You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. (verse 9)
The Spirit of God - what a gift! In Old Testament times, only a select few were privileged to receive, being given a special anointing for specific roles and specific tasks. The Spirit came upon Samson for great physical power, on Bezalel for creative artistry, on David for strategic leadership, on Elijah and Elisha for powerful ministry in signs and wonders, on Isaiah, and others of the prophets, to speak God’s words.
But a further promise kept echoing throughout the scriptures of a coming day when the Spirit would be poured out on all God’s people without exception, both sons and daughters, old and young, even on servants, whether men or women. In that day, a new heart and a new spirit would be given by the Spirit of God himself.
And then, of course, when Jesus came, he himself was clearly anointed with that powerful Spirit, an anointing made visible in the form of a dove descending upon him at his baptism. John the Baptizer drew out the further implication: “He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit” (Mark 1:8).
On the Day of Pentecost, less than two months after Jesus’ death and resurrection, that baptism came about. All the believers gathered in the upper room in Jerusalem were filled with the Holy Spirit, empowered for ministry, becoming Jesus’ anointed witnesses to the world around.
The legacy continues. This verse from Romans makes it clear.
I love this verse. In some ways it is almost harsh, being exclusive, clearly putting some outside the circle. “If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.” There is no getting around the fact that there is an “in” and an “out” when it comes to spiritual life. Reception of the Spirit is a clear marker of belonging to Christ, no exceptions. Those without, do not belong.
But at the same time, in a back-handed sort of way, it gives sure confidence of spiritual life to every follower of Jesus. Taking the verse, and pulling it inside out, what it tells us is that if we belong to Christ, we do indeed have the Spirit. Without exception. No question. The Spirit of Christ himself is present in the life of every single person who has received Jesus, for all who have believed in his name. If we belong to Jesus, we have received his Spirit. Plain and simple. Praise God.
So, live in the Spirit! That’s what this whole chapter is about. “You are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit.” So, live it. Press into the Spirit’s presence. Welcome him, regularly, into the very heart of your life. Set your mind on his desires, rather than your own. Yield yourself to his working. Enjoy his fellowship. Receive the very presence of Jesus himself, abiding in you, by his Spirit.
If you belong to Jesus, the Spirit of God is your birthright. No question. Live it.
Lord Jesus, I am eternally grateful for the gift of your Spirit. Thank you.
Holy Spirit, I revel in your presence. I welcome you here. I choose to submit to your guidance. Fill my eyes with Jesus himself. Shape my mind according to your purposes. Bring glory to the Father by your work in my life. Praise your name.
Remember: If you are in Jesus, you have received the Spirit. Greet him regularly during the day. He is abiding in you. Pause to remember. Carry on the conversation. Enjoy the fellowship.