The Great Defect!
by James Smith, 1860
Some things in religion may be dispensed with, without affecting our eternal salvation. But there is one thing we must experience — we must be born again. There is one blessing we must possess, and that is the Holy Spirit. As well may we expect to be saved without the sacrifice of Christ for us, as expect to be saved without the Spirit of God within us! And yet, in all ages, there have been those, under a profession of religion, who have thought themselves safe without this indispensable qualification. In the days of the Apostles, there were those who were "worldly people, having not the Spirit." Jude 19. This was the great defect, and this defect was the cause of all the errors they fell into, and the evil course into which they were betrayed. There is reason to fear that in these favored times, and in our privileged land, there are many professing Christ who are in just the same state — they have not the Spirit; and yet, no testimony can be plainer or more decisive than this, "If any man has not the Spirit of Christ — he is none of his." Let us attend to this subject a little.
What May Such People Have?
They may have a profession of religion, and that profession may have been made in a scriptural way. No one may be able to object to their creed — for it may be sound; nor to their conduct — for it may be moral. All the doctrines of the gospel may be believed, and all the moral requirements of the gospel may be outwardly observed.
The intellect may be enlightened,
the memory may be well furnished, and
the life may be generally consistent.
Yet such people may not have the Spirit!
They may fill an office in the church, and be a deacon,
an elder, or even a minister.
Their gifts may be respectable.
Their duties may be regularly performed.
Their names may stand high.
Their usefulness may appear to be great.
They may be loved by the Lord's people.
They may be honored in the church.
Yet they may be destitute of the Spirit!
They may have a false hope buoying them up, and
bearing them onward, so that they may not even doubt the goodness of
their state: and this false hope may arise from . . .
impressions they have felt,
pleasures in religious services which they have enjoyed,
and the doctrines of the gospel which they have embraced.
They may have an unfounded confidence, which makes them bold, fearless, and active. A confidence founded, not on Christ, not warranted by the word — but produced by mistaking the gospel, and being ignorant of their own depravity and pollution.
They have tolerably clear light, which is the foolish virgins' lamp.
They have a profession of religion, which is the foolish virgin's robe.
They unite with the Lord's people, which is going forth to meet the bridegroom.
But they have no oil in their vessels — they have not the Spirit.
How much a man may have without this! How far
a man may go without this! How long a person may remain under a
profession of religion without this! With how many, a man may pass for a
Christian without this! Let us beware, lest we should at last be found among
those of whom it will be said, "having not the Spirit."
In What Are Such People Deficient?
Not having the Spirit — they lack true saving faith,
for faith is of the operation of God, and is a fruit of the indwelling of
the Spirit. They may give their assent and consent to all the great truths
of the gospel, and to all that is said about Christ. But they have never
been brought . . .
as poor sinners — to apply to Christ for salvation;
as really lost — to trust in him for deliverance;
as condemned — to commit themselves to him to be justified by his blood;
as stripped of everything of their own, and of all confidence in the flesh — to place their confidence in Christ alone.
Not having the Spirit — they have no genuine repentance. They may be sorry that they have sinned, for fear they should be punished — but they have never had their hearts broken at the cross, by an exhibition of the love of God to them, notwithstanding their sins. Repentance toward God flows from faith in Christ, which faith is produced by the Holy Spirit in the heart. The true penitent thinks not so much of the punishment which his sin deserves — as of the goodness, grace, and holiness of the God against whom he has sinned.
Not having the Spirit — they have no spiritual love. The natural affections may be excited, and bo drawn forth toward spiritual things; but it is not spirituality which excites them — but some amiable characteristic, some moral excellence, or some natural beauty. Spiritual love flows from a spiritual nature, and is fixed supremely upon God in Christ — and subordinately upon all people, and things, in proportion as they have a resemblance to him. Spiritual love never seeks its own advantage, or honor — but the honor and advantage of the object loved. This love also flows from faith, and is regulated by faith in its exercise and degrees.
