"If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His." Rom. 8:9.
Have you the Spirit? is then a question of vital importance; and from this and other Scriptures we gather, not only that every child of God has the Spirit of Christ, but that he should know that he has this blessed One dwelling in Him. We have repeatedly heard it said, "I know that I have the Spirit of God dwelling in me, because Scripture says so;" but while this is perfectly true, ought it to be enough to satisfy us? Is it possible that God the Holy Ghost can dwell in us without our having some sense of His almighty, ever-living activities in our souls? And are there not many operations of the same Spirit? Are we not also told that "the things of God knoweth no man but the Spirit of God"? How important, then, it is to have clear and intelligent thoughts, as revealed in Scripture, as to the Holy Ghost Himself, and His indwelling and operations in us!
In tracing this most blessed subject a little, we may notice first what Scripture says we have not received. We are told we have not received "the spirit of the world," which we know only occupies itself with things of earth, and time, and sense, matters bounded by death on every hand. (1 Cor. 2:12.) Nor have we received "the spirit of fear," that spirit of dread and torment ever brooding over painful uncertainties and gloomy forebodings. (2 Tim. 1:7.) Nor have we received "the spirit of bondage again to fear," connected with legal observances and ritual ceremonials, which never can deliver from the fear of death. (Rom. 8:15.) But we are distinctly told that we have "received the Spirit of God, that we might know the things which are freely given to us of God;" that we have received "the spirit of love, and of power, and of a sound mind;" and that "we have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father." All therefore of the workings within, of the love of the world and of bondage, legal fears and dreadful apprehensions, are not of the Spirit of God. Nor can that Holy Spirit produce thoughts in us for the dishonour of the Lord Jesus; for "no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed." We have in this way the ground cleared as to what the Spirit of God Both not produce in us; and also of the love, liberty, and conscious relationships He gives us to enjoy.
And further, we are told that "the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us;" thus producing in us a happy sense of our being objects of divine love. And as to intelligence, we now know what prophets declared they did not know. If a prophet said, "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him," we reply, "But God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God." (1 Cor. 2:9, 10.) Thus we see at once the actions of the Spirit, both in the heart and in the mind, according as it is written, "I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; and their sins and iniquities will I remember no more."
But the important question may be asked by some, What do you mean by having the Spirit of Christ? This expression is only used once more in Scripture as far as I remember, and then in reference to the Old Testament prophets, who testified of the sufferings of Christ, and the glories that should follow, by the Spirit of Christ which was in them. (1 Peter 1:11.) Elsewhere the prophets are said to have spoken by the Holy Ghost. By the Spirit of Christ, then, we are now to understand the Holy Ghost, that other Comforter which Jesus promised to send after His departure out of this world, and which, we are also told, could not be given till Jesus was glorified. And so important was the coming down of the Holy Ghost, that the disciples were told to tarry in Jerusalem for Him. And after Jesus had been raised from the dead, and had been seen of His disciples forty days, He charged them not to depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, for they should be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. Now observe, they were not thus put to wait for the new birth; or to be made God's children, for that they were already; nay, more, they had received risen life too, for so I understand, when Jesus breathed on them, saying, "Receive ye the Holy Ghost;" that life in the Spirit — risen life — was then communicated; but they were waiting for the Holy Ghost Himself, to indwell them, and unite them to their glorified Head in heaven in the membership of His body.
It was, then, after Jesus had gone into heaven with His own blood, having set us there before God as cleansed and justified by His blood, that the Holy Ghost came down and took up His abode for ever in such as were cleansed. First, made sons by being born of God, and cleansed from all sin, and then, "because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son in your hearts, whereby we cry, Abba, Father." These two operations — the new birth by the Spirit, and the subsequent indwelling of the Spirit — are clearly distinct, and the latter succeeds the former, i.e. the Holy Ghost indwells those who are born of God.
Observe also, it is not an emanation of the Spirit merely that is given. Scripture is quite plain as to this. It is "the Comforter" which is "the Holy Ghost." Nor do we read of our having the Spirit merely in the way of influence, though He does influence our hearts, and minds, and consciences. The idea of an influence sets aside the reality of His indwelling, and makes us think of one outside us, acting upon us, like the sun in the heavens sheds his genial rays upon us, rather than the fact of His being in us. Such thoughts also obscure the glory of His divine person, and rob souls of the happy enjoyment of His presence and operations. When one looks only at Scripture, it is unaccountable how Christians should be praying for the Spirit, and for His influences, as if He had not come.
