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We are dealing with Bible psychology, the spirit and soul of man. We saw that man consists in his completeness of three elements united together: spirit, soul and body. We went back to the record of man’s creation and saw that the spirit comes from the inbreathed breath of Almighty God from above; the clay comes from below fashioned by the hand of the Creator. The union of spirit from above and clay from beneath produces a living soul. Thus, we have spirit, soul and body. In a certain sense, we may say that the soul is the point of relationship between the spirit and the body.
We saw that with regard to location the Scripture teaches that the spirit is located in the area that might be called the belly, the midst of man; that there is a kind of hollow place there somewhere below the diaphragm and above the pelvis which is the seat of the spirit. We saw that the soul is in the blood.
Then we saw that the spirit of man through sin is cut off from its natural relationship and fellowship with God. And, being cut off from God man becomes spiritually dead. Not physically dead, not dead in his soulish faculties, but dead in his spirit, alienated from the life that is in God—in darkness, in blindness, incapable of feeling and responding to the things of God.
The first move towards life does not come from man but comes from God. We saw the picture of unregenerate humanity in Psalm 14: There is none that does understand, there is none that does seek God. They are all become filthy, there is none that doeth good. No, not one. Every single urge towards God and towards the things of God is initiated from above by the Spirit. It does not come from within man. Man is lost, dead, cut off, in darkness and blind. It’s a very, very terrible picture but it’s the truth.
Then, at regeneration the spirit of man is again made alive. Jesus said, “That which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” It’s the spirit of man that is reborn, that is brought back into life. Because, brought back into fellowship with God. Through union with God, the spirit of man comes back into life, his spirit is made alive. In our study this morning I want to deal with the nature of the regenerated spirit in man. We have already looked at the picture of the initial creation of man. The Creator stooped over the body of clay, placed His mouth against the lips of clay, His nostrils against the nostrils of clay and breathed a sharp, outgoing breath and there came into being this first creation, the first Adam. The Scripture teaches that in Christ a new creation takes place. We’ll look at that Scripture in a moment or two. I want to point out to you that the pattern of the new creation in Christ is very, very close to the pattern of the first creation in the Garden. We have a picture of this new creation in John 20:22. We’ll read a few verses preceding just to get the context. This is the first appearance of Jesus after His resurrection to His disciples in a group on the first Sunday evening. Beginning at verse 19:
“Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. And wen he had so said, he showed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad when they saw the Lord.”
He appeared to them and He was very careful to demonstrate to them beyond any shadow of doubt that He was the same person who had hung on the cross whose hands and whose side had been pierced. There was no question of a difference of identity; it was the same person, it was the same body but in a different form. It still carried in it—even in its resurrection form—the marks of the nails and of the spear. For the first time the disciples were really assured that their Lord who had died on the cross was really alive again. It says, “Then were the disciples glad when they saw the Lord.”
“Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost...”
But in the Greek there is no “the.” He said, “Receive Holy Spirit,” or breath. I point that out because His action went exactly with His words. He breathed not on them but into them and said, “Receive Holy breath”—Holy Spirit, but Holy Spirit in the form of My inbreathed breath.
The Greek word for “to receive,” the tense indicates that it happened then. It was not something that was going to happen later. It happened specifically at that moment when He breathed into them, they received Holy Spirit breath. They were regenerated, they were recreated. It was, shall we say, a repeat of what had taken place in the Garden when the very same person, the eternal Son of God, kneeled over the body of clay, breathed into its nostrils and into its mouth the breath of life. That was the first creation. Here we have the new creation in Christ after resurrection. Here the apostles, the disciples, are recreated, regenerated by the revelation of the resurrected Christ through the Holy Spirit encountering them, breathing into them the breath of resurrection life.
We have to pause here and point out something which is more fully dealt with in one of the chapters of my book, Liberating Truth. There are two phases of salvation. There’s Old Testament salvation before the cross and New Testament salvation after the cross. All God’s believing people, in a certain sense, had salvation, but the salvation that went before the cross was an incomplete salvation. It was based on the cross, because without the cross there is no salvation. But, it looked forward to types of prophecies and figures—to something that was yet to come. It assured the ultimate, eternal salvation of the soul but it did not save those people from going down into Sheol, into Hades, after physical death. We find that all the great believers of the Old Testament—Abraham, David and all the rest—went down into Sheol and awaited the time when Jesus descended there, took from the ruler of the dead the keys of death and hell— which He holds now—and told them the time of waiting was over and they were free to come forth.
