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We Need the Spirit of Christ
Gen. James Green
"But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his" (Rom. 8:9).
O NLY GOD knows who actually, truly repents of his/her sins and receives the "Spirit of Christ" at conversion. Raising your hand at an invitation to receive Christ does not save us. Acknowledging Him as Savior, even Lord, will not save us. WE MUST REPENT OF OUR SINS FIRST. If we're to believe that every repentant soul does this, then we believe from that moment he/she accepts Christ as Savior and Lord has received the Holy Spirit (see 1 Cor. 3:16; 6:19-20; Eph. 1:13, 14 etc.).
We might ask, "Do we receive the Holy Spirit, or Spirit of Christ?" This receiving the Spirit is of great importance. Thus this: "Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His." So, what of all these church folks who go to church that have never repented? We just prayed for a young woman yesterday (Saturday, Jan. 11, 2014) who belonged to a large contemporary church here in New Mexico—one in which you would think would make sure their members were Biblically saved—she was not! So, we led her into the repentance prayer. WE FIND THIS ALL THE TIME. We find this all too often among Roman Catholics, in which New Mexico has a very large population.
You see, they may belong to such-in-such church, but do not belong to Christ. Paul's words are EXPLICIT! Many have the name of Christ—"Christian"—but lack His Spirit. It has become a trend to call oneself "Christian" these days. We know, we deal with hundreds and hundreds that are "Christian" in name only.
Is it possible to misuse/misapply, the name of Christ? This holy name must not indiscriminately be applied.
If a man has the Spirit of Christ, he is Christ's. Even theoretically orthodox men/women have not Christ (we well know), many of these have an avowed preference for the doctrines of Christ, yet some are actually Christ-less. In fact, there are whole denominations that don't bother with repentance at all. Poor LOST SOULS!! They are peculiar (queer), even somewhat wholesome, yet remain LOST.
Spirit of Christ
Are we speaking of His personal Spirit or character? We love to speak of Jesus, Son of Mary, Son of Man, Son of God. He was forgiving, humble, gentle, amiable, kind, loving, etc. (He also had a very opposite side to Him). Surely all the above traits are characteristic of the Spirit of Christ. We love to say “Jesus is love." True, but love is not a dry sentiment that pays no regard to moral distinctions; and that gives out immoral licenses, winking at little and great sins. Yet in today's church, this is what is preached (with exceptions), believed, and practiced: "Live like Hell and go to Heaven" stuff.
THE EARTH GROWS BEAUTIFUL FLOWERS…AND POISONOUS WEEDS. LET US DISCERN WHICH ONE WE LOVE/PARTAKE OF.
Paul says in Rom. 8:8, "they that are in the flesh cannot please God" (see Rom. 3:20). What he is saying is those who are in the flesh are those who belong merely to the natural order (in a "fallen state”). "BUT," Paul starts out in v. 9, "You do not belong to this natural order: you (if born again) belong to the new, supernatural, Spiritual order, if ("since") the Spirit of God dwells in you." The Interpreter's Bible points out that the possession of the Spirit constitutes an anticipation enjoyment of the life of the new age. If we have the Spirit, we belong, most intimately and truly, not to this world, which is deformed and soon to pass away, but to the new world (I call it the New World Order), which is promised and indeed already appearing" (vol. 9, p. 511).
It is permissible to say that the "Spirit" can be alluded to as "the Holy Spirit;" "the Spirit of God," simply as the "Spirit," or as "the Spirit of Christ." You see, to know Christ, to be in Christ, to be in the Spirit, to have the Spirit, to belong to the body of Christ; these are all ways of alluding to the meaning of the same experience; they are interchangeable.
Carnal vs. Spirit
Paul describes two kinds of life—"carnal" and "spiritual," or "fleshly," and "supernatural." The "spiritual life” is not an immaterial existence, nor one in which the body is denied its proper part. We might even say "earthly" verses "heavenly." We could go so far as to say "slave" and "free man." When one has the "Spirit of Christ," the permanence and the intimacy of the relationship is presupposed. The Christian's life becomes the dwelling place of God's Spirit. Or, to put it another way, we are His Temple wherein He dwells (see 1 Cor. 3:16).
