Tony Evans - The Breath
We're talking about the names of the Holy Spirit. Today, I want to talk about the Holy Spirit who is the breath. The Bible refers to the Holy Spirit as the breath. He is literally the oxygen of God. Many scriptures bring this out, but when you understand that he is your oxygen, he is your ability to breathe, it means he is your ability to live. Life and death is tied to our relationship to the Holy Spirit, 'cause that is the relationship we have to breath.
In John chapter 20 we read these verses beginning with verse 19. "So when it was evening on that day, the first day of the week," Sunday, "When the doors were shut where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said, 'Peace be with you.' And when he had said this, he showed them both his hands and his side. The disciples then rejoiced when they saw the Lord. So Jesus said to them, 'Peace be with you. As the Father sent me, I also send you.' And when he said this, he breathed on them and said, 'Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them. If you retain the sins of any, their sins have been retained.'"
It says he breathed on them, and what happened? They received the Holy Spirit. The Hebrew word in the Old Testament for the breath of God, the Spirit of God is "Ruach". The breath of God hovered over creation and brought life out of chaos in Genesis 1. In Genesis 2 verse 7, it says, "God breathed," he "Ruached," "The Spirit of God into dirt that God had formed into a man, and man became a living soul". You see, the Ruach is the breath of God that gives life. When Jesus was talking to Nicodemus in John chapter 3, verses 5 to 8, he said new life comes from this breath of God, the Spirit of God. In fact, Jesus said in John chapter 6 verse 63 that "this Spirit of God gives life". The New Testament word is "Pneuma," where we get pneumonia from. It has to do with the ability to breathe.
So both the Old Testament word "Ruach," the New Testament Greek word "Pneuma" is designed to let you know that the Spirit of God is tied to your ability to breathe, that is, your ability to live. Without the presence of the Spirit of God, you are DOA, dead on arrival. Job 33 verse 4 says that "the breath of God is the Spirit of God". So he combines the two. The breath of God is the Spirit of God, the Spirit of God is the breath of God. So when God exhales, it's the Spirit of God working. God doesn't just exhale, he exhales life because the Spirit gives life. One of the problems today that we have is because people, Christians, are not breathing the Holy Spirit. We're not experiencing the life of God like it was meant to have.
Now, non-believers can't breathe him because they don't have him, so they do the best they can. But believers have been given a personal internal oxygen tent. We've been given the life of God to breathe God's life within us, outside of us, around us, because he is the life of God that is within us. Psalm 104 verse 30 says that "all of creation exists and all of creation is renewed in its life because of the Spirit". So even non-Christians don't know it, but they benefit from the Holy Spirit because the Holy Spirit brings life to the created order. So then even living your physical life is tied to the Holy Spirit even when you don't have a spiritual life.
So non-believers don't know it, but they even have a reason to praise God, that they can breathe physically. But you and I get to breathe physically and spiritually, because one of the names of the Holy Spirit is the very breath of God. In this passage there was a problem. Jesus has died. Now he's risen from the dead, and in his resurrected body he comes through a closed door. When the resurrected Christ came through the door, it says, "They were huddled together for fear of the Jews". They were afraid that those who had killed Jesus was now gonna kill them. So they're huddled together because of their fear. They could not breathe. We're living in a world today where there's a lot to be afraid of in our human existence. We're afraid of disease, we're afraid of viruses, we're afraid of violence, we're afraid of our health breakdown, conflict racially, culturally, we're afraid of abuse.
Well, they were afraid, and they could not breathe. You ever notice when you're afraid, takes a little work to breathe? But Jesus shows up, the resurrected Christ, and he brings with him oxygen. He brings with him the breath. So let's look at this a little closer. He comes with fear and he says in verse 19 of John 20, "Peace be with you". What is he doing? He's dialing down the fear temperature. "Peace be with you". "Well, wait man, I'm scared. How is peace gonna be with me"? "'Cause I'm with you". Now watch this, you have the person of the risen Christ, watch this, and the word of the risen Christ. What does it mean? He imparts life of the Holy Spirit to calm their fears. The Word of God is the word of life. The Word of God gives life. The Bible says in 2 Timothy 3:16-17, "All scripture is inspired of God". The Greek word there is "Theópneustos," which means to out breathe, to exhale.
