You Must Have the Spirit of Christ

Jesus said; “If you love me, you will obey what I command.  And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor to be with you forever – the Spirit of truth.  The world cannot accept Him.  But you know Him for He lives with you and will be in you.” (John 14: 16, 17)

It is the special privilege of the born again Christian to have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.  He is the third Person of the Trinity and He is to be known, not just talked about or heard of. He is much more than just a name mentioned in a creed, in a hymnal or during a baptism service. Non-Christians do not know Him and sadly many church attendees only know about Him.  That is why the sins of the flesh, the world and the devil so easily overtake them.  The Bible says, “For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die;  but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.” (Romans 8: 13, 14)  Therefore, “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves.  Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you – unless, of course you fail the test?” (2 Corinthians 13: 5)

The litmus test for seeing if you are living a life led of the Holy Spirit is the Word of God.  It tells us in Galatians chapter five of the fruit of the Holy Spirit which will be evident in an obedient Christian’s life.  These are: Love: A genuine self-sacrifice for the good of others.  Joy:  Great pleasure and delight in who God is and what He has provided. Peace:  A sense of well-being, rest, tranquility not dependent on circumstances. Gentleness:  Kindness toward others, reasonableness and flexibility. Patience:  Stability under pressure, self-controlled under provocation from others.  Faithfulness:  Reliability and perseverance. Meekness:  Willingness to be governed.   A submissive attitude toward authority and circumstances.  Self-control:  Especially of one’s passions.

True Christians “…are not controlled by the sinful nature but by the [Holy] Spirit…  And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.” (Rom. 8: 9) Friend, if you don’t have Christ, you are not saved.  Invite Christ into your heart today! Be empowered to overcome the flesh, the world and the devil. You can then enjoy the fruit of the Holy Spirit in your life, instead of being destroyed by the wages of sin, which is eternal death.

Thy Great Salvation

“I am not ashamed of the gospel,  because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes…” (Romans 1: 16)

Christians,  like the apostle Paul, are not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  God has chosen to offer a loving way to save man from the destruction of his own sins. In the New Testament the word “gospel” never means a book (one of the four gospels) instead it always refers to the good tidings that Christ and the apostles announced.  It is called “the gospel of God” (Romans 1:1);  “the gospel about Jesus Christ” (Mark 1:1);  “the gospel of peace” (Ephesians 6:15) and “the gospel of your salvation.” (Ephesians 1: 13)

Salvation is a good word. It denotes the purpose of God by which He justifies His people, first by pardoning their offenses and accepting them as righteous in His sight.  Then He progressively transforms Christians,  little by little, through the Holy Spirit and the written Word of God, into the image of Christ. “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men.  It teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.” (Titus 2: 11, 12)

The truths relating to the application of God’s great salvation are grouped under three headings: 1.) Justification;  2.) Regeneration and 3.) Sanctification.  The truths relating to man’s acceptance of God’s great salvation are reflected through repentance, faith and obedience. Many in the U.S.A. claim belief in Christ and call themselves Christians, yet they bring question to God’s Word and to true Christianity by the way they live.  It is a duty to all who call themselves Christians to examine themselves concerning their spiritual state.  The Bible says to “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith;  test yourselves.  Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you – unless, of course you fail the test?”  (1 Corinthians 13:5)

The first step in examining ourselves is to understand the three aspects of salvation found in Christ Jesus. First is justification.  Romans 5:1 says;  “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” The Greek word for justified is a legal term taken from the courts.  It pictures man on trial before an all knowing holy God.  Man is seen as having committed the most heinous of crimes. He has rebelled against God and broken his relationship with God.  The evidence is so overwhelming and true that the man, realizing that truth, confesses his sin to God.  God then brings in our “Advocate,” Jesus Christ, who’s atoning sacrificial blood paid the price for the sins of the world. (1 John 2: 1,2) For everyone who accepts Jesus Christ as personal Savior and Lord, God in His mercy and grace gives them a “pardon,”  setting born again Christians free from the punishment of eternal death.

The first aspect of salvation is justification.  You can be completely forgiven of every sin you have committed.  God sent the gospel of Christ to you today so you can be saved.  Repent and ask Jesus Christ to forgive you and invite Him into your life and heart.  Receive God’s pardon found in Christ.

 

So… You Say You Believe

W.  Tozer wrote,  “Fortunately only a few things are matters of life and death,  such as a compass for a sea voyage or a guide for a journey across the desert.  To ignore these things is not to gamble or take a chance;  it is to commit suicide.  Here it is either be right or be dead.”

