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Andrew Murray.

The Spirit of Christ : thoughts on the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the believer and the church online

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SnUITUAL OR CARNAL. 227

The sin that proved that the Corinthians were
carnal was their jealousy and strife. When Chris-
tians are not willing to give up the sin of selfish-
ness and temper ; when, whether in the home-
relationship or in the v/ider circle of church and
public life, they want to retain the liberty of giving
way to, or excusing evil feelings, of pronouncing
their own judgments, and speaking words that are
not in perfect love, then they remain carnal. With
all their knowledge, and their enjoyment of religious
ordinances, and their work for God's kingdom, they
are carnal and not spiritual. They grieve the
Holy Spirit of God ; they cannot have the testi-
mony that they are pleasing to God.

The carnal Christian cannot apprehend spiritual
truth. Paul writes to these Corinthians : ' I fed you
with milk, and not with meat ; for ye were not able
to bear it; nay, not even now are ye able.' The
Corinthians prided themselves on their wisdom ;
Paul thanked God that they were ' enriched in all
knowledge.' There was nothing in His teaching
that they would not have been able to comprehend
with the understanding. But the real spiritual
entering into the truth in power, so as to possess
it and be possessed by it, so as to have not only
the thoughts but the very thing the words speak of,
this the Holy Spirit only can give. And He gives it
only in the spiritually-minded man. The teaching
and leading of the Spirit is given to the obedient,
is preceded by the dominion of the Spirit in morti-
fying the deeds of the body (see Eom, viii 13



228 THE SriKlT OF CHRIST.

and 14). Spiritual knowledge is not deep thought
but living contact, entering into and being united
to the truth as it is in Jesus, a spiritual reality,
a substantial existence. ' The Spirit teacheth, com-
bining spiritual things with spiritual ; ' into a
spiritual mind He works spiritual truth. It is not
the power of intellect, it is not even the earnest
desire to know the truth, that fits a man for the
Spirit's teaching ; it is a life yielded to Him in
waiting dependence and full obedience to be made
spiritual, that receives the spiritual wisdom and
understanding. In the mind (nous, in the Scripture
meaning of the term) these two elements, the moral
and the cognitive, are imited ; only as the former
has precedence and sway, can the latter apprehend
what God has spoken.^

It is easy to understand how a carnal or fleshly
life with its walk, and the fleshly mind with its
knowledge, act and react on each other. As far as
we are giving way to the flesh, we are incapable of
receiving spiritual insight into truth. We may
* know all mysteries, and have all knowledge,' without
love, the love which the Spirit works in the inner
life ; it is only a knowledge that puffeth up, it
profiteth nothing. The carnal life makes the know-
ledge carnal. And this knowledge again, being thus
held in the fleshly mind, strengthens the religion of
the flesh, of self-trust and self-effort ; the truth so
received has no powder to renew and make free. No
wonder that there is so much Bible teaching and

1 See Note N.



SPIRITUAL OR CARNAL. 229

Bible knowledge, with so little of real spiritual
result in a life of holiness. Would God tliat His
word might sound through His Church : ' Whereas
there is among you jealousy and strife, are ye not
carnal ? ' Unless we be living spiritual lives, full of
humility, and love, and self-sacrifice, spiritual truth,
the truth of God, cannot enter or profit us.

Every Christian is called of God to he a spiritioal
man. Paul reproves these Corinthians, only but a
few years since brought out of gross heathenism,
that they are not yet spiritual. The great redemp-
tion in Christ had this most distinctly as its object,
the removal of every hindrance, that the Spirit of
God might be able to make man's heart and life
a worthy home for God who is a Spirit. That
redemption was no failure ; the Holy Spirit came
down to inaugurate a new, before unknown, dis-
pensation of indwelling life and power. The promise
and the love of the Father, the power and the glory
of the Son, the presence of the Spirit on earth — all
are pledge and guarantee that it can be. As sure
as the natural man can become a regenerate man,
can a regenerate man, who is still carnal, become
spiritual.

And why is it not so ? The question brings us
into the presence of that strange and unfathomable
mystery — the power God has given men of accept-
ing or refusing His offers, of being true or being
unfaithful to the grace He has given. We have
already spoken of that unfaithfulness on the part of
the Church, in its defective teaching of the indwell-



230 THE SPIRIT OF CHEIST.

iug and the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit in
the believer, and on the part of believers in their
unwillingness to forsake all to let the Holy Spirit
get entire possession, and do a perfect work in
them. Let us here rather seek, once again, to
gather up what Scripture teaches as to the way to
become spiritual.

It is the Holy Spirit who makes the spiritual
man. He alone can do it. He does it most cer-
tainly where the whole man is yielded up to Him.
To have the whole being pervaded, influenced,
sanctified by the Holy Spirit ; to have first our
spirit, then the soul, with the will, the feelings, the
mind, and so even the body, under His control,
moved and guided by Him, this makes and marks
the spiritual man.

