You are valuable to God and He wants what is inside you. This is the reason Jesus came to reconcile us as Derek so aptly explains. God jealously desires the spirit that is within you and wants you to be totally His, responding to Him in love and total submission.
The Hebrew language is one of those languages in which the words by their sounds indicate in a way the meaning. The Hebrew word for “he breathed” is viapach, it’s a very forceful word. If you’ve studied phonetics, the letter P is a plosive, it’s a letter that indicates an explosion. And then the next main letter is the letter hech which English-speaking people can’t make. Scots can make it, Irish can make it, but English can’t. Hech. It’s a guttural, prolonged sound. So, it’s viapach. And that word indicates a tremendous inbreathing of the Spirit of life from God. And think of what it did. It produced a living human being with all the wonderful organs and functions of humanity: eyes, lips, heart, blood system, nervous system, all sorts of things that I don’t even understand. Just think how it came into being, by the inbreathed breath of God. That form of clay was changed into, I think, the apex of God’s creation—the thing He’d given the most attention to, more attention than to the angels or the stars or the mountains. Man became a living soul.
God breathed a little bit of Himself into humanity. God has been seeking that which He breathed into man ever since because through Satan’s cunning and man’s rebellion that inbreathed soul was cut off from God. Jesus said in Luke 16:10:
“The Son of man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”
God sent Jesus to recover what He had breathed into humanity and the devil had stolen.
And there’s a verse in James chapter 4, verse 5, which is translated in various ways in various translations. I happen to have learned Greek since I was ten years old and that doesn’t make me an expert, but it entitles me to my opinion. One translation, the New American Standard, I believe correctly translates this verse and it makes sense. It says:
“He [that’s God] jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell within us.”
So God has a jealous longing for that Spirit that He breathed into man at creation. He sent Jesus to seek and to save that which was lost.
I think that the number one problem of humanity—and if I were to leave you opportunity to guess you’d probably give me a lot of different answers—I think the number one problem of humanity, the root of all our problems, is we do not appreciate our own value. We don’t realize that we are the most valuable thing that God produced. It’s tragic. And you see, God’s enemy, the devil, takes a special delight in disfiguring the likeness of God which was in man. He takes a special delight in dragging man down to the gutter and making him behave in a way that is lower than that of the animals. Because, Satan has an inexhaustible hatred for God. He cannot touch God but he can touch God’s image in man.
I remember many years back one of my daughters who is not here, let me say, was engaged to a certain man and she carried his photograph around with her. Then she got a letter from him breaking off the engagement. I’m not saying this was the spiritual reaction but she tore his photo. I think in a way that’s what the devil wants to do, is tear the photo up. Destroy the likeness of God in man.
I think many of us could be compared to a person who holds in his hand an inexpressibly beautiful diamond. And he trades it in for a package of cigarettes or for a ticket to a movie. See, that’s what we’ve all done. We’ve sold ourselves for things infinitely less valuable than what God has put in us. But Jesus came to seek and to save that which was lost, to get back God’s stolen property. That’s what you and I are. We’re God’s property but the devil stole us, the devil tricked us. He made us despise the diamond and just traded it for something so cheap and valueless that we could be ashamed and astonished at what we had done, each of us. I’m not talking just about alcoholics or drug addicts, I’m talking about humanity as a whole. All of us at one time or another have made ourselves very cheap. We’ve let go of the most precious thing for something of relatively no value at all.
And so, Jesus came to get a people for Himself. To seek and to save that which was lost, to bring it back to Himself and to make a people who would be totally His own. I love that phrase, “He redeemed us from every lawless deed that He might purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.”
Pause for a moment and consider what it means that God wants you to be part of His own special people. Those whom God has redeemed are the most special people on earth. And it’s for our sakes that God continues to tolerate all the evil, the agony, the suffering, because He’s going to get a people for Himself out of it all.
But, we have to respond. Jesus has done His part, we have to do our part to be part of that special people. I want to speak about two things that God requires of us. The first is purity. Purity even has an eternal perspective that can look beyond time and into eternity. You see, Christians were not designed to live for time, we were designed to live for eternity. We were designed to have eternity always in view. But I would say in this nation and many other Western nations the majority of professing Christians have lost the view of eternity, they think only in terms of time.
Paul had something to say which I think applies to our contemporary generation. I was talking to one of the young ladies that is with us and she was saying (she’s age 26, this is the X generation): “There’s nothing more left for us to rebel against. We are a kind of hopeless people. What is there left for us in life?” And as I meditated on that I saw that Paul had diagnosed the problem. And he says in 1 Corinthians 15:19:
“If in this life only we have hope in Christ we are of all men the most pitiable [the most miserable].”
In other words, if we claim to be Christians but all we are looking for is things in this life, we are the most miserable, the most pitiable of all peoples. And that’s why you meet so many miserable Christians—because they have no expectation beyond what they can get in this life: food, clothing, money, success, a home, maybe even a family. But their eyes never go beyond the limits of time. We are not designed for that, we’re designed to be a people with eternity in our hearts.