Updated: Feb 15, 2020
The spirit of man is the candle of the LORD, searching all the inward parts of the belly, Proverbs 20:27. Imagine yourself descending into a dark cellar holding a candle in front of you as you cautiously peer into the depths. Imagine holding that candle up to every cob web filled corner of the ceiling, or holding it close to the walls as you try to look for anything of value. That is the picture that Solomon paints for us as he likens our own personal spirit to a candle that God uses to search the darkness of our inner being.
For those of us who know our scripture, that is not a pretty thought. The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one, Psalms 14:2,3. Because I have come to personal repentance before God, I am not unaware of the filthiness of my inner being. Those months and years that God took to convince me me of personal sin were painful as the Lord in his mercy to me shined that candle around on not just my deeds, but the very motives that drove them.
There is an upside to that. When the Lord had finally convinced me of the wretchedness of my inward self, and its utter undoing under the laws of God, he pardoned me. There was no law that could have justified me, and there was no law that another could pay for my sin. Nevertheless, God exercised grace towards me in the person of Jesus Christ. God did not need to spend years trying to discern whether I was good or bad, a simple couple of days of observing me in my youth, after I had passed the age of accountability, would have convinced any unprejudiced observer that I was destined to iniquity. However, God in his mercy took the time to convince me of sin so that I might repent.
I want my readers to reason with me. The Apostle Paul tells us that God uses the same method of reveling himself to us that he uses to discern us. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known, I Corinthians 13:12. The good apostle is telling us that once the scriptures are complete, we can know God in the same manner that he knows us. That forces us to ask; how does God know us?
For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart, Hebrews 4:12. The word is a discerner. As we read the word of God, it is reading us. In the New Testament, with a completed scripture, the scripture becomes a two way mirror. Prior to the completion of scripture it was like an observation mirror. To those on the one side it appeared dark. When a person looked at it they could only see their own self. A person had to get up close and press his face against it to "see though a glass darkly" if he wanted to see who was watching him. Now it is a full two way glass. As God observes us through scripture, we can observe him. As he discerns the thoughts and intents of our hearts, we can discern the thoughts and intents of his heart. Then shall I know even as I am known.
There was an Old Testament equivalent to that. God used the spirit of man to discern the thoughts and intents of the heart (inward parts of the belly). Likewise, he used his own spirit so that men could search him. When the creator, (Jesus Christ) wanted men to build a tabernacle he gave them the spirit of God, Exodus 31:3. Notice, that is a lower case "s". When the Lord wanted to give the leaders of Israel the ability to prophesy and lead Israel, he took his own personal spirit and gave it to them. And the LORD came down in a cloud, and spake unto him, and took of the spirit that was upon him, and gave it unto the seventy elders: and it came to pass, that, when the spirit rested upon them, they prophesied, and did not cease, Numbers 11:25.
The Lord established a relationship with Israel whereby he gave them his own personal spirit (lower case "s", Genesis 6:3). Until the completion of the New Testament canon, the Lord giving his personal spirit was a common way for God to reveal his doings and motives. That little fact there confounds modern Bible editors who rush to capitalize every spirit they encounter in the Book of Acts. God uses the spirit of man to search the inward parts of man's belly. Often, and selectively, he would give the spirit of God to men so that they could know his ways and doings.
Eventually, they will capitalize every spirit that is deity because they are adrift from doctrine and history. God will become increasingly grieved with modern fundamentalists' King James Bibles, and America will slip further into the abyss because the salt has lost more of its saltiness. Then silly little preachers who have lost all ability to change America from the pulpit will furiously pass on pithy little cliches and pictures on Facebook. If you can't effect change in your community through the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, maybe you can induce some beer guzzling NFL fan to boo unpatriotic athletes.