A person’s relationship with Christ is a matter of eternal life or spiritual death.  Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners.  You are saved by faith in Christ alone altogether apart from good deeds or religious works of merit. Many have convinced themselves that just believing in God and believing that Jesus died and was resurrected automatically saves you.  James tells us that even the demons believe that there is one God and shudder. (James 2:19)  Demons believe, but they will not be in heaven.  How does the individual man come into a saving relationship with Christ?  That was the anxious question presented to Paul and Silas  by their jailer,  “…Sirs,  what must I do to be saved?”

There are at least three ways to describe the only answer for the eternal salvation of any person:  1.) Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ ( Acts 16:31);  2.) Receive Christ as personal Savior (John 1:12); and 3.) Accept Christ.  Acts 11:21 tells us that a great number  “…believed and turned to the Lord.” To believe in the Greek means to put trust in,  to be convinced of, or have no doubt and be certain of.   The important grammatical form of the word “believe” is continuous action.  In other words, you must believe and keep on believing.

Minds believe doctrines; hearts trust persons.  A child will run to his father for help,  direction, and provision when he truly believes in his father’s loving care.   A patient will go to his physician when there is belief in his doctor’s abilities to help.  What good will your so-called belief do you if it has not resulted in your turning wholeheartedly to the Lord?  Many profess to believe,  but they continue in their sins.  Jesus said there are those hypocrites who will “…honor Me with their lips,  but their hearts are far from Me.”  (Matt. 15: 8)  The person who truly believes in Christ becomes a new creation;  his old nature leaves and a new nature,  surrendered to Christ, comes. (2 Cor. 5:17)  Paul didn’t say,   “Believe and be saved,” but “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved…” (Acts 16:31)

A true believer in Christ orbits his life around Jesus like the earth orbits around the sun.  Just as the earth needs the sun,  believers need the Son of God to perfect holiness within them. “…Without holiness no one will see the Lord.” (Heb. 12:14)  True believers accept God’s friends as their friends,  they reject what He rejects and they adopt the Lord’s lifestyle as their own. Jesus said “Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness…” (John 8:12) meaning not purposely living in sin.

So… you say you believe.  Does your belief in Him affect the way you live?  To ignore what the Bible says about true belief is not to gamble or take a chance,  it is to commit spiritual suicide. The Bible says,   “Believe in the Lord Jesus…”

Sanctification

The truths relating to the application of God’s great salvation are grouped under three headings: 1.) Justification 2.) Regeneration and 3.) Sanctification.  The Bible tells us that, “It is God’s will that you be sanctified.”  (1 Thessalonians 3:4) The apostle Paul gives a commandment, “Be sanctified.” Sanctification is the process of being made holy.  Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ writes: “But just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written:  ‘Be holy, because I am holy.’”   (1 Peter 1: 15 – 16) God’s commandment written to us through Paul cannot be more clear and there is no higher calling than to be in the center of God’s will. It is important to understand that sanctification, holiness and consecration are synonymous terms.

The word holy conveys the following ideas: 1.) The word holy conveys separation: Holy is a word descriptive of God’s nature and its root meaning is separation.  This does not mean that Christians are to lock themselves up somewhere away from the world;  rather they are to be in the world, yet not governed by this world’s system.  Obedient Christians do avoid places, things and all influences that would cause them to sin and stray from God’s perfect will for them. People of this world use their God-given talents, gifts and enabling to satisfy themselves.  Holy Spirit-led Christians take their endowments and consecrate them to whatever will glorify Christ.  Christian musicians and singers play and sing for the glory of the Lord.  Christian artists and writers draw and write for the Lord.  Christian athletes get involved in sports in hopes of witnessing to fellow teammates and fans.  Concerned Christians get involved in community services to make a stand for Christ and not for their own self-esteem or image. 2.) The word holy conveys dedication:  Sanctified Christians dedicate their property, finances and time to the Lord’s service.  They know that everything they own has been given to them by God. (Genesis 24: 35,36)  The gods of this world don’t get all their extra money, time and adoration.  Their focus is on the cause of Christ. 3.) The word holy conveys purification:  1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

God can and will do more than forgive our sins, He will cleanse obedient Christians from the sins that would destroy or keep them from enjoying fellowship with God. The Greek word for purification pictures an act of cleansing from the pollution of sin so that a new life of holiness may begin.   God immediately forgives repentant sinners and by the Holy Spirit’s cleansing power Christians are delivered from the dominion of sin. God wants His best for you.  It begins by accepting Jesus Christ as personal Savior and Lord.

