Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. (1 Corinthians 2:12)
The Christian life is a wonderful journey of growth and discovery, a journey through truth to blessing and deeper intimacy with God. And the most exciting part is that, while it may well lead us into the unknown and away from all that is familiar and ‘safe,’ we do not walk alone. We have the perfect ‘roadmap,’ and the perfect ‘guide.’ In even the small details of our lives we can always see the Word and the Holy Spirit working together to effect the purposes of God in and through our lives. Our walk is a journey that is never restricted by our humanity or limited abilities or understanding. It flows with the divine grace and power of an infinitely vast and mighty God through continuous interaction between Word and Spirit.
The relationship between Word and Spirit reveals God’s nature.
Creation is the first time that we see God and, in many ways, it defines His nature and how He has chosen to work. Whatever else may happen in life, God cannot and will not ever change who He is and how He works, because the ‘how’ defines and manifest the ‘who.’ While certain aspects or attributes of God may be particularly relevant in different situations – consider terms like ‘our healer’ or ‘our provider’ as examples – we can never exclude any single one from the totality of God. He is in everything as God, totally and completely, and this is beautifully revealed in the essential relationship of Word and Spirit with the will of God.
The dynamic that powered creation manifested the full and perfect balance of the Trinity. God willed, God spoke, God fulfilled. Without even one of these aspects present, creation would not have happened. His will required the Word to be revealed, which required the Spirit to be fulfilled. That is His essential nature, which governs all of His works. Word and Spirit working together reveal God’s will and fulfill His will.
The spiritual nature of the Word and Spirit relationship.
First and foremost, the relationship between Word and Spirit is spiritual because God is spirit. They are not limited by the things of the world nor do they require anything outside of themselves in order to function. Because they are God, they exist in eternity and have the power to create or transform according to His will. Who and what we are, our weaknesses or strengths, and our abilities or inabilities have absolutely no effect on the spiritual relationship of Word and Spirit.
They are also intrinsically bound together. If they are to function together to reveal and fulfill God’s will, they cannot act independently. While the Word is essentially ‘self-fulfilling’ – it contains the power needed to accomplish it – the work of the Spirit is the ‘activator.’ We can understand this better when we consider that the Word is Spirit inspired and so actually contains the Spirit. Also, the Spirit only responds to the Word of God, so it contains the Word. This dynamic ‘interdependence’ of Word and Spirit in turn exists within the will of God.
Word and Spirit reveal the spiritual truth of God and His will.
Because God’s will, Word and Spirit are intrinsically parts of the same whole, Word and Spirit always reveal and point to God’s will. The fundamental principle that directs our Christian walk is that of surrender and obedience to the will of God. Obviously, we cannot do so if we don’t know the will of God, and the Word and Spirit relationship is critical to knowing His will and obeying His will. The kind of knowledge required is spiritual knowledge. It isn’t emotional or experiential knowledge – the reliance on ‘supernatural experiences’ that focus on the Spirit and exclude the Word, at least to a degree. Nor is it head or intellectual knowledge – which is based on our intellectual abilities and centred in our minds, the throne of self.
True spiritual knowledge can only be attained where the balanced and powerful relationship of Word and Spirit is present as God intended. We can find the revelation of God’s will in reading the Word, but it’s spiritual power will never be released unless the Spirit is actively working in us to transform it from head knowledge to heart or spirit knowledge. At the same time, simply expecting the Spirit to provide what we require without having the solid foundation of real knowledge of the Word will be ineffective at best, and terrible deception at worst.
The practical relationship of Word and Spirit.
Everything God does has both a spiritual and practical relevance. We are, like God, defined by our spirit because that is the breath of God, the life, in us. Everything God does in our lives focuses on linking our spirits with His. It is through this simple truth that His eternal presence is manifest in us and our lives. Word and Spirit work practically to effect the spiritual in our lives. Together, in revealing and fulfilling the will of God in us, they are manifesting the spiritual into the natural. It’s the same principle as the Word becoming flesh. The supernatural impacts the natural and effects spiritual transformation.
