Short Meditations on the Body of Christ: 2. Spirit Energised
Jn 14:16,17 I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever– the Spirit of truth….you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.
Second to the Atonement, I suggest this doctrine of the Holy Spirit and us, is the most important doctrine of Christian salvation. Jesus hinted at it and then we saw it with, no doubt limited understanding, on the Day of Pentecost, but it was down to the apostle Paul to spell out the fact that, whereas in the Old Testament times the Spirit came down and empowered specific individuals, now He comes upon and indwells every believer. In the previous study we noted, “you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?” (1 Cor 3:16 etc.)
To explain another facet of the wonder of this, he said to the Romans, “You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you.” (Rom 8:9a) and in case they were not sure about that, he added, “And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.” (Rom 8:9b). i.e. to be a Christian means to have the Holy Spirit within you. Sometimes the Holy Spirit is spoken of as ‘the Spirit of Christ’ or the ‘Spirit of God’ as we’ve just seen in this verse 9, but He is the same Holy Spirit.
In speaking thus, Paul is only taking Jesus’ own teaching a little further: “no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again,” (Jn 3:3) and “no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit,” (Jn 3:5) and “So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” (Jn 3:8) Becoming a Christian is a work of the Spirit who then indwells us and is our source of power, guidance and direction.
Now I suspect that this teaching that is prevalent through the New Testament comes as no surprise to most of us, but I wonder about the reality of it when it comes to everyday life? Life presents us with opportunity after opportunity where we need wisdom to know how to act, how to proceed, what to do. How often, I wonder, do we just plough on and do our own thing without any reference to Him, how often do we seek Him for both power and enabling and wisdom and direction? When it comes to church services – and I mention them because they are the corporate expression of this body we are considering – what difference would there be if the Holy Spirit did not exist? How many of our services are so preplanned and fixed that the Holy Spirit has no space to move?
We are talking about the very presence of God Himself indwelling this body, the Church, but how much and how often do we allow Him to express Himself, or is that a completely alien concept?