"Having not the Spirit" (Jude 19)
I take it for granted that every reader of this paper believes in the Holy Spirit. The number of people in this country who are infidels, deists, or Socinians, and openly deny the doctrine of the Trinity, is happily not very great. Most persons have been baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. There are few churchmen, at any rate, who have not often heard the well-known words of our old Catechism, "I believe in God the Holy Spirit, who sanctifieth me and all the elect people of God."
But, notwithstanding all this, it would be well for many if they would consider what they know of the Holy Spirit beyond His name. What experimental acquaintance have you with the Spirit's work? What has He done for you? What benefit have you received from Him? You can say of God the Father, "He made me and all the world;" you can say of God the Son, "He died for me and all man-kind:" but can you say anything about the Holy Spirit? Can you say, with any degree of confidence, "He dwells in me, and sanctifies me"? In one word, Have you the Spirit? The text which heads this paper will tell you that there is such a thing as "not having the Spirit." This is the point which I press upon your attention.
I believe the point to be one of vital importance at all seasons. I hold it to be one of special importance in the present day. I consider that clear views about the work of the Holy Spirit are among the best preservatives against the many false doctrines which abound in our times. Suffer me then, to lay before you a few things, which by God's blessing, may throw light on the subject of having the Spirit.
1. Let me explain the immense importance of "Having the Spirit."
2. Let me point out the great general principle by which alone the question can be tried. "Have you the Spirit?"
3. Let me describe the particular effects which the Holy Spirit always produces on the souls in which He dwells.
1. Let me, in the first place, explain the immense importance of having the Spirit.
It is absolutely necessary to make this point clear. Unless you see this I shall appear like one beating the air all through this paper. Once let your mind lay hold on this, and half the work I want to do is already done for your soul.
I can easily fancy some reader saying, "I do not see the use f this question? Supposing I have not the Spirit, where is the mighty harm? I try to do my duty in this world: I attend my church regularly: I receive the Sacrament occasionally: I believe I am as good a Christian as my neighbors. I say my prayers: I trust God will pardon my sins for Christ's sake. I do not see why I should not reach heaven at last, without troubling myself with hard questions about the Spirit."
If these are your thoughts, I entreat you to give me your attention for a few minutes, while I try to supply you with reasons for thinking differently. Believe me, nothing less than your soul's salvation depends on "Having the Spirit." Life or death, heaen or hell, eternal happiness or eternal misery, are bound up with the subject of this paper.
(a) Remember, for one thing, if you have not the Spirit, you have no part in Christ, and no title to heaven.
The words of Paul are express and unmistakable; "If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His." (Romans 8:9). The words of John are no less clear: "Hereby we know that He abideth in us by the Spirit which He hath given us" (1 John 3:24). The indwelling of God the Holy Spirit is the common mark of all true believers in Christ. It is the Shepherd's mark on the flock of the Lord Jesus, distinguishing them from the rest of the world. It is the goldsmith's stamp on the genuine sons of God, which separates them from the dross and mass of false professors. It is the King's own seal on those who are His peculiar people, proving them to be His own property. It is "the earnest" which the Redeemer gives to His believing disciples while they are in the body, as a pledge of the full and complete "redemption" yet to come in the resurrection morning (Ephesians 1:14). This is the case of all believers. They all have the Spirit.
Let it be distinctly understood that he who has not the Spirit has not Christ. He who has not Christ has no pardon of his sins, no peace with God, no title to heaven, no well-grounded hope of being saved. His religion is like the house built on the sand. It may look well in fine weather. It may satisfy him in the time of health and prosperity. But when the flood rises, and the wind blows, when sickness and trouble come up against him, it will fall and bury him under its ruins. He lives without a good hope, and without a good hope he dies. He will rise again only to be miserable. He will stand in the judgment only to be condemned; he will see saints and angels looking on, and remember he might have been among them, but too late; he wll see lost myriads around him, and fin they cannot comfort him, but too late. This will be the end of the man who thinks to reach heaven without the Holy Spirit.
Settle these things down in your memory, and let them never be forgotten. Are they not worth remembering? No Holy Spirit in you - no part in Christ! No part in Christ, - no forgiveness of sins! No forgiveness of sins, - no peace with God! No peace with God, - no title to heaven! No title to heaven, - no admission into heaven! No admission into heaven, - and what then? What then? You may well ask, whither will you flee? Which way will you turn? To what refuge will you run? There is none at all. There remains nothing but hell. Not admitted into heven, you must sink at last into hell.
i ask every reader to mark well what I say. Perhaps it startles you: but may it not be good for you to be startled? Have I told you anything more than simple scriptural truth? Where is the defective link in the chain of reasoning you have heard? Where is the flaw in the argument? I believe in my conscience there is none. From not having the Spirit to being in hell, there is but a long flight of downward steps. Living with the Spirit, you are already on the top; dying without the Spirit you will find your way to the bottom.
(b) Remember, for another thing, if you have not the Spirit you have no holiness of heart, and no meetness for Heaven.
~J. C. Ryle~
(continued with # 2)