ELIJAH: PASSING ON THE SPIRIT
The passing on of the “spirit” of Elijah to Elisha is not a new phenomenon. It began when the Creator breathed His Breath into man. And the Creator commanded man to multiply, so that the “spirit” was being passed on. The passing on of the “spirit” became the responsibility of the individual person; therefore, every new baby that is conceived receives a double portion from the father and from the mother. It matters greatly how the “spirits” of the parents were developed and how they were influenced. The “spirit” in man, like his conscience, can be trained and it can be conditioned towards what is right or towards what is wrong. My parents began to train my “spirit” when I still was in diapers. When I began to talk and think, I already knew what was good for me and what was bad and that what I did pleased or hurt others or myself. The “spirit” my parents passed on to me included a healthy “fear of God” that improved by ability to love and to respect the Creator; His handiwork, which also included man. The fear of giving an account to God has helped me to be responsible for my life so that I can be accountable to others. I have had the problem and I still do with people who tell me what I should be doing; yet, they, themselves, do not do what they should be doing. Jesus faced a group like that and He left us this advice, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat; so practice and observe what they tell you, but not what they do; for they preach, but do not practice” (Matthew 23:2-3).
I did not stumble on a good “spirit,” nor did the “spirit” find me. I received the “good spirit” from my god-fearing parents and from other godly people, before I let God’s anchor in my life to daily guide me through the maze of evil. I know, for a fact, that at times, my conscience lends a deaf ear to the “good spirit” and I bordered on the edge of sin. Like Cain in his day, and David in his time, and the kings of Israel and Judah they all fell under the influence of “bad spirits.” Jesus came to disclose the “evil spirits” called demons. Jesus did cast the “evil spirits” out. Satan’s demons plagued man. And as many as two thousand can live in one human being (Luke 13:16; Mark 5:13). Even during the days of Jesus the Christ, the “evil spirits” inhabited Israel’s leaders. Jesus regarded them as children of the devil (John 8:42-47). The Apostle Paul warned his people, “We are not contending against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). The Apostle James, half-brother to Jesus, told his adheres, “Even demons believe (in God), and then shudder,” because of the evil they do (James 2:19). They confess that God exists, but they have no place for God in their hearts and in their work (Matthew 7:15-23). One of the main objectives of Satan’s hoards is to obliterate the “Law of God” with “man-made rules.” Jesus leveled this accusation against the devil’s children:
So, for the sake of your tradition (precedence-political convenience), you have made void the Word of God. You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men’ (Matthew 15:6-9).
One of the most misleading ideas has been that, “the new Commandment” of Jesus that supposedly replaces the “Law of God.” Let us pursue Jesus’ statement and see where it ends. We find it in John 13:34-35, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” It was new to Jesus’ followers because their fathers had obliterated the greatest Commandment in the Law, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” And Jesus added what the fathers had left out, “And the second one is like this, ‘You love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets” (Matthew 22:37-40). Their fathers had redefined the neighbor and they set limits around themselves. They had left no room for an enemy, no room for a victim of circumstances, and not even room for a Samaritan (Matthew 5:43-48; Luke 10:25-37). Jesus broke down the “wall of limited love” to our own kind. Jesus opened up that “wall of love” to those with whom we are not comfortable with. It is not easy to put up with people who make no effort to be loved or even to be liked. To pass on the “good spirit,” we must make friends even with mammon’s followers (Luke 16:9-13). In this world, we are not just depending on each other, but more and more so on others, even our enemies. If it had not been for a merciful enemy that saved me from drowning at the age of twelve, I would not be sharing my blessings with you at eighty-six. It is not God, who decides whether we are good or whether we are bad; we decide — by what we believe, and by what we do. We judge and measure ourselves! We also reap what we sow (Matthew 7:1-2). Paul gave us this hint:
Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For if he sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption; but he who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary in well-doing, for in due season we shall reap, if we do not lose heart. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all men, and especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:7-10).
It goes without saying, that if we do little at home, then will do even less for others. It is very difficult to pass on a “good spirit” without a little bread.
If God’s Law is out of our lives (our nation), then so is God because God is the Law! God is the Word! If God’s Law is new for us; then we never have practiced God’s Law. Therefore, it is time that we accept God’s Law because without God’s Law, we shall not qualify for the kingdom. Unless our righteousness exceeds that of the perverts of the law, we shall not enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:20). God’s Law is anchored in “Love of God, love for God, love for the neighbor, and even love for oneself.” God’s Law was the “Law” that the men (their fathers) had outdated. And Jesus Christ renewed God’s Law (Matthew 5:17-18). God has not change! And neither has God’s Word or God’s Law! It is a call to return to the love God wants seen for us to practice among his children or “His image.” God is Spirit and Life! And Jesus was the living demonstration of “Love” in the flesh. And it was Jesus who said that for God, the Son, and the Spirit to take up residence in a human heart, the person must obey His Commandments. “If a man loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. He who does not love me does not keep my words; and the word that you hear is not mine, but the Father’s who sent me (John 14:23-24). The “Word” or God’s Law” is the door to God’s Kingdom. It is what Jesus said and taught that gets us into His Kingdom. Jesus, Himself, was the “Word” and “God’s Law” graced with “Mercy and Truth” to let us in (John 1:17). Without Jesus showing and telling us, we would not know how to get in because Jesus showed us how to fulfill God’s Law by pleasing the Father (Matthew 5:17-18). At the transfiguration of Jesus, the voice from heaven clearly said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him” (Matthew 17: 5). Paul said this, “So the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and just and Good” (Romans 7: 12). If we break One Commandment, we break the “Heart of God.” We do this by letting our flesh take dominion over our “spirits” or over our “minds.”
Paul has given us a glimpse of how “God’s Spirit” can empower our “spirits” and our “minds” to get us back into God’s favor:
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set me free from the law of sin and death. For God (Spirit) has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do; sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the judgment if the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, indeed it cannot; and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. But you are not in the flesh, you are in the Spirit, if the Spirit of God really dwells in you. Any one who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although your bodies are dead because of sin, your spirits are alive because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit which dwells in you. So then, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh — for if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the spirit of sonship. When we cry, “Abba! Father!” It is the Spirit himself bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him (Romans 8:1-17).
Many spirits can inhabit the human body. Yet, there is only one “Spirit” who can keep the “human soul” and the “human spirit” out of hell. Jesus the Christ, who has been sent to represent Him to us, to atone our sins; therefore, only Jesus can represent us blameless before God. The Apostle John told us what we must do, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are of God; for many false prophets have go out into the world. By this we know the Spirit of God: every spirit (person) which confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit which does not confess Jesus is not of God” (I John 4:1-3). The only way any “spirits” functions is through someone’s body. Therefore that body can be mine or that body can be yours! Remember Peter (Matthew 16:21-23; 26:31-35)!