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Saturday, March 19, 2016

NEW BIRTH – PART 2 – FLESH AND SPIRIT

  

     In last week’s teaching, we saw that Jesus told Nicodemus that he must be born anew of water and the Spirit. Water baptism is not enough. It is the Holy Spirit that gives spiritual birth to our spirit.  God is Spirit, so in order to enter the Kingdom of God, our spirit must be united to God’s Holy Spirit and Son. Without new birth in Christ and the Holy Spirit, one cannot see or enter the Kingdom of God. Jesus and the Holy Spirit paved a way to come into the presence of God for a prepared people. As humans are birthed physically by the water and blood that flows from the mother’s womb, we are birthed by God and the Holy Spirit through the water and blood that flowed from the wound in Jesus’ side at the cross. Every Jew and Gentile must be washed by water cleansing of all of their past sins and be born again through the blood of Jesus and the water of the Holy Spirit. The life of our physical body is in the blood and water. The life of our spiritual body is in the blood of Jesus and the water of the Anointed Word – Jesus and the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit and Word will transition us from our life of sin to a new life of loving obedience to the Godhead and His Word.
     It is impossible for one who is not born of the Spirit to understand the fullness of Truth (Jesus). By one Spirit, we are baptized into one Body—whether Jew or Gentile. (see 1 Corinthians 12:13) The power of the blood of Jesus and the Holy Spirit will bring us to the knowledge of the Truth and will help us grow spiritually. Our desire will be to love and please God and avoid and defeat evil within and without. The Kingdom of God is where God’s will is done completely and perfectly. Citizens of God’s Kingdom will be willingly submitted to love and willing obedience to God and His will. This is the core of sons and daughters of the Most High God. Jesus and the Holy Spirit must take possession of our hearts and minds. Because the written Word was inspired by the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit helps us know and understand the Word. Jesus promised His disciples that the Spirit of Truth – Holy Spirit – would:
·         Dwell with us and within us John 14:17
·         Will testify of Christ – John 15:26
·         Guide us into all Truth – John 16:13
Flesh and Spirit
     Jesus said in John 3:6, “Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.”
            At creation in the beginning of Genesis, God said that all were to reproduce according to its kind. The same is true between the flesh and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh. When we operate through our carnal nature, we are giving birth to the flesh and its desires. When we operate according to the Holy Spirit of God and His Word, we are giving birth to our spirit man. The carnal nature cannot defeat a spiritual devil nor can it give us new spiritual life. Once the Holy Spirit enters our body, He will never leave because He is Eternal. Jesus also said that He would never leave or forsake us. We have this blessed assurance.
            Let’s compare a “natural” birth to the “supernatural” birth. In the “natural,” the father’s seed unites with the mother’s egg. The egg must be fertilized by the father’s seed (sperm cell) first. The two unite and are sealed off in the protective place of the mother’s womb so no other sperm can fertilize it. In the protected womb of the mother, it grows and matures until birth when it breaks forth as a new creation into a new world. Spiritual birth is similar. Spiritual life begins at the joining of the Seed of God with a human. Christ is the only One begotten by the Father in heaven and united directly to a human womb. No other has been born of a virgin with God as Father. After the uniting of Jesus, the Seed of God with us, we are “set apart” in the protective place of the Father in the womb of His Bride – His Church. There we are fed, nurtured and hopefully protected from false doctrine. Just as “natural” birth is a process over time, spiritual birth is a process over time. We are born again as spiritual infants. We are in the process of becoming sons and daughters of God who reflect His character and love. We grow and mature spiritually into “new” spiritual creations as we are fed and led. We are “raised up” by the power of the Holy Spirit into new, resurrection life glory by glory. We develop into a “higher” spiritual being in Christ. At death, we break forth into a new heavenly world in our resurrected bodies and are a complete holy, spiritual being under a Divine spiritual government – the Kingdom of God. Flesh and blood cannot enter the Kingdom of God. (see 1 Corinthians 15:50) Our flesh will be changed to spirit.
            When Adam and the Woman disobeyed God, they died spiritually not physically until hundreds of years later. Our spirit is also dead in sin because we are descendants of the first man and woman. The only One who was not born in sin was Jesus because He is the holy Seed of God not man. No man had anything to do with Jesus’ conception and birth. God had to fix the sin and death problem so the Holy Spirit planted the Word of God (Jesus) into a Jewish virgin. That Word took on flesh through Mary but He never lost His holiness and glory because He was without sin. The Word of God and the Holy Spirit of God still take on our flesh as they dwell within us. The Word – both the written and the Living Word Jesus – with the Holy Spirit will slowly and progressively make us into new creations who reflect the glory, beauty and heart of Jesus and the Father. The water of the Holy Spirit and Word will breathe this new spiritual life into us as we willingly believe and obey.
