Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
~ John 3:5-6, Romans 8:9
Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.
~ 1 John 4:1
Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. Evil men understand not judgment: but they that seek the LORD understand all things. Whoso keepeth the commandment shall feel no evil thing: and a wise man’s heart discerneth both time and judgment. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment: thou shalt not respect the person of the poor, nor honour the person of the mighty: but in righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbour.
~ 1 Thessalonians 5:21, Hebrews 5:14, Proverbs 28:5, Ecclesiastes 8:5, 1 Corinthians 2:15, Leviticus 19:15
What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?
~ 1 Corinthians 6:19
Do You Have God’s Spirit, by J. C. Ryle.
These (mockers) be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit.
~ Jude 1:19
What then, are these general effects that the Spirit always produces on those who really have Him? What are the marks of His presence in the soul? This is the question that now remains to be considered. Let us try to set down these marks in order.
1. All who have the Spirit are quickened by Him and made spiritually alive. He is called in Scripture, “The Spirit of life” (Rom 8:2). “It 1 is the spirit,” says our Lord Jesus Christ, “that quickeneth. ” (John 6:63). We are all by nature dead in trespasses and sins. We have neither feeling nor interest about religion; we have neither faith, nor hope, nor fear, nor love. Our hearts are in a state of torpor 2; they are compared in Scripture to a stone. We may be alive about money, learning, politics, or pleasure, but we are dead towards God. All this is changed when the Spirit comes into the heart. He raises us from this state of death and makes us new creatures. He awakens the conscience and inclines the will towards God. He causes old things to pass away, and all things to become new. He gives us a new heart; He makes us put off the old man and put on the new. He blows the trumpet in the ear of our slumbering faculties and sends us forth to walk (in) the world as if we were new beings. How unlike was Lazarus shut up in the silent tomb to Lazarus coming forth at our Lord’s command! How unlike was Jairus’ daughter lying cold on her bed amidst weeping friends to Jairus’ daughter rising and speaking to her mother as she was wont to do! Just as unlike is the man in whom the Spirit dwells to what he was before the Spirit came into him.
I appeal to every thinking reader. Can he whose heart is manifestly full of everything but God—hard, cold, and insensible—can he be said to “have the Spirit”? Judge for yourself.
2. All who have the Spirit are taught by Him. He is called in Scripture, “The spirit of wisdom and revelation” (Eph 1:17). It was the
1 quickeneth – makes alive.
2 torpor – inactivity resulting from a lack of mental or physical energy. 3 wont to do – in the habit of doing.
promise of the Lord Jesus: “He shall teach you all things”; “He shall guide you into all truth” (Joh 14:26; 16:13). We are all by nature ignorant of spiritual truth. “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him” (1Co 2:14). Our eyes are blinded. We neither know God, Christ, ourselves, the world, sin, heaven, nor hell as we ought. We see everything under false colours. The Spirit alters entirely this state of things. He opens the eyes of our understandings; He illumines us; He calls us out of darkness into marvellous light; He takes away the veil; He shines into our hearts and makes us see things as they really are. No wonder that all true Christians are so remarkably agreed upon the essentials of true religion! The reason is that they have all learned in one school—the school of the Holy Ghost. No wonder that true Christians can understand each other at once and find common ground of communion! They have been taught the same language by One Whose lessons are never forgotten.
I appeal again to every thinking reader. Can he who is ignorant of the leading doctrines of the gospel and blind to his own state—can he be said to “have the Spirit”? Judge for yourself.
3. All who have the Spirit are led by Him to the Scriptures. This is the instrument by which He specially works on the soul. The Word is called “the sword of the Spirit” (Eph 6:17). Those who are born again are said to be “born again…by the word of God” (1Pe 1:23). All Scripture was written under His inspiration: He never teaches anything that is not therein written. He causes the man in whom He dwells to “delight in the law of the LORD” (Psa 1:2). Just as the infant desires the milk that nature has provided for it and refuses all other food, so does the soul that has the Spirit desire the sincere milk of the Word. Just as the Israelites fed on the manna in the wilderness, so are the children of God taught by the Holy Ghost to feed on the contents of the Bible.
