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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that knows what the flesh is, how it works and how
it must be dealt with, will be conqueror.

We know how it was on account of their
ignorance of this that the Galatians so sadly failed.
It was this led them to attempt to perfect in the
flesh what was begun in the Spirit (iii. 3). It was
this made them a prey to those who desired ' to
make a fair show in the flesh ' that they might
'glory in the flesh' (vi. 12, 13). They knew not
how incorrigibly corrupt the flesh was. They
knew not that, as sinful as our nature is when
fulfilling its own lusts, as sinful is it when mak-
ing * a fair show in the flesh ; ' it apparently yields
itself to the service of God, and undertakes to
perfect what the Spirit had begun. Because they
knew not this, they were unable to clieck the
flesh in its passions and lusts ; these obtained
the victory over them, so that they did what they
did not wish. They knew not that, as long as the
flesh, self-effort, and self-will had any influence in


serving God, it would remain strong to serve sin, and
tliat the only way to render it impotent to do evil
was to render it impotent in its attempts to do good.

It is to discover the truth of God concerning the
flesh, both in its service of God and of sin, that this
Epistle was written. Paul wants to teach them
how the Spirit, and the Spirit alone, is the power of
the Christian life, and liow this cannot be except
as the flesh, with all that it means, is utterly and
entirely set aside. And in answer to the question
how this can be, he gives the wonderful answer
which is one of the central thoughts of God's
revelation. The crucifixion and death of Christ
is the revelation not only of an atonement for
sin, but of a power which frees from the actual
dominion of sin, as it is rooted in the flesh. When
l?aul in the midst of his teaching about the walk
in the Spirit (16-26) tells us, 'They that are
(yhrist's have crucified the flesh with its passions
and lusts,' he tells us what the only way is in
which deliverance from the flesh is to be found.
To understand this word, ' crucified the flesh,' and
abide it, is the secret of walking not after the
flesh but after the Spirit. Let each one who longs
to walk by the Spirit try to enter into its meaning.

' Tlicflesli — in Scripture this expression means the
whole of our human nature in its present condition
under the power of sin. It includes our whole
being, spirit, soul, and body. After the fall, God
said, ' man is flesh ' (Gen, vi. 3). All his powers,
intellect, emotions, will, — all are under the power of


the flesh. Scripture speaks of the will of the flesh,
of the mind of the flesh (fleshly mind), of the passions
and lusts of the flesh. It tells us that in our
flesh dwelleth no good : the mind of the flesh is at
enmity against God. On this ground it teaches
that nothing that is of the flesh, that the fleshly
mind or will thinks or does, however fair the show
it makes, and however much men may glory in it,
can have any value in the sight of God. It warns
us that our greatest danger in religion, the cause of
our feebleness and failure, is our having confidence in
the flesh, its wisdom and its work. It tells us tliat,
to be pleasing to God, this flesh, with its self-will
and self- effort, must entirely be dispossessed, to
make way for the willing and the working of
Another, even the Spirit of God. And that the
only way to be made free from the power of the
flesh, and have it put out of the way, is to have it
crucified and given over to the death.

* They that are of Christ Jesus have crucified the
flesh.' Men often speak of crucifying the flesh as
a thing that has to be done. Scripture always
speaks of it as a thing that has been done, an
accomplished fact. ' Knowing this, that our old
man was crucified vfiih Him.' ' I have heen crucified
with Christ.' ' They that are of Christ Jesus have
crucified the flesh.' ' The cross of our Lord Jesus
Christ, through which the world hath heen crucified
unto me, and I unto the world.' "What Christ,
through the Eternal Spirit, did on the cross, He
did not as an individual, but in the name of that


human nature which, as its Head, He had taken
upon Himself. Every one who accepts of Christ
receives Him as the Crucified One, receives not
only the merit, but the power of His crucifixion,
is united and identified with Him, and is called
on intelligently and voluntarily to realize and
maintain that identification. * They that are of
Christ Jesus ' have, in virtue of their accepting
the crucified Christ as their life, given up their
flesh to that cross which is of the very essence of
the person and character of Christ as He now lives
in heaven ; they ' have crucified the flesh with its
passions and lusts.' ^

