The Ultimate Test of Christianity
We began our last post with an important question. What takes place when the Spirit of God comes to live in us? The expression “Spirit of God” refers to the God’s own Spirit, the mighty force that raised Jesus from the dead.
Let us first consider the life of Jesus. Jesus Christ was born of the Spirit. His life on earth was filled with beauty and glory, for He lived in constant fellowship with the Spirit of God. The Spirit led him into the wilderness. The Holy Spirit protected and sustained His life. Through the Spirit, Jesus offered himself without blemish to God as a sacrifice for the sins of all. Jesus acted in constant cooperation with the Indwelling Spirit of God. He never resisted the Spirit. He never grieved the Spirit. He never quenched the Spirit. What resulted from living such a life? The Spirit of God was seen through the Spirit of Jesus. Jesus said, “He who has seen me has seen the father” (John 14:9). As we consider the phrases the Spirit of God and the Spirit of Christ may we discover new truths regarding the Christian life.
The character of Jesus shows us what it looks like to live a life controlled by the Spirit of God. What did others see in Him? What was the temper, the tone, the disposition, and the quality of the Spirit of God as it was revealed through Him?
Dr. Morgan suggests three words that characterized Jesus’ life – simplicity, sensitivity, and serenity. Christ lived a life of simplicity rather than complexity. He lived a life of sensitivity rather than callousness. He lived a life of serenity rather than chaos.
Jesus was always honest, straightforward, natural, transparent, and simple. What you saw was what He was. The Spirit of Jesus was free of all pretense and free of all sin.
Jesus freely shared in the emotions of others. When He found Himself confronted by sorrow, He took that sorrow into Himself. When he encountered the broken-hearted and widowed mother following her only son to burial, He felt the sorrow of her spirit. When He went to the marriage feast at Cana of Galilee, He felt keenly the gladness and joy of the occasion. He was deeply responsive. He was acutely sensitive.
As we read of Jesus’ character in Scripture, we find that when all around Him were agitated and excited, He alone remained calm, quiet, and filled with dignity. Many scenes come to our minds but none quite as poignant as those final hours before His crucifixion. Rome, with the power it held to rule with an iron fist, was thrown into chaos. The priests were aroused to a white heat. The disciples were confused and fearful. The population was clamoring for blood. Only the Spirit of Jesus Christ was serene and calm in the midst of all the anger, fear, jealousy, and uproar.
Only the Spirit of God can produce in us the Spirit of Christ. The unseen Spirit must dwell within before God’s Spirit will be manifest without. It is not a matter of me trying to live like Jesus did! We have the testimony of the Scripture:
“You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human heart. Such confidence we have through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.”
In addition, 2 Corinthians 3:17-18 tells us, “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”
It is important what we believe, yet only as belief translates into action. A creed that does not blossom into gracious character is not worth anything! It is the spirit that matters. All too often, we try to correct the center of our life from the circumference. Rather, may we allow God to make us new from the inside out. We do this by handing over to God all that we are. Through faith in God’s Son, Jesus Christ, we receive into our spirits, the Spirit of God, and He is enthroned there. We will no longer be controlled by our flesh. We will live lives that are rooted and grounded in love by the power of the Spirit of God.
Many spend a lifetime contemplating the question, “Who am I?” Character is who we are on the inside and what values we hold when no one is looking. Our character is not what we say or what we do, rather it is WHO WE ARE. After all, the most self-centered and egotistical person may be the one to make the largest gift to charity. Finding our true character and remaining faithful to who we are is not an easy task. This is why we all need time alone with God, time in which we ask Him to search our spirits and look into our souls.
“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24).
Questions for reflection:
1. Have you invited the Spirit of God to live within you?
2. What was the secret of the beauty and glory of the life of Jesus? How does this provide a daily key for your own life?
3. How does your life reveal your character?
4. What three words characterize your life? Are they the same three words that characterized the life of Jesus? Are there any similarities?
5. Think of a recent character test. How did you handle it?
(For deeper study, order Marjorie's book Blessings of the Holy Spirit on Amazon.com)