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What the Bible says about Breath as Symbol of Spirit
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Job 32:8

The spirit mentioned here is not the Holy Spirit. This “breath of the Almighty” is a separate and distinct spirit that enables people to have qualities in God's image while remaining merely human. It enables communication to take place, even between God and humans. God, however, is not the only being who can communicate with and to us. Of course, other humans can communicate with us, as can angels. Such communication is not only verbal, but it can also be through the influence of other spirits and attitudes, be they evil or righteous.

A living spirit possesses the power to sway another's attitudes and conduct. A spirit that places the desire to sin in a person's mind can be resisted, but if his guard is not up, he can allow that influence to enter his heart and become part of him. This is what happened to Adam and Eve when Satan came calling to influence them toward the desire to take of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

As long as Adam and Eve were only in the presence of the holy and righteous God in the Garden of Eden, sin was not a problem because God's communication with them was entirely righteous, encouraging, and positive. But when the personification of evil showed up, they did not resist his appeals to join with him in sinning against the holy God. Their spirits picked up on what he was communicating to them, and they joined him in sin.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Ecclesiastes and Christian Living (Part Fourteen): A Summary

John 3:6

What, then, is the new birth? It is not the removal of anything from the sinner, nor the changing of anything within or without the sinner's body. It is, instead, the communication of a precious gift to the sinner. It is forgiveness and the imparting of the new nature. When we were born from our mothers, we received from our parents their nature, what Paul calls the "carnal" or "fleshly" nature. When one is born again, he receives from God His nature, as II Peter 1:4 relates, ". . . by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature."

As early as Genesis 1, the Bible shows that a fundamental law of nature is that every living thing brings forth its own kind. What is produced by a vegetable is vegetable; what is born of animal is animal. What is born of sinful man and woman is a sinful child, which Paul designates in Romans 8:8 as being "in the flesh." It cannot be anything else. We may educate and cultivate it all we please, but human nature remains "in the flesh." It may be refined flesh, beautiful flesh, or religious flesh, but it is still "in the flesh."

On the other hand, what is born or brought forth by the impartation of God's Spirit is spirit. To use Paul's term, such a person is "in the Spirit" (Romans 8:9). The child always partakes of the nature of its parents. What is born of man is carnal and sinful; what is born of God is spiritual.

Being born again is the creation of a new man in Christ Jesus. It is the birth of a new spiritual man within the physical. The new birth is the imparting of the mind, the nature, of Jesus Christ. Paul explains in I Corinthians 2:9-16:

But as it is written: "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him." But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of 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. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not in words which man's wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them because they are spiritually discerned. But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ.

Every born-again person is automatically and instantaneously a child of God, a member of the Family of God, and being part of that Family, he becomes a citizen of the Kingdom of God. In every case in which God commands or exhorts His children, He does so as to an adult who is fully capable of carrying out what He says. A command may be said to one young in the faith, even one called a "babe" due to his spiritual immaturity, but he is not a spiritual fetus. He is physically an adult with a great deal of experience from which he can draw for decision making, along with his growing knowledge of God.

There is no gestation period, just as there was no gestation period when God created Adam and Eve as the culmination of the physical creation. In Genesis 2:7, God breathed into Adam the breath (ruach, a type of the Holy Spirit) of life, and he immediately became a living soul, not a fetus in a womb. Paul calls us "a new creation" (II Corinthians 5:17). However, the spiritual creation is not fully complete, in the same way as the development of a newly born human child is incomplete. Much growth remains to be done.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Born Again or Begotten? (Part Two)

John 20:22

When God, in Jesus Christ, wanted His disciples to understand what was going to happen on the day of Pentecost, He did not blow a dove out of His mouth—He breathed! This illustrates a great deal about whether the Holy Spirit is a personality or an inanimate thing. Wind is inanimate; it has no personality.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Holy Spirit


 




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