We should part company with all forms of pantheism. Not so today. The church now worships many gods; SELF being the greatest. When we are truly born again (from above), Christ in us becomes the motivating power of a new quality of life—life in the Spirit. Eternal life is not merely endlessness, but also a divine quality, very opposite from the "spirit of the world." But these days, it is really difficult to discern who is Christian and who is not. Belief must be accompanied by conduct—changed conduct!
Note what Jesus said in Matt. 7:21: "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven." The Bible, not man, sets the conditions of entering and remaining in Christ. Let's take a minute to examine this verse which Jesus emphatically taught:
1) The forgiveness of God comes to us through faith and repentance made possible by the grace and sacrificial death of our Lord Jesus Christ (see Luke 15:11-32; 18:9-14);
2) Obedience to God's Will (demanded by Christ) is an ongoing condition for salvation (this is almost gone from today's church). We're to live for Christ, not for ourselves or for the world (Rom. 6:1-23; 8:1-17; 12:1, 2). We're to put sin to death, not let it have reign in us;
3) With Christ in us, we are capable of doing His Will. His grace, power, and spiritual life is continually given to the obedient (Eph. 2:5). Eph. 2:8-10 declares that the Christian is God's workmanship. This means let Him make up the way He wants us to be, not the way we want to be. This is a BIG problem among church people today, especially ministers;
4) God never puts things in our way that we cannot deal with. If He demands certain obedience, He will always give us the grace to do it. Paul writes in Phil. 2:13 that, "It is God which worketh in you both TO WILL and TO DO of His good pleasure." However, His work in us is not one of compulsion or irresistible grace. NO! The work of grace within us is always dependent on our obedience/faithfulness (see Phil. 1:6; 1 Thes. 5:24; 2 Tim. 4:18; Titus 3:5-7 etc.).
Let it be said that His grace does not annul human responsibility or action. Today's church thinks so. They say, "Jesus did it all; we don't have to do anything but believe." And so, the church is BACKSLID!
While it is true that we, as Christians, remain here to reject His grace, to refuse to obey, this "freedom" will cause us to miss out in the end. Phil. 2:12 pretty much settles this issue, "Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling." If we FAIL to do this, we lose the very salvation bestowed on us. "Once in grace, always in grace" is a lie! We not only obey His will, but we must disobey the flesh (Satan to boot!).
Jesus taught, "Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the Kingdom of Heaven" (Mt. 5:20). The same applies once one becomes a Christian. Our righteousness cannot merely be outward, but inner attitudes and conduct. The heart and spirit, not only the outwards, churchy deeds, must conform to God's will. WOULD TO GOD TODAY'S CHURCHGOERS WOULD SEE THIS. THEY SING LIKE ANGELS AND LIVE LIKE DEVILS!
This very thing is what caused Jesus' moral indignation. If He had not been right, He could not have been so critical. He never threw discredit upon others unless they had it coming.
Have we the Spirit of Christ? Are we cowards or Christians? Are we following the Spirit of Christ today? Jesus never changed the quality of His Words—they CUT, they BURNED. But they also gave hope and joy.
Spirit of Truth
Jesus describes the work of the Holy Spirit in John 16:5-15. Verse 13 mentions: "the Spirit of Truth…which will guide us into all truth.” But men, religious men, prefer their own spirit. Why? If they allowed the Holy Spirit to rule, He would reprove sin (v. 8), and today's churchites just can't afford this. This would take away all their FUN! If we allow the Holy Spirit to rule, our conduct would be put on trial. The Holy Spirit would make sure we produce spiritual fruit, not plastic fantastic fruit to be seen of men. Oh, no, not if the Holy Spirit was at work in our hearts!
