All Scripture is to bring us to Jesus who ushers us into the presence of God whereby, we are transformed.
If rule keeping could have gotten us there, we wouldn’t have needed Jesus. As it is, with Jesus, God puts a new heart and a new spirit within us.
I like to look at it like this: we have the seed of the Tree of Life being planted in the garden of our heart. Jesus is the tree of life. The Holy Spirit nourishes the seed in our garden, to sprout and grow and bear fruit within us. This whole process is spiritual and beyond our soul’s ability to comprehend, or to enter into because we blew it, eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, duality. It’s in our genetics. We need God’s transformation. So God is making it right here within us, if we can discern, die to our soul’s leadership, and enter in.
Here are a few Scriptures to help jog your deep thinking:
- All Scripture is God Breathed
- The word of God divides our soul and spirit
- It’s the spirit that quickens
- A new heart and a new spirit
- God is spirit
- The words that I speak to you are spirit and they are life
- You search the Scriptures
- God breathed into Adam
- Jesus breathed on his disciples
- Into your hands, I commit my spirit
Again, because we don’t differentiate between our soul and our spirit, we are generally so busy in the labyrinth of our soul, we’re too busy to begin to even think of God. We serve God with our soul and we waste away and we don’t even know why.
It behooves us to learn to discern between our spirit and our soul, so that with our new heart, and our new spirit, we can restore our own spirit to its rightful place in our lives. Instead of being a soul-empowered person, we become a life-giving spirit, bearing Jesus.
Our analytical mind keeps us safely earthbound within the counsels of our soul, while our intuitive heart calls us out into the realms of our spirit to soar.
Yes, we need both, but our spirit must lead the way, if we are to ever begin living a spiritual life.
Our spirit is our vehicle to entering into eternity and into the presence of God. From there it is through our spirit that the eternal life of God manifests, and works out into our lives.
This is ‘the Why’ behind Jesus’ words, “Abide in me Apart from Jesus, our works are temporary, earthly, and need constant maintenance. But now we are citizens of heaven, spiritually empowered, we bring the life and even bear the presence of God. We bring heaven on earth. And as God is love, it is through God’s love that we live indeed.
As discernment is learned, here is some rough observations from my own spiritual practice.
There are many ways we can learn to lean into, or to shift into our spirit. I know of 85 Christian spiritual practices and I’m sure there’s a lot more. I would, however, like us to focus on what I believe is the most natural and easiest way: our breath.
Spirit is our breath, our life, our life-force, our energy, essence, being, or our presence. We are all Human Beings. There are a lot of ways to describe our spirit, but the Scripture, both Hebrew and Greek, and most cultures agree on the meaning. For example, it’s qi in Chinese culture.
Through Breath Meditation, we can actually move our consciousness from our body into our spirit, avoiding the endless chatter of our mind altogether. This takes some time to develop, as our old self-tends to rise up and take dominance. But dying to our old self, ie our fallen self, is critical to living to our new self, our whole self in God. It’s why the Apostle Paul said, I die daily. It’s the first step in any good spiritual practice. It’s what confession is about. It’s getting ourselves out of the way. In Eastern practices, they call it, emptying ourselves of ourselves. But however we frame it, ‘the old man must die’, to use King James terminology.
Note: This breath practice is to activate our spirit, not necessarily to bring us into God’s presence, though that can happen it’s not the focus for now.
Tapping into Wholeness
As our body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, we’ve become a sacred place in this world. Instead of going to a Holy Place, we’ve become a Holy Place. Selah: Live as the temple of God you are. This is apart from gathering together. ie the Body of Christ. Here we’re looking at the spiritual reality, ‘we’ve moved from going to a sacred place, to becoming one’, you are entering into your inner room, (your spirit) and closing the door (on your soul).
Now, the heart of who you really are is your breath, your spirit. And here we are, in our spirit, with God’s ‘gift’ transforming us, the Holy Spirit. Awakening our spirit is critical to living a spiritual life. Awake O Sleeper! Arise from the dead Paul encourages us.
The Divine Exchange
- Our breath is a vehicle of our spirit. Our breath becomes a holy exchange of receiving and releasing, of embracing and letting go, as we breathe in and out. Our focus is on experiencing the eternal in our embracing and letting go. Without dying to our old self and surrendering to God, our small mind, will keep us busy for days. That’s why it’s been called ‘the monkey mind’.
- So relax, sit in an upright comfortable position, in a quiet, undisturbed place. Close your eyes and focus solely on your breath, your spirit. Focus on how it feels expanding and releasing your essence. You are releasing yourself. Falling into God. ‘Higher up and further in’ as CS Lewis put it. It’s not something to achieve. It’s something to be experienced. Feel your way in. Let your intuitive heart guide you in. You are entering the source, the headwaters, the seat of your being. The place where you dwell. Just breathe, focus and let it all fall apart into a greater grace.
- Our spirit-centered breathing becomes our vehicle into the eternal and into the presence of God.
- In our heart-centered breathing, we become the presence where we can feel the eternal flowing through our lives, thus begins the integration of the love and character of God into our lives, and yes, it’s all through Jesus.
- Set aside twenty minutes in the morning and in the evening allowing God to speak as you open your heart in simply breathing. It’s not rocket science. But it takes being intentional.
As To Spiritual States and Stages
Wrapping it up, here are a few more insights to help you deepen your understanding of what goes on in spiritual practice.
There are different spiritual states and stages and they are as varied and as unique as we are. God meets us exactly where we are in our spiritual journey. You don’t have to work it up. We’re not talking about ‘soul states’, but spiritual ones. Most of us are familiar with only a few of them.
- Like when the pastor’s preaching gets in the Zone.
- Or when the worship begins moving us into a rocking loving embrace.
- Or when God floods our spirit during the Eucharist.
This reminds me of the Brownsville Revival. For me, when I walked in, it was like walking in a cloud, vast, thick, and transcendent. People didn’t want to leave and would sit into the wee hours of the morning, smiling in grateful wonder and peace. It’s like soaking in the presence of God. God was doing some deep healing in those moments.
But these are ‘spiritual states’ we move into and out of. They eventually fade away into distant memories. ‘States’ aren’t permanent, though their transformation can be.
Now please get this: When a ‘spiritual state’ becomes integrated into our lives, it becomes ‘a stage’, a platform from which we live and dwell in. And isn’t that what God intended for us from the beginning, to dwell with him in abundant life forever?