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Thursday, April 25, 2013

Having the Spirit # 7

4. All who have the Spirit are convinced by Him of sin. This is a special office which the Lord Jesus promised He should fulfill. "When He come, He shall reprove the world of sin." (John 16:8). He alone can open a man's eyes to the real extent of His guilt and corruption before God. He always does this when He comes into the soul. He puts us in our right place; He shows us the vileness of our own heats, and makes us cry with the publican, "God be merciful to me a sinner." He pulls down those proud, self-righteous, self-justifying notions with which we are all born, and makes us feel as we ought to feel, - "I am a bad man, and I deserve to be in hell." Ministers may alarm us for a little season; sickness may break the ice on our heats, but the ice will soon freeze again if it is not thawed by the breath of the Spirit, and convictions not wrought by Him will pass away like the morning dew.

I appeal again to every thinking reader. Can the man who never feels the burden of his sins, and knows not what it is to be humbled by the thought of them, - can he "have the Spirit"? Judge for yourself.

5. All who have the Spirit are led by Him to Christ for salvation. It is one special part of His office to "testify to Christ," to  "take of the things of Christ, and to show them to us." (John 15:26; 16:15). By nature we all think to work our own way to heaven: we fancy in our blindness that we can make our peace with God. From this miserable blindness the Spirit delivers us. He shows us that in ourselves we are lost and hopeless, and that Christ is the only door by which we can enter heaven and be saved. He teaches us that nothing but the blood of Jesus can atone for sin, and that through His mediation alone God can be just and the justifier of the ungodly. He reveals to us the exquisite fitness and suitableness to our souls of Christ's salvation. He unfolds to us the beauty of the glorious doctrine of justification by simple faith. He sheds abroad in our hearts that mighty love of God which is in Christ Jesus. Just as the dove flies to the well-known cleft of the rock, so does the soul of him who has the Spirit flee to Christ and rest on Him (Romans 5:5).

I appeal again to every thinking reader. Can he who knows nothing of faith in Christ, be said to "have the Spirit"? Judge for yourself.

6. All who have the Spirit are by Him made holy. He is "the Spirit of holiness." (Romans 1:4). When He dwells in men, He makes them follow after "love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, meekness, faith, patience, temperance." He makes it natural to them, through their new "Divine nature," to count all God's precepts concerning all things to be right, and to "hate every false way." (2 Peter 1:4; Psalm cxix: 128). Sin is no more pleasant to them: it is their sorrow when tempted by it; it is their shame when they are overtaken by it. Their desire is to be free from it altogether. Their happiest times are when they are enabled to walk most closely with God; their saddest times are when they are furthest  from Him.

I appeal again to every thinking readers. Can those who do not even pretend to live strictly according to God's will, be said to "have the Spirit"? Just for yourself.

7. All those who have the Spirit are spiritually minded. To use the words of the Apostle Paul, "They that are after the Spirit, mind the things of the Spirit." (Romans 8:5). The general tone, tenor, and bias of their minds is in favor of spiritual things. They do not serve God by fits and starts, but habitually. They may be drawn aside by strong temptations; but the general tendency of their lives, ways, tastes, thoughts and habits, is spiritual. You see it in the way they spend their leisure time, the company they love to keep, and their conduct in their own homes. And all is the result of the Spiritual nature implanted in them by the Holy Spirit. Just as the caterpillar when it becomes a butterfly can no longer be content to crawl on earth, but will fly upwards and use its wings, so will the affections of the man who has the Spirit be ever reaching upwards toward God.

I appeal again to every thinking reader. Can those whose minds are wholly intent on the things of this world be said to "have the Spirit"? Judge for yourself.

8. All that have the Spirit feel a conflict within them between the old nature and the new. The words of Paul are true, more or less, of all the children of God: "The flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh, so that ye cannot do the things that ye would." (Galatians 5:17). They feel a holy principle within their breasts, which makes them delight in the law of God: but they feel another principle within, striving hard for the mastery, and struggling to drag them downwards and backwards. Some feel this conflict more than others; but all who have the Spirit are acquainted with it; and it is a token for good. It is a proof that the strong man armed no longer reigns within, as he once did, with undisputed sway. The presence of the Holy Spirit may be known by inward peace. He that has been taught to rest and hope in Christ, will always be one who fights and wars with sin.

I appeal again to every thinking reader. Can he who  knows nothing of inward conflict, and is a servant to sin, the world, and his own self-will, can he be said to "have the Spirit"? Judge for yourself.

~J. C. Ryle~

(continued with # 8)

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