What Is Zoe?
Why did Jesus come? To found a church? To improve on humanity or to give us a code of conduct? No, He came for one purpose: “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).
The Greek word translated “life” in this verse is zoe. Zoe is the God-kind of life. The Bible says “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). And, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 6:23). This eternal life He came to give us is the nature of God. John 5:26 says, “For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself.”
In John 1:4 we get the first intimation of what this life will do for us: “In him was life; and the life was the light of men.” Light stands for development. In other words, “In him was life; and the life was the development of men.”
Or, “In him was zoe; and the zoe was the development of men.” John 5:26 could be translated, “For as the Father hath zoe in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have zoe in himself.” There are four different Greek words translated “life” in the New Testament. First, there is zoe. Then there is psuche. That means natural or human life. Bios means manner of life. And anastrophee means confused behavior. It seems strange that the church has majored on “man- Zoe” or “behavior” rather than eternal life, which determines in a very large way the manner of life.
No matter what manner of life or behavior you have, if you don’t have eternal life, it won’t amount to anything anyway. Receiving eternal life is the most miraculous incident in life. Often we call it conversion or the new birth. Some call it “getting religion,” but that’s not what it is, really. It is, in reality, God imparting His very nature, sub-stance, and being to our human spirits.
It is described by the Apostle Paul in 2 CORINTHIANS 5:17,18 “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, who both reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation”.
This is the miraculous recreating of man. “Therefore if any man be in Christ . . . .” You understand Paul is not talking about the body, or the outward man, or the mind. He’s talking about the spirit the inward man who is in Christ. God is actually giving birth to a new man. In the new birth, our spirits are born of God. More than one of the prophets of the Old Testament prophesied that God would establish a New Covenant with the house of Israel. This covenant is the New Testament, as we know it. Concerning this new covenant, Ezekiel said: EZEKIEL 36:26,27 “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them”.
What he is prophesying about is the new birth. The words “heart” and “spirit” are used interchangeably. Your heart is your spirit. When God is speaking of the heart of a man in His Word, He is speaking of the real you. A Scripture that is illuminating on the subject is First Peter 3:4: “But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.” Peter, here, is talking to Christian wives, and he mentions the outward adorning of the flesh. He says, in effect, “Don’t take all your time on your hair and clothes. But see to it that the inward man, or hidden man of the heart, is adorned first with a quiet and meek spirit.”
Paul, in First Corinthians 9:27, says: “But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.” Notice something. “I” keep under my body and “I” bring it into subjection. What is he saying? “I” don’t let my body rule me. “I” is the man on the inside. If your body were you, he would have said, “I keep myself under.” He calls the body “it.” Who is “I”? “I” is the real you. That is, the inward man or hidden man of the heart.
With most people, their body rules their inward man. That is what makes carnal Christians. 1 CORINTHIANS 3:3 “For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? Here Paul is telling the Corinthians they are carnal or baby Christians. One translation says “body ruled” instead of “carnal.” He tells them they are living like people who have never been born again mere men. Paul says something else interesting in writing to the Romans. ROMANS 12:1,2 “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God”. Paul wasn’t writing to the world. He was writing to the saints at Rome. “To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints” (Rom. 1:7). He said you do something with your body. If you don’t do anything with it, nothing will ever be done.
In our church teachings we have cluttered up some of this until our minds are fuzzy and it is difficult to get the real truth over to people. He didn’t say, “present your-selves” to God, because if you are a child of God you already belong to Him. You can’t very well present to someone what already belongs to him.
There is not a word in the New Testament about dedicating yourselves or giving yourselves in this sense. But you find that if you are born again, you are His. You are. You is that inward man who has become a new man in Christ. Second Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore if any man . . . .” What man is Paul talking about? Does he mean the outward man? No, it couldn’t be the outward man, because he said,”‘. . . if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature.” It is the life and nature of God coming into your spirit that makes you a new creature. It makes the inward man a new man.
The body is not new. Thank God, at the coming of the Lord, we will have a new body. This new man, the hidden man of the heart, is to dominate the body. The body is not to dominate you. Paul not only talks about doing something with the body, but in Romans 12:2 he talks about renewing the mind. He is writing to people who are born again and Spirit filled, yet they need to do something with their bodies and minds.
One of the greatest needs of church members today is to have renewed minds. Your mind becomes renewed with the Word of God. We know this, then: Man is a spirit. We know he is in the same class with God, because God is a Spirit and because man was made to have fellowship with God. We’ve never majored on this fact as we ought. Therefore, we’ve never been able to walk in the light of eternal life as we ought.
Some have wondered whether the reborn spirit, the new man in Christ, is perfect, or fully developed after receiving eternal life. The spirit couldn’t be perfect, because Peter says, “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the Word, that ye may grow thereby” (1 Peter 2:2).
And Paul says, “I have not yet reached perfection” (Phil. 3:12, The New English Bible: New Testament translation). Actually, the Greek word used there for perfection means “reaching maturity.” Some people say, “I’m perfect and complete in Christ.” Well, yes, you’re a complete person, but you’re not full grown. There are always people who are promiscuous about permitting sin, and who want to excuse themselves by saying, “It was just my body that sinned; it wasn’t my spirit.” But sin is a spiritual thing; it isn’t a physical thing. Paul said in writing to the Church at Corinth, “Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body” (1 Cor. 6:18). So if it’s without the body, it has to be a spiritual thing. However, even fornication originates in your spirit. Your spirit has to give your body permission to sin or your body can’t do it.
You’re the custodian of your house. Remember Paul said, “But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection” (1 Cor. 9:27). You’re responsible for what that body does. It all starts in your spirit. That’s what Paul meant when he said, “. . . let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit” (2 Cor. 7:1). Don’t let things start in your spirit. In Romans 6:6 it says, “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.” Some use that verse to say we are already redeemed, spirit, soul, and body. What does that verse mean? The body of sin Paul is talking about is not the physical body; he’s talking about the spirit man. You are a new creature. The old sin nature in your spirit is gone. The sin nature in your flesh is still there. The problem is that the flesh nature still wants to do things wrong. It wants to keep on doing the things it always did. If your mind is not renewed with the Word of God, it will side in with your flesh and dominate your spirit. But if you get your mind renewed, your spirit, through your mind, will dominate your body. The old man is the old spiritual man. You’ve still got the same body you had and the same mind you had. That old spiritual man had the nature of the devil in him. That is the nature that’s gone, or the body of sin that’s gone. It is up to us to put on the new man on the outside. Many ask what the difference is between renewing your mind and training your spirit. Actually, if you follow those principles involved in training the human spirit (I have a tape series on the subject), your mind will become renewed. What you are doing in renewing your mind is training your mind to think in line with God’s Word. Even if the Word doesn’t seem to be registering on your mind, it will speak to your spirit, because it’s spiritual food. By meditating upon it, your mind becomes renewed. You see, because your spirit becomes new when you are born again, it will know things your head doesn’t know. Your spirit will try to tell you things the Word already tells you but you just can’t see them. That’s because your spirit picks up knowledge from the Spirit of God.
Notice in James 1:21 it says,”. . . receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.” That used to bother me before I separated spirit and soul (Heb. 4:12), because I thought your soul was saved if you were born again. You see, your spirit has become a new man, but it is the Word of God which will save your soul, or restore it.
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