Before the day of Pentecost it was well enough to pray for the Spirit, and to look for His coming; hence in the gospels, our blessed Lord said, "If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children; how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him?" (Luke 11:13.) But since He has come, there is no such idea in Scripture as that of Christians praying for the Spirit; but, on the contrary, in the epistles, there is the constant recognition of the fact that He is here.
To pray to the Spirit, as some insist on, is far more excusable, because the Holy Ghost is God; but even doing this betrays ignorance of the order of Scripture teaching; for the Spirit being the power of prayer, and the One who teaches us how to pray and what to pray for, who makes intercession for the saints according to God, we are spoken of as praying in the Spirit instead of to the Spirit.
But to pray for a fresh baptism of the Spirit is wholly unscriptural, and entirely without excuse. In Acts 1 the saints were instructed to wait to be baptized with the Holy Ghost. In Acts 2 the Holy Ghost came down and filled them. In 1 Cor. 12:12 we are told, that "by one Spirit we are all baptized into one body." Baptism of the Spirit is clearly then the Holy Ghost indwelling God's children, and connecting them in the unity of one body with Christ their glorified Head in heaven. If, then, believers are once for all united to Christ in glory by the Holy Ghost, how can this be re-done? What meaning therefore can be attached to the expression so common among many Christians, of praying for a fresh baptism of the Spirit? It is very sad.
Again, we sometimes hear, from those too of whom we should least expect it, of our having received only a measure of the Spirit. But where does Scripture say this? Where do you find it? It is said that "the Father giveth not the Spirit by measure:" unto him is in italics, and therefore not in the original. (See John 3:34.) And if one only thinks of it for a moment, it becomes apparent, that if it be only a measure of the Spirit we have received, then the Holy Ghost Himself has not come. It is also thought that the idea of our having the Spirit only in measure is strengthened by the expression in Ephesians 5, "Be filled with the Spirit," because they suppose to be filled with the Spirit is to have a greater measure. Such, however, is not the case. The apostle there puts it in the form of an exhortation or command, saying, "Be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit." That is, do not feed on that which excites the flesh, do not strengthen it, for that grieves and hinders the Spirit's working in us; as Peter says, "Abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul." "Be not then drunk with wine, wherein is excess;" or do not strengthen, but abstain from fleshly lusts, but "be filled with the Spirit." Or, so let that which is carnal be reckoned dead by you, that the Spirit may be ungrieved, unhindered, so that He may fill every faculty of your heart and mind. Thus to be filled with the Spirit is not having more of the Spirit, but the Spirit of God who indwells you, so ungrieved as to fill all your mind and heart with Christ.
But all these mistakes about the Holy Ghost arise from not knowing Him. "Ye know Him," said our blessed Lord, "for He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you." The eternal Godhead of the Holy Ghost is plainly and abundantly set forth in Scripture, and the attributes and sovereign actings of God are ascribed to Him. He is called the eternal Spirit. The psalmist speaks of His omnipresence, saying, "Whither shall I go from thy Spirit?" The apostle Paul alludes to His omniscience — "He searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God." In Acts 5 He is called God. In the third verse Peter charges Ananias with lying to the Holy Ghost; and in the next verse says to him, "Thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God." The sovereign actings of the Holy Ghost are seen in Acts 13:2, in saying, "Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them;" and in Acts 16:6 He forbids them to preach the word in Asia. And when they assayed to go into Bithynia, we are told that "the Spirit suffered them not." Thus we see that the Holy Ghost dwelling in the church is called God; and we also see His sovereign actings with the servants of the Lord in regard to their work. We have noticed also some of His divine attributes. Who else but God could thus act?
His personality also calls for a few words; for though He be God the Holy Ghost, He is not God the Father, nor God the Son; and yet these three are One. Though the Father and the Son are One in divine essence, so that Jesus could say, "I and my Father are One," yet in person they are distinct. Hence we read that the Father sent the Son, that "when the fulness of time was come God sent forth His Son." And so of the Holy Ghost Jesus said, "Whom the Father will send in my name" (John 14:26); and again, "Whom I will send unto you from the Father" (John 15:26); and further, "If I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you." (John 16:7.) Also His personal actings were referred to by our Lord — "He shall teach you all things. He shall bring all things to your remembrance whatsoever I have said unto you. He shall testify of me. He shall guide you into all truth. He shall glorify me: and shall receive of mine, and show unto you." What language could more plainly convey to our minds thee reality of personal actings? And who, I would ask, but One who was God, could teach all things, and guide into all truth? It is "He," "He," "He," all through. Thus the Godhead and personality of the Holy Ghost are plainly taught in the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. Let these precious truths be solemnly pondered by us.