Not having the Spirit — they have no enlightened zeal. They may be very zealous for a creed, a form of religion, or any of the outworks of Christianity; but for God's glory, for the honor of Christ, and for the good of souls, irrespective of sect or party — they are not, they cannot be. Zeal is the flower of love. True zeal flows from love, enlightened by divine truth, and always aims principally at the Divine glory.
Not having the Spirit — they have no right, heart-affecting, soul-transforming views of Christ. They may think highly of him, and they may speak well of him. But to them he is not a personal, present, soul-satisfying Savior. The eye does not affect the heart. Therefore the heart is not set upon Christ, so as to devote itself and all that it has to Christ. Now the Spirit, while he unfolds the work of Christ, testifies to the ability of Christ, and applies the blood of Christ. He directs the heart, and fixes the affections supremely upon the person of Christ. So that just in proportion as we experience the teaching and work of the Spirit — shall we be taken up with the person and personal glories of Christ.
Not having the Spirit — they have no deep and abiding conviction of sin, especially of the sin of unbelief. Now when the Spirit of truth has come, he convinces the world of sin, because it believes not on Christ. The people of whom we are writing, are convinced of outward acts of sin, and also that there are many things within them which are contrary to the law of God. But the hidden evils of the heart are not discovered by them; the great tap root of all sin, UNBELIEF, is not unfolded to their view; and therefore they are not humbled under it, nor led to loathe themselves before God on account of it.
Not having the Spirit — they have no hearty, thorough, self-renunciation. Now SELF must be renounced, before Christ can be enthroned in the heart — religious self, sinful self, self in every form! For we must sink into nothingness, into self-abhorrence — before we shall prize or glory in a salvation all of grace. The more we experience of the Spirit's work and power in our hearts, the less we shall think of ourselves, our experiences, our attainments , or our works. Self will be nothing — that Christ may be all in all.
Now where there is not . . .
a living faith in a living Savior;
genuine sorrow for sin, and departure from sin;
spiritual love to God and all that is godlike;
enlightened zeal for God and his glory;
heart affecting, soul-transforming views of Christ;
deep and abiding convictions of sin, specially of the sin of unbelief;
and habitual and thorough self-renunciation
— there is not the Spirit — at least there is not that satisfactory proof of the indwelling of the Spirit which every professor of Christ should seek to possess.
What Are the Consequences of Not Having the Spirit?
Not having the Spirit — we have no title to Church privileges. Baptism, without faith, is not pleasing to God. The Lord's supper, unless we discern the Lord's body, is only eating our own condemnation. A place in the church, without Christ in the heart, only makes our conversion more difficult, our salvation more improbable, and leads to a hotter place in Hell. The church is no place for an unconverted sinner. Without union to the head — we can have no communion with the body; and without the Spirit — there is no union to Christ.
Not having the Spirit — we have no fitness for the Lord's service. Spiritual services require spiritual people. We cannot preach, or teach, or pray, or do anything acceptable to God — without the Holy Spirit. So that whatever gifts we may possess, whatever station we may fill, whatever calls we may have — we are not qualified to engage in the Lord's service, unless the Spirit of God dwells in us.
Not having the Spirit — we can have no spiritual fellowship, either with God, or with the saints. Fellowship springs from sameness, or similarity of nature. Light can have no fellowship with darkness. Christ can have no fellowship with Belial. God can have no fellowship with an unconverted sinner. If we would have fellowship with God, or with God's people — we must be taught, led, and sanctified by the Spirit of God. We may have fellowship with believers in temporal things, or in religious services; but fellowship with them as saints, in spiritual things — we cannot have without the Holy Spirit.
Not having the Spirit — there can be no consecration to the Lord's service and glory. People and things were consecrated under the law, by the application of blood and oil; and consecration is effected in the same way now. The blood of Christ must be applied to the conscience to remove the guilt of sin — and the Spirit must be imparted to set us apart for God. Therefore John wrote to God's consecrated ones of old, "You have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things." That Holy One is the Lord Jesus; the anointing is the Holy Spirit; the things known are the things freely given to us of God. Again he says, "The anointing which you have received of him abides in you." The Spirit once given, abides; as Jesus said, "I will send you another Comforter, who shall abide with you forever."
