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What Does It Mean That God “is Spirit”?

Darcie Fuqua

Contributing Writer
Published: Mar 14, 2022
What Does It Mean That God “is Spirit”?

Although our understanding is limited and God is gloriously more than we can ever imagine and wonderfully incomprehensible, we can look to Scripture to deduce what it means when we say God "is spirit".

When you imagine God, do you picture Him as a human being? I know I do. I envision a dad with grayed hair in a baseball cap and his favorite t-shirt with his arms wrapped around me, of course with a superhero cape and an illuminating aura. After all, He created us in His image as told in Genesis 1:27, "God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them." But this passage simply means we resemble God. There is debate as to the actual meaning of imago dei, Latin for the image of God, but we know He created us with both a mortal body and an eternal spirit or soul. We know we are like God because He is Spirit (John 4:24) and the Holy Spirit dwells in us.

However, it seems only natural to envision Him with a human body, especially since He is called our Father. The Bible even describes God as having a body or human emotions in many passages. The attribution of human characteristics or behavior to a god is called anthropomorphism. People use anthropomorphism so we can better comprehend God and His nature. But we know Jesus is the one who came to earth in human form (John 1:1), not God the Father. 

We know that God is Spirit (John 4:24), and He is gloriously beyond our comprehension, which makes it difficult to precisely describe and explain what it means that God "is spirit". Our human limitations tend to diminish the understanding and awe of our all-powerful and all-knowing God. We must remember the words found in Isaiah 55:8-9: "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD. "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." 

Although our understanding is limited and God is gloriously more than we can ever imagine and wonderfully incomprehensible, we can look to Scripture to deduce what it means when we say God "is spirit." Join me as we explore the attributes and characteristics of God that give us a better understanding of what it means that God is spirit.  

Because God is spirit, we can worship and pray to Him anywhere. 

The most straightforward passage that tells us about God's nature and confirms He is spirit is John 4:24, "God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth." In this passage, Jesus was having a conversation with the woman at the well. Jesus said these words to explain that there is no particular physical location, such as the synagogue or church, and no tradition or ritual needed to worship God. 

We must worship God in truth guided by the Word and in spirit with all of our heart and soul. We can reach our invisible God immediately, anywhere, anytime, and we can attain an intimate relationship with Him to satisfy our souls and hearts. Isn't it wonderful we have direct access to God? 

Since John 4:24 informs us that God is spirit, we can reasonably infer that His other characteristics of omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence are only made possible due to his divine nature as a spirit. Of course, God is the Maker of us, and we will never truly understand His nature because our limited minds are incapable of comprehending the infinite.

God’s spirit is infinite.

God's divine nature means that He is infinite or not bound by limitations. God is transcendent, which relates to the verses from Isaiah 55:8-9. God is infinitely far above creation, greater than creation, and can exist without us, but He graciously chooses life with us. His divine nature is exceedingly above and beyond our comprehension that had He not revealed Himself to us through His Word, the Holy Spirit, and His Son, we would never understand even a portion of His likeness. 

We often use the words omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence to describe God in His infinite spirit. His love and compassion for us are also infinite because of His eternal and boundless nature. How reassuring is it to know that we can experience God's mercy, love, grace, patience, and holiness in limitless capacity? 

Because God is the Creator, we know that He is self-existent. His infinite spirit, evidenced in several passages such as Revelation 21:6, explains how God is the beginning and the end. "He said to me: 'It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life.'" From this passage and several others, we know that God is with us until the end of age. 

God is everywhere because He is spirit. 

When we talk about God's omnipresence, it means He is wholly in all places at the same time. Since God is spirit, this makes it possible. If He was limited to a human body and dimensional restrictions, He could not exist everywhere at all times. God's nature is a divine substance or spirit that we can't see. In Colossians 1:15, He is described as the invisible God, and His Son bears His image. 1 Timothy 1:17 describes God's spirit as immortal, invisible, the King of the ages, and the only God. He is a constant presence, and we can take comfort in knowing we are never alone. 

King David was keenly aware of God's omnipresence. We can see this in Psalm 139:7-10: "Where shall I go from your spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me."

God is all-knowing because He is spirit.

God is omniscient, which means He knows everything, whether past, present, or future. Like His omnipresence, we can reason that God is omniscient due to His spiritual nature. God the Spirit knows what has taken place, and He also knows the answers to our what-ifs. He knows what could have happened given other choices we could have made in the power of our own free will. There are no surprises for God. 

We see this explained further in 1 John 3:19-22: "This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence: If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask because we keep his commands and do what pleases him."

God is all-powerful because He is spirit.

Lastly, we know that God is omnipotent. God's power is unbounded and complete as manifested in His perfect spirit. Although we see in several passages, such as Revelation 19:6 and Jeremiah 32:27, He restrains and limits His power in alignment with His character, proving that He is a loving, patient, and long-suffering God. 

Isn’t it reassuring to know that our almighty God is in control? “He determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names. Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure.” (Psalm 147:4-5)

Because God shared His divine spirit with us, we can live with God forever.

We must receive the gift of the Holy Spirit as one of the requirements to enter the Kingdom of God. We see in 1 Corinthians 15:50 that flesh and blood can't inherit the Kingdom of Heaven. We can't bring our natural bodies to Heaven, so God graciously shares His divine spirit with us. 

In John 3, we read a conversation between a Pharisee named Nicodemus and Jesus. Nicodemus inquires how we can be born again (John 3:3-4). We see Jesus answer Nicodemus in John 3:5-8, "Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the spirit gives birth to spirit. His spirit enables a Christian to be born again and inherit the Kingdom of God as children of God. You should not be surprised at my saying, 'You must be born again.' The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit" (NIV).

If you want to learn more about what it means to live life through the spirit, I encourage you to read the words in Romans 8. For a life lived through the spirit is everlasting life. "For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God" (Romans 8:14). 

Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/ookawaphoto

Darcie Fuqua headshotDarcie Fuqua is a Business Analyst, Auburn Grad (War Eagle!), Christian blogger & podcast host, and mental health advocate. She is from the deep south of Alabama, where she currently resides with her husband, two energetic fun-loving boys, and a dog named Charlie. She loves sinking her toes in the sand, cuddling with her boys, and having great conversations over a table of good food. You can read more of her writing on her website www.leightonlane.com and connect with her on Facebook and Instagram. Check out Darcie’s latest project as cohost of Therapy in 10.

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