It’s interesting how we can read the Bible, even repeatedly, and miss something important. For example, we probably remember that the Bible mentions the Holy Spirit many times, but what about the human spirit? It may surprise you to know that the human spirit is mentioned scores of times in both the Old and New Testaments.
To see the place our human spirit occupies in God’s purpose and in our Christian life can be a life-changing discovery, enlightening our understanding and leading us into a real and living relationship with the Lord.
In previous posts, we discussed how God created us as a three-part being with a spirit, soul, and body, and what the difference between the soul and the spirit is. This post will focus specifically on our spirit, the deepest part of our being and the key to all spiritual experience.
The significance of the spirit in God’s eyes
Zechariah 12:1 says,
“Thus declares Jehovah, who stretches forth the heavens and lays the foundations of the earth and forms the spirit of man within him.”
We can easily appreciate the awe-inspiring, God-created heavens and earth. But this verse shows us that the human spirit is equally awe-inspiring, ranking it on the same level as the heavens and the earth.
Furthermore, Zechariah 12:1 doesn’t just say in a general way that God “formed man,” but in a particular way that God “formed the spirit of man within him.” This indicates that the spirit of man is the most essential part of man, the most crucial part of our being.
Just this one verse shows us how important our human spirit is. So why is our spirit so crucial to God? Let’s look at how and why God formed our spirit within us.
How God formed the spirit of man within him
Of the creation of man, Genesis 2:7 says,
“Jehovah God formed man with the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul.”
In Hebrew, the original language of this verse, the word for breath is neshama. This same word neshama is used again in Proverbs 20:27, but there it’s translated as spirit:
“The spirit of man is the lamp of Jehovah.”
From Genesis 2:7 and Proverbs 20:27, we can see that God’s breath, which He breathed into man, formed the spirit of man.
In His creation of the universe, God stretched forth the heavens and laid the foundation of the earth, both great acts. But concerning His creation of man, God formed the spirit of man within him, breathing into him His own breath, both intimate acts. This shows us the precious worth of our spirit and the kind of relationship God desired to have with the human beings He created.
Why God formed the spirit of man within him
Of all God’s creatures, only man has a spirit. Why is this?
We have to remember that God created man because He had a purpose He wanted to fulfill. What God desired wasn’t to have beings that would worship Him objectively, in an outward way; He already had myriads of angels for that. Rather, God wanted human beings, made in His image, He could impart Himself into, share His divine life with, and become everything to. By possessing the life of God, mankind could then express Him.
To impart Himself into us, God had to create us with more than a body and a soul; He had to create within us a special part with the ability to contact, receive, and contain Him—our spirit.
3 abilities of our human spirit
Because our spirit is God-created and God-designed to contact, receive, and contain Him, God can be our life in a subjective way. We can experience Him, live Him, and even express Him in our daily life.
1. Our human spirit can contact God, who is Spirit.
John 4:24 tells us, “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit.”
The capitalized Spirit, the divine Spirit, is worshipped in the lowercase spirit, the human spirit. The true worship God wants from us doesn’t involve performing particular rituals or keeping certain traditions. True worship is to contact God the Spirit in our spirit in a living way.
We can use a radio to illustrate our spirit’s ability to contact God. Although we can’t see radio waves, they’re all around us, and many radio waves convey music. But to perceive or apprehend that music, we must use a device that’s capable of contacting those radio waves. A toaster doesn’t have this capability, but a radio does, for inside its case is a specially designed receiver for contacting radio waves. When we turn on a radio, we apprehend the radio waves as beautiful music.
God the Spirit is real. We can’t see Him with our eyes, but our human spirit can contact and apprehend Him. We can contact Him any time throughout our day. Especially when we call upon the name of the Lord Jesus, we “tune” the radio of our spirit to contact Him and even enjoy Him as a refreshing drink.
2. Our human spirit can receive God.
God wants to impart Himself as the divine life into us, and because we have a spirit, we can receive Him. When we receive this eternal life of God, we’re born again.
John 3:6 tells us, “That which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”
Again we see the Spirit of God and our human spirit. When we believe in and receive Jesus Christ as our Savior, we’re redeemed by the death of Christ on the cross for us, and we’re reborn by receiving the Spirit with the life of God in our spirit. Our being born again is once-for-all. But our receiving of God continues even after we’re reborn.
To illustrate our need to receive more life after we’re born again, we can use the example of a baby. A baby is born once physically, but afterward it needs to continually receive life-sustaining supply, such as air, food, and water, in order to grow and develop.
Similarly, although being born of the Spirit in our spirit is a one-time occurrence, we must continue to receive more of Christ as life every day so we can grow in His life. To receive more of Him, daily with our spirit we can breathe Him in by prayer, eat of Him in the Word, and drink of Him by calling upon His name.
3. Our human spirit can contain God.
A cup is a vessel designed to contain liquid; we are vessels designed to contain God Himself.
First Corinthians 15:45 says, “The last Adam [Christ] became a life-giving Spirit.”
Our Savior Jesus Christ lived a perfect human life, died on the cross, and resurrected from the dead. In resurrection Christ is now the life-giving Spirit. The moment we received Jesus Christ as our Savior, He as the life-giving Spirit came into our spirit to live in us forever. Our spirit now contains the Spirit!
But we contain Christ in our spirit in a much more wonderful way than a cup contains liquid. Whereas a cup and the liquid it contains remain two separate things, we contain Christ in the way of being one with Him. First Corinthians 6:17 tells us,
“He who is joined to the Lord is one spirit.”
The two, the Spirit and our spirit, are no longer separate and apart. They are mingled together as one spirit. As vessels containing Christ, we are one spirit with the Lord Himself. And now we can enjoy our oneness with Christ and live by Him in our daily life.
Appreciating our human spirit
Our God-formed and God-designed human spirit is truly wonderful. Without it, God couldn’t impart Himself into us as the divine life, and we couldn’t experience Him inwardly as our life. He could only be an objective God outside of us. But with our spirit, we can contact, receive, and contain God, not just initially at our salvation, but every day for our whole life.
The Lord lives in our spirit
We don’t have to stumble through life, trying somehow to find the Lord each day. If we know our spirit, we know exactly where He is! We can locate the Lord Jesus any time of any day at His permanent address—our spirit.
Second Timothy 4:22 tells us, “The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you.”
No one can be nearer or more available to us than the Lord Jesus is. This means at any time, in any place, under any circumstance, we can contact Him and fellowship with Him in our spirit. No matter how low or dry we may feel at times, we can receive more of Him as life, again and again, enlivening and refreshing us. We can turn away from everything else and turn within to our spirit where Christ is to enjoy Him. Praise God for our spirit!
We hope this post helps you discover your human spirit. Look for further posts where we’ll discuss how we can experience Christ by using our spirit.