The Indispensable Evidence
James Smith, 1865
"If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ — he does not belong to Christ." Romans 8:9
The Apostle is dwelling upon the high privileges, and distinct peculiarities of the Lord's people. He affirms, that to them, there is no condemnation; and that their union to Christ is so strong and permanent, that there shall be no separation. Delivered from the law that condemns, united to Christ who justifies — their present lot is precious, and their future prospects glorious. True, they may be persecuted, tried, and tempted; but the indwelling Spirit working for them, and the Advocate above pleading their cause, conquest was certain; yes, He could triumph and exclaim, "In all these things, we are more than conquerors, through Him that loved us."
What a mercy to be free from condemnation! What a privilege to be assured of final triumph over every foe! But this mercy, this privilege, is the common portion of all the Lord's people, all whom Jesus claims. Can we know then, who they are who belong to Jesus? Can we ascertain if we are among the privileged number? Yes, the text cuts off all mere pretenders — but it establishes the claim of every true believer. Let us consider,
First, The CLAIM to belong to Christ.
The claim is to be considered His disciple. A disciple is one, who having selected a master, puts himself under His instruction, and takes a place at His feet. Hence Moses speaks of the saints, "They sit down at Your feet, every one shall receive of His Words." To be a disciple, one must have a humble, teachable spirit, and be willing, yes, desirous to be taught by Jesus. We are not Christ's, if we have not been brought to His feet to be taught by Him.
The claim is to be considered His servants. The servants of Christ are more honorable than earth's princes. They obey His Word, do His will, suffer in His cause, and follow in His footsteps now; and by-and-bye that will be realized which Jesus spoke, "If any serves Me, let him follow Me, and where I am, there also shall My servant be; if any man serves Me — him shall my Father honor." No one is really Christ's servant — who does not follow, or imitate Him; but those who do, may look forward to honor; such honor, as only God can bestow, and only the servants of Christ will receive.
The claim is to be considered His brethren. Though exalted high at the right hand of the Father, He is not ashamed, before all the celestial host, to call His poor people, who are suffering here below, brethren. They are bone of His bone, flesh of His flesh; they have the same spirit, and constitute so many parts of the one great family, destined to honor, and glorify God forever. O what an honor to be a brother of Jesus! Jesus, who is the brightness of glory, King of kings, and Lord of lords. But this honor have all his saints.
The claim is to be considered His bride. The whole church is the bride of Jesus, the Lamb's wife. So represented because of the closeness of His union with them, and the greatness of His love to them. It is a peculiar dignity put upon them. A dignity in which even the angels do not share. His bride will partake with Him of all His honor, happiness and splendor. She will share with Him in all the magnificence and glory of the world to come. Unutterable privilege this — to be the bride of Jesus, the sharer of all His wealth, dignity, and honor! What a claim for such poor, depraved, sinful worms as we are to make, to be the disciples, servants, brethren, and bride of Jesus.
But this is not all, such claim to be entitled to all the promises of His Word — the many, exceeding great, and very precious promises. Promises to fulfill which, would exhaust any treasures — but the infinite treasures of God Himself. Promises, as vast as eternity, and as varied as the needs of man. Promises which have sustained, supported, and supplied millions; and will sustain, support, and supply millions more. All the promises are in Jesus, and all belong to those who belong to Jesus.
They claim to be entitled to all the provisions of His house. The glorious gospel, the blessed ordinances, and the presence of the great householder himself. Oh, that gospel, so full of grace, so radiant with the love of God, so suited to the poor sinner, so adapted to the needy soul! Those ordinances, in which God meets with man, unfolds His glories, imparts His blessings, and nourishes and refreshes the soul.
They claim also to be entitled to all the prospects of His chosen people. To be kings and priests unto God, and to reign on the earth. To be filled with all the fullness of God. To be exactly like Jesus, and eternally with Jesus.
What a claim! A claim which embraces all God's promises, all His churches provision, and all the glowing prospects of His beloved ones. We must now consider,
Secondly, The REQUIREMENT necessary to establish such a claim."They have the Spirit of Christ". The most holy and ever blessed Holy Spirit — the author of every gracious and holy disposition in those who belong to Christ. How shall we know if we have the Spirit of Christ? By this:
The Holy Spirit always convinces us of our need of
Christ. He shows us that Jesus, and Jesus only will meet our case; that
we must have Christ — or perish; that there is for us . . .
no pardon — but in His blood;
no justification — but in His righteousness;
no holiness — but by His Spirit;
no obedience — but through His grace;
no heaven — but by His merits.
The Holy Spirit conducts to the cross of Christ. He will not allow us to stay at the crucifix, at saints, or angels, or even our good works; but He leads us away from all — to the cross! There we bring our load of guilt, our slavish fears, our heart-breaking anxieties; and there we obtain pardon, find peace, and receive grace.
The Holy Spirit conforms us to the image of Christ. He unfolds Jesus, leads us to fall in love with Jesus, and generates in our hearts the unquenchable desire, to be like Jesus. Under His teaching, we often exclaim, O to be like Him — as holy as He is holy — as pure as He is pure! O to breathe His loving spirit, to walk in His steps, and to be exactly conformed to Him! Nor will those who have the Spirit of Christ, ever be satisfied until they awake up in His likeness!
The Holy Spirit consecrates us to the service of Christ. Saved by His grace, comforted by His cross, destined to be conformed to His image — we cannot but wish to be engaged to Him, and employed for Him, to glorify Him in our bodies, souls, and spirits, which are His.
If we have been convinced of our need of Christ, led to the cross of Christ, are being conformed to the image of Christ, and are consecrated to the service and glory of Christ — we have the Spirit of Christ.
The Spirit of Christ, is the Spirit of life — which quickens us; the Spirit of love — which sanctifies us; the Spirit of liberty — which frees us; and the Spirit of liberality — which influences us. The Spirit of Christ, therefore, is opposed to death, enmity, bondage, and covetousness. O that we may not only have the Spirit of Christ — but be filled with the Spirit, and be influenced by Him in every act, and every moment!
The Lord Jesus will not own all that claim Him, and wish to be considered His. Many will say, "Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, and in Your name done many wonderful works? Then will I profess unto them, I never knew you! Depart from me — you that work iniquity."
Unfounded confidence is exceedingly dangerous. Self-examination is therefore necessary. The indwelling Spirit of Christ is the great proof and evidence that we are Christ's. Nothing short of this will do, nothing short of this should satisfy us. If we are satisfied with anything short of this, we shall be found building on a sandy foundation, and our house will fall.
Reader, search your heart, examine your life. Have you the Spirit of Jesus? That Spirit of love, power, and of a sound mind? That Spirit of meekness, patience, fortitude, and forbearance? That Spirit of faith, fervor, and devotion? The Spirit that rested on Jesus, acted in Jesus, and was manifested by Jesus? We must resemble Christ in some measure on earth — if we hope to dwell with Him forever in heaven! The Spirit of Christ, always makes its possessor like Christ; and just in proportion as we are under the teaching, leading, and guidance of the Holy Spirit — shall we resemble Jesus.
The Spirit always glorifies Jesus — inwardly by teaching us our need of Him, and misery without Him; outwardly, by conforming us to Him, and making us resemble Him. O that the Spirit of Christ may dwell in us richly — teaching, guiding, sanctifying, comforting, and using us to glorify His dear and exalted name!