We banter around the term “born again,” but do we really know what that means? It means that God has given you power through your faith in His son, but to what extent are you operating the power?
First, you must understand that the power is not automatic. You have to do something. What you have been given is the ability to operate the power. Picture in your mind Arnold Schwarzenegger as a young man with bulging muscles. He can impress the ladies and sell ads (there is no exercise of power in that) or he can use his strength to defeat an army. We need to learn how to defeat the army of Satan, who is known in Scripture as “the god of this world” (2 Co 4:4). You have been placed in the army of the true God, but have you graduated from boot camp?
The gift, of course, is the Holy Spirit. Notice I use the term “gift.” God has simply given to those with faith in His son something incredible. When Peter was in Caesarea at the invitation of Cornelius, we learn that “all the circumcised believers who came with Peter [that is, Jews who believed that Yeshua was the son of God] were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also” (Acts 10:45).
What does it mean that the gift was “poured out”? This description conveys imagery of sacrifice at the altar in front of the tabernacle and then the temple. The Lord had spoken to Moses who gave this instruction. “"You shall take some of the blood of the bull and put it on the horns of the altar with your finger; and you shall pour out all the blood at the base of the altar” (Ex 29:12). At this point you must understand why it was blood that was poured out at the altar.
Listen to the explanation in Leviticus. “For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood by reason of the life that makes atonement: (Lev 17:11). Did you hear the two key words, “life” and “atonement”? Blood represents life because, in biblical imagery and symbolism, “life is in the blood.” When blood is poured out at the altar, it is life that is poured out as a gift to God. We are to give our lives to God as a gift to Him, which is the concept of discipleship and service. But remember, the sacrificial animal had to be “without spot or blemish,” so we must give ourselves to God as a righteous and holy gift.
“Who can be perfect?” you are probably asking. The word “atonement” offers the answer. God has made it possible for you to return to Him in the same condition in which He originally created you. What is that original condition? “God created man in His own image” (Gen 1:27). That image is holy and righteous and pure. That is, when you first became a “son of God,” you have the same inherent nature as your Holy Father. But then God placed you in the world and patted you on the back saying, in essence, “Let me teach you, My child, to walk in the righteousness that is now yours, so you can come into My presence and we can be one with each other.” That is the process of atonement, which is bringing about reconciliation that restores you to unity and harmony with God.
I encourage you to understand the Holy Spirit as the nature or essence of God because God is Holy and God is Spirit (John 4:24). The nature of God is the gift of the Holy Spirit that is in you through your faith in Christ.
But now we must understand the word “manifest” or “manifestation” because we are called to manifest the inherent power of God’s nature that is in us. That is, we are called to operate the power in a way that others can see. Listen to the Apostle Paul in his fervent prayer of thanksgiving. “Thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place” (2 Co 2:14). It is the Holy Spirit in you that is leading or guiding you in triumph in Christ. (John 16:13). When you walk in righteousness through your faith in your Christ, you become a “sweet aroma” to those around us.
Let me leave you with words that God spoke to Isaiah. “I will make you a light unto the nations so My salvation may reach to the end of the earth" (Isa 49:6). The prophets of the Hebrew Scriptures were shining the light of God to Israel. Now we, as believers in Christ with the gift of God’s nature in us, can be the light unto the nations that makes known our God to the world. How do we do that? We walk by our faith and love of Christ, which activates God’s holy nature in us. Then we will be manifesting the gift of the Holy Spirit so others can see the light of God that is shining from our hearts.
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