Many people ask what it means to walk in His Spirit. This is not easy to describe in writing, but I hope the following will help.
There is a physical breath (which even animals have), and then there is a spiritual breath (which only sentient beings have). The word for the physical breath (which even animals have) is “ni’shamah” (נשמה). This kind of breath is what makes a man (or an animal) a living being, or a living soul (נפש).
7 And Yahweh Elohim formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.
וַיִּיצֶר יְהוָה אֱלֹהִים אֶת הָאָדָם עָפָר מִן הָאֲדָמָה וַיִּפַּח בְּאַפָּיו(7) וַיְהִי הָאָדָם לְנֶפֶשׁ חַיָּה
However, because man is made in Yahweh’s image, man can also have a spiritual breath, which is ruach (רוח). This word means spirit, wind, and breath all at the same time. (In Hebrew, there is no difference.)
OT:7307 ruwach (roo’-akh); from OT:7306; wind; by resemblance breath, i.e. a sensible (or even violent) exhalation; figuratively, life, anger, unsubstantiality; by extension, a region of the sky; by resemblance spirit, but only of a rational being (including its expression and functions):
KJV – air, anger, blast, breath, cool, courage, mind, quarter, side, spirit ([-ual]), tempest, vain, ([whirl-]) wind (-y).
Yahweh is so completely in charge of the universe that we cannot draw physical breath (נשמה) unless He wills it. Likewise, we cannot receive His Spirit (רוח) unless He wills it—and we must receive His Spirit (i.e., become born of His Spirit) before we can become part of His spiritual kingdom.
Yochanan (John) 3:5-8
5 Yeshua answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit (wind, breath), he cannot enter the kingdom of Elohim.
6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit (wind, breath) is spirit.
7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’
8 The wind (Spirit, breath) blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit (wind, breath).”
We know we have to be filled with His Spirit to be part of His kingdom, but not everyone realizes what this looks like, or how important a role breathing plays. This is difficult to describe in writing, but let us try.
Yeshua wants us to abide in Him, and He in us.
Yochanan (John) 15:4
4 “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.”
Many of us have experienced a deep connection with Elohim at one time or another. While each person’s experience is unique, and we experience it in different ways, when we are connected with Him, there is a strange kind of peace that surpasses all understanding. Whatever troubles and cares we may have, we gain a sense of perspective on them, and both our thoughts and our emotions either disappear, or they are brought under control, as if Yahweh is spiritually guarding our hearts and our minds.
Philippim (Philippians) 4:6-7
6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to Elohim;
7 and the shalom of Elohim, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Messiah Yeshua.
When we enter into this blessed spiritual relationship with Elohim, and we focus on Him, and on our breath, it is as if all of our thoughts are “taken into captivity, to the obedience of the Messiah.”
Qorintim Bet (2 Corinthians) 10:4-5
4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in Elohim for pulling down strongholds,
5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of Elohim, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Messiah….
This is the mental and spiritual state in which we can hear the still small voice of Elohim. Our minds must be perfectly calm, and still, because any excess thinking on our part is spiritually “louder” than His voice.
Yeshayahu (Isaiah) 30:21
21 Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” Whenever you turn to the right hand Or whenever you turn to the left.
It is these times of profound calm in which we can hear Yahweh speaking to us. These are the times when we can “know that we know that we know” what Elohim is saying to us. This is the state of spiritual and mental quiet in which prophets, anointed judges and apostles must dwell at all times, lest they lose their ability to be guided by Elohim. It does not matter how “busy” the world around them becomes, they must maintain this quiet mental state—and if they cannot maintain this mental state when surrounded by business, then they must withdraw to a place of sanctuary.
When Yeshua commands us to abide in Him, and He in us, He is commanding us to maintain this state of perfect mental and spiritual calm at all times. This is not natural on our parts, but requires retraining, until such time as it becomes second nature. In order to achieve and maintain this kind of spiritual connection we may need to completely reorder and reorganize our lives, but this pleases Him greatly, because it shows Him that we value Him more than anything in the world.
The goal is to retrain ourselves to live in this place of mental and spiritual quiet, and for this to become such a strong habit within us that we are not able to be distracted by anything that goes on in the world. This is a very high standard, but when we are able to maintain our focus on Elohim like that, then our breathing is also typically set apart from the world. That is, we become unconcerned about what happens in the world, and so our breathing is no longer affected.