              1 Peter 1:23 shows us that we are born again by the Incorruptible Seed of the Word of God (Jesus). Evidence of our “new” birth will be seen in our changed lives. Our changed lives will reflect the beauty, character and glory of Christ, and we will bear the fruit of the Spirit as we walk in the Spirit. (see Galatians 5:22-23) Paul says in Galatians 5:16-18, “So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of your sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under Law.” Paul also says in Romans 8:2 that Christ Jesus through the law of the Spirit of life set us free from the law of sin and death. The law of the Spirit fully operates in us when we commit to obey the Holy Spirit and the Word. What the Law was powerless to do, God did through His Son Jesus “that the Law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.” The Law of the Older Testament was fully met in Jesus. He obeyed it perfectly and completely once-for-all. He met it for us. Then He gave us the power of the Holy Spirit within us to deliver us from sin’s power and lead us onward glory by glory to final glorification in Christ. “Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; the sinful mind is hostile to God.” Romans 8:5-6 If the Spirit of God and Christ lives in us, we are to be controlled by Him. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God. (Romans 8:8) It brings sin and spiritual death. God wants us to be born a spiritual being through His Son and His righteousness with the power of the Holy Spirit. “But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness.” Romans 8:10 Jesus and the Holy Spirit came to give us resurrected life now. The Holy Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead wants to also raise us from the deadness of our fleshly nature so we will live by being led by the Holy Spirit. Why? “Because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.” Romans 8:14 In other words, we are God’s children. We are like Him. We are born into a spiritual family.
Jesus Compares Holy Spirit to the Wind
     “You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again. The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” John 3:7-8
            The same Hebrew word – ruach—is used for wind and Spirit. We see and feel the effects of the wind, but we can’t see the wind. The wind has power! The Holy Spirit works in the same way. We can’t see Him but we see His effects in the hearts and lives of those who love and follow Christ. We can’t deny that the wind exists because we can’t see it. Neither can we deny that the Holy Spirit exists because we can’t see Him. The natural wind came from God, and we know that it exists because we see its movement and what it produces. So too with the Holy Spirit. The wind can blow a gentle breeze that is cooling and refreshing, but it can also come with a tumultuous storm. The Holy Spirit can come as a gentle nudge or in power and might and with fire.
            In Genesis at creation, the Holy Spirit hovered over the waters almost in a birthing position to bring about a “new” creation with the Father and the Word (Jesus). The Holy Spirit is not only within us when we accept the Incorruptible Seed of God – Jesus, He is also hovering over us to birth new spiritual life into us making us “new creations.” God’s ways don’t change!
            Jesus didn’t say to His disciples, “Receive the Holy Spirit” until after He died and appeared to them in His resurrected body. (see John 20:22) He had to shed His blood first before the power of the Holy Spirit could be given. His shed blood atoned for our sins making us holy so the Holy Spirit could take up residence in us. Jesus breathed on them and said “Receive the Holy Spirit.” First Jesus spoke His Word, and then in Acts, He performed His Word by sending the Holy Spirit in power to those followers who obeyed and were in one accord in the Upper Room. There is no spiritual life without Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
            The Word/Jesus and the Holy Spirit work in absolute harmony and agreement because they are One with the Father. Jesus had promised His disciples that they would receive the Holy Spirit who would regenerate them. (see John 14:15-17) Regenerate means to “form or shape anew.”  Jesus breathed the breath of eternal life – the Holy Spirit – into His disciples in order to bring forth life in the spirit and a new creation.  In the first Man/Adam, God breathed the breath of life – both the physical and the spiritual breath of the Holy Spirit – into Adam and he became a living being. Jesus does the same by breathing the breath of the Holy Spirit into His own making them eternal, spiritual living beings. God foreshadowed this in the Valley of Dry Bones in Ezekiel 37. First God told the prophet Ezekiel to prophesy (speak God’s Word) to these dry, dead bones. “Dry bones, hear the Word of the Lord. I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life.” V5 The Word of God and the Holy Spirit would bring these dry, dead bones to life and knit them together as one Body just as Jesus and the Holy Spirit do with the Body of Christ. God didn’t stop there. He told Ezekiel to prophesy to the breath (Holy Spirit); prophesy, son of man, and say to it, “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: ‘Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe into these slain, that they may live.” V9 Ezekiel is seeing a vision of the work of the Word/Jesus and the Holy Spirit before they came to earth. There were so many dry, scattered, dead bones that they couldn’t be counted. The Word of God and the breath of God would raise them up and join them into one body! God told Ezekiel that these dry, dead bones represented the whole House of Israel – His people. V11  They also represent a future spiritual people made up of all nations of the earth in Christ Jesus -- whether Jew or Gentile.
            When these dry, dead, scattered bones were made into a body, they “stood on their feet (upright/righteous) – a vast army.” V10 Alleluia! It is hearing the pure Word of God and obeying it by the breath of the Holy Spirit that brings Christ’s Body together as one Body making them a mighty army against the wiles and work of the devil and his demonic host. In Christ, Jew and Gentile are to become One and together by the power of the Word and the Holy Spirit defeat the enemy of every human’s soul. Only the pure Word and the pure Holy Spirit in committed, willing hearts can bring this about.
                                        (Next week: Israel's Teacher and Moses and the Bronze Serpent)

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