What do you know about the nature of God?
Loving, patient, powerful, faithful, creative, glorious--these are just a few of the attributes of God. He is multifaceted, complex, and unknowable. And the mission of our lives is to discover new angles of who He is.
But what if I told you we were missing something huge? In this post, we’ll explore the nature of God and its mind-boggling implications for us as Christ followers.
What we tend to forget about the nature of God is that His nature is our nature.
We’re often told to “become more like Jesus.” And it’s not unbiblical advice:
For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. - Romans 8:29-30 (NIV)
At times, this lofty mandate to conform to Christ’s image can feel intimidating and unattainable. But in becoming more like Christ, we don’t have to warp our natural selves into the inhuman image of someone we’ll never be. We don’t have to crush and cram ourselves into an unnatural mold. All we have to do is tap into a divine nature that is already innate to us. He blessed us with it. His nature is our nature. It was His gift to mankind from the beginning:
Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. - Genesis 1:26-27
We were created in His image. Scripture even goes so far as to claim that all of creation displays His nature:
For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. - Romans 1:20 NIV
His nature is our nature. We are made in His image. And here are a few other ways of putting it:
● We are one with Him.
But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit. - 1 Corinthians 6:17 (NIV)
● He is in us, and we are in Him.
And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. - John 14:16-20 (NIV)
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. - Galatians 2:20 (NIV)
● We have the mind of Christ.
For, "Who can know the LORD's thoughts? Who knows enough to teach him?" But we understand these things, for we have the mind of Christ. - 1 Corinthians 2:16 (NLT)
● We get to live in the Spirit.
And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you. - Romans 8:3-11
As Romans 8 indicates, we have both the Spirit and the flesh--His glorious, divine nature and our human, sinful nature--both competing for dominion over our being.
He created every human with hints of His nature. This truth manifests itself in humankind’s shared abhorrence for certain deeds as “evil” and others as “good.” For instance, the majority of humans can agree that genocide is evil. Even those who participate in heinous deeds like genocide might suffer from guilt. Our culture likes to label guilt as a bad thing, but guilt is often evidence of God’s nature in us. God detests sin, so sometimes that detestation rears its head in us. And when we are in Christ, we receive a new level of access to His nature.
When we tune into the fact that we have a divine nature welling up inside of us, fighting for us, compelling us to live in ways we never imagined we could, it makes resisting “the flesh” a little easier.
You have divine blood coursing through your veins. The nature of God is on display in you. How’s that for empowerment?
But before we delve into the implications of that empowerment, let’s make one thing clear:
His ways are not our ways, nor His thoughts our thoughts.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” - Isaiah 55:8-9
Of course God knows more than us. Of course He has massive plans that we can’t comprehend--He’s God.
An infant possesses his/her parent’s DNA. But if we compare what the parent does and thinks to what the infant does and thinks, we would find that the parent’s ways are not the infant’s ways, nor the parent’s thoughts the infant’s thoughts. Yet the infant harbors the parent’s DNA nonetheless.
This crude metaphor is just one way of beginning to understand our resemblance to God. No, His ways are not our ways, but He did deposit His DNA in us. To own our divine nature is not to fancy ourselves as equal with God; it is to fancy ourselves as His children.
The Bible also reminds us that we are dust:
● By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” - Genesis 3:19
● As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust. - Psalm 103:13-14
● Surely the fate of human beings is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath; humans have no advantage over animals. Everything is meaningless. All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return. - Ecclesiastes 3:19-20 (NIV)
We are dust, animated. God breathes His life, His spirit, His nature into us. Yet for as long as we walk this earth, we are dust. True power comes in holding the tension between our divine nature and our . . . dustiness.
When we wrap our minds around this paradox, we get to be bold, but humble.
Visionary, but down to earth.
Eternal, but temporary in this life.
So His nature is our nature; what do we do about it?
Putting on the mind of Christ and activating the nature of God in us is not a switch we flip; it’s a journey we embark on. Paul says this:
Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. - Philippians 2:12-13 (NIV)
Paul’s commission to “work out” our salvation implies a process. And what does this process look like? The following verses depict it for us:
Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. - Philippians 2:14-16 (NIV)
1. The first way we can step into our divine nature is by throwing off those habits and tendencies which do not resemble God.
The verse indicates that working out our salvation involves becoming “blameless and pure,” or ridding ourselves of sin.
2. A second way we can step into our divine nature is by unifying ourselves with the body of Christ.
Another crucial component of working out our salvation, according to Paul, is to cease from “grumbling or arguing.” These words, in context, are a call to unity within the body of Christ. The verses leading up to this moment address the Christian church’s need to unify:
Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit,if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. - Philippians 2:1-4
Everyone who is in Christ possesses the nature of God. We all possess the same Spirit; therefore, we have reason to be unified. We have something in common with every other believer.
That means putting aside our differences, taking up our crosses, and fighting for a mutual cause:
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. - Ephesians 6:12 (KJV)
Sounds intense? It is.
Our lives should be a battle so intense that we can’t fight it alone.
So instead of arguing over politics with our brothers and sisters in Christ, we need to pray together for the good of this country and for its leaders.
Instead of disputing obscure theological issues, we need to join forces and fight against what we can agree on as wrong.
Instead of complaining about each other, we need to serve and give to each other. Give by sending your sister in Christ a subscription box Serve by offering to watch her kids for the day. We need to work together to build up the body as a whole. Ephesians 4:11-13 illustrates this principle:
So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
3. Another way we can step into our divine identity is by studying God’s attributes and taking practical steps toward implementation in our own lives.
And where do we go to study God? You guessed it: the Bible. In his book, Stand, Karl Martin says this:
“Why don’t you commit yourself to re-reading one of the gospels? (I know you have read them before and think you know them pretty well, but humour me!) This time read it through the filter of ‘That’s how I’m supposed to live, that’s what I’m supposed to do, that’s who I’m supposed to be.’
As you read about Jesus, watch and see what he does, listen to his words and hear him. Ask yourself how this translates into your world, your life, your encounters today and tomorrow and this week.”
I invite you to take Martin’s advice.
4. But here’s one last way of stepping into our divine nature: opening our minds to the possibility of the impossible.
● I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. - Luke 10:19 (NIV)
● Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. - John 14:12-14 (NIV)
● He replied, "Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you." - Matthew 17:20
We can’t say we believe that God dwells in us if we’re not open to the possibility of Him working miracles through us. We are no longer limited to ourselves, our backgrounds, or our abilities; we are limited to whatever the infinite Creator of the universe can do.
So here’s to activating our divine nature and going through life as living, breathing Kingdom-channeling reflections of God’s glory.
Are you going to work on any of the four action steps above? If so, let us know in the comments!
Erica is a professional writer and editor, helping ministry leaders and entrepreneurs share their stories. She is passionate about pointing women to God's Word and empowering them to take fierce ownership of their discipleship to Jesus.