His operations occupy a large place in Scripture. From Genesis downward His actings are constantly seen. At creation He "moved upon the face of the waters." In the wilderness He endowed Bezaleel with wisdom to make various parts of the tabernacle and furniture, so as to typify the person and work of the Lord Jesus. The anointing oil in figure set Him forth. He came upon prophets to speak and write the words of God, to set forth the sufferings of Christ and the glories which follow; and He loosed the tongues of men and women to praise and magnify Jehovah at the birth of the Son of God, who had been conceived by the Holy Ghost. He came upon Jesus, the perfect One, in bodily shape as a dove, when the Father's testimony of Him was, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." It was by the eternal Spirit that Jesus offered Himself without spot to God, and after death and burial was quickened by the Spirit. The same Holy Ghost came down to form and indwell the assembly of God at Pentecost, and has been here ever since as the other Comforter to abide with us for ever; and He is the power of all blessing.
With regard to His present operations, Scripture speaks of them as both individual and collective; for He dwells in the Church as well as in believers individually. (See Eph. 2:22; 1 Cor. 3:16; and also 1 Cor. 6:19.) On these subjects the instruction is large and varied, a knowledge of which is of the highest importance for our soul's comfort and blessing. But as the Scripture we are considering looks at the individual as possessing the Spirit, our remarks must for the present be confined to this point.
1. We are distinctly taught in Scripture, that where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty. As we have before seen, He does not bring us into bondage or servile fear, but sets our souls in the enjoyment of the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free, and points us to Him now seated in the heavenlies, as there because He did by His one offering perfect for ever them that are sanctified. Hence we sing —
"Our doubts and fears for ever gone,
For Christ is on the Father's throne."
2. It is by the Holy Ghost which is given to us that the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts. Thus we are not merely informed of the truth intellectually, but are given a feeling sense, an enjoyment of the fact that we are objects of divine love. Our hearts are melted with God's love, and we can say with the apostle, "We love Him, because He first loved us."
3. The Holy Ghost being given to us as "the Spirit of adoption" after we were born of God, filial feelings are produced in us, so that we love God as our Father, and our fellow-believers as brethren. The Spirit, no doubt by the truth, bears witness with our spirits that we are children of God, and gives us also access through Jesus unto the Father. Thus we can in some measure even now enter into these precious words of Jesus, "I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God." This marvellous relationship we know by the Spirit dwelling in us, which causes our hearts to flow out in worship to the Father, and in love and sympathy unto His children.
4. It is also by the Spirit that we can truly know and own Jesus as Lord; for we are told that "no man can say that Jesus is Lord, but by the Holy Ghost." (1 Cor. 12:3.) It is remarkable in Christendom, while many talk so glibly of "our Saviour," how comparatively rare it is to find a person ready to confess that Jesus is his Lord, the One now owned by him in the place of exaltation and honour; thus demanding both his adoring gratitude and subjection of heart and will.
5. The Holy Ghost is our Leader. "As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God." In gentleness He leads (not drives or coerces) us; but like a nurse leads her little ones across a path of defilement and danger, so He graciously gives us to hear His still small voice within us saying, "This is the way; walk ye in it." It is an important fact to notice, that those who are led of the Spirit are not under the law. Happy are they who, in meekness and confidence, wholly and unreservedly commit themselves to His sure guidance.
6. The Holy Ghost strengthens the new nature; hence the apostle prays that we may be "strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man." But He dwells in our bodies and in our hearts. "Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you?" (1 Cor. 6:19.) "God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father." (Gal. 4:6.)
7. "The fruit of the Spirit" stands in wide contrast with "the works of the flesh." It is "love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law." (Gal. 5:22, 23.)
8. The Holy Ghost is our Teacher; He guides into all truth. God has now revealed precious mysteries by His Spirit; for the Spirit searcheth all things; yea, the deep things of God. Jesus said, "He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you." What a precious Teacher! How astonishing that we do not more implicitly, and more habitually, yield ourselves to be taught by Him! Perhaps nothing shows more what self-confidence lurks in us than our shortcoming as to this.
