What we have been seeing in the previous chapters of this book is that from the beginning, God had a marvelous plan for man. His deepest desire was to create a being similar to Himself who could become His bride. Our God was not content to be alone forever but fashioned mankind with the capacity to receive His own eternal life. Being full of His life, men could then become qualified to enter into this unspeakably holy union with Himself.
This then is the central issue in the universe today. The impartation of Divine life and the changing of mankind into what he needs to be in order to fulfill the Supernatural design is at the heart of all that is taking place in the spiritual and physical worlds. Failure to comprehend this most basic revelation will severely hinder us in our walk with Jesus and our working together with Him to accomplish His will on the earth. Many people suppose that when God’s work in us is finished, we will have “returned to Eden.”
In other words, they believe that God is trying to get us back to the original state in which Adam and Eve were found in the garden. This, they presume, would be the ultimate in sanctity. However, this is not the truth. As we examine these original creatures which God made, we discover some serious deficiencies. In their original state, they could never fulfill God’s design. In the first place, as we have seen in the previous chapters, they did not contain God’s life. This then disqualified them from entering into a marriage union with Him. Secondly, we see that they did not have a holy nature like His.
Yes, Adam and Eve were sinless. Many Bible scholars describe their first state as “innocent.” But as we see, innocence and sinlessness are not the same as holiness. God is supremely holy. This is the essence of His nature. And because He is holy, we read that He “cannot be tempted with evil” (Js 1:13). Sin does not interest Him. There is nothing, I repeat, nothing in His holy being which is the least bit interested in sin. In fact, He hates it!
On the other hand, when Adam and Eve were tempted, what happened? They fell, and they fell quickly. You see, their sinless, innocent state was no match for the devil. It was not the same thing as God’s holiness.
So then if man is to enter into a marriage union with the Most High, some changes need to be effected in his being. First he must receive the Divine life, and secondly he must have a holy nature. Our God says: “Be holy; for I am holy” (I Pet 1:16). Further we read about “...holiness, without which no one will see the Lord” (Heb 12:14).
Some in Christian circles today would like to skip over the matter of holiness altogether. They would assert that being born again is enough and that true righteousness is something which we will only get later on, after we die. A little improvement is O.K. with them but serious deliverance from all sin is a little too hard and impractical. “After all,” they say, “who do you know who is really holy?”
Others would like to relegate holiness to something which only exists in the mind of God. They would assume that we are already holy because God looks upon us as being holy. We don’t actually need to be righteous because God’s requirements are already satisfied by Jesus and therefore holiness is not really a requirement. These ideas raise many issues which I do not have space to deal with here but will treat in a subsequent chapter entitled “The Blood of the Covenant.”
Suffice it to say here that as we honestly read the New Testament, we encounter real holiness. The apostles were holy people. The New Testament believers were constantly urged to purify themselves, to abstain from sin and to avoid temptation and sensual pleasures. Here in the Bible, we read about a righteousness which was “down to earth.” It was visible. People could see it exhibited in the disciples! It was not some airy fairy, “pie-in-the-sky-some day-when you-die” kind of holiness but was something which emanated from the lives of the followers of Jesus.
I am not saying that they were all perfect, but most of them certainly were not filling their lives with fleshly indulgences and sin and excusing themselves by saying that God considered them righteous. These disciples were loving, longsuffering, giving, forgiving, sin-hating people. They did not habitually practice sin. And their example is for us. The way they lived is the same way we should live in this present evil world.
This then brings us to the crux of the matter. How is this possible? How can we sinful human beings ever be holy? How can we possibly approach the standard of being as holy as God?
To begin, we must understand a very important principle. Every life has its own nature. For example, a dog barks because it has the dog’s life within it. It is the nature of the dog’s life to bark. An apple tree produces apples because it is the nature of the apple tree life to produce this kind of fruit. This is an inalterable principle in the universe which God has made. You will never see dogs singing like birds or apple trees bearing bananas because it is not the nature of their lives to do such things.
In the same way, human beings sin. It is the nature of the fallen life which we inherited from Adam to sin. You never have to teach children to sin. It comes very naturally. It is a spontaneous product of the life which is in them.
I know a woman whose mother believed otherwise. She thought that sin was something which was learned from others. So, when her daughter was young, she sheltered her from all outside, evil influences. She protected this child and nurtured her like a tender plant, free from all stimuli which might corrupt her.