From the cross onwards, every true regenerated believer who dies does not go down into Hades but the spirit goes straight up into the presence of Almighty God. The first martyr, Stephen, in Acts 7, when the stones fell about him it says “he looked up and saw Jesus standing at the right hand of God” and said, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” He went straight into the presence of the Lord.
The requirements for New Testament salvation are stated by Paul in Romans 10. Maybe we should turn there. Romans 10:8–10.
“But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; that if thou shalt confess with thy mouth Jesus as Lord, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”
With New Testament salvation. And you will see that for what I am calling “New Testament salvation,” it is essential to believe that God raised Jesus from the dead. When did the disciples first believe that? When they saw the risen Lord. Then were they glad when they saw the Lord. And then they qualified to enter into New Testament salvation. Up till that time they had the same type of salvation as Abraham, Moses, and David and the prophets. Here is the point where they passed from death unto life, where they were regenerated by the inbreathed breath of their risen Lord, where they entered into the new creation. Why I want to emphasize this is because you see the exact parallel between the old first creation in the Garden and the new creation which took place on that resurrection Sunday evening. The very same person stood before them, breathed into them the breath of eternal, resurrection life.
See, this is a glorious thought. When Jesus breathed into them on Sunday evening He breathed into them a life that had conquered death. It was resurrection life. In a certain sense, it was a greater and higher form of life than that which was breathed into the lips of Adam in the Garden. He said, “He that liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Over that life death has no more dominion.” Please understand me, I’m not saying the believer’s body will not die, I’m saying the believer’s spirit has passed from death into life. The darkness is past, the true light now shineth. This is the new creation, this is New Testament salvation.
I find the majority of Christians have practically no idea of the difference between what they have and what the Old Testament believers had. Turn to Hebrews 11 for the moment. I want you to see this is the record of the great saints and heroes of the faith of old. It goes on from Abel and Abraham and Moses and the prophets and so on. Then it says in the last two verses something really very startling.
“And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.”
God has provided something better for us who are believers in the New Testament. What is that? It’s regeneration, it’s the new creation and it’s the baptism in the Holy Spirit. Only the regenerated can receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit. It’s regeneration first, then the baptism.
This is the better thing that was not available to any of the believers of the Old Testament. He said to them—and I cannot give you the reference (I’ll find it and give it to you tomorrow), but I can give you the words. He said, “Among them that are born of women there has not arisen a greater than John the Baptist, but he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than John.” Why? Because John was only born in the natural, but he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is reborn of the Spirit of God. The rebirth puts you on a higher plane, in a different area than any of the Old Testament saints. They were looking forward to something that we have entered into.
If you turn on in Hebrews 12:22 and following:
“But ye are come unto Mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn, who are enrolled in heaven...”
See? We have already come to Zion, we are already enrolled in heaven’s register. Our names are already on the list.
“... and to God the Judge of all men, and to the spirits of just men made perfect.”
There are the Old Testament saints who, through a gradual lifetime walk of faith, through death descending into Hades and being brought up again through the resurrection of Christ have also come. But where they’ve come at the end of that long progress we’ve come by one instant experience: the new birth. We are come. We have passed from death unto life. It is so important that we understand what the new birth is because we can be living like beggars when we should be living like princes if we don’t know what happened when we were regenerated.
Turn to 2 Corinthians 5 and let us look at what Paul teaches there about the new creation. Second Corinthians 5:14–18. Usually when preachers turn here they start at verse 17 which is a favorite text. But verse 17 starts with a “therefore.” Have you noticed that? I tell people in the Bible when you find a therefore you want to stop and find out what it’s there for. In other words, this is not the whole message; it’s the result of something Paul has said before. Let’s start in verse 14:
“For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then all died...”
When Christ died every believer died in Him.
“... and that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again. Wherefore [this is important] henceforth know we no man after the flesh ...”
In his old Adamic nature we know no man.
“... yea, though we have known the Messiah after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more.”
That is a very remarkable statement because remember, the apostles had seen Jesus in His humanity.
They say, “We don’t know Him that way any more.”
One of the most convincing evidences of the inspiration of the Bible is the things that it doesn’t say. Did you know that? And there’s not one single statement that tells us anything about the physical appearance of Jesus in His human nature. It is deliberately excluded—though the apostles knew it. They knew the color of His hair, the color of His eyes, they knew how tall He was. But, there’s not one statement. That’s not accidental; it’s deliberate. The Holy Spirit says, “That isn’t what you’re to be concerned about.” Though we have known the Messiah in the flesh, yet now henceforth from resurrection onwards know we Him no more after the flesh.
