The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life. (NIV84)
God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.” (NIV84)
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. (NIV84)
God is spirit and he made human beings in his image and in his likeness. To understand this statement, you must first understand that there are two totally separate realities. There is the natural universe of which we are all perfectly familiar, but there is also a reality of spirit. We could say that there are two universes one of energy/matter and the other of spirit. The Bible tells us that this spirit universe is named Heaven. God and his angels live in Heaven and God and his angels are spirit. God is not made out of energy/matter such as we are and neither are the angels. God is eternal and is not limited by time as we of the energy/matter universe are.
Human beings, AKA Homo sapiens, are hybrid beings, that is, they are both of the natural universe and also of the spirit universe. Homo sapiens are the only hybrid beings. When the Bible says that God made man in his image and in his likeness, it is the inner spirit man that the Bible is speaking of, not the animal primate man. Man is a spirit being (created in God’s image and likeness) that was hidden within a Homo sapiens animal body. The spirit comes first (first in importance and not chronologically speaking). The spirit is important and the flesh counts for nothing, as Jesus said above. This point can be very difficult for people to understand. People tend to think of themselves as fleshy animals and not as spirit beings. The context in which people tend to think of the spirit is in the context of life after death.
…the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. (NIV84)
This is one of the most misunderstood Scriptures in the Bible. Because people tend to think of themselves as flesh and blood animals, they almost universally misunderstand this Scripture. The focus of this passage is about God “breathing” his own likeness into the body of an animal and not about the formation of the Homo sapiens animal. The body’s creation, in this passage, is mentioned only poetically. It is the impartation of the godlike spirit that is truly important. After God gave man his spirit nature, the man became a living being. He had animal life before, but after he had been given eternal life. In God’s eyes eternal life is really the only life. Animal life is only a metaphor for eternal life. All beings of this physical universe are mortal and God is immortal. Man is immortal too, but only his soul, for his animal body is mortal. If you want to understand the Bible, you must first understand this about your true nature, that is, that you are really a hybrid being with the spirit part being infinitely more important than the mortal part. It is so important that you understand this critical point. You are an eternal spiritual soul hidden temporarily within the body of a Homo sapiens animal. When your animal body parishes, as all animal bodies do, you still remain and must then stand before the eternal God. All of this talk concerning the origin of man, that is, prehistoric animal man is useless speculation. That prehistoric man was not the hybrid being that Modern man is today. That man was only an animal and eternal life had no part in him. Modern man, that is Modern man after Adam, are essentially children of God, that is, spirit beings hidden within animal bodies. Prehistoric man was more like his primate ancestors than like God, whereas Modern man has been created in the image and likeness of God, that is, man’s inner being, his soul.
“I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life. (NIV84)
Jesus is speaking spiritual words here that concern your spiritual nature. He is not talking about anyone’s natural body. Those whom Jesus spoke to had life in their natural bodies. The life that Jesus is speaking of here is spiritual life, eternal life. Eternal life is entered into by faith in Jesus Christ and in his Word. Through faith in the Word of God, we become eternally bonded with Jesus in his death so that in his resurrection we become reconnected to the source of eternal life [Romans 8:10]. These are living words that I am writing here. In order for these living words to impart life to you, they must be received by faith into your heart, that is, into your spirit person. Your spirit person must be able to see them and believe them. It is not ultimately important what your brain understands.
1 John 5:10
Anyone who believes in the Son of God has this testimony in his heart. (NIV84)
That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. (NIV84)
One of the greatest problems in the church today is that the congregation is not sufficiently encouraged to read the Holy Scriptures for themselves and to believe whatever the Lord reveals to them. The congregation is taught doctrine. I can’t tell you how many times someone has told me “We believe…” I don’t care what “we believe”. I care what you believe. Unless the revelation lives within your own heart, it will do you no good whatsoever. It is not what you know in your brain, but rather what you believe in your heart. Heart faith comes by following your heart against all encouragement to the contrary. Peer pressure by the many will pressure you mercilessly. If you follow Christ in your heart, it is almost guaranteed that you will be ostracized and shunned [2 Timothy 3:12]. You have to love the Lord more than you want fellowship with your fellow man.