Then finally the day arrived for this “perfect” child to be introduced to the world. The mother took her precious daughter to visit another young girl in the neighborhood. Well, it wasn’t too long before an argument arose between these two children and behold, the “perfect” child was seen beating the other girl over the head with a doll!
Sin is a product of the fallen life which we inherited from our father, Adam. Now, let me be very clear about this: People do not always sin every minute of every day. Apple trees do not always bear apples. Dogs do not always bark. But they will eventually. It is inevitable. Given time, the sinful life within the human race will always produce fruit. It is impossible that it could not fulfill its nature and do so.
In exactly the same way, holiness is a spontaneous product of God’s life. God exhibits righteousness because the Life within Him is completely righteous. He is perfectly and purely holy. There is no sin lurking deep within His being. He has no darkness within Him. God is not trying to be holy. He just IS. Furthermore, our God is the only being in the universe who is like this.
Therefore, there is only one way to exhibit this same holiness. We must be filled with His holy, sinless life. That’s right. The only way to be truly righteous is to have the Righteous Life inside of you. As you live by this Life, you express its nature. As this perfect Life manifests itself through your being, you will exhibit a wonderful holiness.
This righteousness is “not your own” (Philip 3:9). Although it is being seen in you, it is really the righteousness of Another. I believe that this important fact bears repeating: The only way to be holy is to live by God’s life. When we receive Jesus, we receive an uncreated, holy Life. And when we live by this other Life which we have received, we manifest the nature of that new Life.
LIVING BY THE FATHER
Jesus is an example of this. He no doubt received a human life from His mother, Mary. But He also received the Divine life from God. Our wonderful Savior consistently chose to live His life by the higher source. He said, “as the living Father has sent Me and I live by the Father... ”(Jn 6:57). Jesus had the living Father within Him. Furthermore, He “lived by the Father.”
This means that every aspect of His living was dominated by the Father’s life. His thoughts, His feelings, His actions, His reactions, even the expressions on His face were the product of the Supernatural life by which He was living. Therefore, He was a complete expression of the Father. In all that He said and did, the Father was manifested.
In another place Jesus asserted, “The words that I speak to you, I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who lives in Me, He does the works“ (Jn 14:10). You see, Jesus was not “expressing Himself.” He was not speaking His own words or even doing His own works. He was in every detail of His being subjected to His Father. The life of the Father was flowing through Him and the nature of the Father was pouring out of Him. Jesus was a perfect, complete manifestation of God Almighty.
In the very same way, we can live by Jesus! (Please don’t miss this. This must be one of the most important revelations of the Bible.) We can be motivated in every aspect of our being by a supernatural Life. Jesus explains: “As the living Father has sent Me and I live by the Father, even so he who eats Me, even he shall live by Me” (Jn 6:57).
This is really exciting! We can live by another Life. We can actually have a substitute Life animating every aspect of our being. And this life is holy. This life is pure. This life cannot be tempted by sin. It is righteous in every way. Hallelujah!
This is a great and wonderful truth. We mere human beings, born into a sinful race, can be reborn into another. We can become one of the sons of God. We can receive the very life of God and then, living by that Life, express His holy nature to the world. This is true holiness.
This is not something which exists only in the mind of God. It is not a righteousness which is invisible. This kind of righteousness is real, practical and down-to-earth. It is something which the church of our day desperately needs. This is a wonderful idea, you might say, but how is it possible? There are several aspects to this question which we will be exploring in the remaining chapters of this book, but the most important one is revealed right here in the above verse. Jesus instructs us to eat Him. He asserts that if we eat Him, we will be able to live by Him. In another place He states that, “unless we eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink His blood,” we will have no Life in our
selves (Jn 6:53). This word “life” here in the Greek is ZOÊ, referring to
the life of God, which we have discussed in previous chapters. So we see that eating and drinking Jesus is the key to living by His life. When we fill ourselves with Him, He is manifested through us.
THE IMPORTANCE OF COMMUNION
This then brings us to the question of communion. To have “communion” with someone means to have intimate fellowship with them. When we commune with another, we get together, open up our hearts, and have an intimate exchange of ideas, words, and feelings. This meaning of the word “communion” is very biblical.
Also, in the church today we “take” or have communion. This refers to our “reenactment” of the Lord’s supper where we participate together in eating bread and drinking wine.
