Who Is a Christian?
Who is a Christian? I am asked that question often?
What is the gospel? is another question often asked. Here is the answer the
apostle Paul gives to these questions.
However, 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. 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 dwells in you (Romans 8:9-11).
These verses should cause us to ask am I a Christian? Mere profession
of faith is not enough. Am I really a Christian deep down in my soul? Where is the evidence? Has the Holy Spirit made me
alive? Have I come to an intimate love relationship with Christ?
In the context of these verses the apostle Paul has been stressing
the evidence in the lives of those who are under control of the Holy Spirit and in control
of the evil actions of the non-Christians. The behavior of the person under the control of
the Holy Spirit gives evidence that he is a Christian. Living in accordance to the Holy
Spirit is true of all Christians. Living according to the sinful nature is true of all
Let us be very clear as to what the apostle is saying. If you belong
to Jesus Christ you will live like Him. If your lifestyle does not conform to His likeness
you do not belong to Him, regardless of what you may profess.
you do not have the Spirit of Christ, the Holy Spirit, you are not a Christian.
you have the Spirit of Christ you are a Christian.
you have the Spirit of Christ in your life you will be under the control of the Holy
Spirit and your behavior will give evidence of this great fact.
your life is controlled by the flesh or sinful nature you are not
a Christian and your behavior will demonstrate that fact.
In verse nine Paul draws a strong sharp contrast, You, however
. . . He turns his attention from the fleshly, sinful nature to the person who is
under control of the Holy Spirit. He has confidence in the believer sin the church at
Rome. However, you are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of
God dwells in you (v. 9). The you is emphatic in the original language.
Whatever may be true of non-Christians, you are different. You do not live according to
sinful nature, but are in the Spirit. It is the same as being in
Christ (v. 1). Here the Spirit is in the believer just as Christ is
in the believer (v. 2; Gal. 2:20). The emphasis he is making is the
mutual indwelling of the believer and his Savior. We are in Christ and He is
in us. This is what makes the Christian different from the non-Christian who is controlled
by his sinful nature or the flesh. The true Christian is in an intimate relationship with
God. The Christina is under the dominion of the Spirit of God. Paul normally speaking of
the Christian being in Christ and the Holy Spirit is us.
The life in the Spirit is a life of a different quality from life in
the flesh. It has different foundations, and springs form different sources. Life in the
Spirit is a life made possible only because the Spirit of God has come to dwell in the
believer. He is not an occasional visitor, but an occupant of the believer. He has taken
up permanent residence in the Christian. Therefore, the Christian is under the direction
and control of the Holy Spirit. Ina strong negative point Paul says, If anyone does
not have the Spirit of God, he does not belong to Him (v. 9b). Anyone who lacks the
Spirit is not a Christian.
The Spirit of Christ is another way of saying the
Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit (2 Cor. 3:17, 18; Gal. 4:6; Phil. 1:19; 1 Pet. 1:11).
The abiding indwelling of this Spirit in the believer is the normal and necessary feature
of being a Christian. If you do not have Him you do not belong to Him. The presence of the
Holy Spirit in believers is not a gift of a few spiritual people, or an option
in the Christian life; it is true of every believer. If you do not have the Holy Spirit
you are not a Christian. The Holy Spirit indwells every believer.
The Christian has been delivered from the realm of sin and
death, and transferred to the ream of life and peace in the Spirit. The Christian has been
born again. The Christian has been credited with the righteousness of Jesus Christ and
justified. If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the
spirit is alive because of righteousness (Romans 8:10).
Our physical bodies will die, and are as good as dead now, but our
spirits have been made alive by the Holy Spirit in the new birth. The Holy Spirit has
But the apostle Paul also gives us a grand promise of a glorious
future (v. 11). 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 dwells in you (Romans 8:11). When our physical
bodies die and lie in the grave God will one day raise us up to be with Him in glory. At
that moment we will be freed once and for all from the penalty of sin, the power of sin
and the presence of sin. Do you have that wonderful assurance in your heart today?
Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006
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