“I AM MY BELOVED’S, & his desire is towards me!” (Song of Solomon 7:10)….LIFE IN THE SPIRIT OF CHRIST: I was saved, am being saved, & will be saved! Certain individuals fancy they speak for God, the Word of God says otherwise. This post is a deep Scripture-based study to explain what life in Christ genuinely feels, looks & sounds like. For the mature believer it will resonate, for the immature perhaps it will clear up lots of false teachings, and for the non-believer, who can handle all the God-talk, it may be a guide to help them dismiss the un-Christlike verbage that spews forth from many who label themselves Christians.
HAS ANY ONE DISCIPLED YOU? Christ instructed his followers to make disciples of his teachings (A). He described a disciple as one who will “be as his teacher [i.e. Christ]” or as the KJV says “be as his master”.(B) A disciple abides in Christ’s words, loves his brothers, & bears good fruit.(C) He constantly admonished his disciples to learn from him, & follow him, his commandments & teachings. He also said to abide in him, and that he would send his Spirit to enable his disciples to so. (D) This Spirit would guide his disciples into all truth, would glorify Christ & provide comfort to future disciples. (D) In other words, he was concerned that future disciples would become Christ-like in their character & conduct by having their minds & hearts shaped by his Spirit, which he said would only come if he physically left. To rephrase this: Christ’s Spirit comes to live w/in the disciple to enable him or her to be Christ-like. The power to break from our old ways is derived from this Spirit.
There are 2 other important points he made to his disciples that are vital: The disciple should take up his cross daily (E) and his should take Christ’s yoke on him. (F) Christ was promising his disciples blood & sweat, death & toil…very similar to what Churchill promised the British when he decided to keep fighting Hitler. An ox’s yoke means submission & service. The cross symbolized the self-sacrifice of giving your life to Christ daily. While Christ’s 12 disciples wondered how anyone on their own could reach the expectations of Christ, Christ told them that with God’s assistance (& by extension God’s Spirit’s help) all things are possible. (G)
OH, REALLY? YES LET’S TALK ABOUT REAL LIFE. I can testify what I have witnessed. I had no desire to follow Christ, nor even any idea what that was because I grew up in an non-Christian home. When Christ called me to follow him & I said “yes” you can have my life, I saw my character & acts improved by the Holy Spirit so noticeably that my sister then gave her life to Christ. I can’t explain all the changes & new understandings that were gained almost overnight, but I can say this, it was something God’s Spirit did in me, not something that I set out to do. God’s Spirit gave me an increase of JOY, PATIENCE & LOVE. Negatives like depression, grudges, & racism simply disappeared. The power of God’s Spirit was evident to me as I saw the changes take place. I have witnessed many other persons have dramatic improvements also, whose improvements in character & personality can only be described as miraculous. Did all my faults disappear? Unfortunately not, and part of this is the complex interplay of so many aspects of what makes us, and what influences us. I would liken the power of the Holy Spirit to take our character somewhere better, to an airplane trip. One has to get a ticket, cooperate with the airplane’s actions, and not neglect one’s own part in the trip. And there are always more places to go. What skeptics see is where you haven’t gone, and ignore where you have come from! Those of us who have genuinely had the Spirit help us, then know as a fact: We love Christ, because he first loved us! (H)
