But you are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you…
Let us resume a little. The "flesh" and the "spirit," as elements of man's complex nature. Latter controlling power, itself God-controlled. There was to be a supreme and established domination of spirit over flesh, according to God's design. But reverse took place; spirit sunk in flesh. But God's Spirit has not forsaken the spirit of man. Cannot reassert its own supremacy, but his help is nigh. For though he cannot enter into fellowship with sinful man, and if man persist in sin must ultimately withdraw altogether, yet now he seeks to save. And so the dualism of man's own nature, which is hopeless, gives way to this higher and better dualism, which is essentially full of hope. God's contact with man is in conscience; man's appropriation of God is in Christ. Hence a true faith in Christ is inevitably followed by the reigning influence of Christ's Spirit in the heart. The true, attractive doctrine of the Spirit: not a something antagonistic to everything that is human, but a sweetly moulding and formative influence towards all that is truly, divinely human, all that is noble and pure and good. A Liberator from bondage - a bondage which all feel - and One who lifts us from the murky mists of self and sin into a tranquil, sunny air. The true sign of true conversion - as we have already seen. But a danger of the mystical fostering of some supposed interior life of ecstasy and transport, to the great detriment of a sober, useful godliness, and even perhaps to the disparagement of a careful, conscientious righteousness. Therefore the text needs to be interpreted in such a way as to check and prevent such perversion. And it may well be. Christ's Spirit was certainly the Informer and Moulder of his human life of humiliation, as it is the effluence now of his Divine-human life of glorification. And as he informed and moulded his human life, in the flesh, so he will inform and mould our human life likewise. Therefore, to know whether we have Christ's Spirit, we have but to inquire whether we reflect Christ's character. And so our Lord's words will have their application, "By their fruits ye shall know them." That character, then, the test. But the manifoldness of that perfect character makes delineation impossible, in detail. Let us content ourselves now with the contemplation of two generic qualities of character, as illustrated in him, which spring from the inspiring Spirit of God. For the rest, we all must make comparison continually. We may consider, then, his intense godliness, and intense humanness.
I. INTENSE GODLINESS. The quarrel of Christianity with the mere ethicists of the day. Depths of man's nature; its heights. The two relationships, towards God and towards man; and shall that higher one be disregarded? Let us look at the elements of Christ's godliness.
1. Conscious contact with God. The "angels ascending and descending;" "the Son of man which is in heaven. The baptism; the Mount of Transfiguration. We want this contact with God. A present God, face to face, heart to heart, breath to breath. This the inspiring power of a godly, righteous, and sober life. And this everywhere, and always. Meetings and means are but to express, and in turn to foster. But the real presence should be a constant factor of our life; everywhere heaven about us.
2. Complete obedience to God. The temptation, and the agony. A spotless life the sequel of the former; a patiently submissive life the precursor of the latter. So, Thy will be done" must be the motto of our life. Not in one narrow sense; for activity as well as passivity. "I do always those things that please him :" shall not we seek to say that?
3. Enthusiastic devotion for God. From "Wist ye not," etc.? (Luke 2:49), to "I have a baptism to be baptized with," etc. (Luke 12:50). So John 4:34. And we must cherish a like devotion. For we have a special life-work to do for God: let the doing of it be our bread of life! Such the godliness.
II. INTENSE HUMANNESS.
1. A tremulous, burning sympathy with all that was truly human. Had he been amongst us now, he would have been the Inspiration of all educational, social, and philanthropic enterprise. We must catch this spirit.
(1) Be truly human: sentiments, pleasures, pains, work.
(2) Respect the human: be right, in action - doing justice; in words - speaking truth; in demeanour - showing courtesy.
(3) Love and aid the human.
2. A stern, unsparing hatred of all that was false in man. The Pharisees: "Woe unto you!" So we. No false tenderness. Know how to hate, as well as how to love. And so hate unsparingly all falseness, hypocrisy, badness, in ourselves and in others - but most in ourselves. Some sins too leniently dealt with; and they damning sins! Oh, let the fiery, scorching indignation of Christian society burn them up! Such the humanness. In the light of all this read again, "If any man hath not., etc. Begin beneath the shadow of the cross, advance by drinking daily into his Spirit, and so shall you end by being transformed into his perfect likeness. We all know that Christ died for us; let us be quite as sure that Christ lives in us. - T.F.L.
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.