What we can understand from this is that having intimate fellowship with Jesus is the act of eating and drinking of Him. When we come into His presence, open up our heart to Him, and have an intimate exchange, we are partaking of the body and blood of Jesus. It is having genuine communion.
Such intimate communion in the spirit is an essential part of the Christian life. Without it we will “have no life” in ourselves (Jn 6:53). (If you consider yourself to be a Christian and have no idea of what communion with God means, please, seek out someone who walks in intimacy with God to help you. Don’t go another day without intimacy with God!) Fellowship with God is at the heart of a genuine Christian experience. It is the root of all of our spiritual walk. Without becoming legalistic, I must insist that this be our daily experience.
How can we enter into such communion with God? To begin, we must experience a deep and thorough repentance. We must put out of our lives everything which we know is displeasing to God. It is impossible to enjoy intimate fellowship with God while being involved in something which we know He doesn’t like.
Think about it. If you are wanting to have a good time visiting with a friend or relative but you are doing something which offends them, doesn’t this affect your time together? Certainly it does. In the same way, when we are involved in activities or attitudes which grieve the Lord’s heart, this will limit our intimacy with Him.
You cannot have sweet communion with Jesus and have known sin in your life. And without this communion, you will never be full of His life and express His nature. The only alternative then is to hope that He thinks that you are righteous when you know that you are not. Personally, I believe that we should adjust our lives to conform to the scriptures rather than seeking out a doctrine which will excuse us for remaining the way we are.
Next, all of us need a thorough and complete consecration. We must offer our beings as a living sacrifice to God (Rm 12:1). Our body, our soul, and our spirit must be God’s. Our mind, our emotions and our will must be yielded to His control. Our possessions, our hopes for the future, our plans, our families, our finances: all these things must be completely and without reserve offered upon His altar. Unless we are completely willing to obey Jesus in every aspect of our lives, this will hinder our communion with Him.
Believing on Jesus is one thing; following Him wherever He is going is another. To have sweet fellowship with God, we must be obedient to His voice. We must be willing to go with Him where He is going. Truly Jesus has said: “...where I am, there My servant will be also” (Jn 12:26).
All Christians need to be filled with the Holy Spirit. This too must be our experience, not just a doctrine. I have no interest in debating when or how we can be filled with the Holy Spirit of God. I only know that it is essential and biblical. Furthermore, I do not see how it is possible to be filled with the Spirit of God of the universe and not know it.
To be filled with God’s Spirit, we need to open up our lives completely to Him. Our hearts must be ready and willing to receive what He wants to give. After our repentance and consecration, we are then in a position to yield our hearts and open ourselves completely. He will fill us with Himself.
The giving of the Holy Spirit is a promise from God. Seek Him and you will find Him. If there is any hindrance, He will reveal it to you if your heart is sincere. Remember, God will never force Himself on anyone. You must be completely ready and willing if you are to receive all that He has to give.
EATING GOD’S WORD
God is revealed in the scriptures. This, then, is where we can go to experience “eating” of Him. We can feed upon Him in His word. The prophet says: “Your words were found and I ate them, and your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart” (Jer 15:16). When we open our Bibles, we must at the same time open our hearts to Him. We must seek Him in His word.
When you read the Bible, don’t concern yourself so much with trying to understand everything. Instead, I would like to recommend that you seek to have fellowship with God in its pages. Allow Him to speak to you. Pray about what He is revealing. Reread the verses or passages which He illuminates. Meditate upon what God is revealing to you about Himself. Commune with Him. In this way you will be eating spiritually. This will cause you to grow and to be full of Divine Life. When such spiritual eating is your daily habit, you will begin to actually “live by Him” (Jn 6:57). Then you will spontaneously begin to express God’s nature to the world.
As a new Christian, I read the Bible quite a bit. It was a new and living book to me. But as time went on I wanted to understand everything, especially about prophecy and the book of Revelation. Soon, I was reading the Bible with the thought of trying to figure things out. I wanted to understand the beasts, the horns, the three frogs, and all the rest of this fascinating revelation.
Continuing on in this way for some time, I began to notice a problem. This holy book which had previously been so living and refreshing became kind of dry, and my enthusiasm for reading waned. This caused me to cry out to God. What was the problem? Why was my time in His word so unsatisfying?
