Religion has been an integral part of my life from ever since I can remember. My mother is an Anglican, my father a Catholic and my great grand-mother was a Spiritual Baptist. I was taught the tenets of Catholicism and attended a nearby Parish on most Sundays. I would sit on a pew nearest a fan, take part in communion and song service with my very own hymnal and stand, sit and kneel at the request of the priest. After church was over, I was no closer to understanding who this God I was trying to serve really was. Yes, I read the bible stories and accepted the fact that God was the Creator of the universe and Maker of man (Gen Chapters 1-2). I also feared Him and His wrath but I did not know Him. The knowledge I had about God was surface knowledge, that is, only in my mind. Not far reaching into the inner man, which is my spirit. Neither did initially becoming a full gospel, born-again believer facilitate my knowing the God I serve, as much of the knowledge was yet still within the enclosure of my mind. To gain an understanding of why our minds act as a hindrance to knowing God, reflect on the following:
After Adam and Eve fell in the Garden of Eden, sin gained a foothold and darkness entered their once luminous spirits: They became spiritually dead and every human life that came after them were also born spiritually dead. Therefore, spiritual knowledge had been somewhat distorted and man’s attempt to know God has been met with numerous failures as man’s knowledge of God became figments of their imaginations; which were eventually fashioned into images made of stone and other created substances. Spiritual death of all mankind, initiated by sin, placed distance between man and God. Spiritual death means man’s spirit was now separated from God. God’s commandment to Adam which was “…of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; 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” (Gen. Ch.2 vs. 16-17) did not only mean physical death but also spiritual death. Thus, man’s mind became the dominating feature of his existence. Please do not misunderstand this as meaning man is not supposed to think and exercise common sense, for this is not what I am saying. I am saying you cannot know or understand God with your mind or intellect. If that was so, then God would not have made man in his image and likeness, which, as mentioned before is spirit.
However, because of free will/volition, a gift from God, man handed the scepter of dominion to his mind as well as to Satan. Satan’s favorite playground is man’s mind. What on earth was going through Adam’s mind at the time? We can only speculate for the bible does not say. However, it is obvious he ignored the warning in his spirit and chose to please, obey and love his wife over pleasing, obeying and loving God. Adam willfully gave himself over to the emotional aspect of his soul. So, man’s spirit, the line of communication between God and man, became broken and man’s inner knowledge and understanding of God became disturbingly skewed. Thus, man became a ‘soulish or fleshly organism’ groping around in utter darkness (G.H. Pember). Genesis Ch. 6 v. 3 reads, “The LORD said, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, for he is indeed flesh.””
““The fruit of the knowledge of good and evil” uplifts the human soul and suppresses the spirit…This means man will lose the true knowledge of God and thus be dead to Him” (Watchman Nee’s, The Spiritual Man).
Therefore, man’s spirit had to be regenerated. Let us examine for a moment the word regenerate. The Greek word for regeneration as noted in biblehub.com is palingenesia; pronounced pal-in-genee-see-ah. Palin meaning “again” and genesia/genesis meaning “birth” or “beginning.” Other synonyms for regeneration are to restore, resuscitate, reawaken, rekindle, breathe new life into, change radically and recreate.
Now for there to be a re-generation, there must have initially been a generation. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, to generate means to “bring into existence.” Therefore, during the birth of man, a spirit was generated or brought into existence within him by Almighty God bearing His image and likeness, for again God is a Spirit. It is after the generation of his spirit that man became a living soul (Gen. Ch. 2 v. 7); both distinct in nature and function, yet housed in a physical body.
Adam, in his state of innocence before the fall, allowed the spirit to reign over both soul and body. His spirit led, his soul obeyed and his body manifested the life that was within. After he disobeyed God, his soul ‘called the shots,’ his body now manifested the defects of a corrupted soul and a spirit dead to the knowledge of God. So, this is mankind’s sordid position; separated from the tree of life, a typical representation of the God Life that man so desperately needs for spiritual survival. The Almighty, Omniscient God foreknowing the plight of man catapulted by Adam, set in motion His redemption plan for man to be once again “a perfect company, in harmony with His perfect will, to love Him with a perfect love, to be like Him and with Him throughout a perfect eternity” (Alfred Thompson Eade).