Only how? Through the Spirit. That’s why there’s a therefore there.
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, a new creation has taken place ...”
When does the new creation take place? When the Holy Spirit reveals to you the resurrected Christ. When did the new creation take place for the apostles? When the resurrected Christ came into that room and breathed into them—that was the new creation. Every person to be created anew must have this personal revelation of the risen Christ. It is not doctrine; it’s revelation. It’s not what you believe, it’s whom you know. Salvation is in a person, it’s not in an institution nor a doctrine. Those have their place. Many, many good fundamentalists have sound doctrine about salvation but they’ve never been regenerated. They sit in church and sing the hymns, say the right things, go through the right motions but their lives have never been transformed.
It’s easy for the Assemblies of God to believe it about the Catholics. No problem. But I tell you that if you want to be regenerated, you must have a life-transforming encounter with the risen Christ—and there’s no other way. It’s a revelation. Jesus is the door; you have to come by Him. No doctrine will do. This is why Paul says “wherefore,” because it comes through knowing the resurrected Christ by the Spirit. Not in the flesh, it’s not the historical Jesus that makes you a Christian. The devil doesn’t care how much you know about the historical Jesus, but he does care that you don’t come to know the risen Christ by the Holy Spirit. The moment that happens, you change. I venture to tell you if there’s never been a change in your life, you’ve never been regenerated. Maybe you’ve been too good all the time, too religious, too sound—sound asleep.
Isn’t it extraordinary! Basically, all the great denominations believe the same things about Jesus. It doesn’t matter whether they’re Catholics, Presbyterians, Baptists, Pentecostals; it doesn’t make any difference. We all believe, we say it in our creeds, it’s in our statements of fundamentals. We were hell- deserving, lost sinners, without hope, headed for eternal darkness. Jesus the Son of God came from heaven’s glory sinless and perfect. And in the fulfillment of the Father’s will gave Himself as the sinner’s substitute to die in agony and shame on the cross, died and was buried and rose again on the third day. Every one of the major creeds makes those statements, in effect. As a result of knowing Him and believing the gospel we can be spared from that horrible fate and become heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ and know that heaven is our eternal home and eternal glory awaits us at the end of this life. So, whether they’re Catholics or Presbyterians or Baptists or, in most cases, even Assemblies of God; they go to church, sit in the pews, sing the hymns, repeat the creeds and walk out again. But, if a lady went to church carrying a beautiful lace handkerchief which her husband gave her for a memorial or a wedding anniversary or something like that, and it dropped out of her hand or her purse on the way out, somebody picked it up and ran after her and said, “Excuse me, madam, I think you dropped this handkerchief.” She would be more excited about getting her handkerchief back than about all the things she claims to believe about Jesus! Is that right? We’re phony; we don’t really act what we believe.
The fanatic, my friend, is logical. If you really believe it, you have to be a fanatic, in a certain sense. If you’re not a fanatic, you don’t believe it. That really is the truth. No wonder the world doesn’t believe in what the church is saying, because the church acts the opposite all the time. Look at the faces of people as they come out of church in most churches. Friend, they don’t look as though they’re headed for eternal glory.
Who can make that real to us? Only one person—the Holy Spirit. It’s not the revelation of the flesh; it’s not the intellectual understanding. It’s an encounter with Jesus.
Now look what it says about the new creation, it’s breathtaking. Second Corinthians 5:17:
“Therefore if any man be in Christ ...”
Now “he is” is put in by the translators. The Greek says simply “a new creation.” Do you know the best thing to put there? Exclamation mark, a new creation!
“... old things are passed away; behold ...”
The word behold suggests something dramatic.
“... all things have become new.”
Not some things, my good friend, but all things. God doesn’t patch up the old creation; He sets it aside and brings into being something new. It’s all new. Not merely that, but one more statement that is even more breathtaking.
“And all things are of God ...”
The cross is the cutoff. Not one single element of the old Adamic nature can pass the cross. “It is finished,” Jesus said, and it was finished. If we rightly knew how to enter in through the cross of the risen Christ then old things have passed away, all things are become new and all things are of God.
You tell me that you’ve always been subject to allergies. So! Didn’t you come to the cross? Well, the old things are passed away. All things are become new, all things are of God. You always had a timid nature. So! Didn’t you come to the cross? Old things have passed away. All things are become new and all things are of God. Everything in the new creation is of God. It initiated entirely of God just as much as in the Garden. Look back for a moment at that figure of clay. Everything that came into that body of life came from one source, God. So it is in the new creation. It’s all through Jesus Christ. He is Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. In Him we are complete, we don’t need any more. I’ve got there compare John 17:3. Look at that for a moment.
