By Elizabeth Prata
Paul wrote in Romans 8,
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).
The little words in the Bible matter. Paul often says, “therefore” which, when we encounter such a word, my Bible teacher says we should mentally say to ourselves ‘what’s it there for?’ The word ‘however’ at the start of the excerpt means Paul has been explaining something and is now contrasting the previous something with what is coming next. My focus today, though, is on the word “if” that Paul uses here.
What a weighty thought; “IF” the Spirit dwells in us or IF the Spirit does not dwell in us.
We should not be constantly engaging in introspection, mulling over our past life prior to salvation, or pondering our sins to a gross extent, or constantly wailing ‘woe is meee, I’m such a vile sinner’… but a bit of introspection is often warranted. Paul said in 2 Corinthians 13:5, that we should examine ourselves to see if we pass the test. In 1 Corinthians 11:28 we must examine ourselves before we take the cup of remembrance and the bread at the Lord’s table.
John MacArthur said, “Churches are full of spiritual cripples, paralyzed by the grudges, bitterness, sins, and tragedies of the past. Others try to survive in the present by reliving past successes. They must break with that past if they are to pursue the spiritual prize.” Source, MacArthur, J. F. The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Philippians.
Here, Paul makes a flat statement, ‘If the Spirit is in you, then…’ The word ‘if’ warrants a quick look-see in this case. What does it mean IF the Spirit is in us? It means then we are changed and changing. We know the Spirit is in us because when we examine ourselves, we discover that our affections have changed. We now hate sin. We enjoy the word of God. We bring glory to Jesus, not ourselves. No one in the flesh will do those things. The flesh is only ever selfish.
Genesis 6:5 says, “Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of mankind was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of their hearts was only evil continually.” That verse is not meant only for people living in the pre-flood times (antediluvian) but it applies to all living and dead humans who are not in the Spirit.
Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible says of the Romans 8:9-11 verse-
“But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit,…. That is, ye are not carnal, but spiritual men; or ye are not in a state of unregeneracy, but in a state of grace: the reason proving this is, if so be, or “seeing”
“that the Spirit of God dwell in you; the inhabitation of the Spirit is a distinguishing character of a regenerate man; which is to be understood not of his omnipresence, nor of a participation of his gifts, whether ordinary or extraordinary: nor does the Spirit of God only dwell in his people by his graces, but in person as in office, and in a way of special favour; as a spirit of illumination, regeneration, sanctification, and faith, as a comforter, a spirit of adoption, an intercessor, and as a pledge and seal of happiness:”
“which inhabitation is personal; is not peculiar to him to the exclusion of the Father and of the Son; is expressive of property and dominion; is not confined to the souls of men, for he also dwells in their bodies; it is operative, powerful, and perpetual; it is the security of the saints’ perseverance, and the pledge of their resurrection and future glory.”
“This is owing not to any goodness in them, or to any fitness and preparations of theirs to receive him; but to a federal union to Christ and relation to him, to our Lord’s ascension and intercession, and to the love and grace of the Father; and this proves a man to be a regenerate man, to be in the Spirit, and not in the flesh; for the Spirit of God is never in this sense in an unregenerate man, nor is he in any such sense without his grace; so that the indwelling of the Spirit is the grand evidence of relation to God, of an interest in Christ and union to him, and of a man’s state and condition God-ward;” –end Gill’s
If you have been saved by grace for any length of time, and you look back, do you notice changes in yourself? Do you feel pricked by sin more? Is your conscience softer? Do you understand the Bible better? Are you releasing attachment to sins you used to enjoy, finding you enjoy them less or have abandoned them altogether? This is the Spirit at work in you. In that case the Spirit IS in you! Rejoice for the Lord is gracious and powerful to save sinners!
The End Time Blog Podcast Season 2, Episode 275