The first step on the way to this is faith. We
must seek the deep, living, absorbing conviction
that there is a Holy Spirit in us ; that He is the
Mighty Power of God dwelling and working within;
that He is the representative of Jesus, making Him
present within us as our Eedeemer King, mighty to
save. In the union of a holy fear and trembling
at the almost tremendous glory of this truth of an
Indwelling God, with the childlike joy and trust of
knowing Him to be the Paraclete, the Inbringer of
the Divine and irrevocable presence of God and of
Christ, tliis thought must become the inspiration of
life : The Holy Spirit has His home within us : in
our Spirit is His hidden, blessed dwelling-place.

As we are filled with the faith of what He is



SPIHITUAL OR CARNAL. 231

and will do, and see that it is not done, we ask for
the liindrance. We find that there is an opposing
power, the flesh. From Scripture we learn how
the flesh has its twofold action : from the flesh
springs not only unrighteousness, but self-righteous-
ness. Both must be confessed and surrendered to-
Him whom the Spirit would reveal and enthrone as
Lord, our Mighty Saviour. All that is carnal and
sinful, all the works of the flesh, must be given up
and cast out. But no less must all that is carnal,
however religious it appears, all confidence in the
flesh, all self -effort and self -struggling be rooted
out. The soul, with its power, must be brought
into the captivity and subjection of Jesus Christ.
In deep and daily dependence on God must the
Holy Spirit be accepted, waited for, and followed.

Thus walking in faith and obedience, we may
count on the Holy Spirit to do a divine and most
blessed work within us. ' If w^e live by the Spirit,'
— this is the faith that is needed. And then, if
we believe that God's Spirit dwells in us, 'by the
Spirit let us live ; ' this is the obedience that is
asked. In the faith of that Holy Spirit who is
in us, we know that we have sufficient strength
to walk by the Spirit, and yield ourselves to His
mighty working, to work in us to will and to do
all that is pleasing in God's sight.

Gracious God ! we humbly pray Thee to teach
us all to profit by the solemn lessons of this portion
of Thy blessed word.



232 THE SPIRIT OF CHRIST.

Fill US with holy fear and trembling lest, with
all our knowledge of the truth of Christ and the
Spirit, we should be carnal in disposition and
conduct, not walking in the love and purity of Thy
Holy Spirit. May we understand that knowledge
only puffeth up, unless it be under the rule of the
love that buildeth up.

Give us to hear Thy call to all Thy children to be
spiritual. It is Tliy purpose, that even as with Thy
beloved Son, their whole daily life, even in the
very least things, should give evidence of being tl>e
fruit of Thy Spirit's indwelling. May we all accept
the call, as from Thy love, inviting us to our highest
blessedness, conformity to Thy likeness in Christ
Jesus.

Strengthen our faith, Blessed Father ! that we
may be filled with the confidence that the Holy
Spirit will do His work to make us spiritual. We
desire to cease from self and doubt. We give up
ourselves to Jesus our Lord to rule in us, to reveal
Himself by the Spirit. We bow before Thee in the
childlike faith that Thy Spirit, the Spirit of God,
does dwell in us every moment. May our souls
increasingly be filled with holy awe and reverence
at His presence. And do Thou, Father, accord-
ing to the riches of Thy glory, grant that we may
be mightily strengthened by Him in the inner man.
Then we shall be truly spiritual. Amen

7. 'Believer ! rise from the disciple stage, which sauoureth not the things
that be of God, to the spiritual pentecostal condition.'— Savuir.

2. To understand the word carnal and the life Paul condemns so strongly
here^ camp, Rom. uii. 14, ' I am carnal, sold under sin, ' and the description



SPIRITUAL OR CARNAL. 233



0/ the wretched and undeliuered state of which that word is the secret. To
understand the word spiritual, comp. Rom. uiii. 6, 'to be spiritually-minded
Is life and peace,' with the description of the life of the Spirit in the context
(2-16). Comp. also Gal. v. 15 and 16, 22 and 25, 26, and ui. 1, to see how the
great mark of carnal is, want of love, of spiriiual, the meehness and hue
that keeps the New Commandment.

3. When a man is first regenerated, the New Life within him is but as a little
seed, in the midst of a great body of sin and flesh, with its fleshly wisdom and
will. In that little seed there is Christ and His Spirit as an Almighty Power,
but as such a little, feeble thing that it is easily overlooked or distrusted.
Faith knows the mighty power there is in that little seed to overcome the
world, and bring the whole flesh and life into subjection. So the Spirit rules
and conquers and makes to die the deeds of the body, and the man becomes
truly spiritual.

4. The lesson that true spiritual insight into God's Word depends upon a
spiritual life, is one of great solemnity for all ministers and teachers of the
Word. Let us pray for all the Leaders of the Church that they may be
spiritual men. It is not the soundness of the teaching itself, nor the
earnestness of the teacher, but the power of the Spirit, making his life and
thoughts and words truly spiritual, that, as a rule, secures the blessing.

5. 'It is one thing to have the Holy Spirit; it is another to have Him
completely possessing us. No one can be regenerated without having Him;
but there is the other side of it, when He fills our entire being, and has His
waft


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Online LibraryAndrew MurrayThe Spirit of Christ : thoughts on the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the believer and the church → online text (page 15 of 27)