In answer to my prayer, God led me to a verse. It read: “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men” (Jn 1:4). From this I realized that it is the Divine life which produces illumination. Trying to understand the Bible did not produce life. But filling myself with God through communion with Him was not only satisfying but, through it, He was revealing things from His book to me.
DRINKING GOD’S SPIRIT
God is also poured out to us through His Spirit. Not only can we eat of His word, but we can also drink deeply of His Spirit. All we have to do is open our heart and let Him pour Himself into us. All that He is, is abundantly available to us through the Spirit.
I love the fact that God has poured out His Spirit. He didn’t dribble it out. It isn’t given sparingly. “Pouring” implies the emptying out of everything. He is not giving it out grudgingly a little at a time. This means that we can have all we want. If there is a lack in our drinking, it is not on God’s side. His will is for us to partake as much and as often as we wish.
We can drink of God’s Spirit in prayer. When we come into His presence as we fellowship with Him, we can drink of all that He is. Praying in the Holy Spirit is a wonderful opportunity to partake of communion with God. At these times, try allowing the Holy Spirit to guide your prayers. Don’t just pray about your troubles.
How would you like to have a friend who only spoke about his or her problems all the time? Allow the Spirit of God to fill you and lead you in these times of intercession and fellowship. When you are in God’s presence, don’t do all the talking (Ecc 5:1). In fact, it is better to do more listening. Your loving Father has much to reveal to those who have a willing and receptive heart.
Also, our times of worship are an opportunity to open wide and drink. Not only publicly but in our private times with Jesus, we can drink of His Spirit through our worship. When we worship, it is important that we humble ourselves before God. “Worship” and “pride” are opposites. In our present world, we find very little of the attitude of prostrating ourselves before another and worshipping them.
Yet God is worthy of such praise. When we come before Him with an open and humble heart, spiritual worship becomes a tremendous enjoyment. In fact, I know of no greater pleasure on earth than to enter deeply into a worship experience before the throne of God. This too is drinking of the Spirit of the Lord.
Eating and drinking of Jesus in the Spirit will fill us with His life. And being full of His life will cause us to manifest His nature. True holiness and righteousness are a product of God’s supernatural life. That we human beings can be filled with and animated by the life of Another is truly a wonderful thing.
We can allow a Higher life to take control of our mind, our feelings, and our decisions. We, who were born mere mortals, lower even than the angels, can receive an uncreated Life and actually have this Life live through us. Jesus can fill our being. We can become vessels which contain a great treasure. Instead of expressing ourselves and our fallen nature, we can allow Jesus to reveal Himself through us to the world. We can truly “live by” Him (Jn 6:57). Our responsibility, therefore, is to fill ourselves with this Life. True communion is an absolute necessity in the Christian life.
The Divine life manifests the Divine nature. It never can or will happen any other way. Only the life of God truly manifests His nature. Keeping the Old Testament law and the commandments can never arrive at this same goal. The reason for this is that these outward ordinances are “weak” (Rm 8:3) because they operate through the flesh.
Obeying the law requires the operation of your own will and determination. It requires your own efforts. It involves living by your own life. While a very strong person may be able to arrive at some semblance of “law keeping” and therefore an external righteousness, this does not satisfy the true requirements of God. We read that “by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight” (Rm 3:20).
Why not? It is because law keeping does not penetrate into the heart of man. It cannot change his true nature. Only the substitution, or the “exchange,” of our life for His can effect the changes which He truly desires.
The best we can do with our own efforts is arrive at sort of an imitation of God. Who wants an imitation? Certainly not God! He says that the righteousness which we can achieve with our own efforts appears as filthy rags to Him (Is 64:6).
In this context I am reminded of a picture I once saw in a magazine of a chimpanzee dressed up like a man. He had on a hat, a suit coat, and even a tie. He was smoking a big cigar. Now, even though he was dressed like a man, everyone could see that it was only a chimpanzee.
In the same way, many believers are trying very hard to act like God. They have a certain dress code. They wear their hair in a special way. They have a great variety of things which they do or don’t do to try to appear holy, just like God. But anyone with spiritual eyes can see that this is just chimpanzee Christianity. It is an imitation of the real thing. It is just a human being trying to dress and act like God. How silly this is!
