Sunday, 7 July 2013
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. Romans 8:9
The past verses have shown the contrast between being “in the Spirit” and “in the flesh.” Today we are told very directly that if we are in Christ, we are “not in the flesh but in the Spirit.” And then Paul qualifies his statement, “if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you.” This is our actual state before God if we are truly believers. We are positionally in the Spirit. As noted in previous verses, this doesn’t mean we are now glorified and incapable of sin. Nor does it mean that we can’t live as if “in the flesh.” This kind of thinking is obviously wrong and leads down avenues of absurdity.
To be in position and in practice are not always in accord with each other. In position we have moved from carnal Adam to spiritual Christ if we have believed the gospel and received the Spirit.
The next sentence goes on to state, “Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.” This is as obvious a statement as can be seen. If we don’t have the Spirit of Christ, we don’t belong to Christ. What is less obvious is the exact meaning of “the Spirit of Christ.” Some scholars state that this is not speaking of the Holy Spirit (meaning as an entity), but rather the “temper” or “disposition” of Christ. In other words, conducting ourselves in the same type of walk as He walks.
The reason for this analysis is because the term “Spirit of Christ” is used only one other time in the Bible, in 1 Peter 1:11. That, however, isn’t a valid argument. Meaning is derived based on the intent of the writer. The intent is certainly being tied to the preceding sentence which mentions the “Spirit of God.” This then is parallelism; the repetition of a thought to make a point. The terms Holy Spirit, Spirit of God, Spirit of Christ, etc. are used synonymously throughout the New Testament and such is the case here.
The Spirit issues from the God Father, through the Son as is evidenced in passages such as 2 Corinthians 5:18, 19 –
“Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.”
The issuing of the Spirit is actually more important than one might assume. Whether He issues from the Father apart from the Son or from the Father through the Son is an immensely important theological concept to be considered. Disagreement on this issue caused one of the greatest rifts in Christianity, but the Bible is clear on the progression of the Spirit. What Paul is showing us here is that “the Spirit of God” and “the Spirit of Christ” are one in the same; they are both terms speaking of “the Holy Spirit.”
Life application: Seemingly small matters can actually carry great theological weight and importance and therefore must be considered both carefully and with respect to the intent of God as revealed in Scripture. Little diversions from the avenue of sound interpretation can lead to great flaws in our theology.
Heavenly Father, when I look at a marvelous sunrise, I feel awe and excitement. I look at the grain of wood closely and I see beauty and it interests me. The fluttering of a butterfly and the swooping of birds catch my curiosity and I find enjoyment there. All of the creation came from Your wisdom… if it is marvelous, then how much more glorious are You! Praises be to the Source of all things in which I find delight. Amen.