To live in Christ means to live under the control and direction of Christ. So, what does it mean to be ‘in the Spirit’? Is it a synonym? Let us explore what the Bible has to say about it.
Something Special to See
There are several times in Scripture where God wanted to show His prophet at the time a very important vision. Ezekiel was shown a valley of dry bones (Ezekiel 37:1) while in the Spirit. The context tells us that the Spirit of God carried the prophet to this valley to give him a message of great importance. Matthew (22:43) tells us that King David was ‘in the Spirit’ when he wrote the Psalms. God’s Spirit had guided him as he wrote these songs of worship, praise, and prophecy. In this one, David refers to the coming Messiah, his descendent, as Lord, and Jesus explains why. An old man named Simeon was brought by the Spirit of God (Luke 2:27) to see Jesus Christ, a fulfillment of the promise given to him by God. In Acts 19:21, Paul is directed by the Spirit to go through Macedonia on that missionary journey, to bring the gospel there. The Apostle John, when he was on the Isle of Patmos, was carried ‘in the Spirit’ to see marvelous things regarding the last days (Revelation 1:10, 4:2, 17:3, 21:10). The Spirit of God was showing him visions of Heaven, and the wars of the last days.
Something Special to Do
For those under the new covenant, under the blood of Jesus Christ, the experience of being ‘in the Spirit’ is available to all true Christians. Paul describes this in several of his letters. Romans 8 (esp. v9) describes how being in the Spirit enables a believer to control the desires of the flesh and live God’s way. It is a position of complete submission to the direction of God by His Spirit in all aspects of your life, not holding back or hiding anything, a submission of the mind. 1 Corinthians 12:3 describes being ‘in the Spirit’ as an experience where only God’s words come out of the mouth of this person, a submission of the mouth. Ephesians 6:18 explains that prayer must be ‘in the Spirit’ to be effective, a submission of the prayers. In this, we learn to pray according to God’s will. Philippians 2:1 talks about the participation with the Spirit of a believer, a submission of the works. A person who is in the Spirit will act according to the direction of the Spirit, participating in the works God has prepared for him or her to do. Colossians 1:8 explains that God’s love can only pour through those who are ‘in the Spirit,’ as the person learns to love as God does. This is a submission of love. On our own, without the Spirit of God, we are unable to love in this way. 1 Peter 3:18 and 4:6 explains that true life comes only from the Spirit of God. Life is that right relationship between a person and God, where God works through that person in ways that can only be described as miraculous.
Something Special to Ask For
Given these descriptions of being ‘in the Spirit,’ I believe all who are living ‘in Christ’ should desire to be ‘in the Spirit’ at all times! Unfortunately, we get distracted and sidetracked by the desires of the flesh, and our old sinful nature. Ephesians 5:18 instructs us to not allow anything to take control of us (like alcohol), but rather to be filled with the Spirit. This is something that must not be confused with the baptism of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:13; Acts 2:38), which happens at conversion for all who believe. Rather, this is something we pray for regularly, especially when we feel the pressures of temptation, or God lays a big task in front of you. When we are filled with the Spirit, then our thoughts, words, and actions will demonstrate that we are ‘in the Spirit.’