Pauls Footsteps #338

 But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. (And remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them do not belong to him at all.)”  Romans 8:9 NLT 

Becoming a Christian is not just another step in becoming better. No! It is a radical discontinuity with the old way of thinking and living – a new life altogether. It is a life “in Christ”, as opposed to one “in Adam”. The final consequence of having a worldly mindset is that such people “cannot please God”.(v8) 

Paul has been speaking for four verses about two alternative mindsets (the mind of the flesh or sinful nature and the mind of the Spirit). These two are directly related to two spiritual states (death or life and peace). Thus how we think, what we dwell on, and what we value all have a central function in both our present conduct and future destiny. No wonder Paul appealed to the Philippians to “let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 2:5). 

 “BUT!”(V9). Paul has been speaking in the previous verses about those who were fleshly minded, those who had their minds focussed on the present world. “But” not everybody is in that camp. Counterpoised to those in the flesh are “those in the Spirit”. The apostle feels so strongly about this topic that he goes on to say that those who do not “have the Spirit of Christ” do not belong to Him, they are not Christians. 

We find two important truths about the Holy Spirit in this verse. First, every Christian (rather than church member) has the gift of the Holy Spirit. That is exactly what Jesus taught during His evening meeting with Nicodemus: If you are not born of the Spirit you cannot enter the Kingdom (John 3:5, 6). Peter, in Acts 2:38-39, said that the Holy Spirit is promised unconditionally to every believer in Christ. 

Jesus’ promise, in John 14:16, 17, reflects that spiritual indwelling: “I will pray to the Father” to send the Holy Spirit, “even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and is in you” (RSV). Because of that indwelling, Paul refers to our bodies as the “temple of the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor. 6:19, RSV). 

The Holy Spirit is God’s gift to every Christian. Of course, beyond the gift of the Spirit to all Christians are those special gifts or talents bestowed upon individuals for specialised ministries. But we must not confuse them with the Spirit’s indwelling in every person who has faith in Christ.

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