Not only does this truth apply to keeping the law but it also applies to living by “New Testament” principles. While many Christians understand that keeping the law can never satisfy God, they instead are trying to live their life by following a whole set of New Testament principles.
They have studied the book from front to back and from it have synthesized a whole set of do’s and don’t’s, should’s and shouldn’t’s. In fact, there are Bible teachers traversing the country, if not the world, propagating exactly this kind of Christianity. They believe they are not “keeping the law” but have found a new way to please God, i.e. following New Testament principles.
Unfortunately, this method will never meet God’s standard either. This, too, operates only through the efforts of the flesh. It too is chimpanzee Christianity. Our God is only satisfied with His son. He is the One with whom the Father is well pleased (Mt 17:5). It is only when He sees His son being manifested through us that He is content with what He sees. Only God’s life manifests His nature.
In recent years there has been a campaign called “What would Jesus do?” Following this method, we are urged in every situation, before we act or speak, to stop and try to figure out what Jesus would do. Then we are instructed to try to act as He would.
The fact that people want to express Jesus is commendable. I don’t want to be too negative. But the truth is that this method can never approach God’s holy requirement. In the first place, how can we possibly know what Jesus would say or do in any given situation?
It is true that we have the New Testament where we can read about many things which Jesus said and did. However, one thing we discover there is that many times Jesus was unpredictable. What He said and did was very unexpected. It is impossible for us to anticipate or imitate His words and actions. The second thing we learn is that He said and did everything by living by the Father. What we so desperately need today is not an imitation of God but an expression of God. What the world requires is to see God manifesting Himself through us. This can only be accomplished when we live by Another Life.
The Holy Spirit which God has given to us is not just some kind of additive. Many Christians seem to believe that while the Jews could never keep the law, as evidenced by Jewish history, Christians can, because they have a new fuel in their tank – the Holy Spirit. With this new additive, now they have the power to do what the Jews could never do without it.
Please understand this clearly: The Holy Spirit was not given to energize the flesh or strengthen the natural life so that it could live like God. This is far from the truth. Instead, the “spirit of life (ZOÊ) in Christ Jesus”(Rm 8:2), was sent as a replacement.
The old life, which we inherited from Adam, is defective. It cannot be fixed. It can and will sin as long as it is active. No amount of correction or suppression can change its nature. The nature of the old life is to sin. It must be replaced. The good news is that we can receive and live by another Life. This Life always expresses the Divine nature.
Some may then ask, of what use is the law? Why do we have written for us so many Old and New Testament principles? God has given us His law for a very important reason. It is to show us how far short of His righteousness we are. It is to convict us of sin. When we are acting in a way which does not manifest God, it will expose us. The law has its application for “the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane, for killers of fathers and killers of mothers, for murderers, for fornicators, for male homosexuals, for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers” etc. (I Tim 1:9,10).
God’s standards have not been lowered. Just because we have “become dead to the law” (Rm 7:4), just because we have been forgiven, does not mean that we have been liberated to sin. NO! God’s standard of life is even higher.
What we are saying here is that the righteous requirement of God can never be met by the old life operating through the flesh, no matter how well-intentioned, self-controlled, or determined we might be. Only God’s life can meet His standards. Only He is truly holy.
The law is a picture of God’s holiness. It shows us, in a limited way, how pure He really is. Suppose I could show you a picture of my wife. You could see her hair color, her eyes and her beautiful face. But let us further suppose that I could bring her to meet you. How much more than her picture she is. She would be insulted if you continued gazing at her picture and paid no attention to her. She is the fulfillment of her picture.
In the same way, Christ is the fulfillment of the law. He is not less holy. He does not give us permission to sin. His intention is to fill us with Himself. He wants to live in us and through us in such a way that the law is a mere shadow of the righteousness which He will display through His people.
Dear friends, I pray that our Father will give you a complete understanding of these things. Truly it is a mystery. Mere words can never convey the magnitude of this revelation which is “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col 1:27).
My hope is that, in some way, through this writing you can be stimulated to seek for more of God and that you will enter into such an intimate communion with Him that, with time, you will be able to declare as Paul did: “...it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me” (Gal 2:20).
"Truly, truly I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains by itself, alone. But if it dies, it produces much fruit!
He who loves his soul life, will have it destroyed. But he who has a deep aversion to his soul life in this world, will have it preserved [through transformation] into the eternal life of God. John 12:24-25