Saturday, December 15, 2007

# 231: "Christ in You . . ."

Colossians 1:27. ". . . Christ in you, the hope of glory." That is the open secret which makes Christianity potentially the most powerful religion on this earth. When the New Testament uses the words “‘Christ in you,” it is implying that the Spirit of Christ is in you. The Spirit of Christ, the Holy Spirit, God’s Spirit, and the word “Spirit” alone (with an uppercase “S”) are one and the same entity.

Since we can’t visually see spiritual entities with our human eyes, this subject can become ambiguous as to who is indwelt with the Holy Spirit and who isn’t. And how do we know with certainty that you or I are indwelt with God’s Spirit? This is a touchy topic which can lead to misunderstandings and false beliefs.

I really didn’t want to write on this topic; that was all the more reason to write on it. It is a difficult topic to explain in a coherent way and even more challenging to verify. The first time the giving of the Holy Spirit is mentioned is in Acts 2:3-4. "They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them [the twelve apostles]. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them." The question comes up: Did they know what they were saying to one another? For sure, it was that they were filled with the Holy Spirit, telling them that the promised Holy Spirit was now in their midst.

The next several verses explain the reason for their speaking in other tongues. Even though they, the 12 apostles, were most likely speaking in Aramaic, Jews from sixteen surrounding countries, all of whom spoke different languages or dialects, heard them speaking in their own language. No need for interpreters. Now that is an excellent reason for speaking in other tongues. We could use that today, especially when missionaries go to foreign countries, or in churches where there is a large number of people whose native language is not English. To my knowledge, this is not happening.

Before we go any further, this verse is of vital importance: Romans 8:9. "You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ." This verse and other similar verses are implying that those who belong to God (disciples of Christ) are indwelt with the God’s Holy Spirit; that is Godly logic.

Romans 8: 8 says, "Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God." That makes only two groups of people; we are either controlled by the Spirit of Christ or the sinful nature, with no in-between. That is as harsh as a verse can be.

Of course, now the question comes up: How do we know with certainty that we are possessed by the Holy Spirit or by the sinful nature which we are born with? This, most likely, is the question of the century. Another challenging question: Once a person believes he/she is indwelt with the Spirit, is that a permanent union? There is no definite answer in Scripture. But there are two possibilities. A person may be indwelt with the Spirit of God for many years and then it may fall away. Will the Holy Spirit be forced to leave since it is impossible for the Spirit to compromise its holiness with a life of sin, or was it never given in the first place? There are several clues in Scripture.

The apostle Paul had a dear friend named Demas. Colossians 4:14. "Our dear friend Luke, the doctor and Demas send greetings.” This verse implies that Demas was a Christian like Paul and Luke. 2nd Timothy 4:9. "Do your best to come to me quickly, for Demas, because he loved the world, has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica." Here are a few more: 2nd Timothy 1:15. "You know that everyone in the province of Asia has deserted me, including Phygelus and Hermogenes." Timothy 6:10. "Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs." 1st Timothy 5:15. "Some have in fact already turned away to follow Satan." 1st Timothy 6:21. "Which some have professed and in doing so have wandered from the faith."

Here is another question: Is it possible for a person/s to live a Godly and holy life without being indwelt by the Holy Spirit? I would say yes, good fakers! Did these fakers believe at the time they possessed the Spirit? Your answer is as good as mine. With all these unanswered questions, anyone can understand why I didn’t what to write on this subject.

Now, let’s say these "brothers" were sincere in their devotion to Christ. Did their sincerity come from the Spirit or from their sinful nature? My personal opinion is that they had the Spirit and it left when their lives turned ungodly.

Now, let’s turn to modern-day Christians. There are several denominations, namely the Pentecostal, many of the Charismatic, a few Evangelicals, etc., who believe they have the Spirit. Some of them believe that is why they speak in tongues. There is Scriptural evidence that occurred when hands were laid on them. Acts 10:44-48. "`While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles. For they heard them speaking in tongues [other languages] and praising God. Then Peter said, ‘Can anyone keep these people from being baptized with water?’ So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ." Pentecostals call this being “baptized in the Holy Spirit.”

If some are not confused at this time, just wait. Did this water baptism make them disciples for life, regardless of whether some turned away from the faith? I doubt it. You see, I know/knew some people who claim to be Spirit-filled, that live/d such unworldly lives, which make speaking in tongues and being indwelt by the Holy Ghost a sham—the word “Ghost” is the word used in the old King James Bible.

