lives reflect the extraordinary life You have for us. In all things, Lord, grant us grace to yield and to reflect Your power and glory to the world.