We can imagine ourselves in the Spirit when we are not. We can think we are because we have some familiarity with spiritual gifts and because the Lord has been gracious to us with words of knowledge and some have seen angels or had dreams. We might remember that people saw angels, prophesied and had dreams before Pentecost but not in the same way and not in the same intensity or extent as the post cross experience. This is because the alienation wrought by Adam had not been undone.
The big deal in the post cross age is the incarnation. The trinity alive and present in Believers.
In the old testament age none lived in the Spirit even if some were touched by the Spirit. We live in the Spirit in the new testament age because we have been made one with God. As with Jesus, we and Father are one - if we are in Christ and not in the law; if we not dead in Adam but alive in Christ and if we are of The One Spirit with Jesus, Holy Spirit and our Father.
Saul of Tarsus lived in the new testament age. He was not in the Spirit. He was bound himself and went about binding others. Saul was bound by what no longer was - the Jewish version of the knowledge of good and evil. Moses had transitioned to Jesus and Jesus’ life had become the life of all who believed. This is life in the Spirit. Unless we have embraced the new covenant, or more accurately allowed the new covenant to have embraced us - we cannot live in the Spirit no matter how much we may extol her. None attached to the law can live in the Spirit.
Stephen Crosby’s observations are insightful. He is aware that old covenant people often encounter new covenant people releasing rivers of living water in the freedom of the Spirit. Aware too that such people appreciate that something unique has happened - they have been buffeted by a blast of spirit and life like a wind. But they cannot put their finger on it or explain it because it came from a realm they have not entered. Although they could. But to do so they would have to be born again. Because what they have witnessed is an outbreak of the Kingdom. But you cannot see it if you have not been reborn from the old covenant into the new. Crosby speaks to this sense of wonder, confusion and annoyance. He writes,
“Stephen's penetrating message, his heavenly vision, the glory on his face, and his spirit of forgiveness impacted Saul the Pharisaic Rabbi. God was manifest "on" Stephen in a way that was disconcerting to Saul, undoubtedly reminiscent of the glory on Moses' face in Exodus, something Saul would have been intimately aware of . . . in theory.” (1)
In theory indeed. One can delineate the spiritual gifts, yet not walk in the Spirit, because to understand the Spirit we must be of The One Spirit where we are the manifestation of our Father as His sons. Yet Jesus was not done with Saul. He had noted the force by which Stephen spoke and the power in his words that was greater than the words themselves. Saul in becoming Paul was led to a direct encounter, a confrontation with Jesus.
Saul may have been misguided and misdirected. But He was a worshiper of the most high God. He was not about to make an idol out of his Jewish identity or religion. Saul’s encounter resulted in his dumping of all that was old, all that the influential clung to for meaning and status; all that might have gained him some bells and whittles in the world of religion. He threw it over for the glory that was His in Christ. Because any lesser identity than who Paul now knew himself to be in Jesus was rubbish and dung. We can make a religious life out of eating dung or we can eat Jesus. Those who eat the former remain pallid shadows of sons. Those who eat Jesus live as expressions of His life.
(1) Crosby, Stephen. The New Testament Prophet: Understanding the Mind, Temperament, and Calling (Kindle Locations 1323-1325). . Kindle Edition.