In the beginning of the blog, I mentioned not knowing God even after being saved. That was because my mind had for so long sat on the throne of dominion that my preconceived notion of God was one of punisher of bad deeds and that was about it. I also held on to certain traditions and silly superstitions. Therefore, it was imperative that I scrapped all that I thought I knew about God and allowed my newly, recreated infant spirit to be fed and nurtured in the spiritual knowledge of God. Case in point, the Law and Commandments of Old Testament Israel (Ex. Ch. 20, 21, 22, 23 & 24 v. 12). When Israel was given the ten commandments, it was to be a guide for moral living which worked in connection with the conscience and independent minds of each individual (Ex. Ch.20 vs. 1-17). Their ceremonial laws were for a memorial and giving thanks and also for atonement of sin (Ex. Ch. 23 vs. 14-19; Lev. Ch. 1, 2, 3, 4, & 5). Although each person was responsible for adhering to the ten commandments, the high priest and priests from the house of Levi, chosen by God were responsible for carrying out all the other ceremonies on behalf of the children of Israel (Ex. Ch. 28 & 29). In addition, there were Sabbath laws and many other painstaking rituals. All in a bid to preserve mankind from total destruction which Jehovah God had resorted to in the Great Deluge or The Great Flood, save eight souls— Noah, his wife, his three sons, their wives and groups of animals (Gen. Ch. 6, 7, 8 & 9).
So here we have a community, a people, chosen by God for three reasons. The first being, a promise He made with Abraham, “I will make you a great nation…” (Gen. Ch. 12 v. 2); second reason was to sanctify or set apart a people “that I may dwell among them” (Ex. Ch. 25 v. 8) and third, the Seed of the prophecy “I will put enmity between you and the woman and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel” (Gen. Ch. 3 v. 15) and the promise “In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed” (Gen. Ch. 22 v. 18; Gal. Ch. 3 v. 16) were to come through Abraham’s descendants.
Now before The Law was given to the children of Israel, man had to be guided by their conscience. Conscience is a function of man’s spirit which discerns right from wrong; not, however, through the influence of knowledge stored in the mind but rather by a spontaneous direct judgment (Watchman Nee). Very few listened to conscience. The Law made man aware of sin and wrong doing. The Law, enacted by Almighty God was to be used as a framework to promote congruency among conscience, mind and body. Israel failed miserably over and over again as they allowed their minds to superimpose their conscience, opting on several occasions to forsake the true and living Holy God of Israel to follow pagan gods of other clans. In other words, they hardened their hearts towards the only true and living God. Israel never really knew God despite all the miracles they were made privy to, in addition to hearing His voice on Mount Sinai (Ex. Ch. 20 vs. 18-21). How was this possible? The people were yet still spiritually dead and carnal minded. To be carnal minded means the mind is focused on the things of the world and not the things of God; including old traditions and superstitious beliefs. Their bodies were out of Egypt but their minds remained there.
However, during the time of reformation, after Christ had sent his Holy Spirit to indwell believers, several believing Jews were admonished time and again for their resistance to this change that did not involve the traditional observance of the Law of Moses. The book of Hebrews deals extensively with the preceding. The Apostle Paul in dealing with the converts at Corinth said, “I, brethren could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; for you are still carnal” (1Cor. Ch.3 vs. 1-3).
Saints, in order to know God, our minds have to take second place to our regenerated spirits because it is only by the regenerated spirit can we commune with God. “For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God” (1Cor. Ch. 2 v. 11) and “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God” (Rom. Ch.8 v. 16). Spiritual regeneration is of paramount importance for all mankind even from the age of understanding. Failure to do so would render a person (especially a person of sound mind) hell-bound to the sorrow of our Lord, who desires the whole world to be saved “not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter Ch. 3 v. 9). Confessing Jesus as Lord and Saviour and inviting His Spirit into our heart/spirit regenerates our dead spirit. Thus, reopening the lines of holy communion with the true and living Holy God. However, our minds have an unhealthy desire to remain the driving force behind our every action. Satan knows this and will use our minds as his vehicle of communication to facilitate his thriving temptation business if you let him. Nevertheless, we are told to, “Present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service; and do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Rom. Ch. 12 vs. 1-2).
Blessings to all of you.
By Gail Reid