The Bible tells us that God is love [1 John 4:16]. The understanding of this is probably the most important thing that you can ever come to understand. Fortunately the Bible also gives is a definition of what this love that God is means. This word love is not the emotional love but is more a description of the nature of God himself. In the following paragraph I am quoting [1 Corinthians 13:4-7] but I am substituting God for the word love as they are one and the same and so the substitution makes understanding easier.
1 Corinthians 13:4–7
God is patient, God is kind. God does not envy, God does not boast, God is not proud. 5 God is not rude, God is not self-seeking, God is not easily angered, God keeps no record of wrongs. 6 God does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 God always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. (NIV84)
This is what God is like. This is what you should be like, as you were created in the image and likeness of God himself. I love the way the Bible tends to hide a special jewel within a list of other items. In this case we see in verse five one of the most interesting of God’s qualities. Over the years I must have read this passage a thousand times before I saw the most important quality of God, and that is that God is not self-seeking. Once I saw this, I could see it everywhere, but it took me a very long time to see it for the first time. God is one hundred percent selfless. If you look at the life of Christ you will see that Jesus is one hundred percent selfless too. This is what makes him so different and hard to understand to us mostly selfish humans. Once you see this about Jesus then everything he says makes more sense to us.
My friends, you should read the above Scripture many times a day until it comes out of our pores. Read it and read it and read it. Ponder the selflessness of God and what that means to you. Pound it into yourself. Let it grow within you. Let it color everything you see in life. This selfless nature of God is the fundamental force that drives all creation. It is huge. Nothing is bigger. It is a huge powerful revelation that will change everything you see and understand.
The kingdom of heaven goes contrary to the ways of man. The world is self-seeking and the way of God is a way of selflessness. The world wants recognition and the way of the Lord is one of invisibility.
But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. (NIV84)
But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. (NIV84)
Those that desire to be greatest among you are not the ones that should be put in charge. Often those in charge are usually the least likely to understand the true meaning of the Scriptures for themselves, that is, to have a living relationship with God. They can quote doctrine by memory, but do not truly understand within their heart the true meaning of the words they speak. They teach others doctrine, but the living Word of God is not alive (or growing) within their own heart. They call themselves Christians, but unless the Spirit of the Bible lives within them they are not truly Christians. The Word must be alive within us so that we can know the clear truth and not be deceived by those that misunderstand the Word of God [Acts 17:11] because they are actually blind to it.
For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. (NIV84)
The Word of God is alive. It is alive in God and in the hearts of the living. God is active in this relationship. If the Word of God is not alive within you then you are dead—spiritually speaking. The Bible cannot be formalized into a list of rules or laws and yet remain alive, because it is not up to what you think, but rather it is a matter of your conforming obedience. The world makes laws and then manipulates them to suit, but for the believer it is the Spirit of the Law that matters. Lawyers and such live in a world of the letter of the law. Do this and do not do that. Bend the law here to suit, write an exclusion there to suit in endless evil. But the Spirit of the Law lives within the heart of the obedient.
The Word of God is a living thing; a living person to be more accurate. Those people that want to make a monument of the Word of God want to render it lifeless by formalizing it into a type of doctrine. By doing such a thing, the living Word becomes petrified in their petrified hearts. If you personally are not growing in your own understanding then you are in grave danger of becoming petrified yourself. The Word of God is Alive and is Active; doctrine is dead as though written in stone. Doctrine can petrify the living heart of the believer if they are not an active participant in the relationship with Lord God.
I don’t want you to misunderstand what I am saying. It is not wrong or incorrect to say that Christian faith depends upon the understanding that Jesus Christ was crucified for our sins, he was buried and then because he, himself, was sinless, was declared alive and so he threw off death forever. Through faith in Jesus Christ and what he did, that faith allows us to be united with him in his death and so we become freed from death and enter into eternal life through Jesus’ resurrection. That more or less formal statement is doctrine and it is true. Knowing in your brain what I just wrote about will not save you, but putting your faith in Jesus’ death and resurrection will. Formalizing a true thing into doctrine will not save you. You must live your life in the Light of the Truth. Your life flows from your spiritual soul and not from your natural body [Romans 8:6].
