God’s Words: Spirit and Life
Read the Bible’s instruction as the words of a Loving Father
It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.
One of the amazing qualities of the Word of God is its power to change lives. Whenever you are reading the Scriptures and you come to a passage that has a listing of words or attributes, look carefully at that list. Why? It means the writer wants to make sure you understand the importance of each thing on the list.
What about all those lists of sins?
When an author makes a list featuring bad qualities, actions or attitudes for Christians, it is a good idea to remember what is listed and do your best to avoid making them a habit. Sinful or foolish habits and behaviors are bound to lead to harmful results and consequences in your life.
For example, I know that if I drive on the wrong side of the road, I could kill someone — or that if I drink a soda every hour, it will eventually destroy my body. When you see a list of sinful or harmful behaviors in the Bible, it is actually meant to protect you from various things that will have a very harmful impact on you and others.
In Galatians 5:19-21, Paul gives a list of 17 specific harmful actions to avoid. We must pay close attention to protect ourselves from a lifestyle that yields negative results.
What about the lists of virtues?
A listing of positive spiritual qualities is the writer's way of showing what we as believers really need to concentrate on developing in our lives. God knows that the strong spiritual attributes He is building in us will bring incredible benefits in our lives. One such positive listing is given in Galatians 5:22-23, which says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”
This is a list of spiritual characteristics the Holy Spirit deeply desires to help every believer develop in their life. Giving our attention to them is very important to every Christian's spiritual growth.
How does reading these words help me?
Jesus made a remarkable statement concerning His words in John 6:63 when He said, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.”
Stated in a very simple way, Jesus says that the “words” He was speaking had two distinctive traits. First, note that they are “spiritual” words. Think of it this way: whenever the word “spiritual” is used in the New Testament, it simply means “of the Spirit,” or something the Holy Spirit wants to develop in our lives to protect us from things that will harm us. The Spirit always has our best interest at heart and would never ask us to do anything that would not work out for our best.
Also notice that Jesus says the “words” that He speaks are “life,” which simply means that they are “life-giving!” As we integrate God’s words into our life, these words have a “spiritual nature” that will create “spiritual fruit” in our lives. The verb “are” (“are spirit and life”) is in the present tense, so it means that God’s words give life and keep on giving life. What an amazing promise: that as we allow God’s Word to take hold in our lives, these words will constantly create God’s life in our lives. Think of it this way: God’s words create God’s life in me. God’s words produce God’s results in the believer.
In our next study, we'll take a specific look at the words in Galatians 5:22-23. We'll try to clearly define what the “spiritual” words mean. Then we'll help you as a new believer understand how those words are meant to have a practical and life-changing impact for you! The first word that we will study is the word “love.” This is an amazing New Testament word that you will not want to miss. Welcome to the journey!
Pray this week:
Lord Jesus, how I long for your life to take hold in me!
When you see a list of sins or virtues in the Bible, what is your first thought?