“This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou has sent.”
What is eternal life? It’s knowing God through Jesus Christ. It’s not knowing a doctrine, it’s knowing a person. The word “know” in Hebrew and in Greek carries with it the idea of union. It’s used for the relationship between man and wife. It says “Adam knew his wife.” This is life eternal, to know God and Jesus Christ. It’s this direct person-to-person encounter by the Holy Spirit with the risen Christ. That is life eternal.
Now we’ll go on with out outline, having established what I believe to be the tremendous truth. John 3:6
“... that which is born of the Spirit is spirit ...”
It’s the believer’s spirit that is regenerated through the contact with Christ who is the life-giving Spirit.
Now then, it’s the Spirit of God that produces this birth. Except a man be born of the Spirit. The agent that produces the new birth is the Holy Spirit. But, He produces it through the seed of the Word of God. The new birth results from the coming together of the seed of the Word with the quickening work of the Holy Spirit. So, in speaking of the new birth, regeneration, we have to combine the functions of the Spirit and the Word. John 3:6:
“... that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”
Now turn to 1 Peter 1:23. We will not even look into the context except to point out that this applies to all Christians:
“Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible ...”
You see, in Bible terminology, all life proceeds from a seed. The type of seed determines the type of life. This is a basic principle of Scripture that starts in Genesis 1 and goes through the Bible. The new birth must have the appropriate seed. It’s not corruptible seed, but it’s incorruptible seed. What is the incorruptible seed? It is the Word of God. So, out of the incorruptible seed of God’s Word, received by faith into the heart, the Holy Spirit produces by a divine act the new birth. The spirit of the believer is regenerated, born again.
It’s very important to see that the seed is incorruptible, therefore the life that comes forth out of the seed is incorruptible. Galatians 6:7 says:
“...whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. He that soweth to the flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap everlasting life.”
There are two kinds of seed. There’s corruptible seed and incorruptible seed. There are two kinds of life: corruptible life and incorruptible life. Out of corruptible seed proceeds corruptible life. Out of incorruptible seed proceeds incorruptible life. You will find that in speaking of the old and the new, the two key words are corrupt and incorruptible. The old nature is corrupt, spiritually and physically corrupt. The new nature is incorruptible.
Turn on to 2 Peter and we’ll see the ultimate goal that God sets before the new creation. Second Peter 1:3–4. And again, these are breathtaking statements which you would do well to meditate on much longer than we’re going to spend on them this morning. Let’s go back to verse 2:
“Grace and peace be multiplied unto you ...”
The Christian life is not a life of simple addition. Praise God, it’s a life of multiplication. It’s not just an arithmetic progression, it’s a geometric progression. That, you know, it multiplies so quickly you just can’t find out where it’s going to end.
“Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God ...”
It’s the same sense of knowledge, knowing by direct, personal contact.
“... the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord.”
This is the starting point of the Christian life. It’s the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.
“According as his [God’s] divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness ...”
Please notice that tense. It is not will “give,” it “has given.” I hope you can take that in. God has already given us all that we will ever need for life and godliness, for time and eternity. It’s not going to be given, it has been given. How do we appropriate it? Please notice again:
“... through the knowledge ...”
But the Greek word is acknowledging.
“... of him that has called us to glory and virtue ...”
Who has called us? Jesus Christ. How do we enter into it? Through the acknowledging of Jesus Christ. See? There’s a difference between knowing and acknowledging. You come to know Jesus Christ and then in your daily living you acknowledge Him in every aspect of His nature and ministry. As you acknowledge Him, spiritual growth takes place. It’s through the acknowledging of Jesus Christ.
Then in verse 4 the actual means to appropriate our inheritance is revealed.
“... whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises ...”
God’s total provision, which He has already given us, is in His promises. In the promises of God is already provided all that we shall ever need. See, really you should not go to God and ask Him to make provision because you’re praying on a wrong basis. You should go to God and ask Him to show you the provision that He has already made. It is all there. God has got to add nothing to it.
