If Indeed the Spirit of God Dwells In You
Ro 8:9 But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.
The first thing we notice in this verse is the affirmation of the Trinity. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit all neatly packaged for us in one verse of the Bible. All three dwelling in the believer. This is part of the confession of every true Christian. We believe in the Triune God and we confess His existence every Sunday when we say the Creed.
But there is more to this verse that needs to be understood. We must understand the importance of being ďin the Spirit,Ē as opposed to being in the flesh. The Apostle Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 15:50:
1Co 15:50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. (NKJV)
Flesh cannot inherit the kingdom of God, because in the flesh no good thing is found. (Rom 7:18), and what determines if we are in the flesh or in the Spirit? It is determined by the active presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. The Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God, and the Spirit of Christ are one and the same. And if Their (His) presence is missing in us, then we do not belong to Christ. We are not ďone of His.Ē
IF the Spirit of God dwells in you, you belong to Christ. Your true identity has been hidden in Him and God no longer regards your sinful flesh. Remember this about your flesh. According to Rom. 8:8, your flesh, your old man, the way you used to be, cannot please God, no matter what it attempts to do for Him.
Isa 64:6 But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; (NKJV)
All the attempts of man to please God apart from Jesus are like the filthiest stinkiest rag you can imagine. This is a hard pill to swallow. Jesus said in:
Mt 10:42 And whoever gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he shall not lose his reward." (RSV)
Two people give a glass of water to one who thirsts. Only one pleases God, and that is the disciple, the believer. Same act, why is one pleasing, and the other not? Because one is a disciple of Christ, a baptized believer who is motivated or moved to do the act by the indwelling Spirit of God.
This Spirit is the Spirit of Christ in the believer who desires to please God, as Jesus stated in:.
Joh 8:29 "And He who sent Me is with Me. The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do those things that please Him." (NKJV)
The other cup of cold water is given in the flesh and though viewed by the world as a commendable act, it counts for nothing in the eyes of God. This is reality....deal with it. God is not so much moved by the act as He is by the motivation.
Motivation that comes from the indwelling Spirit of Christ, who comes to us in our baptism and remains in us as we practice repentance, confession, and receiving of His forgiveness.
We spoke of this last week, this is the essence of walking in the Spirit. By practicing these things, the evidence of the Spirit will show forth in our life. And as the last portion of verse 9 indicates, it is vital that the Spirit is alive and active in us producing these things, or we are not Christís, and on the last day, He will be perfectly in His rights to say, ďdepart from Me for I never knew you.Ē
There was a time in my life as a young child that I did these things. I was genuinely sorry for my sins. I confessed them on a daily basis, and with childlike faith I relished and rejoiced in my forgiveness. But then during my confirmation days I ceased to do those things.
I only went to church because I had to, or as an attempt to please someone, or when I was in a crisis, but even then, I did not practice the daily repentance, confession, and receiving of forgiveness that is necessary for salvation.
It was only when my whole world came crashing down because of my sin, that I finally responded to the call of God to repent, confess, and receive! Let me just speak to the young people here for a moment. Donít throw away this gift that God has given you!
I donít know where it starts, but a spirit of complacency and apathy sets in and we are tempted to neglect this most important duty of a Christian. Your parents have seen to it that you have come to church, but if they have neglected to instill this truth in you, they have fallen short.
Now Iím not here to pick on mom and dad today. As Christian parents, we have generally done a good job of showing our kids whatís right and wrong, but if we donít teach them to walk in the Spirit. (Daily repenting of, confessing of, and receiving of forgiveness for our sins, we have failed!)
Fatherís I challenge you today, on this fatherís Day to see to it, that you not only teach your children right and wrong, but that you teach them by your words and actions the importance of repentance, confession, and receiving forgiveness. That you show your children what it is to walk in the Spirit.
How do you know if the Spirit is active in you? The Lutheran commentator Lenski puts it this way:
ďThe heart in which Godís Spirit dwells hears and feels the Spiritís promptings and is moved to follow that prompting by the power which the Spirit supplies. The Spirit is present in His Word, and we hear Him in our hearts when His Word is in us and moves us. Only in and through His Word does the Spirit dwell in us, speak to us, impel and control us. This excludes all Schwaermerei: all auto suggestion, all hearing fictitious, imaginary, inward voices. We have the written Word that we have absorbed; and thus the criterion is at once simple, safe, and most sure: see whether Godís Spirit is dwelling in you.Ē
Not by doing what you ďfeelĒ but by doing what Godís Word calls you to do. See if you are prompted to confess, to repent, and to receive forgiveness. This is the test of walking in the Spirit.
Itís not about ďfeelings,Ē itís not about the compelling of an audible or inaudible voice inside of you, itís about the Word of God, it is the Word of God which we use to ďtest the spirits.Ē The Word of God will determine whether it is the spirit of our flesh or the Spirit of God that is leading us!
