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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 non-Christians.

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.

1.      If you do not have the Spirit of Christ, the Holy Spirit, you are not a Christian.

2.      If you have the Spirit of Christ you are a Christian.

3.      If 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.

4.      If 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 regenerated us.

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?

Selah!

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

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(c) 2006  Message by Wil Pounds. Anyone is free to use this material and distribute it, but it may not be sold under any circumstances whatsoever without the author's written consent.

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