This is study HF030 - The Imprinting of the Lord.
In this study we will look more closely at a spiritual phenomena
that is unique to the Christian faith. It can be compared to
'imprinting' that takes place between children and their parents. It seems
that even nature teaches us many lessons about our heavenly life.
Jesus spoke of the new covenant experience by the use of
prophetic pictures. He said, "Out of your innermost being shall flow
rivers of living water." (John 7:38) This is a picture of a believer who
is deeply acquainted with the spiritual life of our covenant in Christ.
Peter adds to this by saying that we have been delivered from a
futile way of life that belonged to our fathers, and that we now have life
that is joyful, being inexpressible, and full of glory." (1 Peter
Nature seems to carry pictures of the spiritual imprinting that takes
place between the Lord and a person born from above. You see it in the
bird kingdom. Imprinting is what causes the penguin chick, and the mother
penguin to recognize one another, even in the midst of literally hundreds
of thousands of birds chirping loudly, and covering the beaches like a
How does the mother penguin know her chick? How does the chick
know which mother is the parent? The mother penguin knows even
sooner than does the chick. And so it is with our heavenly Father.
He knew us, and loved us long before we had a capacity to return
our love to Him.
Among earthly creatures, such as the penguins, imprinting is an
activity of sound & smell, along with other things. With the case of God's
heavenly children, imprinting is a work of the Holy Spirit. It is this
process that causes believers to know and recognize the voice of Jesus.
The Lord said, "I am the good Shepherd, and I know My own and my own know
Me." (John 10:14)
Think about the natural human family. Infants imprint with the
mother soon after birth. And even to some extent with the father.
What happens is that the infant begins to recognize the 'sounds' of
the mother, her smell, and various other stimuli.
If you'll notice, the mother will adjust her voice to a special tone when
speaking, or singing, or playing with the infant. Fathers do this also.
This is nature. But the strongest stimuli is 'the voice.'
Scientist tell us that if for some reason an infant does not bond or
imprint at an early stage with someone, that child will actually enter
adult life with psychological, and even physical problems. In fact, they
will never be able to bond with other adults properly. (Of course, in
Christ this all changes.) This lets us know how very crucial imprinting is
to our human nature.
To bring this over into the new covenant realm, it seems the natural is a
reflection of the spiritual. In fact, Paul even makes such a comparison.
He says, "The spiritual is not first, but the natural, then the
spiritual." (1 Corinthians 15:46)
Perhaps it would be well to say that all of nature carries a spiritual
message. I can tell you that I have observed the imprinting process
hundreds of times over the years.
Generally new believers begin to imprint quickly. This is especially true
when their spiritual environment is conducive to them learning the voice
of Jesus early on.
Is there any Bible for such a thing as imprinting in a spiritual
sense? Perhaps there is. Paul wrote the Galatian Christians, and
said, "My children, with whom I am again in labor until Christ is
formed in you." (Galatians 4:19)
I don't believe that Paul was speaking of them being born again,
again. His concern was for their inability to know and recognize the
things of the Lord in their lives. The Greek word for 'formed' is
'morphoo.' It literally means 'to form the nature of.' This statement can
be translated, "Until you become like Christ was." The idea carries
over as a sense of imprinting.
Many of the Galatians believers were not yet familiar with the voice of
Jesus. Because of this they were being pulled back and forth with bad
Paul said a similar thing to the Ephesian Christians. He said, "We
are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and
carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by
craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are
to grow up in all aspects into Him." (Ephesians 4:14)
It could be said that one cause of immaturity among believer is that they
have yet to bond properly with the heavenly Father. They become restless
and unbalanced. They are easily misled. A pastor's greatest job is to help
the flock bond with the Lord. (Not with him.)
I want to pick up a word in the Bible that carries a similar idea as
bonding. Our English word 'believe' comes from the Greek 'pisteuo', which,
means to bond, to adhere to, to cleave to. (We get our word glue from this
If a young believer is not under the kind of teaching that will lead him
to believe deeply in his salvation and in God's love, he will manifest
psychological problems. This believer can become fear driven. The first
need of a child of God, is the need to know they are loved without
conditions. This is set forth by the apostle John.
This is why Paul instructed us to be very careful with the weak. He
said, "Accept the one who is weak in faith (keep imprinting in view), but
not for the purpose of passing judgment on his opinions."
Paul concludes that we are to never put an obstacle or stumbling
block in a brother's way. We are to encourage and let each believer
progress on the level where he is. What Paul said was, "To his own
Master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make
him stand." (Romans 14:4)
Did Jesus say anything about interfering with the bonding process
of believers? I think so. He said, "But whoever causes one of these
little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to
have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the
depth of the sea." (Matthew 18:6) Doesn't that sound just like a mama?
"You touch my kids, you will have to deal with me."
What is it we need to know? We need to know that in the new
covenant we have the Holy Spirit to parent us into the processes of
the covenant. It is God's Spirit who imprints us to the Lord.
There is much more to be said in this regard. The study is open for
discussion. Do you have insights or questions?
Shalom in Christ,
"See to it that no one comes short of the grace
of God; that no root of bitterness springing up
causes trouble, and by it many be defiled." (Heb12:15)