Restoration of the Life of God to the Spirit of Man

 

In this short series of blog posts, we have been discussing why Jesus had to die and why He is the only way to God.  Ryan pointed out that the cross was the only way for God to satisfy His wrath against sinners while also rescuing them in His love.  Holly detailed mankind’s enmity against God and our desperate need for God to reconcile us to Himself and establish peace between man and God.  Daryl addressed the insurmountability of our sin and the greatness of the grace of God in offering His perfect Son in our place.  And in the latest post, Stephanie illustrated through the Scriptures that it was only the imperishable, blemish free blood of the Lamb of God that could take away the sin of the world.  

Jesus’ chief end or His ultimate aim in doing all of the above was to bring glory to His Father.  The glory of God was first in the angels’ song announcing the birth of Christ and it was the focus of Jesus in His final hour before the cross (Luke 2:14; John 12:28).  There are countless other reasons why Jesus came to die – more than we can comprehend, much less address in a month of blog posts dealing with the topic.  But we must understand every reason serves the ultimate purpose for why God sent Jesus, and that is to glorify Himself as the good and gracious and righteous God that He is.  

In addition to the reasons already listed, another God-glorifying reason is this: to restore the life of God to the spirit of man and to conform sinful men to the image of His Son. 

 In Genesis 1, the Bible says that God created Adam in His image.  He created man as He intended him to be – sinless, living in intimate communion with God and yielded to the Spirit of God that He breathed into him.  This is a vital truth for us to understand: to be a man as God intended for man to be, he must be indwelled by the Spirit of God.  Being indwelled by the Spirit of God is what it means to be alive, for it is the Spirit that gives life (John 6:63; Rom. 8:11; 2 Cor. 3:6).  God intended for the things that Adam did in his body to be a revelation and an expression of the very life of God who indwelled him.

 When Adam sinned, God’s Spirit left Adam’s spirit and his foolish heart became darkened.  Through Adam sin entered into the world, and the absence of the life of God in the spirit of man became the consequence for all men (Rom. 5:12).  Men were still created with the capacity and the purpose to worship, obey, and glorify God, but now they had no capacity to do so. 

Let’s use a flashlight as an example.  Its purpose is to give light and it operates by the power supplied by the batteries inside of it.  Now suppose the batteries die and you’re looking at and trying to operate it.  It is still a flashlight.  Its purpose is still to give light.  But apart from the energy giving power of the batteries inside of it, it is impossible for it to accomplish its purpose.  You can clean it, try to fix the on/off button, or even change the bulb, but it will not work.  The flashlight needs new batteries. 

Now look at man.  God created him to glorify God by worshiping, loving, obeying, and enjoying Him alone, and he was meant to do so by the power of the Spirit of God living inside of him.  When Adam sinned, God’s Spirit left and he became spiritually dead.  He was still a man.  His purpose was still to glorify God.  But apart from the life-giving Spirit of God man is unable to accomplish his purpose, and this has been the plight of every human born of the seed of man.  We can try to clean ourselves up, do good works, go to church or even study our Bibles to try to please God, but it will not work.  We need new hearts that can once again be the dwelling place of God. 

But how could men get new hearts when every man was born dead in his trespasses and sins?  How could they again live in intimate communion with God? 

This is the miracle of the incarnation – Jesus, the Son of God, came as a man.  The Bible calls Jesus the “second man” or “the last Adam” for this very reason (1 Cor. 15:45-47).  Jesus emptied Himself of His right to act on His own authority and to manifest His power, and He came like Adam was before the fall – man with a spirit indwelled by God (Phil. 2:6-7).  As a man, it was through perfect submission to God and His indwelling Spirit that Jesus maintained a sinless life, performed His works, and taught the things He did (John 5:19; 12:49-50; 14:10).  

God sent Jesus to do, by His Spirit, what Adam and the rest of mankind could not do through their own strength apart from the Spirit (Rom. 8:2).  Jesus’ sacrifice in our place on the cross was acceptable to the Father because of His righteous life.  God poured out the wrath our sin deserved on sinless Jesus so that by faith in His death and resurrection sinful and spiritually dead men could become alive and free from the penalty of their sin.  Jesus’ death and resurrection were effectual for all who place their faith in Him.  By faith, we are united with Him.  His death was our death, and now, His life is our life

 The life of Christ is the essence of salvation.  Jesus did not come to make bad men better but to make dead men alive.  Said another way, God did not send Jesus to make you a better person but to make you a new person and to fill you with Himself. 

 But just as the goal of having a baby is not to leave him/her at the hospital, so also God’s purpose for us is not merely that we be born again.  What a joy it is to be made alive in God and to have our sins forgiven, but that is the beginning of life in God, not the end.  God’s purpose for us is to be conformed into the image of Jesus (Rom. 8:28-29; Gal. 4:19; Col. 1:27 Cor. 3:18).  If you’re a follower of Jesus Christ, you were made like Him in your standing when the Father opened your eyes to see Jesus and you first believed (justification).  When Jesus returns, we will be transformed into His likeness when we see Him as He is (Phil. 3:20-21; 1 John 3:2).  The process of your sanctification and mine is our beholding the Lord Jesus through His Word and being transformed into His likeness by what we see.  It is believing what the Bible says is true of us in Christ and depending on His Spirit so that we become in our experience what He has already declared to be true of us in our standing. 

Just as Jesus did not live by His own strength but lived in perfect dependence on the Father, so He now calls us to let Him live His resurrected life inside of us as we die to ourselves and depend on Him (Luke 9:23; John 12:24-25; 15:4-5).  

God sent Jesus to restore the life of God to the spirit of man so that men might truly glorify God by worshiping, enjoying, loving, and obeying Him alone, by His strength and not by our futile efforts.    

Because God sent Jesus, each of His followers can and must declare “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me” (Gal. 2:20).  

Ben currently serves as the Discipleship Pastor of the City Church in Kennesaw, GA where he lives with his lovely wife Kayla and his sweet son Levi.  The passion of Ben’s life is to see people grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ through the Word of God, for their joy and His glory. 

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