German cars are known for their innovative technologies, high performance, and classy appearance. Some that might come to mind: Mercedes, BMW (Bavarian Motor Works), Audi, Porsche, Volkswagen and Opel.
Well, there is another marvel of German engineering, and it is not an automobile, but a breed of dog called the German Shorthaired Pointer (GSP), which we happen to have had the opportunity to “dog sit” this past week for a few days while the owners (directors of Camp Elohim) had a chance to get away for a much-needed break after a very busy, fruitful summer Bible camp season. We realized right away that this very distinctly colored dog (“Ridge” by name) was a very “high-maintenance” pooch. I did a little research to find out their background and discovered that, like the vehicles mentioned above, the GSP was the product of some ingenious German engineering in the mid to late 19th Century. Bred to be a multi-purpose hunting dog, the GSP was the result of cross-breeding a bird dog with various German scent hounds. The English Pointer was brought into the mix to give the new breed some elegance. The resulting “German Shorthaired Pointer” as it was called, is a high-energy, fairly large, tautly muscled athletic dog with an amazing sense of smell and a natural bent to find birds and even mice. The GSP has a mind of its own and is easily distracted so obedience training is highly recommended. They need lots of exercise and going for a walk with them doesn’t do it; they need to run–and oh my, can they ever run! We took “Ridge” to the local dog park and watched as he ran with a couple of lab-mix dogs and had them with their tongues hanging out trying to keep up, while Ridge was ready to keep going!
We have a backyard with lots of flowers and trees and a bird feeder, so Ridge thought he was in “doggy heaven” as he raced around following all the delightful bird smells. It was quite the sight when a big wild turkey decided to land on the fence by the feeder, not realizing Ridge was standing below!
While the German engineers may be credited with coming up with this particular breed of dog, when God created birds and animals, as recorded in the book of Genesis (“Book of Beginnings”), He placed within dogs genetics which would allow for cross-breeding to develop new species like the “Labradoodle” and “German Shorthaired Pointer.” Each breed of dog also has its unique characteristics and tendencies. For the GSP, it is racing around checking out all the trees and bushes for birds, or the shelves in the garage for mice!
Mankind also has some natural characteristics and tendencies. We are all, no matter what our national heritage, born with a bent toward sin. We often blame certain weaknesses, such as a temper or stubbornness, on our background, but it happens to come with being part of the human race, and it began in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve disobeyed God and their nature changed. Everyone born since that time–except Jesus Christ, who was born of a virgin–has received that sinful “Adamic” nature which is called by the Apostle Paul in his letters “the old man” (Col. 3:9), “the flesh” (Ro. 7:5,25; 8:1,3-5,8-13) and “the natural man” (I Cor. 2:14). We also refer to it as “the old Adamic nature.” We sin because we are sinners. It is our nature to do so. Paul wrote in Eph. 2:3, “Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.”
It is very obvious to all of us who have reared children that you don’t have to teach them to lie, cheat, steal, and be self-centered. It all comes very naturally, for each of us is born that way. That’s why Jesus told Nicodemus that in order to be part of the Kingdom of Heaven he (and we) must be “born again” (Jn. 3:3), that is “born of the Spirit” (vv. 7,8). When we put our trust in Jesus Christ for salvation, believing in His death on our behalf and his burial and resurrection, we “become children of God” (Jn.1:12 cf I Jn. 3:2) and are indwelled by the Holy Spirit, and through Him, Christ and the Father also dwell in us. We become “partakers of the divine nature” (II Pet. 1:4). While we will have the old nature still dwelling in us until death, we no longer have to let it rule our lives. We will still listen to it occasionally and end up sinning, but we don’t have to. As one of our elders at Three Lakes Community Bible Church (where I pastored) put it when he received Christ, “God changed my ‘wanter.'” He now had a desire to obey and serve God. That was from the new nature (God) dwelling in him.
Just as the German Shorthaired Pointer has some natural tendencies that make it necessary for obedience training, so we too, with our tendency to rebel and disobey God (Isa. 53:6), need “obedience training,” which comes when we are born from above, enter God’s family, and He begins the training process, helping us start to let the Spirit control our lives instead of our old sinful flesh. And–PTL–if we “walk by the Spirit we will not carry out the desire of the flesh” (Gal. 5:16).