See, if you go back to the first creation, when God created Adam everything that Adam would ever need was already around him. God didn’t create Adam and then say, “I wonder where we should put him? What is he going to eat?” Everything Adam needed was there when he came into being. Except one thing which was his wife. There’s a reason for that, because that’s a pattern of the desire of the Lord Jesus Christ, the last Adam, for his bride, the church. Adam was permitted to go through that in order that he might understand the desire of Jesus for His bride. That’s another thing. But apart from the wife, everything that Adam needed was provided. And when we are born into the new creation we’re born into a complete and perfect provision. Nothing is lacking. There are no afterthoughts, no emergencies, no crises with God. You never find God in the situation where He says, “I never thought of that! Now, give me time and I’ll work out a plan.” All has already been provided. In heaven there is perfect serenity. God is never caught unprepared. It’s only to discover what is already provided. And it’s provided in His promises.
I say this quite often and it’s in one of my books. I can’t remember which one but there’s a very close relationship between the Old Covenant and the New. Under the Old Covenant under a leader named Joshua, God led His people into a Promised Land. Under the New Covenant, under a leader named Jesus (which is the same name in Hebrew), God leads His people into a land of promises. It’s all there. Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you. Go in and put your feet on the promises, they’re yours. It’s all provided.
What is the results? We’re coming to the climax. What is the result of appropriating the promises?
Look at the last part of verse 4.
“... that by these [promises] ye might become partakers of the divine nature ...”
Friend, if that doesn’t take your breath away, you didn’t hear it. That you might become a partaker of the nature of God Himself.
Now we get the negative.
“... having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.”
Notice it’s always this antithesis. The new creation is incorruptible; the old creation has become corrupt. As you enter into the new creation you become partaker of God’s own nature. And the nature of God is incompatible with corruption. Insofar as you partake of His nature you are delivered from the corruption that is in the world through lust.
You start out of incorruptible seed, you’re born again out of that seed, there’s incorruptible life within you from that moment onwards but the objective is through the promises of the Word to become totally partaker of the incorruptible nature of God Himself. Notice the whole provision is in the Word. You’re born again of the incorruptible seed and it’s the exceeding great and precious promises which as you appropriate them make you partaker of the divine nature. See, it’s the inheritance of the saints in light. Every time you claim a further promise of God, you become a little more incorruptible, a little more divine. It’s progressive. To me, it’s like Jacob’s ladder. Under the Old Testament Jacob could see the ladder, its foot was on earth, its head was in heaven. He saw the angels ascending and descending.
But, in the New Covenant we can climb the ladder. Every rung is a promise. Every time you put your foot on a promise, you’ve gone one rung higher, you’re one step further away from earth and one step nearer to Him. That’s spiritual progression. We’re progressing upwards into the incorruptible out of the corrupt.
Now let’s turn to 1 John. The first epistle of John gives us a very clear picture of the regenerated spirit. I’m convinced that you can understand the statements of John, which are rather surprising, when you realize that in many places he’s not talking about what I would say the total personality of the believer but he’s talking about the new man in the believer, the regenerated part of you. The statements he makes could not be applied to the total you, they would not be true. This is called in Scripture the “inner man,” “the hidden man” and “the new man.” Paul calls it in Ephesians 4 “the new man”; Colossians 3 “the new man,” and in 2 Corinthians 4 and Ephesians 3 he calls it “the inner man,” and in 1 Peter 3 Peter calls it “the hidden man.” This is the regenerated spirit. This is the thing that is born again within you out of the incorruptible seed of the Word of God. This is the thing that can appropriate the divine nature through the promises.
Notice what John says about it. I want to show you three passages in 1 John. First John 3:9. Now, in 1 John 3:9 the word used is “whosoever.” But in 1 John 5:4 the word used is “whatsoever.” I want to suggest to you that it’s “a whosoever” and “a whatsoever.” In other words, it’s a person, but the person is a nature. It’s the regenerated nature that John is talking about. I think if you see this, you’ll agree that it makes sense. This is one of the problem verses and I must tell you I do not accept the generally accepted fundamentalist teaching. Look at the statement for a moment and then you’ll see.
“Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin ...”
Now they say when you’re born again you do not habitually sin. To me that’s like putting water in the wine, that’s all I can say. If that’s all John is trying to tell us then it isn’t very exciting. I don’t explain the verse that way.
“Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.”
Do you mean to tell me that after you’re born again you cannot sin? Come and see me and I’ll convince you otherwise. That really isn’t true. We have a struggle not to sin, isn’t that the truth? I cannot accept that. He’s not talking about Brother Prince or Brother Chapman or Sister Prince. He’s talking about the new man in every one of us. That cannot sin. Why not? Because His seed remaineth in him. What kind of a seed? An incorruptible seed. What kind of a nature? An incorruptible nature. What kind of a nature? A divine nature. What kind of a life? A resurrection life. That cannot sin. That I firmly believe.