But what does this mean : ' They have cmcificd
the flesh'? Some are content with the general truth:
the cross takes away the curse which there was on
the flesh. Others think of causing the flesh pain
and suffering, of the duty of denying and mortify-
ing it. Others, again, of the moral influence the
thought of the cross will exercise. In each of these
views there is an element of truth. But if they
are to be realized in power, w^e must go to the root-
thought : to crucify the flesh is, to give it over to
the curse. The Cross and the Curse are inseparable
(Deut. xxi. 23; Gal. iii. 13). To say, 'Our old
man has been crucified with Him/ * I have been

' lu The Law of Liberty in the Spiritual LifCy by Rev. E. H.
Hopkins, will be found a singularly clear and scriptural exposition
of tbe Life of Fnitli. The chapters on Conformity to the Death of
Christ and on Conflict will be found most helpful to the right
understanding of the relation of the believer to the Flesh and tha


crucified with Christ,' means something very solemn
and awful. It means this : I have seen that my
old nature, myself, deserves the curse ; that there
is no way of getting rid of it but by death : I
voluntarily give it to the death. I have accepted
as my life the Christ who came to give Himself, His
flesh, to the cursed death of the cross ; who received
His new life alone owing to that death and in
virtue of it : I give my old man, my flesh, self,
with its will and work, as a sinful, accursed thing,
to the cross. It is nailed there : in Christ I am
dead to it, and free from it. It is not yet dead ;
but day by day in union with Christ will I keep it
there, making dead, as they still seek to rise up,
every one of its members and deeds in the power
of the Holy Spirit.

The power of this truth depends upon its being
known, accepted, and acted on. If I only know
the cross in its Substitution, but not, as Paid
gloried in it, in its Fellowship (Gab vi. 14), I never
can experience its power to sanctify. As the blessed
truth of its Fellowship dawns upon me, I see how
by faith I enter into and live in spiritual com-
munion with that Jesus who, as my Head and
Leader, made and proved the cross the only
ladder to the Throne. This spiritual union, main-
tained by faith, becomes a moral one. I have the
same mind or disposition that was in Christ Jesus.
I regard the flesh as sinful, and only fit for the
curse. I accept the cross, with its death to what
is flesh, secured to me in Jesus, as the only way to


become free from the power of self, and to walk in
the new life by the Spirit of Christ.

The way in which this faith in the power of the
cross, as at once the revelation and the removal of
the curse and the power of the flesh, is very simple,
and yet very solemn. I begin to understand that
my one danger in living by the Spirit is yielding
to the flesh or self in its attempt to serve God. I
see that it renders the cross of Christ of none effect.
(1 Cor. i. 17 ; Gal. iii. 3, v. 12, 13 ; Phil. iii. 3, 4 ;
Col. ii. 18 - 23.) I see how all that was of man
and nature, of law and human effort, was for ever
judged of God on Calvary. There flesh proved that,
with all its wisdom and all its religion, it hated and
rejected the Son of God. There God proved how
the only way to deliver from the flesh was to give
it to death as an accursed thing. I begin to
understand that the one thing I need is : to look
upon the flesh as God does ; to accept of the death-
warrant the cross brings to everything in me that is
of the flesh ; to look upon it, and ail that comes
from it, as an accursed thing. As this habit of
soul grows on me, I learn to fear nothing so much
as myself. I tremble at the thought of allowing
the flesh, my natural mind and will, to usurp the
place of the Holy Spirit. My whole posture to-
wards Christ is that of lowly fear, in the conscious-
ness of having within me that accursed thing that
15 ever ready, as an angel of light, to intrude itself
in the Holiest of all, and lead me astray to serve
God, not in the Spirit of Christ, but in the power


that is of nature. It is in such a lowly fear that
the believer is taught to believe fully the need, but
also the provision, of the Holy Spirit to take
entirely the place which the flesh once had, and
day by day to glory in the cross, of w^hich he can
say, * By it I have been crucified to the world.'

