On the Work of the Holy Spirit.

 •  5 min. read  •  grade level: 8
BELOVED BROTHER,—I do not think anything is of more importance for young Christians to see than the fact that the Holy Spirit did not come in the way of promise and blessing in connection with the race of Adam. Many were baptized by John in Jordan, but on none of them did the Holy Spirit come. Jesus alone was sealed and anointed by the Spirit. He was as a Man "that Holy Thing" (Luke 1:3535And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. (Luke 1:35)), and even the unclean spirits had to own Him as the Holy One of God. Everything in Him was holiness, and so in perfect accord with the Holy Spirit. No doubt the Spirit was the power in which Jesus spoke and acted, but it was the Holy One of God in manhood here who spoke the words of God, and did the works of God in the power of the Holy Ghost. Of old the Holy Spirit acted through men, but never till Jesus, the Son of God, was here was there a man who in nature and character could answer to the power of the Spirit. In
Jesus, the Spirit, with which as a blessed Man He was sealed, could act in man as a vessel of His power, because all was in harmony with that power.
With what mere child of Adam could the Holy Spirit ever be in accord? It is a bitter discovery to make, "that in me, that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing." There cannot be any accord between sinful flesh and the Holy Spirit. In the very nature of things they are opposed (Gal. 5:1717For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. (Galatians 5:17)), and yet the young believer often thinks that the power and influence of the Spirit could modify, or in some way produce different motions in his evil nature.
Now God has undertaken for us what is impossible for us. In the cross of Christ He has condemned the sinful nature—"sin in the flesh"; it is not altered, but utterly condemned, and now in Christ risen out of the death and condemnation we have not only sinless man before God—He was always that—but One who was "made sin" and is in righteousness before Him. Believing in Jesus, we leave, in the faith of our souls, the ground of man in the flesh, for Christ the Righteous One, who is in God's presence, having obtained an eternal redemption.
It is in connection with Christ that we receive the gift of the Spirit—He is, indeed, the Holy Spirit and the Spirit of God, but in us He takes the character of the Spirit of Christ—the Spirit of the life that is in Christ Jesus. He becomes the power in us of what Christ is, and of what He has done. In Him (Christ) our sinful flesh has been condemned. The Spirit could not occupy Himself with our flesh then; He occupies us with Christ and what there is in Him, and thus brings us to the condemnation of that which has been condemned in the cross.
If we take the case of the woman of Samaria, we see very plainly that the Spirit is not mere power in a person, but a life-power in connection with Christ. In her were springs of evil—no springs of good were there, or could be, they were in the blessed Man who sat beside her, they could not spring up in her apart from Him. He must give the living water to her if living water was to spring up. He could give it because (as in chapter 3.) He was the One who would bring to an end in His cross the sinful flesh in which the springs of evil are.
But all this is not without exercise. Jacob prevailed through having his flesh crippled. It is not necessary that we should pass through Jacob's way of learning there is no good in our flesh, but in some way or other we have to be taught its wretched sinful character, and its utter condemnation in the cross. Root and branch it le opposed to God; how, then, can the Spirit of God do anything with it but condemn it? But blessed be God, the Spirit of God is given to us on another ground. He is given to us as the Spirit of Christ, and we must not in our minds separate Christ from the work of the Spirit.
What is portrayed for us in the history of Sychar's well is this—the life in us is the life of the flesh, which has sin in it working out in some form. Chapter 3 shows us its utter condemnation in the cross. Life must come to us through the cross, but the life is in Christ Jesus, and the Spirit is the Spirit of the life that is in Him. People often think that He will help the life of their flesh. No: the sentence of the cross is on that; living water is really the life in Christ Jesus springing up in us by His Spirit; thus our affections are engaged with One that becomes everything to us—the living springs that are in Hint are in us by His Spirit; but though they are in us, they do not cease to be of Hint. The Spirit is the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus. Thus the believer is taught to abide in Christ.
There is one more point of experience often dwelt upon, but has to be repeated for souls as they come into it-Deliverance is not a state of soul, though it becomes known in the experience of the soul. Deliverance is in Christ, not in the believer: hence the great point for the soul is to know the Deliverer, the One in whom the deliverance has been effected and subsists—our Lord Jesus Christ. The question in the end of Rom. 7 is not—How shall I get deliverance? but Who will deliver me? It is the question of having a Deliverer. This takes the soul away from itself, and its sinfulness and helplessness, to Another; and the way of deliverance is by its being under the controlling power of the Deliverer, exercised by His Spirit as the power of His life in us.
Jun, 1903. T. H. R.