Even though speaking in tongues is validated by Scripture, there is, most likely, no reason for tongues in modern Christianity. The reason I say that is because about 35 years ago, I was marginally associated with them, and when I saw how they lived, I realized speaking in tongues was fake. Here comes that tough question: What is the functional purpose for speaking in tongues in a church building or when one is alone? Quickly some will say, "Others will interpret what is being said to build up the church." Sure!

I ask, What keeps Satan from coming in and screwing up the whole process? The reason I say that is because it was reported by a creditable source, that while a person was speaking in tongues in a church building, a person from the country of Swahili was there visiting, and when the speaker was done speaking in tongues, the foreigner said that person was continually cursing God in the Swahili language. Even though that was an isolated incident, it is possible for Satan to have his way with people who claim to be possessed by God’s Spirit. They may believe, since they can speak in tongues, that they are possessed by the Holy Spirit. Then if they live in a way that displeases God, and they still can speak in tongues, they believe they still have the Spirit of God in them. In such a case, Satan, the great deceiver, is at work.

Therefore, even though I attempt to put Godly logic behind what the New Testament teaches, speaking in tongues by people who claim to be indwelt by the Holy Ghost is something which is beyond my spiritual ability to accept. Therefore, at this time I will reject that speaking in tongues is evidence that one is indwelt by the Spirit until it blends in with other Scripture in a way to help us to become the best Christians possible. Repeating, now I think you will understand why I didn’t want to write on this subject. Now comes the 64-dollar question: Under all the above questionable circumstances, how can anyone know with absolute certainty that the Holy Spirit is living in them? This is a complex question. Some will say, "I just know it in my heart." Another will say, "I believe it because I have faith in God, etc." These reasons may be true, but they all can be potentially faulty.

A better way of knowing is to follow New Testament Scripture and the requirements commanded for all Christians. In order to do that, we have to know Scripture like we know the palm of our hand. If we don’t know the ins and outs of Biblical decrees, we have to rely on what others tell us. In these circumstances, we may expose ourselves to credulity (gullibility), especially when this teaching comes from professional Christians.

If we believe we have the Holy Spirit and don’t adhere to what is commanded, it is almost a sure thing that we are being deceived. And even when we attempt to live in a way that is in accordance with the New Testament, the motive behind our actions is a determining factor. The motive must be genuine faith and Agape (Godly) love.

I am not a professional Christian. The motives of professionals, most likely, are financial—I receive no financial compensation whatsoever. For that reason, my motives to write according to God’s Word are, most likely, closer to divine truth than you would get from most Christian organizations. Therefore, when digging for what is required to make as humanly certain as possible that we have God’s Spirit, this blog will be an indispensable source. I have been diligently studying the New Testament for about 43 years, make certain that many of the ambiguities in Scripture are slanted toward becoming the very best Christians possible. That is not a heresy. Many may believe it is impossible to live as is required; therefore, God’s grace will cover that impossibility. I will continue to challenge that false belief by saying it is God’s grace that gives us the power to live as required.

Another question: Can a person have God’s Spirit without knowing it? I have to say yes. To possess that Spirit is to be in the loving control of another entity (God). He will not force anyone to do anything they disagree with, as holy as it may be. But we must remember, the reason He entered our bodies was because of our desire, which was prompted by faith in Christ and our love for God and our needy neighbors, along with our wanting to be obedient.

As previously mentioned: "And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ." For the life of me, I can’t see how anyone can believe, live and love as the Holy Spirit desires without His Spirit. A person can’t even fake it to a point that it won’t be made known to those who are indwelt with the wisdom of discernment. There is that much difference between what the Spirit desires and what our human nature desires.

I believe if we have a wholehearted desire to stick to the aforementioned rules of how we can know with a certain amount of confidence, concerning our status with God through Christ, we will be on the straight and narrow road to eternity. This I can say with no ambiguity: It will be the greatest challenge of our lifetime to abandon our human nature in exchange for God’s Divine nature. That change is what starts and continues to happen when God through His Spirit enters our being.

Even though I brought up many unanswered questions, as I am about to bring this post to a conclusion, I now don’t regret bringing many unanswered questions to the surface. You see, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit is what makes the Christian religion so special; it actually is Christ doing His work through our mortal bodies, as it says in 1st Corinthians 6:19-20. "Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you received from God? You are not your own; you were bought with a price." There is no other religion which can claim that God is walking this earth at this time through His Spirit-filled people. Amen!

I will continue to pray that many bloggers will take this post to heart, and desire to live in a way that will welcome the Holy Spirit into their lives; that is, if He is not already there.

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