How often Christians complain about the weakness and sinfulness of their own fallen human nature. No matter how hard they try to live the Christian life, with all the energy the flesh can muster, the result is failure. “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not”, Rom. 7. 18. But why complain about the unsatisfactory character of the life that we ourselves control? In God’s purpose, that life is no more: “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him’, 6. 6; do we accept this? The old man has also been buried, “we are buried”, 6. 4. If we have been born anew, we have begun to live a new kind of life, “we also should walk in newness of life”, 6. 4. Is it not time that we ceased to bemoan the self-controlled life, and recognize that it has died and has been buried with Christ? Let us turn our whole attention to the sweetness of the new life controlled by the Holy Spirit. Let us move out of Romans 7, “wretched man that I am’, v. 24, into Romans 8, “Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us”, v. 37.
This move consists of four steps, the first of which is receiving the Holy Spirit. At conversion each Christian receives Him: “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation : in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise”, Eph. 1.13. If we have not received Him, we are not converted, “Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his”, Rom. 8. 9. For the “we”, who are justified by faith, are the “us" who have received the Holy Spirit, 5. 1, 5.
Whom have we received ? In the Person of God the Father, we think primarily of God as the One dwelling eternally in heaven. In the Person of the Son of God, we see God once displayed here upon earth. In the Person of the Holy Spirit, God has come to dwell within us. The Holy Spirit has come to indwell us in order to reproduce in us the character of God as seen in the Person of Christ.
"The Word was God … And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth”, John 1. 1, 14. “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord”, 2 Cor. 3. 18. “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son”, Rom. 8. 29.
The second step is to avoid grieving the Holy Spirit, “And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption”, Eph. 4. 30. How do we grieve the Holy Spirit? By sinning seems the obvious answer. But if He were dwelling within us in an ungrieved state, our lives would be “filled with the Spirit”, 5. 18. It is when we fail to put on the new man that we grieve the Holy Spirit by frustrating His purpose in us.
The third step is to be filled with the Holy Spirit. “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit”, 5. 18. A drunken man is a marked contrast to a Spirit-filled Christian, The drunken man has completely lost control of himself. But the Spirit-filled saint is one who is wholly controlled by the Holy Spirit. He is lifted up to a spiritual and heavenly plane; his very character and all the actions flowing from it are altered, becoming Christ-like. This is the proof of a Spirit-filled life, evi-denced by bearing the fruit of the Spirit which is “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, self-control”, Gal. 5. 22-23 r.v. These positive qualities exclude hatred, discontent, strife, irritability, indifference, sin, harshness and ill-temper.
How can we be filled with the spirit? By faith, by entrusting our-selves to the Spirit, by allowing Him to break the binding power of besetting sins, by allowing Him to give us victory over temptation and by allowing Him to supply the necessary spiritual virtues for each new situation. We were saved by trusting in the work of Another, the Lord Jesus Christ who died for our sins; then shall we live by yielding to the work of Another, the same Lord Jesus Christ living in us by His Spirit. “I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me”, Gal. 2. 20.
The fourth step is to walk in the Spirit, Rom. 8.4, Gal. 5. 16, 25. We need to walk habitually in the Spirit – that is, to be continuously controlled by the Spirit. As we walk in the Spirit, looking to Him each present moment to fill us with His divine fruit, how Christ-like should we become. As we walk by the Spirit, our degree of holiness will be determined by His power to create the life of Christ within us. “That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man … Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think … be glory’, Eph. 3. 16, 20, 21.
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