1Jo 4:1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; (NKJV).
Now, letís talk about those of you who have grieved the Spirit of God and maybe are grieving Him now. Letís talk about those of you who have lived your lives as if God does not exist. You couldíve cared less then, and maybe even care less now about repentance, confession, and forgiveness. You could care less about changing your lifestyle.
First of all, let me say this.....you had better start caring because hell is waiting for those who do not care. Listen to Jesus speaking about Judgement Day:
Mt 22:11 "But when the king came in to see the guests, he saw a man there who did not have on a wedding garment. 12 "So he said to him, 'Friend, how did you come in here without a wedding garment?' (The wedding garment is Christ. Only those who have the Spirit of Christ will be allowed in!)
And he was speechless.
He could say nothing in his defense because all the other guests were clothed in the spotless white righteousness of Christ and he was wearing filthy rags, it was obvious to him that he didnít belong....now the bad news:
13 "Then the king said to the servants, 'Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.' 14 "For many are called, (many receive invitations to put on Christ,) but few are chosen." (NKJV)
In the Greek, the word ďchosenĒ doesnít mean that they were selected as favorites by God, like He was putting together some sort of a celestial baseball team, but it means those who are positioned in Christ. All who are positioned in Christ, all who are clothed in Christ and walking according to His Spirit are chosen for this team.
Again, this is serious stuff. Many are called by the gospel. They come to church, they hear the Word, they come to communion. Thatís what our Sunday worship is all about, we call, and we call and we keep calling, but you must do more than merely hear the call, you must respond to it with your heart and not with outward appearances.!
The call is to ditch the old man, the old clothes, the old filthy rags and put on the new! The call is to surrender to Christ and daily walk with Him by continuing a daily routine of repentance, confession, and receiving His forgiveness.
Please note, the king called this man friend, but the word here implies mere acquaintance. ďYou wanted to be my friend, so you hung around the edges, I was acquainted with you, but you never committed to a fully surrendered relationship to Me.
People, Jesus is looking for more than mere acquaintance! Being a friend to Jesus is not enough. He called Judas a friend, but in the end Judas was found out as someone who was just interested in hanging around the edges. Not willing to make the full commitment.
Letís look at still another passage where people have been lulled into a false sense of security.
Lu 13:23 Then one said to Him, "Lord, are there few who are saved?" And He said to them,
24 "Strive to enter through the narrow gate, (people, you need to wrestle with the narrow gate! You need to keep at the work of daily correction from the Lord and His Word. You need to be constantly resisting the temptation to forego repentance, confession, and receiving of forgiveness.) This is the striving that the Lord seeks!)
ďmany, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able.
25 "When once the Master of the house has risen up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock at the door, saying, 'Lord, Lord, open for us,' and He will answer and say to you, 'I do not know you, where you are from,'
You see, there will come a time, when it is too late for this desire to repent. The Bible says it is appointed for man to die once but after this, the judgement.Ē
26 "then you will begin to say, 'We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets.'
ďLord, we hung out with you! We went to church with you, we heard your teaching.....(the point is, so did Judas! But did he put it into practice? Do you put it into practice? Do you honestly allow the Word of God to examine you so you can repent, confess, and receive forgiveness?)
The case of Judas is especially sad, for he was sorrowful over his sin, he repented of it,
Mt 27:3 Then Judas, His betrayer, seeing that He had been condemned, was remorseful and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, (NKJV)
But he stopped short of receiving the forgiveness offered through the blood of Jesus. You need to do all three in order to be found in Christ!
27 "But He will say, 'I tell you I do not know you, where you are from. Depart from Me, all you workers of iniquity.' 28 "There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and yourselves thrust out. (NKJV)
Are you walking in the Spirit? Do you genuinely care about the things of God? Do you desire with all your heart to be examined and corrected by the Spirit of God as He uses Godís Word to point out your sins of thought, word, and deed?
Are you doing this on a daily basis, or are you relying on our weekly generic confession in church? Sometimes I think we should just omit the confession, lest we give people a false sense of security. Are you then putting your sins under the blood of Jesus and behind you, confident in Godís promise to forgive you?
If not, even the most righteous in appearance among us will be left out on the Last Day!
What to do? What to do if you have been a friend of Christ, hanging around the edges, but stopping short of His penetrating gaze? What to do if you have never allowed yourself to be drawn into His light.
What to do if you have allowed yourself to become complacent in this spiritual breathing of repenting, confessing and receiving forgiveness?
What to do, if you started out as His child in your baptism, but then fell in step with the ways of the world and neglected this basic spiritual exercise?
What to do if you came here this morning and could care less about walking in the Spirit?
Repent! Think differently! Stop thinking that you donít need this kind of passionate interest in the things of Christ! You are playing with hellfire! Without the Spirit of Christ, without the Holy Spirit, you are not one of His sheep. You are not Christian.