So, I can interpret that verse, I don’t have to whittle anything away, I don’t have to put water in the wine; I take it unmixed. It’s tremendous. The inner man, the new regenerated you, cannot sin. Why? Because you’re born of incorruptible seed. But remember, there’s more than that making up you and there are other parts of you that are the source of the problem.
Let’s look in 1 John 5:4:
“For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world ...”
Glory to God. That which is born of God cannot be defeated. It’s undefeatable. But, you only overcome by the exercise of faith.
“... and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.”
You can sit in the seat as long as you like and say, “I’m an overcomer,” but if you don’t act it you won’t overcome. It’s got to be acted out; you’ve got to put your faith into action. Then you’re an overcomer; you’re undefeatable. The world may crumble around you, but you’ll stand there amidst the ruins undefeated because you’re born of God. You have the divine life, the divine seed, the divine nature in you. It’s incorruptible.
And then 1 John 5:18. I want to tell you I prefer the King James translation of this to any of the other modern versions that I know.
“We know ...”
The trouble is most of us don’t know. See?
“We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not ...”
Does that fit in with your theology? It does with mine.
“... but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself ...”
The modern versions change that but I like it because it puts the responsibility on you to keep yourself. I believe that’s your responsibility, to live in the new creation. The moment you step outside the new creation you’re in trouble. There are very definite boundaries to your inheritance. Stay inside and you’re undefeatable. Stay outside and you’re headed for disaster.
“... he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and the wicked one [the devil] does not touch him.”
I believe that. I believe the new nature is untouchable by Satan. He cannot reach it.
But the old nature, my good friend, is his legitimate prey. What was the old nature made out of? Dust. What did the Lord tell the servant he could feed on? The dust. In other words, the Lord said the old nature you can feed on, the new nature you can’t touch. I believe that. I believe it’s possible to live in a place where Satan cannot touch you. But, you have to keep yourself. I believe that is the new creation. All things are of God, there’s nothing in it of the old nature. But we have to realize who we are and what we are. We have to meet the conditions.
Let’s look at this new nature from another point of view, taking up again the theme of the Word. John 1:1 says:
“In the beginning was the Word ...”
We know that.
“... and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
That Word was manifested in human flesh as Jesus the Son of God, the eternal Son of God. John 1:14, the same Word:
“... was made flesh, and dwelt ...”
Or tabernacled or lived in a tent.
“... amongst us ...”
What are we born again of? Of the incorruptible seed of the Word. So, what I want to say is this, the living Word, the divine Word is in the preached Word. When the Word is preached and believed and acted upon, the very nature of Christ is imparted to the believer through the Word. Look back in 1 Peter again for a moment. First Peter 1:23:
“Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God ...”
The Greek word there is logos, which is the same word that’s used in John 1:1. In the beginning was the logos, the logos was with God. The word logos means “word” in its absolute sense. Then Peter quotes from Isaiah 40 for he says:
“All flesh is as grass, and the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away. But the word of the Lord endureth forever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.”
Now, there the Greek for word is rhema, which means a spoken word. I hope you can see this. When the Scripture is spoken, preached, the eternal Word in the spoken Word is imparted to the heart that receives it and is in the seed. So, out of the seed of the preached Word there comes forth the eternal Word Jesus Christ.
I always remember Brother Tommy Tyson using this illustration. When he was a little boy he said he loved to plant watermelons because he liked eating watermelons. He liked to go with his father to the store and buy the packets of watermelon seeds. Usually on the outside of the packet they would have a picture of a beautiful, juicy, luscious, complete watermelon cut in half with all the red flesh and the black pits showing. But when he got home with the package, he was always somewhat baffled when out of the packet all there came was that dried, black seed. He never could quite see how that dried black seed was going to turn into that luscious watermelon that was on the outside of the packet. But we all know that given the right conditions it really happens.
And, it’s the same. The Word of God that’s preached to you may be just a little black, dry seed. But if you receive it and believe it and water it and nourish it, out of it is going to come that glorious, luscious watermelon. In other words, just one simple Scripture can be dropped in your heart by a radio broadcast or a tract that you pick up and you say, “What’s in that?” Just a few words, some black marks on white paper, some vibrations in the air. But, that little seed dropped into your heart, if it’s given the right conditions and nurtured, will produce the Jesus nature. The Jesus nature is in the seed. The eternal Word is in the preached Word.
