I have been reflecting on the “life in the Spirit” and its theological and practical implications in our lives. We are People of the Spirit (the distinguishing mark of the People of God—I Cor. 2:9-14; Jude 19), whether Pentecostal/Charismatic or not! The First Adam began his life with the Breath of God. All those in the Second Adam begin their life with the Breath of God and continue to live by that very same Life-giving Spirit!
Old Testament Glory
The Old Covenant was outwardly marked most notably by the Law, the Cloud and Fire, the Ark, and the Tabernacle. What splendor—what an experience—far exceeding anything of the past. To experience such manifested Presence was to know God was in their midst.
The Israelites, through wicked leaders, could and did duplicate the Altar, the rituals, the feasts, and the ordaining of “priests” to serve them and their idols. What they could not replicate was the GLORY! Idolatry and its empty substitutes of fleshly worship (replete with music, sacrifices, false prophets and prophecies, dancing, fervor, etc.) were vain attempts to duplicate and experience God without the fear of His holiness and the majesty of His glory. God refuses to share His glory, no matter how “Pentecostal”, “liturgical”, or elaborate the ritual! It seems like the more bizarre a “manifestation” the more there are those who crave for its personal experience! For them, Christ alone does not satisfy!
Paul calls some of these unique OT manifestations of God’s presence “glory”. Yet, the “glory” in the engraving of the Law was a “ministry of death,” and the manifestation of God’s presence on Moses was a “fading glory” (II Cor. 3). Some dear saints are still seeking the physical manifestations of the old glory and missing the excelling glory of the Spirit’s manifestations of Christ’s presence in their lives.
God has imparted to us His very Life through the “new birth”, and engraved His laws (Hebrews 8:10) in our hearts—“epistles of the Spirit”. We live in Christ’s power and grace. We are to walk in “newness of Life” (Rom. 8:11-17; 6:4). It is the Divine Life producing the Glory of God in and through us. Christ is the ever-present Glory of God (Eph. 3:20,21) by which we are “transformed from glory to glory” (II Cor. 3:17,18).
This “walk in the Spirit” is not, however, a cold, ritualistic, academic, and dry formalism that can only bring death. I propose we ban all “pre-resurrection Lazarus churches” (“dead churches” in the vernacular—Rev. 3:2)! Maybe we should pass a resolution and put it in our Bylaws! Grave clothes need to be removed, no matter how pretty they look. Divine Life cannot flow when the old baggage of protected methods and lifeless machinery exists and prevails. It can only lead to becoming a mausoleum—to be viewed with great respect, reverence, and recitations of past glory that has faded and is depleted.
Moses covered his face, not because the “glory of the Lord” was maintaining or increasing in its “glow”, but because the “glory” was fading and because he did not want the People of Israel to see it happening—a “glory-cover-up”. Could we consider today the “veil” as “business as usual”—programs, testimonies of past experiences, organization without intimacy, and a “fair show of the flesh”? I myself am challenged by what I write even now.
Scriptural spirituality in its simplest form may be called “the exchanged Life”—from being “slaves to sin” to becoming “slaves to righteousness”, as Romans 6 describes it. It is Christ living in us—“yet not I, but Christ Who lives in me … I live and walk by faith” (Gal. 2:20). It is the Life of Christ “with skin” … everyday living with the character and fruit of Christ’s life (Gal. 5:22,23; Eph. 5:9; Matt. 11:28-30).
Whatever spectacular experiences we might have with God (and we thank the Lord for them) are to be the exceptions, not the norm. (See, for example, Moses and the “burning bush”, Jesus and His disciples on the Mount of Transfiguration, Peter walking on water, Paul on the road to Damascus, Wind blowing and “cloven tongues like as of fire” at Pentecost, or Philip being transported by the Spirit to Azotus.)
Christ, the Scriptures, and human experience confirm this truth. Not every godly saint has experienced the “spectacular”. Pursuing these extraordinary experiences as everyday occurrences may lead (and often do) to the bizarre, the deceptive, and the dangerous. Building three tabernacles may have sounded spiritual to Peter, but it was rejected by God Himself. The disciples walked with the Glory of God down the mountain to the demon-possessed boy in the valley where the Glory of God needed to be demonstrated!
Let us as “Spirit-People” who love Christ pursue and be satisfied with Him alone—be filled with the pleasure of His residing and abiding Presence. Let us also not judge one another’s spirituality by any spectacular, outward, or supernatural encounters which we may have experienced, but with humility and thanksgiving let us acknowledge one another in Christian love, prayers, and mutual support (Rom. 14:7-13; 15:1-7; Eph. 4:1-7).
Love is the medium of exchange among God’s people to validate, and at times, correct one other in the spirit of love (Eph. 4:15). Spiritual experiences should translate into a Christo-centric lifestyle and not into the pride of unjust comparisons. To do otherwise is to reveal ones’ immaturity (I Cor. 3:1-3). Christ and the Scriptures are the standards of judging spiritual maturity (Eph. 4:11-16; Phil. 1:21; John 15).
Let me end this Journal with some words from the Spirit-inspired Scripture. “Let us hold fast our profession … let us encourage, exhort, and consider (‘give attentive, continuous care watching over’—Amp.) one another … let us provoke unto love and good works and by love serve one another … forgiving and having fellowship with one another … for we are members one of another … bearing one another’s burdens … submitting our selves to one another … be kind to one another … forbearing one another … and love one another with a pure heart fervently … let us press on to the mark of the High calling … forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forth unto those things which are before … endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” The Captain of the Lord of Hosts goes before us! His banner over us is Love!
Soli deo gloria,
Reuben & Carmen Sequeira