Many will claim to be Christian but their refusal to practice repentance, confession, and receiving of forgiveness will testify against them on the last day. Their grubby clothes will prove it!
Do you want to be found in the good graces of God on the Last Day or do you want to spend eternity grinding your teeth and wailing? Iíve never been tortured, but I have read the horror stories, and I donít want to go there! But if I am not found in Christ, if I am not walking in the Spirit, this will be my lot for eternity.
We do not serve a cruel God. He does not take pleasure in the destruction or torture of the wicked, And He is not asking us for something that He will not give. Let me ask you something, do you believe it is Godís desire that all men be saved? Good! It is a central theme of Scripture. Indeed, itís why He gave us the Bible!
2Ti 3:15 and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. (NKJV)
But head knowledge of the Scriptures is not enough. We also need heart knowledge and heart knowledge only comes from the indwelling Holy Spirit. This is the real question for all of us. How active is the Holy Spirit in your life?
An active presence of the Holy Spirit will cause us to see what sinners we really are. An active Holy Spirit will expose our ungodly deeds as we read His Word, and He will drive us to our knees in repentance and confession, and then He will assure us that we have been forgiven!
This is the real reason why we should desire the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. This is what will keep us in true fellowship with the Father, and once we are in true fellowship, the rest of the packaged goods of the Holy Spirit, namely sanctification and the fruit of the Spirit will come. But it starts with the convicting power of the Holy Spirit.
I pray that even now as I speak, you are being convinced of your personal need. I pray that you and I are being broken before the Lord.
O God! Give me your Holy Spirit or I die! Is this the cry of your heart? Do you really desire the Holy Spirit to do His work in you?
Then turn with me to Luke 11 beginning at verse 10:
Lu 11:10 "For everyone who asks (who? Everyone!) receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. 11 "If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish?
12 "Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? 13 "If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!" (NKJV)
This can be a very special Fatherís Day for you. One that you will remember and celebrate for all eternity. This could be the day that you receive a special gift from God. The day that you asked for and received the fullness of the Spirit of God!
The day that you stopped playing church and got serious about the sin in your life! The day that you asked God to bring you back into His family. The day that put you back on the narrow path of repentance, confession, and receiving of His forgiveness!
How many fatherís do we have here today? I donít care how old you are or how young you are! I donít care where youíve been or where you think you are right now! The best thing you could do for your children is to ask God your Father for this gift of the Holy Spirit.
This gift that will break you and bring you to your knees acknowledging your sinful state, confessing your sinful state, and cause you to receive deliverance from your sinful state.
Your children need you here on earth as a godly father and they want to see you one day in heaven. Some of your children arenít saved yet, but you arenít helping the cause if you remain in rebellion yourself! If you continue to resist the Holy Spirit.
The last words of the Old Testament, are of great importance in this regard:
Mal 4:5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet Before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD. 6 And he will turn The hearts of the fathers to the children, And the hearts of the children to their fathers, Lest I come and strike the earth with a curse." (NKJV)
John the Baptist was the Elijah that God sent, and what did John preach? Repentance, confession, and a washing away, a forgiveness of sins. He prefigured the work of the Holy Spirit whom Jesus would send after His work on the cross was done.
What did John say?
Mt 3:11 "I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12 "His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire."
Have you ever considered what John is saying here? He is saying that the baptism of the Holy Spirit, the immersion of oneís life in the Holy Spirit, walking in the Spirit, will result in a cleaning out of the threshing floor.....read that your soul! And all your sins (chaff) being burned away. That speaks of sins being repented of, confessed of and forgiveness received!
This is the evidence of a life controlled by the Spirit! It is not a sinless life, although it is the true impetus that helps us to turn from sin, it is a life that knows what to do with sin. Confess it, repent of it, and put it under the blood of Jesus.
Father, there are men, women, and children here today who are playing at religion. We have become complacent, content, overconfident in our standing with You. So confident that we no longer read your Word with the anticipation of seeing our sin and being corrected. We have no real desire to repent, confess, and receive your forgiveness. Weíre happy just the way we are! Forgive us! We are like the Laodiceans, blind and in need of eye salve, and we are lukewarm and in danger of being spewed out.
Some are here today who have wandered far away from You and donít believe that You will take them back. They think they have to do something special, or that they have to clean up their act on their own. Father, speak to them, let them know that all You require is a heart willing to be examined on a regular basis for the purpose of turning back to You and Your ways and receiving Your forgiveness for any of their waywardness.!
And some are here who could care less about their current spiritual condition. Father awaken their souls to the end that awaits them unless they turn to You!
Father as Your Son asked for the Holy Spirit that He could then distribute Him to His church, so I ask today as His undershepherd. That You would send Your Holy Spirit here among us today. Let no one be missed, even this wretched undershepherd who far too often resists the work of the Holy Spirit. I ask these things in the name of Jesus our Lord, Amen.