A FRESH START. Who hasn’t done a project that ended up a total mess, and hasn’t wished he could start over?? God has presented us with a plan to cancel our failures, let go of them, & start over. He even states He “will remember…[your] sins no more.”(I) The judicial debt we owed Him is cancelled (“tetelestai” in Gk.=pd. in full).(J) This fresh new start allows us to break the inertia on improving. So the Apostle Paul says, when one starts life over fresh, “Forgetting what is behind…I press toward the goal…” (K) He calls our new life a “new creation”. (L) This new creation lives life animated by the Holy Spirit., which is called among other things, “walking in the Spirit” or “living in the Spirit”. (M) Christians have given this other names like: “godly living”, “the deeper life”, and “the pursuit of holiness”. The gift of the new life is so we can participate in the divine life!! (N)
“HE WHO HAS THE SON HAS LIFE”(O) SO HOW DO WE GUAGE THAT WE ARE PARTICIPATING IN THIS NEW LIFE? We are told that If anyone does not have the Spirit, that person does not belong to Christ at all. (P) And if the Spirit of Christ is in our life, we will see the Fruit of that Spirit: LOVE, JOY, PEACE, PATIENCE, KINDNESS, GOODNESS, FAITHFULNESS, GENTLENESS & SELF-CONTROL. Fruit takes times to mature. When we see people pridefully antagonizing someone with rudeness, it is clear that they are deficient in GENTLENESS. Are they trying to build people up in love, or tear them down?? The Spirit’s job is to form Christ in us. (Q) We can’t do that on our own, so God’s grace enables us.(R) We are encouraged in the Word that, “He who began a good work in you will perfect it.” (S) The Spirit is God at work within us.(T) As the Spirit works in us we become more rooted in love,(U) so Christ uses our Spirit-given ability to love as a sign to show we are a true disciple.(V) If we don’t live by the Spirit (i.e. rely on the Spirit) (W) we fall into legalism—a man-made religion that parallels the true Christian faith. The Spirit’s job is to transform us into Christ.(X) This is described in the verse “till we all come…to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” like emoticon
RENEW IN ME A RIGHT SPIRIT. There are many things that can enhance or prevent the Spirit turning us into the image of Christ.
Things that enhance a life in the Spirit: THE WRITTEN WORD OF GOD CORRECTLY TAKEN TO OUR LIVES. “Faith comes by hearing, & hearing by the Word of God.” (Z) Another is NOT WALKING IN THE COUNSEL OF THE WICKED (PS 1) such as input from wrong sources like television w/ its promotion of violence, greed, crime & lust. PRACTICING HIS PRESENCE BY PRAYER, which is one of numerous spiritual disciplines for spiritual growth. INWARD DISCIPLINES INCL.: fasting, meditation, prayer, study, OUTWARD includes: simplicity, submission, service, and quiet solitude w/ God. OUTWARD disciplines for groups: worship, celebration, guidance & fellowship.
And finally….What are some of the countless ways to derail a life in the Spirit….We don’t want to give our lives to the Spirit. We procrastinate…one of these days I will really give my life to Christ. We rely on our own power. We want to stay spiritual babies, or are too spiritually unhealthy to eat spiritual meat. We listen to preachers who are really pallbearers of dead words. Perhaps we misunderstand salvation, so we think it is a one-time event. We may even allow religious busy-ness & other distractions to get in the way of spiritual growth.
This has been a detailed look at what the Christian life is about. To sum it up, We are given a new life which is to be used to become a disciple in the image of Christ. This new life & the power to grow spiritually are given to us by the Spirit of Christ which indwells us. Therefore the true follower of Christ is God-made, while Christendom is a man-made man-directed religion that parallels and imitates what the Spirit of God is really doing.
(A) MT 28:19-20 (B) MT 10:24-25 (C) JN 8:31-32; JN 13:34; JN 15:8 (D) JN 16:7-14 (E) MK 8:34 (F) MT 11:29 (G) MT 19:26, MK 10:27 (H) 1 JN 4:19 (I) JER 31:34 (J) JN 19:30 (K) PHLP 3:13-14 (L) 2 COR 5:17 (M) GAL 5:16, 25 (N) 2 PTR 1:14 (O) 1 JN 5:12 (P) ROM 8:9 (Q) GAL 4:19 (R) 2 TIM 2:1 (S) PHLP 1:6 (T) PHLP 2:13 (U) EPH 3:17 (V) 1 & II JN, esp. 1 JN 4 (W) GAL 6:1 (X) ROM 8:20, 2 COR 3:18. like emoticon EPH 4:13 (Z) ROM 10:17