Of God and of the Holy Trinity
Chapter 2, Paragraph 1.
“…a most pure Spirit…”
The idea of a “spirit” is a hard one to pin down. Probably due to the influence of Halloween, fairy tales and ghost stories, an ephemeral, gauzy white floating substance is what comes to mind when I hear the term. Of course, the word “spirit” is also used to describe a sentiment, like the “Christmas spirit” or saying “He’s got a fighting spirit.” But what does it mean for God to be Spirit?
Unlike a ghost, God is no blurry substance. He has no substance at all in the sense of created matter. He is “a most pure Spirit”, which rules out the idea of anything that is not spirit being part of God. Stephen Charnock explained it thus in his work The Existence and Attributes of God:
If we grant that God is, we must necessarily grant that he cannot be corporeal, because a body is of an imperfect nature. It will appear incredible to any that acknowledge God the first Being and Creator of all things, that he should be a massy, heavy body, and have eyes and ears, feet and hands, as we have.
If God were to be anything but spirit, He would be constrained by the laws of nature and physics. If you think back to your physics classes in high school, you might remember that “a body at rest will remain at rest, and a body in motion will remain in motion unless it is acted upon by an external force.” Not so with God! Nothing outside of God can change Him.
God is also more than a sentiment. While we may describe our feelings as “spirits”, they are fleeting. God is a “most pure Spirit”, whose purity demonstrates a permanence and majesty to His existence. God is most excellent: He is, therefore, not lightweight and shallow. To quote Charnock again,
God is a most spiritual Spirit, more spiritual than all angels, all souls…. As he exceeds all in the nature of being, so he exceeds all in the nature of spirit…
God is a most pure Spirit. And that should lead us to praise Him.
Question to Consider
- Why is God being a “most pure Spirit” important?