The Spirit Of Christ
● Ps 23:1 . .The Lord is my shepherd
The twenty-third psalm is very popular, and some have even taken to chanting it as a rote prayer. But the Lord's sheepfold is an exclusive fraternity; not everyone qualifies.
● John 10:14 . . I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me.
Nowadays, the sheep whom Jesus calls "my sheep" are identified as his own herd by a special earmark: their physical bodies serve as living tabernacles.
● Rom 8:9 . . If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.
This is one of the supernatural aspects of Christianity that separates the genuine sheep from the fakes -- the frauds from the real McCoys -- the identity thieves from legitimate card holders.
Anyway; it's easy to see why it's so important for folks to find a way to ascertain whether they have the Spirit of Christ. It would be tragic beyond words for someone to leave this life and pass into the next honestly believing the Lord to be their shepherd only to discover too late that he never was.
Back in the decade of the 1970's, during my era as a relatively new covert to biblical Christianity, I reasoned that if the Spirit of Christ was actually inside my body, I should be able to detect His presence. I mean, how could somebody like that possibly be in there without my knowing it?
When I shared my concern with a pastor, he reminded me that the Spirit of Christ is a sentient paranormal being consisting of something less than thin air, and that as such He can move about imperceptible to the five natural senses, viz: hearing, sight, taste, touch, and/or smell. Actually, the same thing can be said of the Devil; he too is a sentient paranormal being who could be sitting right on your lap this very moment and you'd never know it.
Had the pastor been a Jehovah's Witness, he probably would've explained that the Spirit of Christ isn't a sentient paranormal being, rather, it's a state of mind; so "Spirit" really ought to be spelled with a lower case S instead of capitalized. For example:
"Keep this mental attitude in you that was also in Christ Jesus" (Phil 2:5)
I wasn't then, nor am I now a JW, so that explanation doesn't work for me.
As I was listening to a radio preacher talk about hell-- along about the same time as my concerns with Rom 8:9 back in the decade of the 1970's --something in my mind took over; and I had the strangest sensation of falling off the earth into an abyss and nobody cared, nor did anybody miss me, nor did my disappearance cause any alarm nor make any difference.
The freeways remained busy with frustrated drivers and honking horns, people still got up to go to work, shoppers crowded the supermarkets and department stores, kids caught their buses to school, birds kept right on chirping, grass kept on growing, ocean waves went on rolling onto the beach, trains kept running, airlines kept flying, clouds moved across the sky; and all that.
Everybody else and everything else went on as usual; my absence changed nothing nor disturbed anyone nor anything. The world was utterly indifferent; the earth kept on turning, clocks went on ticking; and nature and man went right on with their business as usual without the slightest hiccup. I had never felt so utterly helpless and alone as that moment.
Well; as one might guess, that experience motivated me to take a very strong interest in resolving my concern with Rom 8:9, and got me to seriously thinking about consulting a pastor because I had been aware of the possibility of my ending up in hell ever since I was old enough to understand, but never so worried about it as I was then.
Elements of the story you are about to read are fiction and some are fantasy. Not everything in the story is fiction, nor is everything fantasy; just some of it. Please do not challenge the accuracy of the story as I have already instructed you that some of its elements were not taken from reality.
One night last week a man, who I am not at liberty to name, had a disturbing dream. He was standing on a small lump of volcanic rock, with the flames of hell licking around his naked legs. The heat was nigh unto unbearable; and the howling, yelping, and bellowing of what seemed to him a million wounded dogs was ringing in his ears.
A barely audible voice-- insistent, demanding, and unstoppable -- saturated the air all round him; seemingly coming from no discernible direction. The voice was as if the air itself were speaking from every available molecule in its structure. The man was immersed in words, which were repeating themselves over and over and over again and saying:
"If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ."
The voice was also saying:
"It is not yet your time. I have allotted you 24 hours to find the spirit of Christ and obtain it. When the time is up, I will come back for you; and there will be no reprieve then as now."
When the alarm woke him in the morning to rise and get ready for another day at Walmart, the man shook off the dream as a nightmare brought on by eating a plate of spaghetti and meat balls too close to bedtime. But still; the ethereal voice haunted him by its insistence that he had only one calendar day remaining between this life and the next
The man knew some Christians at work; so during the lunch break, he recounted his dream and asked about the Spirit of Christ spoken of by the voice; the man also inquired how he might go about obtaining it perchance his experience had been a valid portent. That night, the man passed away in his sleep. His Christian associates, though adequately schooled in all the standard "Holy Spirit" rhetoric, had only managed to add to his confusion.
