Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The Believer's Two Natures (Part 1)

Every child of God has been made a partaker of the divine nature by new birth. This new divine nature implanted in the believer is a sovereign act of God by His Spirit through the Word. So the believer has the same nature in him as is in God. Just as he partook of the fallen nature by natural birth, so in the new birth he partakes of God’s nature. 

Here’s what the Bible says about how the believer acquires this new divine nature: 

• “That which is born of the flesh is flesh (the nature we have by natural birth); and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit (the nature we have by new birth). Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again’” (Jn. 3:6-7). 

• “Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures” (Jas. 1:18). 

• “Having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever” (1 Pet. 1:23). 

• “By which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature” (2 Pet. 1:4). 

This new divine nature that has been implanted in the believer is inseparably bound up with the Person of Christ who is its source. So we read, “God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life” (1 Jn. 5:11-12). And again, “Your life is hidden with Christ in God … Christ who is our life” (Col. 3:3-4). 

This new divine nature flows from Christ. He is its fountain head and it has the same qualities and characteristics in the believer as it has in Christ – the same longings and delights. Therefore it can only have freedom when it can act in the believer in the same manner as it did in Christ when He was here on earth. 

Some may say that today we are living in different surroundings than those of Christ. When it comes to technology and modern conveniences, this is true. But human nature and human relationships have not changed, and it was in these that the divine nature in Christ manifested itself as He was in constant contact with mankind. It is in these human relationships that the divine nature in the children of God is to find its sphere of activity and service to God and man. 

Without being born again – without possessing this divine nature – there is no possibility of any lasting happiness. The worm of conscience gnaws at the roots of all the passing pleasures of the unconverted, and all their pleasures are like the fading beauty of a withering flower (1 Pet. 1:24). “Like the crackling of thorns under a pot, so is the laughter of the fool” (Eccl. 7:6). Even while crackling it is being consumed, to be heard no more. But he who is born of God is brought into eternal relationship with God. He is made a partaker of His divine nature and of His eternal life (Eph. 2:5). Now this divine life in the believer must have activity according to its own nature, according to its own desires and longings to be happy. 

Divine life is essentially characterized by holiness and love. It finds its highest ideals and its greatest pleasures fulfilled in helpful service to God and man. The believer can only be happy as he lives this kind of life, for only in such a life can the divine nature in the believer have activity according to its tastes and ideals. 

Why did God redeem us at such a cost of the sacrifice of His own Son? Why was Christ willing to pay the price of our redemption in His own blood? Certainly not because of compulsion from some outward force, for there is no outward force above God that could be brought to bear upon Him. Then surely it must be because of the compulsion of His own nature that found its pleasure in unselfish love and service to others. The children of God have partaken of this same divine nature and so a life of love and unselfish service makes them happy. But a self-centered life depresses the divine nature in the believer and makes him feel miserable. 

Another point to consider is that the believer also has the Holy Spirit dwelling within him to strengthen and develop this new nature. As we feed on the Word of God with an obedient heart and in a spirit of prayer, the Holy Spirit declares to us the things of Christ (Jn. 16:14). 

The new nature, of which the believer has been made a partaker in new birth, being divine, takes pleasure in God and His will for man as well as in His love towards man. So there is not only an unselfish desire to serve man, but at the same time a yearning desire to please God in all that it does. 

The believer can only find full freedom and liberty in his new nature, when everything he does is considered in the light of God’s will; for the desires of the divine nature in the believer’s will and God’s coincide because they both come from the same source. The divine nature in God is the source of His own will; and because the believer is indwelt and energized by the Spirit of God, his divine nature produces desires in him consistent with the will of God. 

To sum it up, we can say God wills what He wills because it delights His nature; and since the believer has been made partaker of this same divine nature he finds his delight in the will of God as well. This responsive delight in the will of God is strong and active just in the measure that the believer’s divine nature is strong and active. His happiness is proportional to how much he allows his divine nature to develop and be active. The more he gives way to the desires of his fallen nature, the more he will become miserable and unhappy because of the depressing effect it has on his divine nature. 

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