The Holy Spirit . . .
sets us apart for God,
leads us to engage in the service of God,
enables us to perform the will of God,
blesses us to the Church of God, and
first enables, and then honors us, in being witnesses to the world for God.
Without the Spirit, therefore, we have . . .
no title to church privileges;
no fitness for the Lord's service;
no enjoyment of spiritual fellowship;
no consecration to the Lord's glory.
The consequences of not having the Spirit, hereafter will be truly dreadful! Make whatever profession we may, pass muster among the saints now as we will — we shall surely be detected then.
The chaff will be separated from the corn,
the tares from the wheat,
the sheep from the goats, and
the foolish virgins from the wise.
We shall be disowned by Jesus himself! He will say, "I never approved of you." In vain shall we plead, "Lord, have we not prophesied in your name, and in your name cast out devils, and in your name done many wonderful works," for then will he say unto us, "I never knew you, depart from me, you who practice iniquity!"
We shall be shut out of the marriage supper of the Lamb. The wise virgins, all who have oil in their vessels, or all who have the Spirit, will be admitted within: but it will be in vain for us to come, stand outside and knock, crying, "Lord, Lord, open to us!" for he will answer, "Truly I say unto you. I know you not!"
We shall be exposed. Our folly will be made manifest unto all. Our portion will be shame and everlasting contempt. We will be treated with contempt by devils, and as the scum of God's creation — after being treated with respect both by saints and sinners here! This will be dreadful — unspeakably dreadful! Everlasting contempt! Oh, how fearful! How humbling! How degrading!
We shall be punished. Eternally punished. We shall know what the wrath of God means. We shall understand what the curse of God is. We shall feel the terrible force of the expressions, "weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth!" We shall suffer all that is intended by a consuming fire, everlasting burnings, fire and brimstone, and a horrible tempest! We shall be where the worm never dies, and the fire is never quenched. Then, then we shall find that it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God!
Reader, reader — have you the Spirit? Do you profess
to have the Spirit? If so, see to it that you have it in reality;
for if you have not, in a very little time . . .
you will certainly be detected;
you will be publicly exposed;
you will be openly disowned by the Judge of all;
you will be shut out of Heaven;
you will be shut into Hell;
you will be treated with contempt by all God's creation;
you will be punished with everlasting destruction, away from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power.
It is of little consequence what a man has then — if he has not the Spirit; for all real religion begins, is carried on, and completed by the Spirit. He breathes the first breath of life in us, he feeds and fosters the life he imparts, and he completes the work which he begins in the day of the Lord Jesus Christ.
As no substitute can be found for the Holy Spirit and his work, we should carefully examine ourselves, whether we have received the Holy Spirit or not. Paul supposes the Lord's people will know it, hence he says, "What? Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body!" 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
Lest we should be deceived, let us not be satisfied with less than the fullness of the Spirit. We read of the saints of old, that "they were filled with the Holy Spirit." "He was a good man, and full of the Holy Spirit," "Stephen, full of faith, and of the Holy Spirit." Nor are we to suppose that this was a peculiar privilege, to be confined to the few, for Paul exhorts the members of the Church at Ephesus to be "filled with the Spirit." "Be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess — but be filled with the Spirit."
On this fullness of the Spirit — let us set our hearts;
for this fullness of the Spirit — let us seek;
without this fullness of the Spirit-let us not be satisfied.
Our Heavenly Father is kindly disposed to give the Holy
Spirit to those who ask him. Let us, therefore apply, and apply in downright
earnest, pleading for the Spirit, as the Spirit of love, power, and a sound
mind — as the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Christ —
as the Spirit of adoption, and the Spirit of Christ — as the Spirit who . .
guides into all truth,
helps our infirmities, and
seals us unto the day of redemption.
Father of mercies, fill us with the Holy Spirit!
Gracious Savior, give us the Comforter in fullness and in power, to abide with us forever!
Holy Spirit, come and make our hearts your home, and let us be filled with your presence, power, and glory — yes, let us be filled with all the fullness of God! Amen.