OUR HUMAN SPIRIT—BORN OF THE DIVINE SPIRIT
Scripture Reading: John 3:6b; 4:24; Eph. 2:1; Ezek. 11:19; 18:31; 36:26-27
John 3:6 says, “That which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” It is evident that in this verse there are two spirits. The first Spirit is capitalized, referring to the divine Spirit. The second spirit has a small letter, referring to the human spirit. That which is born of the divine Spirit is the human spirit. Our human spirit needs to be born of the divine Spirit.
Ezekiel 11:19; 18:31; and 36:26 tell us that God promised His people a new spirit. This new spirit, according to Ezekiel 36:26, is not the Holy Spirit, because Ezekiel 36:27, after the mentioning of the new spirit, says that God will put His own Spirit into us. There are two kinds of spirits. One is the new human spirit, and the other is God’s Holy Spirit. God is able to give us a new spirit by regeneration. What God promised in Ezekiel 36 is still being fulfilled in John 3:6. In John 3:6 we are told that our spirit has to be born of the divine Spirit. This is not just to revive it; this is not just to restore it; but this is to regenerate it.
Regeneration and restoration are two different things. Regeneration is not just a restoration. Restoration means to restore, to recover some old things. But regeneration means to put another life into the old thing. It is not to generate but to regenerate. To generate means that it does not exist, but to regenerate means that it exists already, and now another life is put into it.
THE TREE OF LIFE
In Genesis 1 and 2, man was made in God’s image, but by that time man did not have God’s eternal, uncreated life. What man had was just the breath of life, not the eternal life of God. So after the creation of man, God put man before the tree of life. The tree of life signifies the divine life, the eternal life of God. God put man before the tree of life so that man would take His life, but before man took the life of God, man fell.
REGENERATION AND GOD’S PURPOSE
Due to the fall, man needs redemption, but redemption is not God’s goal. Redemption is not God’s aim. Redemption is just God’s procedure of recovery. Redemption brings fallen man back to God’s purpose. Even if we are redeemed, if we have not received the life of God, God’s purpose has not been fulfilled with us. Of course, as long as we receive redemption, we get the life of God. God put these two things together. God makes an all-inclusive deal with us. Most Christians just care for redemption and not so much for life. But we have to realize that redemption is just a recovery procedure for the final purpose, which is to have God’s life. God’s final purpose is to put His life into us. This putting of His life into us is regeneration. Strictly speaking, regeneration has nothing to do with our fall. Redemption takes care of our fall; regeneration takes care of God’s purpose.
REDEMPTION AND LIFE
We can use Coca-Cola bottles as an illustration. The bottles are for containing Coca-Cola, but all the bottles fell into the trash can. First, you need to recover them, to bring them back. But to bring them back is not to fulfill their purpose. If you bring all the fallen bottles back, and you clean them with detergent, they are still empty. This bringing back takes care of the fall. After being brought back, and after being purified and cleansed with detergent, you need a further step—to fill the bottles with Coca-Cola.
We are the bottles, the vessels (Rom. 9:21, 23). Before we were filled with the life of God, we fell into the trash can. Before we were saved, we were in the trash can. Praise the Lord for God’s mercy! One day He came to the trash can and brought us out. That was redemption. Redemption takes care of our fall. At the same time, God put His divine life into us.
A NEW SPIRIT
When we believed in the Lord Jesus, we received another life. To receive another life means to be regenerated. We had one life already—our human life, and now we get another life into us—the divine life. This divine life comes into our spirit. “That which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:6b). We were in the trash can, but one day God took us out of the trash can. God redeemed us. At the same time, He put Himself into us as the divine Spirit. Then we had the divine life. Then we were born of the Spirit. Praise the Lord! We have regeneration. We have another life. Another Spirit has come into us, which is really something new. Now we have a new spirit, which is the fulfillment of Ezekiel 11:19; 18:31; and 36:26. God promised to give us a new spirit, and He did this by regenerating us with Himself as the Spirit. When we believed in the Lord Jesus, when we called upon His name as our Savior, when we received Him into us, the divine Spirit came into us to be our life, and we were regenerated. We were renewed, and our spirit was made new. Our spirit became a new spirit.
ONCE DEAD BUT NOW ALIVE
Ephesians 2:1 tells us that we were dead in sins. That does not mean we were dead in our body. Physically speaking, we were still quite living and active. That does not mean we were dead in our mind, in our soul, or in our emotions. In our soul we were still quite living, but due to the fall our spirit was dead.
When we believed in the Lord Jesus, the divine Spirit, the Holy Spirit of God, came into our spirit to quicken and enliven it. Not only did God make our dead spirit alive, but He also put Himself into our spirit. Now the divine Spirit is in our human spirit, and these two have become one (1 Cor. 6:17). This is not just a quickening, but also a regenerating. God does not just quicken our deadened spirit, but He also regenerates it. Now our spirit has a new start.
WORSHIPPING IN SPIRIT
The Gospel of John tells us that after the new birth, we have to learn how to worship God. God is Spirit. When we worship Him, we must worship in spirit—not in the Holy Spirit but in our spirit. “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit” (4:24). The matter of worship includes all spiritual things. Worship in the Bible means to serve God, to pray to Him, to praise Him, to give Him thanks, and to fellowship one with another in the presence of God. Whatever we do toward God, with God, and in God must be done in our spirit. This is a fixed principle, but some of us still do not know how to use our spirit. Even so many Christians do not know that they have a spirit. In doctrine they may know that there is something which is called the human spirit, but in practice they do not know how to use the spirit. This is the poor situation today, but for the recovery of the church life, there is the need for the recovery of the human spirit.
If we are not in our human spirit, all we have is doctrine. If we have some spiritual reality, that is something in our spirit. We need to have the experience, the realization, of the divine Spirit in our human spirit. God has regenerated our spirit. Our spirit is no longer a dead spirit. Our spirit has been made alive, and our spirit has been regenerated. Now we have the divine Spirit dwelling in our human spirit.
THE ENLIVENING, REGENERATING,
AND INDWELLING SPIRIT
There are three steps in this matter of regeneration. First, the divine Spirit comes into our spirit to make our dead spirit alive. Then at the same time the divine Spirit imparts Christ, who is God, into our spirit. This is the regenerating. Following this and at the same time, the Holy Spirit starts to dwell within us. This is the indwelling. By regeneration we have not only the enlivening, and not just the regenerating, but also the indwelling.
We not only have the power of the Spirit but also the life. We not only have the life, but also the presence, the Spirit Himself. His life power enlivens us, His life itself regenerates us, and His presence indwells us. We have the enlivening Spirit, the regenerating Spirit, and the indwelling Spirit within our spirit. Now we have to serve the Lord, we have to worship God, we have to do His work, we have to fellowship with Him, we have to fellowship in Him one with another, we have to help others, and we have to preach the gospel with the Spirit in our spirit.
(Our Human Spirit, Chapter 4, by Witness Lee)