That Which is Born of the Spirit

By Francis Frangipane

We wake, crawl out of bed and stumble toward the bathroom; bleary eyed, we squint at our reflection in the mirror. Certainly, we are looking at the image of an utterly earthbound creature. Or so it seems. The truth is, in spite of our fleshly appearance, the moment we received the Holy Spirit into our lives a metamorphosis began within us. We are no longer "mere men" (1 Corinthians 3:4). We have been liberated from the flesh to become spirit-centered beings.

The fact is, among creatures, Christians are a type of hybrid with both fleshly and spiritual dimensions. We are capable of negotiating the dynamics of life on earth through our physical, emotional and intellectual faculties, and we can also soar beyond our natural limitations through spiritual protocols, such as worship or prayer, that connect us to God in heaven.

You see, you are more than that flesh and blood person you saw in the mirror this morning. The awesome reality is that, if we remain firm in faith, our spiritual destiny is to be eternally clothed in the actual glory of God! (2 Thessalonians 2:14; 2 Corinthians 3:18)

True, we still have a flesh nature and, obviously, it is vital that we walk meekly in repentance for our sins. Yet, our flesh nature does not cancel out our spirit nature. While we walk humbly, we still must switch our identity from fleshly to spiritual.

One might say, "Yes, but my flesh is more familiar to me." Yes, it is. However, this is the core battle each of us must face and conquer: we know who we were in the flesh, but what has God made us spiritually? The more we identify with the spirit, the more effective we are in putting to death our carnal compulsions.

Because our destiny is spiritual, it is vital we become serious about learning the laws and principles that govern the spirit realm. We must learn how to live with our hearts open to spiritual realities. For there is simply no way to experience genuine, inward transformation (and not just "religious" duty), if we do not know and embrace the protocols of God's Spirit.

The Spirit Makes Us Christlike, Not Weird
When we discuss the spirit realm, however, the typical reaction of many Evangelical Christians is to smile and nod, then inwardly shut down, as though they were being invited to buy a home in the "land of odd." When the Scriptures speak of the spirit, whether the reference is to our spirit, the Spirit of God or evil spirits, such knowledge is always practical, insightful and liberating. Indeed, we will never become Christlike apart from our relationship with the indwelling Holy Spirit.

Beloved, knowledge of the spirit realm is not a fringe doctrine. The Holy Spirit's role in our lives, as well as revelation concerning our spiritual nature, are major themes in the Bible. Consider, from cover to cover, the Word of God references the word spirit (in its various forms) nearly 600 times. Approximately 200 times Spirit is used uniquely of God. In over 350 verses, the term spirit refers to some quality or activity of the human spirit. By contrast, faith is mentioned 232 times, love 310 times and hope 132. This large number of references unveils an important truth: God intends for us to know about the spiritual realm!

Yes, we should proceed cautiously, for we do not want to be deceived. Yet, ignorance of the spirit realm is already a form of deep deception. True, there are manifestations that are falsely presented as being spiritual, yet if our quest is true conformity to Christ, we will attain Christlikeness only through our relationship with the Holy Spirit. And, if you are still afraid of being deceived, remember: the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth.

Understanding the Human Spirit
So let's briefly identify some basics about the human spirit. The fact is, many of life's evils gained access to our inner man simply because we were void of spiritual protection. Proverbs tells us, "Like a city that is broken into and without walls is a man who has no control over his spirit" (Proverbs 25:28). There is a porous quality to our spirit that ingests the surrounding conditions of life with its various influences. If we have no control over our spirit, we are "without walls" and vulnerable to both spiritual adversity and temptation. Yet, if our spirit is submitted to God, we are guarded from attack. Our hearts are protected from being "broken into" by spiritual enemies and negative influences.

Let me take this a little further. We say we are "born again," but what does that really mean? In simple terms, it means the Holy Spirit has awakened us to the reality of God. But that is just the start. It also means that, as we surrender to the Lord, the Holy Spirit increasingly fills and settles into our spirit. As the Scripture says, "The one who joins himself to the Lord becomes one spirit with Him" (1 Corinthians 6:17).

The interpenetration of spirit between God and ourselves is unlike anything on earth. It unites our neediness with His sufficiency and our weakness with His power. The Lord Himself becomes our strength and the source of our virtue; His presence flows through the "size" of the openness we possess to the Holy Spirit, which is why so much of the salvation process depends on the Spirit nurturing and cultivating our spiritual sensitivity.

It is through this union of the Holy Spirit with our spirit that God speaks to us, that divine power works in us, and virtue (or fruit) is displayed outwardly through us to others (Galatians 5:22). It is also through the Holy Spirit that God identifies our inner needs and brings healing to us. As it is written,"The spirit of man is the lamp of the Lord, searching all the innermost parts of his being" (Proverbs 20:27).

Into the Fullness of Christ
So, let it be reinforced within us: our primary nature is spiritual. The Spirit of God has entered our lives; our spirits have become His dwelling place. He has come to teach us all things, to illuminate the Scriptures and to guide us in our decisions. He also seeks to communicate to us through dreams, visions and confirmed prophetic words (Acts 2:17). He is our comforter in times of heartaches and our helper in times of battle. He promises to fill us with godly convictions and to empower us with persevering prayer. As we yield to Him, He will produce in us genuine fruit and equip us with authentic spiritual gifts. He will empower us to be witnesses for the Lord.

If will are truly seeking conformity to Christ, it will come because our spirits are filled with the Spirit of God. We are not mere flesh and blood. Indeed, as Jesus said, "that which is born of the Spirit is spirit" (John 3:6).