9. The Holy Ghost who dwelleth in us is the other Comforter, the Paraclete — the One who manages everything in us, even as Jesus is the Advocate, or Paraclete, above, and manages everything for us up there. We are filled with joy in the Holy Ghost, we abound in hope by the power of the Holy Ghost, and are taught to cry, "Come, Lord Jesus." It is by His gracious ministry that the word which testifies of Christ is often brought to remembrance so suitably to our heart's need, that we are comforted when cast down, or gently reproved when inclining to that which is evil in His sight. It is by His effectual working that the personal glories, accomplished redemption, triumphant work, fitness and fulness of Christ, are brought 'home to our souls for comfort and blessing. He is the power of our fellowship with the Father and His Son, and the helper of our infirmities in prayer. He is ever attracting us to Christ, drawing us up to where He is, and setting our minds on things above. He glorifies Christ, and takes of the things of Christ and shows unto us, and teaches us as to ourselves that in us, that is in our flesh, dwells no good. He is always associating our souls with Christ; as another has said —
"He never leads a man to say,
Thank God I'm made so good,
But turns his eye another way,
To Jesus and His blood."
10. It is the Holy Ghost dwelling in us who is the lower of all ministry. When, through the exercise of faith in the Lord Jesus, we drink in the blessed satisfaction, enjoyment, and rest that He gives to needy, thirsty souls, and it sinks down in deep reality in us, then it gushes forth from us in blessing to others; as Jesus said, "If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink. He that believeth on Me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake He of the Spirit, which they that believe on Him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; becausse that Jesus was not yet glorified.)" Thus in the early part of John's gospel we have the three great actions of the Spirit set forth. In the third chapter, the new birth, or being born of the Spirit; in the fourth chapter, what it is to be indwelt by the Spirit, who is alway drawing the heart upward: "Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: but whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life." (vv. 13, 14.) Then, as we have just seen, in the seventh chapter, the action of the Holy Ghost flowing out in blessing to those around from deeply-felt power of Christ's preciousness. But it is important to observe that each of these operations is connected with the Lord Jesus Christ.
11. The Holy Ghost is also the One by whom we are sealed unto the day of redemption. He is the earnest, until we come into the actual possession of the inheritance, and the anointing or spiritual power whereby we are fitted to live according to the Lord's mind: "After that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of His glory." (Eph. 1:13, 14.) "Ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things." (1 John 2:20.) Besides these, there are many more operations of the Holy Ghost the Comforter, who has come down to dwell in us; and it is well to see that He is in us, and is to abide with us for ever. Many a timid soul says, "I am afraid I shall so grieve Him that He will depart from me;" but Scripture says quite the reverse. "Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption." (Eph. 4:30.) But they say, Then why did David so fear this that he cried out, "Take not thy Holy Spirit from me"? But it is certain that David never had the Spirit dwelling in him as we have; and if he only knew what it was to have the Spirit coming upon him, and moving him now and then to prophesy, etc., no wonder that he so ardently cried out, "Take not thy Holy Spirit from me." It is, however, sufficient to show that the teaching of the epistles is not, Do not grieve Him, lest He depart; but, Do not grieve Him, because He will not depart, but will abide with you for ever. "Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption." (Eph. 4:30.)
12. But there is a point that ought not to be overlooked. It is this. Our Lord assured His disciples that when the Holy Ghost came they would know three things; the personal glory of Jesus as in the Father, and also that we are in Christ, and that He is in us. And about these precious realities there would be no doubt, when the Holy Ghost came. "In that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you." (John 14:20.) The importance of this divine statement cannot be overrated, for it shows the character of spiritual intelligence that every believer should now possess. And no doubt these precious facts would be both known and enjoyed, if believers were more simply deriving their information from God's word, instead of from the teachings and traditions of men. Alas! how many souls are doubting their salvation, instead of enjoying by faith the blessed realities of their being in Christ, accepted in Him, complete in Him, made the righteousness of God in Him! One thing, however, is certain, that the Holy Ghost teaches all true believers in the Lord Jesus Christ that we have redemption in Christ, and through His blood; that we are children of God, and not under the law; that we are in Christ, and that He is in us.
Enough has been said to show that those who have known a power outside flesh and blood bringing them as sinners to Jesus as Saviour, who know Jesus in the heavens to be Lord, who have God's love in their hearts, who are conscious of having life, a new life in Christ, enjoy the liberty wherewith Christ has made them free, and who realize that One is teaching, guiding, leading them into God's truth, and obedience to it, for His glory, have the Holy Ghost, the Spirit of Christ. Oh the depth of the riches of the grace of God to us!
"What moved Thee to impart
Thy Spirit from above,
Therewith to fill our heart
With heavenly peace and love?
'Twas love, unbounded love to us,
Moved Thee to give Thy Spirit thus."