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« A Glorious Reality, Poorly Described | Main | Discipline »

September 13, 2011

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Ken Vaags

Thank you for your question Michael. Spirit gives birth to spirit. Whenever I speak of “spirit” things get a little fuzzy. It makes me nervous to say things too definitively. We enter the realm of mystery.

I suppose I should start with a quick overview.

God is spirit, says Jesus in John 4. And those who worship Him worship Him in spirit. I take it that He says “spirit” rather than “a spirit” to put God on a higher plane than the spirits.

Lucifer – the head fallen angel, and Michael the arch angel, and all of the fallen angels (demons) and unfallen angels are spirits. They do not normally have bodies.

To be human is to be bodied. We are now, and we will be forever. But we are not just bodies. All humans have spirits. Peter will say to Christian wives, “let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.” I just did a quick survey of “spirit” in Proverbs. People with humble, haughty, patient, cool, and broken spirits are described. So our bodies are the home of a spirit.

So God is spirit, angels are spirits, and humans have spirits.

Significant early church heresies raged around the question of body and spirit. Some wanted to devalue the body, and make the spirit primary. But Jesus has a body, now and forever, and John says, “By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God;”

On the other hand our bodies were created by the one who is Spirit. So Spirit creates body.

This is the worldview from which Jesus says to Nicodemus, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and The Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” (John 3:5,6)

So when Jesus says, “That which is born of flesh is flesh,” He is simply saying that the life we live out of our first birth is an unholy thing, common to being human. We start out separated from God and our spirits are proud and rebellious. Maybe self righteously proud, maybe belligerently proud, but like the fallen angels, refusing to take our place as creatures under our creator.

The solution for that is the creation of a new spirit by the Holy Spirit. Spirit gives birth to spirit. It's God taking the initiative and making us new on the inside. As He says in John 1:13, “Who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”

Does He surgically remove the old spirit, and implant a new spirit? I think this is where language becomes somewhat difficult. The Bible speaks of this as a death and a resurrection, and as a new creation. Obviously what we are, after being born again, is dramatically new. When the Spirit has given birth to our spirit we are made holy and new and wholly new.

But the Bible also speaks of it as a redemption, a reconciliation, and a transformation.

In the garden of Eden, humans became disconnected from God. (Since humans have spirits and He is spirit, we are capable of hanging out together.) But in the fall, humanity chose to stop hanging out with God and our spirits became what they could be hanging out with the prince of darkness -- ugly! This is reversed in Christ. Now those born again are hanging out with God again and our spirits are transformed by our new relationship with Him.

His Spirit is Holy. So when we hang out with Him our spirits become holy like His. That's why Paul says, The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22,23) These are holy things, characteristics of a person's holy spirit that is made new by the Holy Spirit.

If all of this is too much it can be boiled down to, “God makes us new from the inside out.”

Micheal Giles

You used "Spirit gives birth to spirit" in your sermon on Sunday, and in this post. What does "Spirit gives birth to spirit" mean to you?

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