See, there isn’t a greater mystery or a greater miracle in human experience than a seed. Every seed is a miracle. No one can ever explain to me how an oak tree comes out of an acorn. But it does. Or, how watermelon comes out of that little black, flat oval thing. But it does. And all that in nature is just telling you that if you’ll believe the Word, out of it will come forth the very nature of Jesus the Son of God. Every seed is a little parable to tell you that you can be born again. Out of the new birth experience you can have the very nature of eternal God within you.
Let’s go on looking in the Scripture. I want you to see that the new man is the Jesus man. I love that title that the young people have got themselves, “The Jesus People.” It’s the best description of a Christian that’s every come forth because that’s really what God is looking for. He’s not looking for Baptists, don’t deceive yourself. Or even Pentecostals either. He’s looking for Jesus people, that’s all He ever wanted. His only aim has been to reproduce Jesus from the beginning of the creation. Galatians 2:20:
“I am crucified with Christ ...”
I died on the cross. When Christ died, I died.
“... nevertheless I live...”
If you preach that in Africa they’d say, “But Bwana, you said you were dead. How can you be alive?” Paul knew so he said:
“... yet not I, but Christ liveth in me...”
That’s the divine, eternal nature brought forth out of the seed of the Word of God. Christ living in me.
“... the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God who loved me, gave himself for me.”
“Because you are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son [the Jesus nature] into your hearts, crying, Abba...”
Which is the Aramaic equivalent of Daddy. The moment you’re born again of that seed you’ve got a nature in you that naturally calls God “Daddy.” It’s the Jesus nature, it’s the son nature born into you by that operation of the new birth.
Look in Ephesians 3:16–17, Paul’s prayer for the Christians, we don’t need to go into the background of the prayer but just let’s look at verses 16 and 17.
“That he [the Father] would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man ...”
Notice this is the inner man, the spirit man.
“... that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith...”
You see, this is the new creation. It is something totally new that never had happened before. It’s human, but it’s divine. That’s what’s in us through the new birth. I’m still human, but I’m also divine.
Let me put it this way. The exchange made at the cross—I pointed out, I think, eight things that Jesus bore. The evil that we might have the good. But, there’s another exchange that’s endless when you begin to view it. Another aspect of the exchange is this: Jesus, who was God, became man, that we who are men might become divine. That’s part of God’s purpose. The regenerated nature in me and in you is both human and divine. Because it’s the Jesus nature.
See, when Jesus became man He became man forever. Did you know that? Not just for 33 years. Do you want Scripture for that? All right, I’ll give it to you. First Corinthians 15:47.
“The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man [notice the tense] is the Lord from heaven.”
Not was but is. If that doesn’t convince you, turn to 1 Timothy 2:5:
“For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.”
That’s not spoken before the resurrection, but long after it. Jesus, when He became man, became man forever. If you want to turn to the Old Testament—we’re going rather deep now, I must confess. Jeremiah 31:22. Right in the middle of this prophecy of the restoration of Israel—which my wife and I happened to read last night in bed—we suddenly found this astonishing statement:
“How long wilt thou go about, O thou backsliding daughter? For the Lord hath created a new thing in the earth, A woman shall compass a man.”
I agree with the church fathers and I disagree with the modern critics. That refers to the incarnation. A woman compassed a man without the natural process of reproduction. This is the new thing. This is the new creation. It’s the God/man race. Jesus is the head of it, He rose from the dead the head of a new race. Every one that’s begotten again through His death, burial and resurrection is begotten into a new race, the God/man race, the Emmanuel race. That’s what’s in us, a God/man nature. Hallelujah!
There’s so many Scriptures about this that I do not believe you need to question what I’m teaching.
Let’s look back at Ephesians 3:16–17:
“That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith...”
In a certain sense, Jesus is located physically at the right hand of the Father in heaven. I trust we all agree on that. But in another sense, the Jesus nature is living in every believer. But, it’s not just Jesus, it’s Jesus and me blended in a new creation. See, that’s the wonderful thing about the new creation. It does not override human personality. No two believers are exactly alike, isn’t that wonderful? Just like no two snowflakes are exactly alike. It’s so regrettable when one believer tries to become a carbon copy of another. Don’t imitate people. Above all, don’t imitate Brother Prince, if you don’t mind. I had an enthusiastic young man in London that really modeled himself after me. He was a very fine believer. Then he preceded me on the mission field and one day I arrived on the mission field and saw him preaching. I thought, “Dear Lord, is it as bad as that?” It almost stopped me short. Don’t model yourself on man because you are unique. Don’t try to be like somebody else. God didn’t make you like somebody else. See, God treasures individuality. The devil overrides it, the devil obliterates personality. God treasures it. Colossians 1:26:
“The mystery which has been hid from ages and from generations ...”
