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The Divine Ideal

In contemplating Christ's birth in Bethlehem over 2000 years ago, I am reminded that God sent His Son not only to be with us but so that His spirit can live in us. Life on earth affords each of us the opportunity to be born of God. All human beings are made by God. We are all His creations but we are not all born of Him. That process involves the rebirth of our spirits.

In John 3:1-12 we find this explanation:

Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said "Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him."

Jesus replied , "Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again."

"How can someone be born when they are old?" Nicodemus asked. "Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother's womb to be born!'

Jesus answered, "Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, 'You just 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."

"How can this be?" Nicodemus asked.

"You are Israel's teacher," said Jesus, "and do you not understand these things? Very truly I tell you, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things?"

Jesus did not come to destroy our unique natures, but to take all that was polluted and ruined by sin and to forgive the sin and remake us in His image. That is accomplished as the Spirit of Christ comes to live in and though our born-again spirits. That is genuine transformation!

Years ago, James and I witnessed just such change take place in a close friend. We met Bill when we were newly married, and he worked with James in the construction business. Some years passed, and before we knew it, he and his wife had three children. We did too. By that time they had left Fort Worth, but we often visited back and forth on weekends.

As time passed, Bill became tense and verbally volatile with his family. After awhile, it wasn't much fun to be around them anymore. When they called about coming to spend the weekend with us, we didn't know what to expect. To our surprise, it became apparent that something wonderful had happened to Bill! He was unbelievably relaxed, patient, and kind with all six little children, and a delight to be with! James and I could hardly wait to get the children to bed to ask him what had happened. What had happened to change him so drastically?

Well, he had a story to tell. He had been teaching a Sunday-school class, and he gradually became aware that he wasn't the same person on Sunday morning that he was during the rest of the week. On Sunday, he had a smile on his face and a pleasant word for everyone. On Sunday, he worked hard to try and look and act like "a good Christian man." On Sunday, he put on his "Sunday-go-to-meeting" clothes and off he went.

The spiritual crisis that changed his life appeared on the surface to have been quite unremarkable, but it changed him forever. He told of how he was driving down a country road when it came to him that God didn't want his Sunday act. What God wanted was, as he put it, "all of the dirty stinking parts of me, so he could change them." Bill pulled over to the side of the road, and there he gave them all to God.

We kept in touch with our friends, and we can tell you that 50 years later, Bill is still a man who was changed from the inside out by the power of God. Many of you could tell similar stories. It is by no means unique, for that is what God wants to do for all of us. He wants to restore us to His divine ideal. What is that ideal?

Keeping that question in mind, let's look at Romans 8:9. "You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ." In the very middle of this verse we encounter a word that is startling. It is the little word "if" . . . IF the Spirit of God lives in you."

This is the divine ideal! God's plan is for the Spirit of God to come live in us! Have you invited the Spirit of God to dwell within and have full rein with your life?

(Excerpt from Marjorie's book Blessings of the Holy Spirit available on Amazon.)

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