“Is it true that you can’t understand the Bible properly and you can’t be saved unless you have the Holy Spirit?“
Ed: THIS IS WHAT the Bible says:
The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned (1 Corinthians 2:14).
Those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit (Romans 8:5).
So yes, we can’t properly understand the Bible and we can’t be saved unless we have the spirit of God. The question is, what is meant by having the spirit of God?
The Bible often uses the word ‘spirit’ to describe our mindset or mood—in a similar way to the modern use of the word. We can have high spirits and low spirits. For example, ‘A glad heart makes a cheerful face, but by sorrow of heart the spirit is crushed’ (Proverbs 15:13). Other examples are Psalm 51:10 and Matthew 5:3. To ‘live according to the Spirit’ is to be spiritually minded.
Sometimes the Bible uses the term ‘the Spirit of God’ when it’s describing the power by which we live and by which God created the world (Genesis 1:2). (When it uses the expression ‘the Holy Spirit’ it’s referring to God’s power being used for a particular purpose, for example Acts 1:5–8, Acts 10:38, 2 Peter 1:21.)
When the Bible speaks of spirit, it generally uses two words: Hebrew ‘ruach’ (in the Old Testament) and Greek ‘pneuma’ (in the New Testament). Both words have a similar meaning—breath, wind. God doesn’t need to breathe like us, but His spirit is spoken of as His breath: ‘By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and by the breath of his mouth all their host’ (Psalm 33:6). We are living creatures because God breathes life into us (Genesis 2:7, Job 33:4, Psalm 104:30).
God breathed into Adam in order to give him life (Genesis 2:7). He figuratively breathes into us when we’re baptised and born again: ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God’ (John 3:5). Nothing evidently supernatural occurs when we’re baptised—what it is, we start a new life with a ‘spiritual mindset’. This new life is guided and governed by the spirit of God, and by God’s grace it will be transformed into immortality at the return of Christ:
If Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you (Romans 8:10–11).