But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. John 4:23 NLT
Relationship with God is the point of all of this. Whether it's this life or the life after, we were created for intimacy with God. Adam had right relationship with God in the garden, and then he fell. Jesus came to restore it for you and me. That's what he was saying in the verses above – "the time is now because I am here" – where we will be restored into right relationship with his Father. Jesus will show us how.
Lessons from Mylo the Dog
Let me share a story. In 2018 we bought a dog. We had a newborn baby and I decided to buy a dog. Such a crazy decision. But my reasoning at the time was that summer was almost over and my eldest son had been asking for a dog. I also figured we would have to spend lots of time with the baby and maybe the dog would help him adjust and give him companionship.
So Mylo came along and we were very excited to train him. We watched videos of the "Dog Whisperer" and read articles just to learn the nature of a dog. It was pretty eye-opening how our assumptions are all backwards. For example, if your dog is barking and you want him to stop, and then you yell at him– all he will think is "Oh cool, Master wants to bark too!". Yep, don't do that.
Here's another one. When humans communicate we first hear, second see, lastly smell. But dogs do it in the exact opposite order. They first smell, second see, lastly hear. And yet the primary way that we command our dogs is by speaking. They can be taught to respond, but it's not natural to them. They're actually the ones adjusting to us.
Two days ago, I was about to take a shower and realized there was no soap. So I snuck out outside to the cabinet where we kept all the soap. As I bent down in my birthday suit, guess who was standing there staring at me? Mylo the dog. At first I was embarrassed. Then I realized, this dog can't tell the difference between clothed or not clothed. As far as he's concerned, I smell the same. Besides, he doesn't wear clothes either!
And this is where humanity's big old "Golden Rule" breaks down. Treating others like we want to be treated only works when the other is truly like us. Sometimes we really do think that the world revolves around us. We tend to treat others the way we like it. Not the way the other likes it.
We do it with lower life forms. We do it with the Higher life form.
Thinking of how my dog couldn't tell the difference between naked and clothed reminded me of Genesis 3 when Adam and Eve first realized they were naked. Before that point, they were as innocent as good ol' Mylo. Then I thought of the scene after that, when God was "looking for them".
Adam, where are you?
And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.
And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden.
And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? Genesis 3: 7-9
This is a heartbreaking scene. Adam and Eve heard God's voice and wanted to hide. The way I read this, Adam and Eve had a 'favorite spot' with God. There was a time and a place when they would have communion with the Father. But this communion was broken.
Many pastors and teachers would say that God is omniscient and therefore this was a rhetorical question, or a "test". God knew where Adam was, but wanted Adam to ask himself where he was. While there may be truth in that, I read this scene very differently.
I think about Jesus' statement in our opening verse: true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth.
In their 'favorite spot', not only was there a time and place where communion happened. It happened in Spirit and Truth. But after Adam and Eve fell, their spirits died. They couldn't meet God 'in spirit' anymore.
"but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” Genesis 2:17
Adam and Eve didn't physically die that day. They lived for many years after that. One can argue that "the day" here meant their lifetime and that's valid also. They were never meant to die, period. And yet death came.
However I do believe something literally died that day. Their spirit did. Their way of communing with God spirit-to-spirit. That died. And it remained dead for thousands of years until Jesus came. The son of God came as a son of Adam, or as he says "a Son of Man", to make a way for us to be restored in spiritual life and communion.
From Death to Life
People think that giving your life to Jesus is just a resolution to live better. Or that Jesus is an add-on to a person "trying to be better". Or that it's converting from "one religion to another". All of this is so shallow and incomplete. We should stop viewing Christianity as a religious form of self-help. No! When you surrender your life to Jesus and make him your savior– you cross from death to life.
You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. Colossians 2:13 NLT
The moment we receive forgiveness for our sins, our spirits receive a strong defibrillator surge. And then it is brought back to life.
Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins... But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) Ephesians 2: 1,4-5
Here's another verse in the New Testament talking about this reality of once being dead in sin, and then coming back to life. It's because of Jesus, it's because of our sins being fully paid, and it's because of grace – which is a great way of saying it is completely free. It is because he is good, not because we are good. He is rich in mercy and love.