So all scripture is the Holy Ghost of God, it is inspired. The Bible explains in 2 Peter chapter 1. In 2, Peter chapter 1 verse 20 and 21, it says that "no prophecy is given, a private interpretation, but the meaning of the scripture was borne along". They were borne along by the Spirit of God. So the Word of God is the breath of God, it's the voice of God in print. It is the Trinity, it is God, it is Jesus, it is the Holy Spirit based on the Word that's teeming up to give you life. And like a Xerox machine, what the Holy Spirit does is he xeroxes the truth of the Bible onto your heart. You've literally put your heart on a Xerox machine so that God could lift the words of scripture off of the page because of the relationship with Jesus, so that the Word of God is in your heart, it is being manifested in your life. In other words, it has become an experience.
Let me tell you what the job of the Spirit is. The Holy Spirit's job is to turn the book that's given by a living author who's written a living document and to animate it in your life so you breathe again, so that you are experiencing the reality of God operating within your life. The Bible says in Galatians chapter 5 verse 25, "If we live by the Spirit, we need to walk by the Spirit". If we live by the Spirit, if he's the life source that every believer has, he must become the way you walk. In other words, God does not want you visiting the Holy Spirit just 'cause you have him, he wants you walking with him, that is, living in reliance on him. That's why the Bible says, "Pray without ceasing". Doesn't mean get on your knees 24 hours a day, it means operate all of your life in consultation with him. Breathing is something, just a natural flow, it's the way you flow, it's the way you operate.
In other words, you breathe so naturally, you don't even think about breathing until you can't breathe. He says if you live by the Spirit, if you live by the breath, if you have the Holy Spirit within you, you need to learn to walk with him, that is, operate in concert with him. In other words, "Holy Spirit got me in this situation, Holy Spirit, I need you to lead me here". Sometimes you just think it, sometimes you're not in a position to say it, but it's the way you operate, and you're walking with him, you're rolling with him, he's part of the consultation. But you say, "But I'm supposed to roll with Jesus". Absolutely, and the Holy Spirit is Christ in you.
So when you're rolling with the Holy Spirit, you're rolling with Jesus, and when you're rolling with Jesus, you're rolling with the Father, because these computers are networked, they're all hooked up together. But the one who is operating in you now on behalf of the Father and the Son is the person of the Holy Spirit, and it is his job to enable you to breathe, that is, to operate with spiritual life. And when he gives you the ability to operate with spiritual life, he speaks peace to you. Jesus says in John 16, "In this world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer. I have overcome the world". He spoke peace to them. And what God wants you to do is experience his peace. He doesn't want us to succumb to the chaos around us. You may not be able to stop the chaos, you may not be able to change the chaos, but you're not to be controlled by the chaos. Once the chaos is controlling you, that means you're not living in the peace. The peace of God, watch this, which the Bible says, "Passes understanding".
How does the peace of God pass understanding? 'Cause you don't understand why in the world you have it right now, given what you're going through, given what you're living in, given what you're facing. You wanna know, "How am I calm in this chaos"? You remember in Mark chapter 4 verses 35 to 41, the disciples are crossing, they're crossing the sea of Galilee, Jesus is asleep on the stern, and they hit a lilac. A lilac is a windstorm that's tossing this boat all over the place, and they are stirred. They think they're going to die, and these are professional fishermen, so this was a bad storm. Jesus is asleep on the stern it says, with his head on a cushion. That means on a pillow. Little pillow, you know, he's got his head on a pillow in a storm. And guess what they said. "Carest thou not that we perish"?