I appeal again to every thinking reader. Can he who never reads the Bible or only reads it formally—can he be said to “have the Spirit”? Judge for yourself.
4. All who have the Spirit are convinced by Him of sin. This is an especial office that the Lord Jesus promised He should fulfil. “When he is come, he will reprove the world of sin” (Joh 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 hearts and makes us cry with the publican 4, “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 hearts; 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 (have been) led by Him to Christ for salvation. It is one special part of His office to testify of Christ, to take of the things of Christ, and to show them to us (Joh 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 5 alone God can be just and the justifier of the ungodly. He reveals to us the exquisite fitness and suitableness of Christ’s salvation to our souls. He unfolds to us the beauty of the glorious doctrine of justification6 by simple faith. He sheds abroad in our hearts that mighty love of God that is in Christ Jesus (Rom 5:5-8). 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.
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” (Rom 1:4). When He dwells in men, He makes them follow after
4 publican – tax collector.
5 mediation – act of coming between two hostile parties to restore peace; “It pleased God in His eternal purpose, to choose and ordain the Lord Jesus, His only begotten Son according to the Covenant made between them both, to be the mediator between God and Man; the Prophet, Priest, and King; Head and Saviour of His Church, the heir of all things, and judge of the world: Unto Whom He did from all eternity give a people to be His seed, and to be by Him in time redeemed, called, justified, sanctified, and glorified.”
6 justification – Justification is an act of God’s free grace, wherein He pardons all our sins (Rom 3:24; Eph 1:7), and accepts us as righteous in His sight (2Co 5:21) only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to us (Rom 5:19), and received by faith alone (Gal 2:16; Phi 3:9). (Spurgeon’s Catechism, Q. 32)
“love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance” (Gal 5:22-23). 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” (2Pe 1:4; Psa 119:128). 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 off from Him.
I appeal again to every thinking reader. Can those who do not even pretend to live strictly according to God’s will, be said to “have the Spirit”?
Judge 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” (Rom 8:5). The general tone, tenor, and bias of their minds is in favour 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 Ghost…
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 St. 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” (Gal 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” (Luke 11:21) no longer reigns within as he once did, with undisputed sway. The presence of the Holy Ghost may be known by inward warfare as well as 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.
9. All who have the Spirit love others who have the Spirit. It is written of them by St. John, “We know that we have passed from death un- to life, because we love the brethren” (1John 3:14). The more they see of the Holy Ghost in anyone, the dearer he is to them. They regard him as a member of the same family, a child of the same Father, a subject of the same King, and a fellow-traveler with themselves in a foreign country towards the same fatherland. It is the glory of the Spirit to bring back something of that brotherly love that sin has so miserably chased out of the world. He makes men love one another for reasons that to the natural man are foolishness—for the sake of a common Saviour, a common faith, a common service on earth, and the hope of a common home. He raises up friendships independent of blood, marriage, interest, business, or any worldly motive. He unites men by making them feel they are united to one great centre, Jesus Christ.
I appeal again to every thinking reader. Can he who finds no pleasure in the company of spiritually-minded persons, or even sneers at them as saints—can he be said to “have the Spirit”? Judge for yourself.
10. Finally, all who have the Spirit are taught by Him to pray. He is called in Scripture, “The spirit of grace and of supplications” (Zec 12:10). The elect of God are said to “cry day and night unto him” (Luke 18:7). They cannot help it: their prayers may be poor, weak, and wandering, but pray they must. Something within them tells them they must speak with God and lay their wants before Him. Just as the infant will cry when it feels pain or hunger because it is its nature, so will the new nature implanted by the Holy Ghost oblige a man to pray. He has the Spirit of adoption, and he must cry, “Abba, Father” (Gal 4:6).
Once more I appeal to every thinking reader. Can the man who never prays at all or is content with saying a few formal, heartless words—can he be said to “have the Spirit”? For the last time I say, “Judge for yourself.”