The man's inquiry requested information about the Spirit of Christ, but instead of staying with him, the man's Christian associates responded with information about the Spirit of God. As a result, the poor fellow didn't know what to think; so he went to bed that night right into the jaws of the sum of all fears.
● Rom 8:8-9 . .You are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.
● Rom 8:10-11 . . And if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His spirit who indwells you.
There's a subtle nuance in those two passages that's easily overlooked if one isn't aware of it.
In a nutshell; the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is the spirit of a father, whereas the Spirit of Christ is the spirit of a son; for example:
● Gal 4:6 . . Because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of His son into our hearts, calling out, "Abba! Father."
"Abba" is an English transliteration of the Aramaic word abba.
"Father" is an English translation of the Greek word pater.
The Aramaic and the Greek both refer to a male parent. However, there's a subtle nuance in there.
Pater is a simple noun; whereas Abba is a vocative. In other words; when a son has his father's attention, then pater is the appropriate way to address him. But when trying to get his father's attention, then abba is the appropriate way for the son to address him.
To the point: The voice heard in the man's dream was saying to him (in so many words): I'm giving you an opportunity to be my son. Go and find out how; and be quick about it.
● Rom 8:15 . . For you have not received a spirit of slavery again to fear; but you have received a spirit of adoption
The spirit of adoption serves a very special purpose. It imparts to adoptees the heartfelt bond that enables adopted children to feel the love, and the friendship, and the security feelings that natural-born boys and girls feel with their birth parents.
Sometimes adopted children feel somewhat inferior to natural-born children; and I think that's likely a very normal reaction. The spirit of adoption is no doubt intended to counter those kinds of negative thoughts and insure that everyone in God's home feels just as equally welcome and belonging as Christ.
Let me show you something that's so astounding that it's nigh unto impossible to believe is really a fact.
There's a couple of Greek verbs translated "love" in the New Testament. One of them is agapao (ag-ap-ah'-o) which is an impersonal kind of benevolence, i.e. it's civil, but not necessarily affectionate. Everyone practices agapao from time to time by means of courtesy, sympathy, charity, and kindness, etc.
An example of agapao is located in John 3:16 where it's said that God loved the world; but that doesn't necessarily mean He likes the world. In point of fact, we know from Gen 6:6-7 that God would be content were the world dead and gone.
The other verb is phileo (fil-eh'-o) which always, and without exception, expresses fondness, attachment, and affection. An example of phileo is located in John 16:27 where Jesus stated:
"The Father himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God."
It's very difficult for those of us brought up in dysfunctional homes, or the foster system, or an orphanage to believe that anybody, anywhere, feels the slightest affection for us. But there it is in clear type. The Father is attached, bonded, and strongly sentimental with everyone to whom John 16:27 applies.
Knowing that you're loved is quite a bit different than feeling loved. In time, the spirit of adoption makes the Father's paternal feelings just as real for people brought into His home as they are for Christ. Pretty amazing.
In matters related to prayer, the Spirit of Christ has somewhat to say.
● Gal 4:6 . . And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His son into your hearts calling out: Abba! Father.
That verse reveals something very important. The Spirit of His son always compels Christ's believing followers to call out to his Father, never to his mother, and the reason for that is actually quite simple. Christ always prays to his Father; never to his mother; ergo: the Father's children exhibit the very same behavior because the Spirit of His son compels them to pray like His son.
That, by the way, is a pretty good litmus test. If somebody is comfortable praying to Jesus' mom, they give away the fact that they lack the Spirit of God's son in their hearts; which means of course that they have yet to undergo adoption into His home.
● Rom 8:15 . . For you have not received a spirit of bondage again to fear; but you have received a spirit of adoption, whereby we call out: Abba! Father.
The Bible instructs Christ's believing followers to pray in the Spirit (Eph 6:18, Jude 1:20). When people pray in the Spirit; they pray in accordance with Mark 14:35-36, Gal 4:6, and Rom 8:15. In other words: they don't pray to Mary and/or angels and departed saints; no, they pray to the Son's Father just as he did.
Bottom line: God's kin should feel an overwhelming compulsion to pray to their adoptive Father without their having to be told. It should come naturally (so to speak), just as naturally as it came to Jesus. And they should feel an equally overwhelming disgust for praying to somebody else.
So then, people with a habit of praying to Jesus' mom and/or angels and departed saints; obviously have neither the spirit of God's son in their heart, nor the spirit of adoption; and that is a very serious condition to be in.
● Rom 8:9 . . If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