We often seek for the cause of failure in the
Christian life. We often think that because we
are sound on what the Galatians did not under-
stand, — ^justification by faith alone, — their danger
was not ours. Oh that we knew to what an extent
we have allowed the flesh to work in our religion !
Let us pray God for grace to know it as our
bitterest enemy, and the enemy of Christ. Free
grace does not only mean the pardon of sin ; it
means the power of the New Life through the Holy
Spirit. Let us consent to what God says of the
flesh, and all that comes of it : that it is sinful,
condemned, accursed. Let us fear nothing so much
as the secret workings of our flesh. Let us accept
the teaching of God's word : ' In my flesh dwelleth
no good thing ;' * The carnal mind is enmity against
God.' Let us ask God to show us how entirely the
Spirit must possess us, if we are to be pleasing to
Him in all things. Let us believe that as we daily
glory in the cross, and, in prayer and obedience,
yield the flesh to the death on the cross, Christ
will accept our surrender, and will, by His Divine
Power, maintain mightily in us the Life of the
Spirit. And we shall learn not only to live by the
Spirit, but, as those who are made free from the


power of the flesh, by its crucifixion, maintained by
faith, in very deed to walk by the Spirit.

Blessed God ! I beseech Thee to reveal to me the
full meaning of what Thy word has been teaching me,
that it is as one who has crucified the flesh with its
passions and lusts, that I can walk by the Sj^irit.

my Father ! teach me to see that all that is of
nature and of self is of the flesh ; that the flesh
has been tested by Thee, and found wanting, worthy
of nothing but the curse and death. Teach me that
my Lord Jesus led the way, and acknowledged the
justice of Thy curse, that I too might be willing and
have the power to give it up to the cross as an
accursed thing. Oh, give me grace day by day
greatly to fear before Thee, lest I allow the flesh to
intrude into the work of the Spirit, and to grieve
Him. And teach me that the Holy Spirit has
indeed been given to be the life of my life, and to fill
my whole being with the power of the death and
the life of my blessed Lord living in me.

Blessed Lord Jesus ! who didst send Thy Holy
Spirit, to secure the uninterrupted enjoyment of Thy
I'resence and Thy Saving Power within us, I yield
myself to be entirely Tliine, to live wholly and only
under His leading. I do with my whole heart
desire to regard the flesh as crucified and accursed.
I solemnly consent to live as a crucified one.
Saviour ! Thou dost accept my surrender ; I trust
in Thee to keep me this day walking through the
Spirit. Amen.


1. The Powor of Christ's Life cannot work in me apart from the power of
His death. His death alone deals effectually with the flesh, with self, with the
natural life, to make way for the new Life, the Holy Spirit. Do pray to see how
entirely the flesh must die, how really and entirely the Holy Spirit must cast
out your self-life, if He is to reveal in you the Christ-life.

2. Many will say of our calling the flesh the natural man, the life of self,
an accursed thing : This is an hard saying. Oh, it is easy to encircle the cross
with flowers, and say a thousand beautiful things about it. But what God
says of it is this : The cross is a curse. The Son of God on the cross ' was
made a curse.' If my flesh is crucified, it can only be because it is accursed.
It is a blessed moment in a life when a man gets a sight of what a cursed
thing sin is. It is a still more blessed thing, and may worii a deeper humilia-
tion^ when God shows a man what an accursed thing the flesh is, and how he
has cherished it, and for its sake grieved the Holy Spirit of God.

3. The flesh and the Spirit are the two powers. Under the rule of either,
every act is done : let our every step be a walk after, through the Spirit.

4. The death of Christ led to the glory where He received and gave the
Holy Spirit. It is a life where death to the flesh is the ruling principle,
in which the power of the Spirit can be revealed,

5. 'And the Church, walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort
of the Holy Ghost, was multiplied.' A deep, lowly fear of the Holy Presence
within, a fear of listening to self instead of Him, is one secret of walking
in the comfort of the Holy Ghost. 'Be, then, in the few of the Lord all the
day long.'


Twenty-ninth Day.


W\)t Spirit of Hofae.

* The fruit of the Spirit is love.'— Gal. v. 22.

* I beseech you by the love of the Spirit.' —Rom. xv. 30.

* Who also declared unto us your love in the Spirit.' —

Col. i. 8.

OUR subject to-day leads us up into the very
centre of the inner sanctuary. We are to
think of the Love of the Spirit. We shall have to
learn that love is not only one, among others, of the
graces of the Spirit, is not only the chief among
them, but that the Spirit is indeed nothing less
than the Divine Love itself come down to dwell
in us, and that we have only so much of the Spirit
as we have of Love.