That was not just a storm on the outside, that was a storm on the inside. They thought they were gonna die. They were afraid. And isn't that how we feel when life has crashed in on us? We've all experienced it, I've experienced it, you've experienced it, those feelings that God doesn't care right now. Martha and Mary had that in John 11. They said, "If you would've been here, our brother would not have perished". What were they saying? "I don't know that you care". He said, "Oh ye of little faith, why are you so timid"? In other words, you shouldn't be scared right now, you shouldn't be terrified right now. "Why shouldn't we be terrified? Don't you know we getting ready to die? How can you sleep when we can't breathe"?
When we're scared, we huffing and puffing 'cause they said they were bailing the water out, so they're huffing and puffing, "We can't breathe, we can't breathe". Because Jesus said, "Let us go to the other side," so he went to sleep, you see. You know what our fear does? It causes us to forget his Word. He said let us go to the other side, not let us go halfway and drown. But that's what circumstances do, it causes us to forget what God says, and to focus on the circumstance. Now you can't skip the fact that you're being inundated with the storm, but he wants his Word to overrule. So they had his presence, he was in the boat, they had his Word, "Let us go to the other side," and they forgot both. So they lost the work of the Spirit giving them peace. Jesus said, "Peace, be still". They said, "What manner of man is this that even the winds and the waves obey him"?
See you need to know who you're dealing with. Jesus in John 20 walked through a door, and he said, "Peace be unto you". Same thing he did in Mark. He said, "Chill, calm down". We don't know what Psalm to go to to give us peace in the storm, or when we are afraid of a virus or when we are afraid of violence or danger, we don't know where to turn 'cause we only go to it when it's convenient, we don't breathe it. This is not the air we breathe. I challenge all of you to read Psalm 119, the longest chapter in the Bible. It's all about one subject, the Word of God. And David says, "This Word of God is my life".
Here's why, because the Spirit of God, here it is, only works in his fullness in concert with the Word of God. Don't miss that. If you wanna breathe, if you wanna hear, "Peace be unto you," 'cause you're stirred, no matter what is causing that fear, the Spirit of God who is the breath of God will only give you the oxygen you need, not because he doesn't want to, but because you're not breathing the right stuff. You got too much smog in your life. You're not taking advantage of the Word of God, so to help you out here, I wanna take you to another passage that I can only summarize, but I don't want you to miss this. It's in the book of Ezekiel, the book of Ezekiel chapter 37. It's the famous valley of dry bones.
Now when you get a chance, read all 14 verses, meditate on it because it puts it all together so that you can breathe again. If you have the Holy Spirit in you, you have the oxygen tank. It's already in there. But you can have an oxygen tank and not use it. So you can be huffing and puffing, and not having peace that the breath of God who is the Holy Spirit offers to believers. He says in verse 1, "The Spirit of the Lord sent me to a valley full of dry bones". What was the problem with these dry bones? He says, "Can these bones live again"? They're so dry, they are lifeless. It was so bad, all that Ezekiel could say is at the end of verse 3, "O Lord God, you know I can't answer that question 'cause it looks real bad".
Are you in a real bad situation? Are you...? Are you having a spiritual asthma attack because everything around you is causing you to be constricted in your soul, and you're wheezing, trying to breathe with all the chaos that's surrounding you? He tells the prophet, verse 4, "Prophesy over these bones. 'Oh dry bones, hear the Word of the Lord.'" So, give 'em some Bible, prophesy over 'em, give 'em the Word of the Lord in their situation. Now watch verse 5, "Thus saith the Lord God to these bones, 'Behold, I will cause breath,"' Uh-oh, there's our word, "To enter you that you may come to life". "Then he said," verse 9, "'Prophesy to the breath,'" to the spirit, prophecy, "Son of man and say to the breath," the Spirit, "Thus saith the Lord God, 'Come from the four winds," the Spirit, from everywhere, "all breath and breathe on these slain that they may come to life".
