27. A Spirit-person

Romans 1-8 Meditations No.27: A Spirit-person   

Rom 8:9 if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ.”

Paul has been picking up various facets of being a believer. We saw back in chapter seven how he faced the fact that because we were once locked into this propensity of godless self-centredness, although we have been freed from its power, nevertheless it is only by the presence of Christ can we resist it on a daily basis. Now here in chapter 8 he is focusing first on the reality of the presence of the Holy Spirit who now indwells us, who enabled us to be born again (Jn 3:3-8), empowered to live the new Christ-life.

Our starter verse is Paul’s way of emphasizing it and he does it by this negative. The JBP version puts it, You cannot, indeed, be a Christian at all unless you have something of his Spirit in you,” while the Message version declares, “Anyone, of course, who has not welcomed this invisible but clearly present God, the Spirit of Christ, won’t know what we’re talking about.” Whether it is because these are paraphrase or it is something about the background of J.B.Phillips (an English Anglican vicar) or Eugene Peterson (an American Presbyterian minister) but both miss the point of what is being said here by Paul (the danger of paraphrases as useful as they so often are). “Something of his Spirit”? Pardon? “not welcomed”? What does that mean?

Look more carefully: “if anyone does not have”. It’s about the fact of the presence of the Spirit who only is given to believers at the point of their surrender to God through Christ, making Jesus both Saviour and Lord. UNLESS this has happened, the person does NOT have the indwelling Holy Spirit, they do NOT have His power to change.  This is the dynamite in this chapter, the potential to blow up and transform the individual. Okay, that’s a bit of an over-statement but it is the Spirit who utterly transforms the individual by His Presence. Jesus has done the work on the Cross to enable this to come about and guides and directs his Spirit on behalf of the Father, but it is the Spirit’s presence that empowers the change. But that poor unbelieving family member, neighbor, or friend, is not a receiver, is powerless, not indwelt by transforming love. We believers are not different from our unbelieving neighbors just by beliefs, but by this amazing reality, WE are indwelt by the incredible Spirit that IS God. It’s a claim that is unique to Christianity and the New Testament is full of it, so rejoice in it, be thankful and worship the One who loves you so much that He has made this part of the Salvation package, so that it is no longer just a case of believing or of speaking words, but a life being transformed by the indwelling power of God. Hallelujah! 

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