Spirit and Truth

“But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.”

John 4:23

Spirit and Truth. This is how YHVH wants to be worshiped. Truth is the easier part of this equation. To worship in truth simply means to learn all the rules – make a checklist, if you will – and then do accordingly. However truth without spirit ultimately means death.

“who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.”

2 Corinthians 3:6

Defining Spirit

So what is this spirit in which we are to worship? Is it a special power? Is it a special ability?

In Hebrew the word that is tranlated as spirit is רוּחַ rûaḥ. This word is understood to mean: wind or breath. It is also understood to be the seat of thought and feeling. The Greek equivalent, πνεῦμα pneuma, has the exact same translation. This word can be found in scripture over 775 times, but I want to look at just a few scriptures that can show us how it has been translated.

In the story of Pharaoh’s dream, the fear and worry he felt was described as a troubled spirit. His spirit was trouble so much that it caused him to take action.

“So in the morning his spirit was troubled, and he sent and called for all the magicians of Egypt and all its wise men. Pharaoh told them his dreams, but there was none who could interpret them to Pharaoh.”

Genesis 41:8

When Moses first presented himself before the people of Israel, they had been in slavery for hundreds of years. They had been treated so badly that they had just about lost hope. Their spirits were affected so much that they did not listen to Moses when he promised their delivery.

“Moses spoke thus to the people of Israel, but they did not listen to Moses, because of their broken spirit and harsh slavery.”

Exodus 6:9

You have heard people describe a characteristic as a spirit. Some might say that one person has a spirit of deceitfulness, while another person might have a willing spirit. This doesn’t mean that some being is inside of them causing them to act a certain way. These are explanations of certain characteristics. In Numbers, we have a picture of a man who becomes suspicious that his wife has been unfaithful. The suspicion is so strong that it causes him to act. This suspicion is described as a spirit of jealousy.

“and if the spirit of jealousy comes over him and he is jealous of his wife who has defiled herself, or if the spirit of jealousy comes over him and he is jealous of his wife, though she has not defiled herself”

Numbers 5:14

And finally, when the nation of Israel had reached the promised land for the first time, twelve spies were sent in to look at the land and determine whether or not it could be taken. All but two came back saying that it was impossible to defeat the giants that lived there. However Joshua and Caleb came back describing how wonderful the land was and believing that YHVH would do as He promised. While the disbelief of the ten was so strong that it caused their trust to fail and caused them to deny YHVH’s power, the belief of the other two was so strong that it caused them to trust YHVH. Scripture describes this core belief in Caleb as a spirit that was different than the spirit of the ten unbelievers.

“But my servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit and has followed me fully, I will bring into the land into which he went, and his descendants shall possess it.”

Numbers 14:24

In the above accounts, these people each believed something so strongly that it caused an action, reaction, or lack of action. Their spirit is their very core belief – their very breath. It is a belief that is so ingrained in them that it affects their character. It became who they are – their identity.

This is what spirit is – our identity. Once we learn the truth of YHVH’s commandments, we must completely internalize them. They must become our identity. That is how we are to worship in spirit and truth. Without spirit, truth is death. It is hard and cold. It is finger pointing. It is hypocrisy. It is a list of rules.

“who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.”

2 Corinthians 3:6

But when we believe the truth so much that it becomes our identity and changes our character, we begin to see the reason for the rules. It is at this point that we can see what James was talking about. Faith and Spirit; Truth and Works. One cannot be without the other. One without the other is dead.

For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.

James 2:26

Spirit in Action

How do we know that we have “spiritualized“ truth? A great place to start is in how we obey YHVH. All of the commandments He has ever given us are instructions on how to love Him and how to love our neighbors. Can we say that we truly do the things we do out of love for YHVH? And (even more difficult) can we say that we truly love our neighbors? Let’s look at the ninth commandment as an example.

“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”

Exodus 20:16

If you were to demonstrate truth only, you would be careful not lie or testify falsely about your neighbor when fault was presented. However, when this truth becomes part of your spirit – your character – , you stop believing anything against your neighbor without good, solid, first-hand proof of it. You don’t listen to what others have to say about your neighbors and you don’t jump to conclusions. Instead, you show love to your neighbor, because you really do love your neighbor.

When we have internalized the truth and obey it in spirit, we begin seeing the fruits of the spirit (character) of YHVH in ourselves. We begin to carry the spirit (character) of love. We begin to show the spirit (character) of joy. We begin to spread the spirit (character) of peace. We begin to demonstrate the spirit (character) of patience. We begin treat others with the spirit (character) of kindness. We begin to produce a spirit (character) of goodness. We begin to concern ourselves with a spirit (character) of faithfulness. We begin to handle others with a spirit (character) of gentleness. We begin to govern ourselves with a spirit (character) of self-control. These fruits become our identity as we obey all commandments given us. We begin to demonstrate a holy spirit. This is what YHVH is looking for.

All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes,

but YHVH weighs the spirit.

Proverbs 16:2

He wants more than our performance of truth. He desires our spirit.

Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”?

James 4:5

He is looking for those who are willing to carry His holy spirit.

Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from your presence,
and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and uphold me with a willing spirit.

Psalms 51:10-12

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