I think that we have to go back to the very beginning to see what I am saying.
Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”
2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3 but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’ ”
4 “You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.
8 Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?”
10 He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”
11 And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”
12 The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.”
13 Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?”
The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”
14 So the LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this,
“Cursed are you above all the livestock and all the wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life. 15 And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”
16 To the woman he said, “I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.”
17 To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat of it,’ “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. 18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. 19 By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.”
20 Adam named his wife Eve, because she would become the mother of all the living. (NIV84)
Sorry that I included this whole thing, but I couldn’t figure out what to leave out. Anyway, what I want you to see is the very last line. After God curses the serpent and then the woman and then finally Adam, we see Adam named his wife Eve, because she would become the mother of all the living. Adam believed God and ordered his life by God’s words. He didn’t formalize what God had said into a doctrine and then memorized it. God spoke and Adam believed. He heard what God said to the serpent and because of what he heard he knew that all was not lost. Even though God had said that if he ate from the forbidden tree and would therefore die as a result, he also heard that God would somehow fix it through one of his wife’s children [Genesis 3:15]. He heard this and he was heartened by what he heard. He was so encouraged by what he heard that he named his wife Eve because evidently Eve means mother of the living or something like that.
The Bible says one thing and then things happen and then something else is true. The Bible said that Adam and Eve would die if they ate from the forbidden tree, and they did die (spiritually) and then thousands of years later, through the offspring of Adam and Eve, the Christ came and offered himself to be killed as an offering for sin, and so defeated the death that was promised in [Genesis 2:16-17]. We have to be careful about doctrine. Doctrine is life ossified. It is the truth petrified into stone. Doctrine doesn’t breath. God is alive and so is his Spirit. Now again, I don’t want you to get the wrong idea about what I am saying. All of the Bible is true, but the Truth is all of the Bible! You cannot pick out certain Scriptures and say that they are Truth by themselves. You cannot play the lawyer and pick out specific statements and argue your case with God. Things are always more subtle than you imagine. You read the Bible and live in the light of what you personally see. God honors your faith and works with you in your growth. It is not a matter of passing a written test with the correct answers, but rather it is about your becoming like Jesus Christ. Jesus read the Scriptures with an open heart and then he lived in the light of those Scriptures.
Historically within the church there are always a minority of those that are alive. They live the Word of God within themselves and live selfless lives. This minority sees things anew and get excited and their revelations excite the other living beings. The living are usually forced from the congregations of the dead because they do not properly conform. For an example, we can see Martin Luther. He saw many things in the Holy Scriptures that were not being practiced by the many. Martin Luther made a point of communicating what he saw to the body and many thereafter believed him. He and his believing friends were persecuted and forced away from the established. Over a period of time, the “Lutherans” ossified Luther’s revelations into the Lutheran doctrine and the living revelations became petrified. The living children of God were then driven away from the petrified body as they continued to see living wonders in the Word. This cycle has repeated countless times since the time of Adam.
Virtually every Christian denomination today is locked into its doctrine and fails to teach its people to read the Bible for themselves and to live in the light of what God has personally revealed to them. The Lutherans of today, for example, should not be locked into what set them apart from the Catholics, but rather they should follow the spirit of Martin Luther and read the Bible for themselves, as Martin Luther clearly did, and allow God to move them forward. There will be no Lutherans in Heaven, or Episcopalians or any other denominations for all will be united in Christ. Christ is not divided.
2 Corinthians 4:4
The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. (NIV84)
My friends, you must seek a relationship with the Almighty for yourself through your reading of the Holy Scriptures for yourself. As you read with an open heart, God speaks to you and you see and learn. Then as you mature, you can hear the voice of God speaking to you in all circumstances. As you are listening to people talk, as you are reading a book or an article, as you walk about and experience the world, God’s voice is there instructing in all things.
John 14:15–17, 25–27
“If you love me, you will obey what I command. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.
25 “All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. (NIV84)
It is this living relationship that Jesus is speaking of here. Do not let yourself be put under the law of Doctrine. Receive the living Word. Open your eyes, for yourself, to the light of Christ and allow his light to guide you personally.