God is a Spirit : God is Love. In these two
words we have the only attempt that Scripture
makes to give us, in human language, what may be
called a definition of God.^ As a Spirit, He has

* The third expression of the same sort, God is Light, is a
figurative one.


life in Himself, is independent of all around Hi in, and
has power over all to enter into it, to penetrate it
with His own life, to communicate Himself to it.
It is through the Spirit that God is the Father of
spirits, that He is the God of creation, that He is
the God and Eedeemer of man. All life is owing
to the Spirit of God. And it is so because God is
Love. Within Himself He is Love, as seen in the
Father giving all He hath to the Son, and the Son
seeking all He has in the Father. In this life of
Love between the Father and the Son the Spirit is the
bond of fellowship. The Father is the Loving One,
the Fountain ; the Son the Beloved One, the great
Keservoir of Love, ever receiving and ever giving
back ; the Spirit the Living Love that makes them
One. In Him the Divine Life of Love hath its
ceaseless flow and overflowing. It is that same love
with which the Father loves the Son that rests on
us and seeks to fill us too, and it is through the
Spirit that this Love of God is revealed and com-
municated to us. In Jesus it was the Spirit that
led Him to the work of love for which he was
anointed, to preach glad tidings to the poor and
deliverance to the captives ; through tliat same
Spirit He offered Himself a sacrifice for us. The
Spirit comes to us freighted with all the love of
God and of Jesus: the Spirit is the Love of

And when that Spirit enters us, His first work is,
* The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts
by the Holy Ghost which was given unto us.'


What He gives is not only the faith or the experi-
ence of how greatly God loves, but something
infinitely more glorious. The Love of God, as a
spiritual existence, as a Living Power, enters our
hearts. It cannot be otherwise, for the Love of God
exists in the Spirit ; the outpouring of the Spirit is
the inpouring of Love. This Love now possesses the
heart : that one same Love with which God loves
Jesus, and ourselves, and all His children, and which
overflows to all the world, is within us, and is, if we
know it, and trust it, and give up to it, the power
for us to live in too. The Spirit is the Life of the
Love of God ; the Spirit in us is the Love of God
taking up abode within us.

Such is the relation between the Spirit and the
Love of God ; let us now consider the relation
between our spirit and love. We must here again
refer to what has been said of man's threefold
nature, body, soul, and spirit, as constituted in
creation and disorganized by the fall.^ We saw
how the soul, as the seat of self-consciousness, was
to be subject to the spirit, the seat of the God-
consciousness. And how sin was simply self-
assertion, the soul refusing the rule of the spirit to
gratify itself in the lust of the body. The fruit of
that sin was that self ascended the throne of the
soul, to rule there instead of God in the spirit.
Selfishness thus became the ruling power in man's
life. The self that had refused God His right at
once refused fellow-man his due, and the terribk

' See Note C.


story of sin in the world is simply the history of
the origin, the growth, the power, the reign of self.
And it is only when the original order is restored,
when the soul gives the spirit the precedence it
claims, and self is denied to make way for God,
that selfishness will be conquered, and love toward
our brother flow from love toward God. In other
words, as the renewed spirit becomes the abode of
the Spirit of God and His love, and as the regenerate
man yields himself to let the Spirit have sole sway,
tJiat love will again become our life and our joy.
To every disciple the Master says here again, ' Let
him deny self, and follow me.' Many a one has
sought in vain to follow Jesus in His life of love,
and could not, because he neglected what was so
indispensable — denying self. Self following Jesus
always fails, because it cannot love as He loves.

If we understand this, we are prepared to admit
the claim that Jesus makes, and that the world
makes too, that our proof of discipleship is to be
Love. The change we profess to have undergone is
so Divine, the deliverance from the power of self
and sin so complete, the indwelling of the Spirit of
God's love is so real and true, and the provision
thus made to enable us to live so sufficient, that
love, or the new commandment, as the fulfilling of
tlie law, ought to be the natural overflow of the new
life in every believer. That it is not so is simply
another proof of how little believers understand
their calling to walk after the Spirit, really to be
spiiitual men, All the complaints that are con-


tinually being made l)y ourselves, or those around
us, of tempers unconquered and of selfishness
prevailing, of harsh judgments and unkind words,
of the want of a Christlike meekness and patience
and gentleness, of the little that is really being
done by the majority of Christians in the way of
self-sacrifice for the social and religious needs of the
perishing around them, — all this is simply the
proof that it has not yet been understood that to
be a Christian just means to have the Spirit of
Christ ; just means to have His Love, to have been
made by Him a fountain of Love springing up and
flowing out in streams of living water. We know
not what the Spirit is meant to be in us, because
we have not accepted Him for what the Master
gave. We are more carnal than spiritual.

