Intermediate Edition

I.  General


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Chapter 18  Part I


God transforms his people by giving them the invaluable gift of spiritual life, in which they are “reborn” in a spiritual sense. Additionally, God makes them holy and accordingly begins to transform them to be like Jesus Christ and himself. God does this through such things as teaching and disciplining them.

God Makes His People Spiritually Alive

God’s people are given spiritual life

[Jesus, to his followers:] The Spirit is the one who gives life; human nature is of no help! The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.   John 6:63 NET

Jesus’ words together with the Holy Spirit bring life. This spiritual life involves being “alive to God” (Romans 6:11) and comes through having God’s Holy Spirit. Each believer has the Holy Spirit dwelling in them, renewing and nourishing them spiritually. Consequently believers have a spiritual consciousness that enables them to live in communion with and in dependence on God. As such they are “alive to God”.

In union with Jesus Christ, their sinful selves have “died” and they are now spiritually alive

[Paul, to believers:] We know that the persons we used to be were nailed to the cross with Jesus. This was done, so that our sinful bodies would no longer be the slaves of sin. 7We know that sin doesn’t have power over dead people. 8As surely as we died with Christ, we believe we will also live with him.11Christ Jesus has given life to you, and you live for God.   Romans 6:6-8, 11b CEV

In our union with Jesus Christ we are identified with him in his death and resurrection. In a spiritual sense our old sinful selves have died with him in his death and we have been made alive spiritually with him in his post-resurrection life.

God’s people are spiritually reborn of God

But to all who have received him [Jesus] – those who believe in his name – he has given the right to become God’s children 13children not born by human parents or by human desire or a husband’s decision, but by God.   John 1:12-13 NET

References to being born by God (v. 13) – or born again – refer to the spiritual rebirth people undergo when they come to faith, and by which they have spiritual life. It is accomplished by God through the work of the Holy Spirit within a person’s heart or mind, along with exposure to God’s word. This spiritual birth means that believers are in a real sense children of God. It also begins a process of growing more like God, as believers share in his Spirit which transforms them.

God’s people are a new creation

So then, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; what is old has passed away – look, what is new has come!   2 Corinthians 5:17 NET

God Makes His People Holy

Being made holy concerns being set apart for God - dedicated to him, for such purposes as doing his work and worshiping him. This involves them being made pure from sin.

Being made holy has a couple of phases or facets. Firstly, when a person comes to faith their sins are forgiven and as such they are holy. Secondly, believers are made holy in that they are continually being transformed by God, becoming more like Jesus Christ and increasingly devoid of sin. This process is often referred to as “sanctification”.

God makes his people holy

[Paul, to believers:] Now may the God of peace himself make you completely holy and may your spirit and soul and body be kept entirely blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24He who calls you is trustworthy, and he will in fact do this.   1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 NET

God’s people are primarily made holy through Jesus’ sacrifice

So Jesus also suffered outside the city to make his people holy with his own blood.   Hebrews 13:12 NCV™

God’s people are in fact being transformed to be like Jesus

[Paul, to believers:] We all show the Lord’s glory, and we are being changed to be like him.   2 Corinthians 3:18b NCV™

Paul has the development of the believer’s sanctification in view, with their characters growing more like Christ. As such believers increasingly reflect and even manifest Christ’s glory.

God Teaches His People

See also:

God teaches his people how to live

He shows those who are humble how to do right, and he teaches them his ways.   Psalms 25:9 NCV™

[God:] I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.   Psalms 32:8 ESV

God enables his people to know the truth

Then Jesus said to those Judeans who had believed him, “If you continue to follow my teaching, you are really my disciples 32and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”   John 8:31-32 NET

God Disciplines His People

God disciplines his people as his children, who he loves

[The writer, to believers:] And have you forgotten the exhortation addressed to you as sons? “My son, do not scorn the Lord’s discipline or give up when he corrects you. 6“For the Lord disciplines the one he loves and chastises every son he accepts.” 7Endure your suffering as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is there that a father does not discipline? 8But if you do not experience discipline, something all sons have shared in, then you are illegitimate and are not sons.   Hebrews 12:5-8 NET

God’s discipline is done in righteousness and faithfulness

[Levites, praying to God and making reference to forefathers:] You prolonged your kindness with them for many years, and you solemnly admonished them by your Spirit through your prophets. Still they paid no attention, so you delivered them into the hands of the neighboring peoples. 31However, due to your abundant mercy you did not do away with them altogether; you did not abandon them. For you are a merciful and compassionate God. … 33You are righteous with regard to all that has happened to us, for you have acted faithfully. It is we who have been in the wrong!   Nehemiah 9:30-31, 33 NET

As well as speaking of his patience and mercy, vv. 30-31 beautifully illustrate God’s righteousness and faithfulness in his discipline and dealings with his people, affirmed in v. 33.

God’s discipline and testing can be intense, but God brings his people through

[A psalmist, to God:] You have put us to the test, God; as silver is purified by fire so you have tested us. 11You let us fall into a trap and placed heavy burdens on our backs. 12You let our enemies trample over us; we went through fire and flood, but now you have brought us to a place of safety.   Psalms 66:10-12 GNT

Pray for persecuted Christians