Today’s verse reminds us, though, that the Word and the Spirit have nothing to do with the flesh. Everything they work to achieve, in fact, is to defeat the flesh and empower the spirit. Our spirit is of God, and is utterly separate from the world. It is only when our spirits are fully surrendered to both the truth of the Word and the guiding of the Spirit that we are able to know and obey the will of God. As is always the case, there is the ‘generic’ submission – our choice to follow and obey Christ as part of salvation – and the practical daily submission in each detail of our lives.
Word and Spirit work continuously to teach and guide.
We cannot hope to absorb everything in a single moment. It’s a gradual process which involves relationship with both Word and Spirit. We must both know the Word and know the Spirit in equal measure. The work of the Spirit is to reveal to us the ‘deep things of God’ – the things we need to know in order to live according to His will. These are among the things He has freely given. He doesn’t simply give blessings like healing and provision and deliverance. He gives wisdom and discernment and spiritual things that we need to live this Christian life.
The Spirit that is from God is inseparable from the Word that is from God. When the Spirit reveals something or does something or guides us into something, it will always be rooted and founded on God’s Word. If it isn’t, if we can find no unequivocal biblical truth to empower and validate this ‘work’ or revelation, it isn’t of God. Word and Spirit work together to reveal and fulfill, but they also protect. The moment we have a reliance on one to the exclusion of the other, we’re in dangerous territory. We’re either in fleshly deception or we’re in legalism. For the will of God to be perfectly fulfilled, there must be both Word and Spirit in a healthy dynamic.
What it means when Word and Spirit reveal God’s will.
This is where it gets truly exciting. Without God’s perfect revealed will, nothing will ever happen. But when God reveals His will through this powerful dynamic of Word and Spirit, we can be absolutely certain that fulfillment will follow. It has to. God’s will is sovereign, and there is nothing in heaven or earth that can stop its manifestation. The moment that Word and Spirit come together to reveal God’s will, that’s the moment that fulfillment is already set in motion. It may take time, and it may take a form we don’t expect, but it’s utterly inevitable.
This provides a powerful understanding of verses that point, for example, to first seeking the kingdom of God. Before looking for answers to prayer, we should first seek His will. While the truth of the Word is absolute, the application of the Word is specific. The Bible contains many verses that can ‘fit’ any situation or circumstance. Some of these applications may well be correct, but others may be self using the Word for justification for our own desires, even without us realising it. Seeking God’s will in this particular moment and this specific circumstance means that we pray according to His will, not according to our understanding or desires. When Word and Spirit reveal His will they also fulfill it.
Word and Spirit ultimately bring us into the will of God.
We easily forget that our relationship with God is just that – relationship. The very nature of this is a ‘two-way street.’ It isn’t simply putting us in a place to receive the wonderful things and even answers to prayer that God gives so freely. It’s about being in a place of connectedness with God, of responding to the giving of His all with the giving of our all. This is the power inherent in the work of Word and Spirit in us. It enables us to live in God’s presence and participate in the things that He has planned and purposed. They empower us to be so much more than targets for the outworking of His will.
One of the greatest gifts that God has so freely given is this opportunity for open relationship in His presence. To love God is a gift beyond price and a blessing beyond measure. To be able to know Him in a practical and powerful way is in itself transforming, but God takes this to the place of abundance. His Word and Spirit empower and enable us to a place of intimacy spiritual freedom we could never achieve alone.
Thank You, gracious Lord, for making provision for every detail. Thank You that You know us and our weaknesses, and even our inability to love You as You desire we should. Help us to live in surrender to both Word and Spirit, to desire Your truth and yield to Your will, and to joyfully submit to the work that You have begun in us. Draw us closer to You, and release in us the desire to know You and the assurance of faith that as we begin to seek, You have already empowered us to find.