Thursday, March 9, 2017

John 3:1-17 Living in Two Realms

KEY TEXT: John 3:3-8 Jesus answered him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God." Nicodemus said to him, "How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into mother's womb and be born?" Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.  That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, 'You must be born again.'  The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit."

KEY THOT: Jesus clearly defines two realms in this passage: "That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit" (v.8). If we are born once, we are born of the flesh and the result is we are only "flesh"; but if we are born again, we are born of the Spirit and the result is we are "spirit". The life we received from our parents is flesh (natural), but the life we received from God is spirit (spiritual). So, believers are now living in two realms--the natural realm of the first birth comprising the flesh (brain, body, bones and blood) and the spiritual realm of the second birth comprising the spirit (conscience, intuition and communion) breathed into us by the Holy Spirit: "And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules" (Ezekiel 36:26-27). 

So this new spirit is the abode in which the Spirit dwells within us, to cause us to walk in God's laws. Instead of a law-book, we now have the Law-giver within us, to guide us in God's ways through our spirit's faculties of the conscience (to discern right from wrong), intuition (to receive revelation) and communion (to worship and fellowship).

As the Holy Spirit gains access to our spirit to lead us into God's truth, our soul and body are being transformed from inside out. Nevertheless, we are still living in two realms--with our new spirit, we live in the realm of the Spirit and with our sinful flesh, we live in the realm of sin. Paul describes this dual reality and dilemma in Romans 7:22-25, "For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being [spirit], but I see in my members [flesh] another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin."

So, every believer lives in two realms: the spiritual realm under the new law of grace and the physical realm under the old law of sin, with its law of consequences. While the old law of sin has  no power to condemn us in our walk with God because we are dead to its jurisdiction, nevertheless, it is still subject to the law of consequences when we choose to disobey the Spirit to sin against God. But if we quickly bring our sin to the Cross to be forgiven and cleansed, it has no further power to inflict its consequences upon us.

Therefore, we cannot afford to be careless in the way we live. We must instead be intentionally living by the spiritual realm of the kingdom of God where the Holy Spirit rules. The more we walk by the Spirit, the more we put to death the power of the flesh to dictate our desires and motivations. The more we walk by the Spirit, the greater we experience of the fullness of the Spirit. In our spirit, we are free from the law of sin and death, but in our flesh, we are still subject to it--if we choose to ignore God's law implanted in our spirit by the Holy Spirit.

Daily, we have a choice to serve the law of the Spirit of life with our mind or the law of sin and death with our flesh. But thanks be to God, our flesh has been crucified and it has no power over those who are in Christ:
  • Romans 8:1-6 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.
So, we have a choice: to focus on the realm of the Spirit which will result in life and peace in our daily experience. Or to focus on the realm of the flesh (lust of the flesh, lust of eyes and the pride of life--1 John 2:16) which will result in spiritual backsliding and death.

Father, thank You that we have been born of the Spirit with a new spirit to live in the realm of Your kingdom. Teach us to focus on the things of the Spirit so that we may experience increasing fullness of life and peace in our lives. Amen.

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