The Father was expecting Adam to show up– in that time, in that place, and in Spirit. But he could not find him. Brokenhearted, he said: "Adam... where are you?". He meant it. He could not see him "there". Adam couldn't enter "there". So God had to relate to us in a different way since. Until he would send his son because he loved the world so much.
Adam was only present in the flesh. The way most of us live, unaware of the spiritual reality we were called to, a hollow shell of what we were meant to be. Adam's spirit died that day. Humanity has been dead since. But Jesus came to quicken us back to life.
When Jesus said the time was coming and is now here when worshippers would relate with God in Spirit and in Truth, he was talking about how he will make our spirits alive again– how he would give us new birth by dying and rising on the third day.
Born Again means Born of Spirit
We pass through death to life by being born of Spirit. If Adam ushered in a spiritual kind of death, Jesus had to usher in a spiritual kind of rebirth.
Jesus replied, “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. John 3:5 NLT (emphasis mine)
Jesus touched on this subject for three chapters in a row. In John 4 he talks about how the new spirit he will birth in you is a spring of life:
But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life. John 4:14
You go from death to life. A new spirit is born in you. And it becomes for you a source of life, continually flowing the way a spring does. Amazing! In John 5, Jesus talks about how forgiveness and a sentence of "no condemnation" usher the crossing from death to life:
“I tell you the truth, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life." John 5: 24
Paul talks contrasts Adam and Jesus this way:
The Scriptures tell us, “The first man, Adam, became a living person.” But the last Adam—that is, Christ—is a life-giving Spirit. 1 Corinthans 15:45
So this is the good news! This is all gospel! When you receive Jesus, you are forgiven. Free from condemnation. And your dead spirit is revived. You receive a new nature, because Jesus is restoring what was lost. Your new nature is just like God's.
Understanding this new nature is completely essential in walking out this life. So many people perish for lack of knowing. So many Christians live a life devoid of power because they don't know. I lived like this for many years! I knew bits and pieces of it but never fully understood it. I can no longer not know! So let me bottom-line much of it for you:
If you're reading this and you have been born again, you are a new spirit. Humans are composed of three parts: Spirit, Soul and Body. Your soul is your thinking, feeling and decision-making. When you are born again, your soul is not. Sometimes we "feel" something new, sometimes we don't. Our bodies also remain the same, with the same urges and sometimes the same addictions it had before new birth. But our spirits– the part that died and became sinful when Adam fell– that's the part Jesus made a brand new creation when you believed. The work there was completed. It's completely saved.
A new spirit means a new nature, and just like Jesus said it– is a wellspring of life inside you. The Christian life is simply learning how to live from the Spirit! That's why Paul in Romans 12 talks about being transformed by renewing the mind. If you're reading this, you're renewing your mind. We need to learn how to tap into this source inside us and choose to live this way versus just living from our flesh like everyone else.
Your body will do as it's told. Your spirit can give life to your body (Romans 8:11). Even reading the Word can give life to your body (Proverbs 4:22). But renewing your mind is where the battle is, because your mind (which is part of the Soul) ultimately decides whether you will live from Adam's nature which you inherited or Jesus' nature which was given to you as a gift.
Your spirit is YOU. You ARE spirit. You have a soul. You live in a body. But YOU are Spirit. And when YOU are born again, this is what YOU are:
- Created in Righteousness (Ephesians 4:24). You are born righteous.
- Exactly as Jesus is (1 John 4:17). Everything he is like, you are like.
- Mind of Christ (1 Corinthans 2:16). Your spirit thinks like Jesus.
- Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). You have a new character. Now.
- Resurrection Power (Ephesians 1:19-20). The same spirit that raised Jesus from the dead is inside you.
That's all you! In your spirit! And there's so much more! This is your inheritance. This is what Jesus died to give you. This is why I get excited to read my bible. I want to know what is inside me – how he has equipped me to live the life he has called me to. This is true for you as well. I encourage you to read all of those supporting verses. Dig in and see for yourself who you are and what you've been given. You already have everything you need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3).