No previous age knew what we know, isn’t that exciting? Neither the angels, nor the archangels, nor the cherubim, nor the seraphim, nor anybody ever knew. God had one secret He didn’t share with anybody. But now He wants to make it known to His saints. What is that?
“To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you ...”
How simple when it comes. Profound but simple.
Look at Romans 8:29. I believe we can finish this, I have my eyes on the clock.
“For whom he did foreknow [God foreknew], he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son [Jesus], that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.”
Each one of us is a brother of Jesus. We have the same Father, the same seed, the same nature. Jesus is our older brother.
In the days when (I’m sorry to say) the Anglican Church was bitterly persecuting the Scottish Covenantists and they were in danger of death if they attended their meetings up in the Scottish Highlands, a young woman slipped out one night to go to the meeting which was secret and was arrested by the British soldiers. They asked her, “Where are you going?” Her conscience forbade her to tell a lie but she did not want to reveal and give away her fellow believers. So, she sent a little telegram up to heaven and God gave her the answer. This was it. “My elder Brother died and I’m going to my Father’s house to hear the will read.” That’s it. Our elder Brother died and through His death we have the New Testament, the new will. But, He is our elder brother and God is our Father and it’s our Father’s house. Amen.
So, He becomes the firstborn among many brethren. This is stated also in Hebrews 2:11–12.
“For both he that sanctifieth [that’s Jesus] ...”
I was preaching in Pittsburgh in the East Liberty Presbyterian Church on the theme of sanctification—which is a pretty hard one—and there were two little Negro boys about 8 and 10 years old sitting on the stone floor right in front of me. They were following every word I said. When I got to this verse I thought I’d test the intelligence of my congregation so I read out, “Both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one.” I said, “Now, stop and think before you answer. Who is ‘he that sanctifies,’ who are ‘they that are sanctified’ and who is ‘the one’ of whom they all come?” You know, that little Negro boy of 8 put up his hand and got it exactly right the first time. He was far ahead of the rest of the congregation. “He that sanctifies” is Jesus, “they who are sanctified” are the believers, “the one” of whom they come is God the Father. And because they are all of the same He is not ashamed to call them brethren. Verse 12:
“I will declare thy name unto my brethren ...”
Where will He find His brethren?
“... in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee.”
The church is the brethren of Jesus.
We’ll take two more Scriptures and we’ll have done really well today. 1 Corinthians 6:17.
“But he that is joined to the Lord ...”
And it’s a continuing present tense, please notice. He that is continually clinging to the Lord, continually being united. And, you will see without being too specific in view of our congregation, it’s compared to the marriage union. If you look at the context that’s very clear. He that is continually uniting himself as a bride to the husband, to the Lord, is one spirit. So, the regenerated spirit is united by the love relationship directly to God who is Spirit. It is spirit to Spirit.
Now, this is where psychology comes in. It would be completely incorrect to put soul in place of spirit. He that is joined to the Lord is not one soul, but one spirit. It’s the spirit that unites to the spirit. Spirit to spirit. This is the union of the believer with his Lord.
And, the final Scripture, the comparison between Jesus and the Father and Jesus and the believer.
“As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father ...”
In his human nature, Jesus had life by His continuing union with the Father. He was dependent upon the Father for His life. Let me point out to you that on the cross, when He became identified with our sin, that union with the Father was broken because sin breaks the union. Jesus died spiritually on the cross. Then He died physically, then He descended into Hades. He tasted death in all its phases: spiritual, physical and banishment from God. The spiritual came first. When He became identified with our sin He called out to the Father, “Why hast thou forsaken me?” And there came no answer. His union with the Father was broken because of our sin laid upon Him. It wasn’t a play; it was reality.
But here He says as He speaks of His earthly life, “I live by the life that’s in the Father. It’s my union with the Father that keeps me spiritually alive.” And then notice what He says.
“... so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.”
The believer has to live by his union with Christ as Christ lived by His union with the Father. We are dependent moment by moment for life upon our union with Christ. Don’t ever trust on yesterday’s experience for today. It’s living, and we have to live in continual union. That regenerated spirit in me must live in union with its Lord.
Notice the love relationship spoken of in 1 Corinthians 6 but in John 6 it’s the feeding. My spirit feeds continually by its fellowship with Christ. Praise God.
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