A Most Pure Spirit
Posted under The Rectory Bulletin | Westminster Confession of Faith
“God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth”. (John 4:24)
“To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honour and glory forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Timothy 1:17)
God is spirit. In this phrase Jesus gives us something close to a definition of God, a description of what God is: spirit. This is something wonderfully alien to us who cannot quite understand what it is to be spirit, but then that is not surprising. To say that God is spirit is to distinguish him from everything that he has made. The world is physical, but God is spirit. God is distinct from his creation, he is of a different order. He is not a spirit, but is spirit.
As we have already seen, this spirituality of God means that he is infinite and not bound by any physical laws. He is not something made up of component parts, but is a pure and complete spirit. No wonder when asked his name by Moses, he replied “I am” (Exodus 3:14). God is pure being, pure existence. He simply is. We may not be able to comprehend all this, but we can echo the Apostle Paul as he lifted up his mind in praise to “he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see.” (1 Timothy 6:15–16)
God is spirit, and yet we are material. God is infinite, and we are not. So how can we understand him at all? Through worship “in spirit and in truth”. We need to have God explain himself to us, and so we have Christ who is “the truth” (John 14:6). We have the scriptures which transmit that truth to us. To worship God in truth is to put aside speculation.
Yet we are to worship in “spirit and truth”, and so that truth is applied to us by the indwelling Holy Spirit who opens our eyes to God and strengthens us to live spiritual lives characterised by “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22–23).
God is spirit. He is not simply a bigger and better version of human beings. He is other. He is spirit.