Allow the Holy Spirit to regenerate you and sanctify you.  “May God Himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming  of our Lord Jesus Christ.  The one who calls you is faithful and He will do it.”

Repentance

The truths relating to man’s acceptance of God’s great salvation are reflected through repentance, faith and obedience. The apostle Paul’s prayer for the church in Colosse was, “…That [they] live a life worthy of the Lord and may please Him in every way, bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God.” (1 Colossians 1:10) John the Baptist told those who were coming out to be baptized, “Produce fruit in keeping with repentance…” (Luke 3:8) The apostle Paul was obedient to his vision given to him by God.  He told the people to “…prove their repentance by their deeds.” (Acts 26:20) Jesus said He came to call “…sinners to repentance.” (Luke 5:32) The Lord told His disciples that “…repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in His Name to all nations.” (Luke 24:47)

In Scripture, repentance is a turning away from sin and turning toward God.  It is a change of mind, a forsaking of sin.  It is putting sin out of one’s thoughts and behavior.  The New International Dictionary of the Bible gives this definition.  “Repentance is a profound change of mind involving the changing of the direction of life from that of self-centeredness or sin-centeredness to God or Christ-centeredness.  God’s forgiveness is available only to those who are repentant, for only they can receive it.”  Those who find rest in Christ are those who see sin to be what the Lord hates.  They see sin as that which only defiles and brings to ruin everything in their lives, and they see it as the catalyst which destroys communion with God.  They are weary of service to the world,  the flesh and the devil.

Walter B. Knight wrote about a Christian worker who was talking to a man about salvation.  He ask the man if he believed John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”  Then the Christian asked the man if he believed 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” The man replied , “I believe those verses.”  The Christian said, “Well, then you are saved.”  The man then replied, “No, I am not!  There is sin within my own heart and mind.  I am hugging on to it and I am not willing to give it up.  My common sense tells me that I must repent, and utterly forsake it.  I have got to stop going my own way and desire to follow God’s way.” The Christian then turned the man to Isaiah 55:7, “Let the wicked forsake his ways and the evil man his thoughts.  Let him return to the Lord,  and He will have mercy on him, for He will freely pardon.”

There are three types of people in this world:  1.) Those who do not understand repentance.  2.) Those who understand repentance yet will not forsake their sin, and 3.) Those who have in repentance accepted Jesus Christ as personal Savior and Lord.  They enjoy freedom from the bondage of those sins that desire to destroy them and their relationship with Christ.  They live a life worthy of the Gospel they preach. Which type of person are you?

Regeneration

“He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior.” (Titus 3: 5,6)

Regeneration is the divine act which imparts to the repentant believer a new life in personal union with Jesus Christ.  Christianity is not another world religion.  It is the relationship with Jesus Christ that takes man’s fallen nature and regenerates sinners by bringing into them the life of God.  It is a spiritual change wrought in peoples’ hearts by an act of God.  The very nature of regeneration involves union with God and Christ through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit within the born again Christian.

This union manifests itself in various ways: 1.) It is characterized in a newness of life:  “We are therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Jesus was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” (Romans 6:4)   Christians are able to count themselves dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.  Through the power of the Holy Spirit, sin no longer reigns in their mortal bodies, so that they no longer obey its evil desires. (Romans 6: 11, 12) 2.) This union results in a new heart and spirit:  God says, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you.  I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.  And I will put My Spirit in you and move you to follow My decrees and be careful to keep My laws.” (Ezekiel 36: 26, 27)  This enables Christians to spiritually hear the voice of God and joyfully desire to do His will as He directs them through the written Word of God. 3.) The regenerated Christian can be a partaker in God’s nature:  2 Peter 1: 3,4 says;  “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness.  Through these He has given us His very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil.” 

Regenerated Christians are able to participate in God’s divine nature only by first having accepted Jesus Christ as personal Savior and Lord.  Then the Holy Spirit draws them to prayerfully read and study the Word of God.  He draws them to prayer, Christian fellowship, Christ-honoring music and solid Christian reading material so that they are enabled to surrender to His gentle promptings and leading’s. God’s great Salvation, found only through Jesus Christ, (Acts 4: 10 – 12) has purchased more than eternal life.  It has given you the opportunity to literally be made new, regenerated, enabling you to say no to the pleasures of this world, freeing you from the bondage of the flesh and sin, as well as empowering you to overcome the temptations of the devil.

Will you join those who have been regenerated by the power of God’s Holy Spirit?  Invite Christ into your heart and life today!