When we abide in Him, we have mastery over our hearts, our minds, our emotions, and our breathing, no matter what is going on around us. It takes practice to strengthen and deepen our relationship with Him, just like it takes effort to strengthen and deepen any relationship between a husband and a wife, but this is the walk to which we are called. This is part of what it means to overcome the world through His Spirit.
Shaul tells us not to quench the Spirit (our breath).
1 Thessalonians 5:19
19 Do not quench the Spirit (breath).
In English culture we say, “Don’t hold your breath!” This is very scriptural. The reason we hold our breath is because we are anxious, nervous, or tense. It is a fear response, which Yochanan tells us involves torment.
Yochanan Aleph (1 John) 4:18
18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.
When we harbor anxiety, we are tormented. We have not been made perfect in love. If we loved Elohim perfectly, and trusted Him perfectly, we would not fear anything. No matter what the trial, we would just pray, wait, listen, and trust in Elohim, knowing that one way or another, everything would be alright.
Tehillim (Psalms) 118:5-7
5 I called on Yahweh in distress; Yahweh answered me and set me in a broad place.
6 Yahweh is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?
7 Yahweh is for me among those who help me; Therefore I shall see my desire on those who hate me.
Yeshua says that Yahweh is completely in charge of everything that happens, to the point that nothing at all can happen without His approval.
Luqa (Luke) 12:4-7
4 “And I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do.
5 But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him!
6 “Are not five sparrows sold for two copper coins? And not one of them is forgotten before Elohim.
7 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.”
Since Yahweh is so fully in charge, the best thing we can do is to relax, breathe, and not let the stresses of the world affect us. This is one means of being set apart from the world. If we need to make changes to our lives in order to attain or maintain this relationship with Him, then we are well advised to do that. The more we can do this, the more we can manifest the fruits of His Spirit (all of which involve healthy, positive emotional states).
Galatim (Galatians) 5:22-23
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no torah [i.e., there are no laws against these].
Satan, of course, hates this, so he tries to play on our thoughts and emotions. He tries to instill fear, anxiety, and doubt. This causes us to stop breathing (quench the Spirit), and it also causes our mind to race. When our mind races it becomes impossible to hear the still small voice, and it becomes easier to get us to act on the lust of our eyes, the lust of our flesh, and our pride.
B’reisheet (Genesis) 3:6
6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food [lust of the flesh], that it was pleasant to the eyes [lust of the eyes], and a tree desirable to make one wise [pride and ego], she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.
Once we are drawn away after our pride and our lusts, then we will manifest destructive emotional states, which are the works of the flesh.
Galatim (Galatians) 5:19-21
19 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness,
20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies,
21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of Elohim.
Just imagining these negative emotional states can cause our breathing to get tight. That is, it can cause our spirit to become tense, and nervous. This makes it even harder to hear His voice. The solution, of course, is just to stop, and refocus on Him.
Tehillim (Psalms) 46:10
10 Be still, and know that I am Elohim; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!
Whenever we recognize that our breathing is tight, or that we are not being blessed by His presence, then we can simply stop, and refocus on Him. This can be done on our knees, on our face, in a walk, through prayer, or whatever works for us. However, it is often very helpful to focus on our breath, and listen. This is how we can hear what we need to do to come back into His favor, so that we will not be drawn away after the flesh.
Galatim (Galatians) 5:16-17
16 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.
17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.
If we notice a pattern developing (i.e., we tend to get drawn away after a particular lust, or over our ego), we may need to ask Yahweh to help us make changes in our lives, so we are not drawn away after the lust of our flesh, the lust of our eyes, or pride (ego).
Yochanan Aleph (1 John) 2:15-16
15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
16 For all that is in the world — the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life — is not of the Father but is of the world.
To say that we value His Spirit more than we value anything in the world is to say that we are willing to give up anything we own or do, in order to abide in Him. This is much easier to say than to do, but if we will commit ourselves towards this end, then little by little we can slowly attain mastery over our thoughts, and our emotions. This will keep us from the temptations of Satan (who attacks us via our thoughts), and it will also greatly improve our health, in the long run. If we do this with integrity, a great many diseases can be healed.
By taking our thoughts captive to the obedience of the Messiah, we can hear His voice. Then, by valuing the hearing of His voice, and obedience to His voice over anything in the world, a whole new spiritual level opens up for those who are willing to practice.