Start Walking in the Spirit
Now that we know we've been given a new spirit, it's important that we see ourselves that way. How can we relate in spirit if we still see ourselves in our flesh? We're no longer "of Adam". We're now "in Christ".
I want you to understand what I mean when I say "flesh". The flesh means your own strength, not God's strength. As you know, our strength fails and God's strength never fails. The flesh is the part of you that isn't spirit. The unspiritual side of you. Your body and soul. It's not all sinful, but if there's anything amiss in you, this is the part where that lives. Jesus says:
It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. John 6:63 NKJV
Again, much of the flesh is neutral. But it is still fallen. What is fallen will not live or bring life. Only two things will bring life – the Holy Spirit, and the Word of God. They are life and peace. Reading the Word with the Holy Spirit inside you will transform your mind, and that will transform your life.
For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Romans 8:6 KJV
Carnal here means flesh. We have a new spirit but an old way of thinking. It won't mix. Jesus had a really good analogy for this:
“And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. For the new wine would burst the wineskins, spilling the wine and ruining the skins. New wine must be stored in new wineskins. But no one who drinks the old wine seems to want the new wine. ‘The old is just fine,’ they say.” Luke 5:37-39 NLT
This is why many Christians who were destined and marked for a victorious and abundant life are not living one! Because the new wine – all of that God-breathed life and power was poured into a soul that was fashioned by the world and its way of thinking.
Let's not waste this new wine! Once we transform our minds and hearts – which we do by reading God's word – we can contain this spirit and not waste it. Let God's word – which are Spirit and Life – transform how you think so that two parts of you– not just one, are aligned with God's heartbeat.
Likewise we should stop drinking the old wine. The new wine may take time to get accustomed to but if we continue to fill ourselves with the influence of the world, or our old way of life, how do we move forward?
We relate to God in Reverse Order
If you see yourself as a new creation, a new spirit that is "created in Righteousness" then you will never get down on yourself. Yes we still mess up! Whenever we're not living from the spirit but instead live from the flesh, we will mess up! But as far as the East is from the West – that's how far your sin was taken from you. You're washed clean, made new, and you are not defined by your mistakes. You're defined by Jesus' complete work on the cross. See yourself in Spirit.
Do you remember what I was saying about dogs and humans? Humans hear, see, smell. Dogs smell, see and then hear. Reverse order. The same is true with God. We relate with him in reverse order.
We see ourselves and each other in the Body first. Then Soul. Then Spirit. But God sees us in the Spirit first. Then Soul. Then Body.
When we lead in with our mistakes, we're not relating spirit-first. When we lead in with how we feel, we're being soul-ish. But when we tell the Lord, "I am the righteousness of God in Christ because you made me this way! (2 Corinthians 5:21) Therefore I will approach your throne boldly! (Hebrews 4:16)." That puts a smile on his face. He sees you spirit first. He does not see your sins, your weakness, your shame or guilt. All he sees is what Jesus put inside you – a new you. Lead with that. It takes faith, yes. But faith is how we're called to live.
Don't get me wrong. God still sees our Soul and our Bodies. God still cares about our feelings. I believe he fashioned us with feelings to enrich the relationship he purposed us for. Love is not a feeling, but it also is. Do you understand what I'm saying? There's nothing wrong with our feelings if we understand their proper place. It should make things richer. But feelings don't lead. They follow. Lead with the truth – that you've been fashioned in the likeness of Jesus. You are a new creation.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV
My prayer is that you see this truth and the veil over your eyes be removed. Jesus came and completely changed everything. He changed all of who you are, which means he changed all of how you approach God. It's time to come to him in a new and living way, not in dead regulation. He wants relationship in Spirit and Truth.
by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Hebrews 10:20-22
Tell your guilty conscience, "it's over". Jesus paid for it. It can rest now. Tell your body and all its desires, "it's over". You will live in the Spirit now. Draw near to the Father with a heart full of assurance, full of confidence – that all He sees is the work of Jesus. And He likes what He sees.