It was thus with the Corinthians. In them we
see the remarkable phenomenon of a Church, ' in
everything enriched in Christ, in all utterance, and
all knowledge, coming behind in no gift,' ' abounding
in everything in faith, and utterance, and knowledge,'
and yet so sadly wanting in love. The sad spectacle
teaches us how, under the first movings of the Holy
Spirit, the natural powers of the soul, knowledge,
faith, utterance, may be mightily affected, without
self yet being entirely surrendered ; and how thus
many of the gifts of the Spirit may be seen, while
the chief of all, Love, is sadly wanting. It teaches
us how to be truly spiritual. It is not enough for
the Spirit to take hold of these natural soul-endow-
ments and rouse them to exercise in God's service.


Something more is needed. He lias entered the
soul, that through it He may obtain a fixed and
undivided sway in soul and spirit both, that with
self deposed God may reign. And the token that
self is deposed and that God does reign will be —
Love ; the surrender and the power to count nothing
Life but Love, a life in the love of the Spirit.

Not very different was the state of the Galatians,
to whom the words, ' The fruit of the Spirit is
Love,' were addressed. Though their error was not
that of the Corinthians, boastiuij: of o-ifts and know-
ledge, but a seeking after and trusting in carnal
observances and ordinances, the result was in
both the same — the Spirit's full dominion was not
accepted in the inner life of love, and so the flesh
ruled in them, causing bitterness and envy and
enmity. And even so it is still in much of what
bears the name of the Christian Church. On the
one hand the trust in gifts and knowledge, in sound-
ness of creed and earnestness of work, on the other
the satisfaction in forms and services, leaves the
flesh in full vigour, not crucified with Christ, and so
the Spirit is not free to work out true holiness or a
life in the power of Christ's love. Oh, do let us
learn the lesson, and pray God very fervently to
teacih it to His people, that a Church or a Christian
professing to have the Holy Spirit must prove it in
the first place by the exhibition of a Christlike love.
Both in its gentleness in bearing wrong, and in its
life of self-sacrifice to overcome the wrong, and to
sa\ e all who are under its power, the life of Christ


must be repeated in His members. The Spirit is
indeed the Love of God come down to us.^

As searching and solemn as this truth is in this
aspect, so comforting and encouraging is it in another.
The Spirit is the Love of God come down to us.
Then we have that love within our reach ; it is
indeed dw^elling within us. Since the day when, in
believing, we were sealed with the Holy Ghost, the
love of God has been shed abroad in our hearts.
' The love of God liath been shed abroad in our hearts,
through the Holy Ghost which vjcis given unto us/
Though there may have been little to see of it in
our lives, though we ourselves have hardly felt or
known it, though the blessing has been unrecognised,
there it was ; with the Holy Spirit came down the
Love of God into our hearts ; the two could never
be separated. And if we would now come to the
experience of the blessing, we must just begin by a
very simple faith in what the word says. The word is
Spirit-breathed, the Divinely-prepared organ through
which the Spirit reveals what He is and does. As
we take that word as Divine Truth, the Spirit will
make it Truth in us. Let us believe that the Holy
Spirit, possessor and bearer to us of all God's Love,
has been within our heart with all that Love ever
since we became God's children. Because the veil
of the flesh has never been rent in us, the out-
streaming and power of that Love has been but
feeble, and hidden from our consciousness. Let
us believe that He dwells within us, to reveal

^ See on the Love of Christ dwelling in iis, Note P.


within us, as the Power of our Life, the Love of

In this faith, that the Love-shedding Spirit is
within us, let us look up to the Father in earnest
prayer, to plead for His mighty working in our
inner man, that Christ may dwell in our hearts,
that we may be rooted and grounded in love, that
our whole life may have its strength and nourish-

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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 18 of 27)