Why am I prophesying to the Spirit? Because the Holy Spirit acts in concert with the Word. So when you get the Word of God and you are speaking the Word of God, the Spirit of God attaches to it. And when the Spirit of God attaches to the Word of God, something begins to happen. "So I prophesied," verse 10, "As he commanded me, and the breath came to them, and they came to life and stood on their feet an exceedingly great army". Let me read a little bit more, verse 11, "Then he said to me, 'Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel.'" Or to put in a New Testament word, it's the whole church. "Behold they say our bones are dried up and our hope has perished".
So how do you know you have no life? 'Cause you have no hope. When your hope leaves, your life leaves. He says, "Our hope is gone, we are completely cut off," can't find God nowhere. "But then he says, 'Prophesy and say to them,'" verse 12, "Thus sayeth the Lord God, 'Behold, I will open your graves and cause you to come up out of your graves,"' my people, '"And I will bring you into the land of Israel, then you will know that I am the Lord when I open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves,"' my people. "'I will put my spirit within you," verse 14, "And you will," here it is, "Come to life and I will place you on your land. You will know that I am the Lord and have spoken and has done this,' declares the Lord". Did you see that? He said, "I'm gonna take you out your grave".
You feel like you're dying? 'Cause you know when you're dying, you're losing your breath, you can't breathe. You feel like you're in crisis, the world is in crisis, the culture is in crisis, the church is in crisis, we're in crisis, and God says, "It's time to breathe". Why has God allowed all of this stuff to take our breath away? Crisis after crisis, chaos after chaos, conflict after conflict, why does divine disruption, "That you will know, I am the Lord". "'It's not by might, it's by my Spirit,' says the Lord".
So it's time to come alive. And that's based on the breath, but not breathing occasionally, breathing the Holy Spirit as you connect it with the Word of God. The great fear of corona was that when it hits you, it would create inflammation, and if it got bad enough and it hit the lungs, you can't breathe, you lose the ability to breathe. So what the United States did was it called on places all over the country to retrofit their manufacturing factories, to produce more ventilators. It literally does the breathing for them. You know what the goal of the ventilator is? To save lives. The ventilator is there for folk who can't breathe to save lives.
You and I are living in a spiritual virus, and it doesn't care who you are, where you live, what your color is, culture is, what your economic status is, and it hits everybody everywhere so that you lose hope, and you lose life, and it doesn't care whether you're a churchgoer or not. But God has a ventilated system, a ventilator, and guess what? He's manufactured more than enough. In fact, he's got this ventilation system so sophisticated, it's not one operating outside to put a tube on you, he's built it inside of you to breathe for you inside out. So even though you got this fearful situation in the culture, this fearful situation of evil, this fearful situation of circumstances, inside of you is a Holy Ghost ventilator, and he wants to do the breathing for you. And if you'll connect the risen Christ with the Word of God so that God breathes on you, you'll hear him say to you, regardless of the circumstances out there, "Peace be unto you". You can calm down now, because the Holy Spirit is the air you breathe.
Every athlete who's ever played a sport in a high altitude knows how important breathing is. Breathing can be easily taken for granted until you desperately need it. Even in walking up the path here in the Rocky Mountains to do this taping, I had to work a little harder at breathing because of the altitude. Well, life has an altitude. The stresses, the pain, the struggles can sometimes make life and breathing, living, difficult. But that's where the Holy Spirit comes in, because what the Holy Spirit does is he gives you the ability to take a breath even when the heights of challenges and difficulties, he gives you the breath of peace, because when Jesus breathed on his disciples and gave them the Holy Spirit, he also told 'em, "Peace be with you". So guess what the breath of God does in the work of the Holy Spirit? It allows you to breathe calm, even in the midst of chaos. So breathe the Holy Spirit, so you can live in peace, because that's the kind of life, that's the kind of breath he offered.