Let it be said that there is a DIFFERENCE BETWEEN KNOWING BIBLICAL TRUTH (like doctrines, principles etc.) THAN KNOWING THE GOD/SPIRIT OF TRUTH AND ALLOWING THEM TO LEAD AND GUIDE YOU. Allowing Divine agency to rule is what Christianity is all about. When the Spirit of truth rules, we find that His written Word is quickened, its applications enlarged, and its inspiration flows. In other words the Bible will come ALIVE and remain ALIVE; it will not just be dead letter to us—within its pages, within the letter will be infinite, ever-gracious, ever-luminous spirit, if we will allow the Spirit of truth to rule in our hearts.
Jesus allowed the Holy Ghost (or Spirit) to lead/guide Him: "And Jesus being FULL of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was LED by the Spirit into the wilderness" (Lk. 4:1).
If you are not filled with the Holy Ghost, ask for it ("baptized in," or "baptismal of the Holy Ghost" see Lk. 11:13). I've already taught on the baptism of the Holy Ghost, so I won't go into that right now. But, if you examine Jesus' life, you'll see just how Jesus and the Holy Ghost worked together. This ought to tell us something.
Jesus' earthly birth was the result of the Holy Ghost (Mt. 1:18, 23; Lk. 1:27, 35). At His water baptism, He was personally anointed by the Holy Ghost (Mt. 3:16, 17; Lk. 3:21-22). He was led by the Holy Ghost into the wilderness to do combat with Satan by the Holy Ghost (Lk. 4:1). His ministry was a Spirit ministry (Lk. 4:16-19). He promised to give the Holy Ghost to ALL those who ask—this happened at Pentecost (Acts 2:4), and this promise remains for ALL those who become His disciples and ask for it (Acts 1:5; 2:39). Have you received the Holy Ghost since you believed? There are those who say we do not need it. Why? ALL Christians NEED to be FILLED/BAPTIZED with or in the Holy Ghost. This is needful for our walk.
Jesus' resurrection/ascension into Heaven, was the result of the power of the Holy Ghost (Mk. 16:19). Now, today, the Holy Ghost takes that which is Christ's and reveals it to believers (Jn. 16:14, 15). That is, the redemptive benefits of salvation in Christ are mediated to us thru the Holy Ghost (Rom. 8:14-16; Gal. 4:6). But most important is Jesus' nearness to us (Jn. 14:18), thank you Jesus!! It is the Spirit that makes us aware of the personal presence of the rise/glorified Christ, His wonderful love, blessings, help, forgiveness, healing…all by and thru faith. It is the Spirit that draws (if we allow Him) our hearts to seek God/Christ Jesus in love, prayer, devotion, and worship (see Jn. 4:23-24; 16:14). You see, through the Spirit, Jesus is close to us to disclose His love, grace, and personal fellowship.
When we see "Christians" that are dry, wayward, we can assume that they will not/have not allowed the Spirit to rule in their lives. This is not to say that we do not go thru "dry places" in our walk, but too many these days just refuse to allow the Spirit to have His way in the people of God.
Finally, Jesus' return for His people, this blessed hope of ALL believers (who remain true and faithful, that is). Titus 2:13 tells us, "Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ." This, by the way, is not the RAPTURE that so many believe in—no such thing [write for our 4 booklets on this "false hope"]. The "blessed hope" is the resurrection. The Spirit testifies that our final redemption (from the dead—if we are dead when He returns) remains incomplete until Christ returns (Rom. 8:23). At the very close of the Bible, the Holy Ghost inspired the Words, "Come, Lord Jesus" (Rev. 22:20).
Let us ALL seek to please God. This is possible only as we have the Spirit of Christ ruling. Our works will not count. Our strength will fail. Our way is not His way. There is no hope outside of Christ Jesus. If we lay aside the "crucified" life and take up the "fleshly" life, WE DIE! Pride of life, that so many today follow after, is an abomination unto God. Seek His humility. This alleviates many, many heavy burdens that the people of God pack around. "If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His."