by Chester K. Lehman
Chapter 8 of The HOLY SPIRIT and the HOLY LIFE


A doctrinal study of the Holy Spirit and the holy life calls yet for a positive presentation related as closely as possible to actual Christian experience. Unless Biblical teaching speaks to the actual experiences of life, it loses its appeal to the honest seeker for truth. Conviction of sin; repentance and confession; faith, justification, forgiveness; the new birth and adoption; union with Christ; sanctification; death to sin and walking in newness of life; yielding to God and becoming obedient from the heart; and putting off the old nature and putting on the new--all are several aspects of personal religious experience. They lead to other experiences equally personal: being no longer enslaved to sin, considering the self dead to sin and alive to God, serving in newness of the Spirit, not being conformed to this world but being transformed by the renewal of the mind, making holiness perfect, walking by the Spirit and being led by the Spirit, being renewed in the spirit of the mind and in knowledge, and forbearing and forgiving each other-in a word, living the life in Christ.

After much prayerful consideration I have decided to center discussion in examples of religious experience as found in the Bible. In a very fundamental way these records constitute the norms of genuine religious experience. Spiritual experiences which are diverse in kind from and opposed in nature to Biblical religious experiences are not true experiences with God. The Bible is the source book, not only of true teachings concerning religious experience, but also of genuine religious experience itself.

Thus the religious experiences of David as recorded in the Psalms and of Paul as described in his Epistles are normative. These descriptions took their present form under the direction of the Holy Spirit. These experiences give the true nature of man's experience with God. On this account 1 shall use with freedom those religious experiences of the Bible which purport to show how Christ through the Holy Spirit transforms sinful man into the likeness of God.

Actual religious experiences are best adapted to lead us to a relationship as participants and sharers in these experiences. It is the existential approach of Kierkegaard. He held that we do not know anything unless we actually experience it. The subject-object approach always leaves a gulf between the knowing subject and the thing to be known. Only by personal experience with the thing do we know. The spectators of the cross of Christ did not really know Christ's sufferings. Their knowledge did not go beyond that of subject-object relation. The thieves, on the other hand, were not mere spectators: they shared in the same sufferings; they knew by actual experience what the sufferings of Christ were. Theirs was a knowledge subjectively gained.

The message of this final chapter should lead us into the actual saving experiences wrought by Christ through the Holy Spirit.


Dead Through Trespasses and Sins (Eph. 2:1). This is perhaps the most descriptive in all Biblical language of man's state in sin. The word dead calls for study. Allowing the context to give its meaning, we see man's sinful state before God makes him alive in a spiritual resurrection. God's gracious saving act raises him up with Christ and makes him sit with Christ in the heavenly places. We, the Spiritually resurrected, are God's "workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works,... that we should walk in them" (Eph. 2:10). Our spiritual state before this resurrection and creation is that of being "dead through . . . trespasses and sins." It is a life without the energizing power of God. There is no Godward response. It is a life centering in and controlled by the passions of the flesh. It follows the desires of the body and of the mind. Not only the notoriously wicked, such as Ahab, "who sold himself to do what was evil in the sight of the Lord" (I Kings 21:25), "but also the man after God's own heart, David, yielded to the manifold passions of the flesh. It is lives such as these that the Holy Spirit encounters to effect a death to sin and a walking in newness of life.

How do we view this picture? Are we mere spectators of man's deadness through trespasses and sins? Is our knowledge of it limited to a subject-object approach? Are we looking at man's sinful condition only with armchair aloofness? If we must acknowledge that our insight to human depravity is so distant and so superficial, then it must be said with all frankness that we are still dead through trespasses and sins. Only through being made alive in Christ Jesus can we know the meaning of spiritual deadness.

Conviction of Sin, Repentance, and Confession. Overwhelmed by sin and guilt, David said:

    When I declared not my sin,
        my body wasted away
      through my groaning all day long.

    For day and night thy hand was

      heavy upon me;

    my strength was dried up as by
      the heat of summer (Psalm 32:3, 4).
In utter wretchedness he prayed:

    Cast me not away from thy presence,
      and take not thy holy Spirit from me.

    Restore to me the joy of thy salvation,
      and uphold me with a willing spirit (Psalm 51:11, 12).

The Holy Spirit was encountering David and convincing him "of sin and of righteousness and of judgment" (John 16:8).

He had become an adulterer and a murderer by having yielded to lust. God's hand was heavy upon him. He came to know sin and guilt through personal experience. These were not sins which he contemplated objectively. On the contrary, sin and guilt were his very own, existentially his. The weight of God's hand through the Spirit was upon him. He was the sinner and the blood guilty one. There was no escape from his groaning until God lifted His hand from him. His Life was defiled. Purging and washing were necessary. Nothing short of the creation of a clean heart and the putting of a new and right spirit within would be an adequate remedy.

The reproof coming to David through the prophet Nathan was pointed and direct. It led to the confession, "I have sinned against the Lord" (II Sam. 12:13). David himself penned the lines:

    I acknowledged my sin to thee,
      and I did not hide my iniquity;

    I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the Lord";
    then thou didst forgive the guilt of my sin (Psalm 32:5).

and also:

    Have mercy on me, O God,
      according to thy steadfast love;
      according to thy abundant mercy
        blot out my transgressions.

      Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
        and cleanse me from my sin!

      For I know my transgressions,
        and my sin is ever before me.

      Against thee, thee only, have I sinned,
        and done that which is evil in thy sight,

      so that thou are justified in thy sentence
        and blameless in thy judgment.

      Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
        and in sin did my mother conceive me (Psalm 51:1-5).

Thus David bemoaned his sins. He laid bare before God his blameworthiness and guiltiness, pleading no merit for mercy. His sin was foremost against God. As if God Himself were on trial, David was concerned that God would be justified and found blameless. His confession bore the marks of genuine change of mind and purpose.

Jesus tells a story, true to life if not in very fact, of the younger of two sons who asked his father for the share of the property that fell to him (Luke 15:11-32). Leaving home he "took his journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in loose living." How true to life! Had anyone told the prodigal during his sprees that he was unworthy to be called a son of his father, he would undoubtedly have been highly incensed. Perhaps he had been warned of the awful outcome of devouring his living with harlots. He may have smugly thought that such a life is not nearly so bad as it had been pictured to him. In his father's house his had been only a subject-object knowledge of evil life. Now he had actually devoured his father's living with harlots. This sinful career was his very own. In awful reality he lost his sonship and was degraded to servitude. Only after all this did h~ come to himself, and say, "Father, I ha sinned . . . ; I am no longer worthy to be called your son." In the same real way he experienced restoration to sonship.

What a picture of every prodigal who comes to himself and returns to his father! Have we been participants of this scene or only spectators?

Here then are the ingredients of genuine repentance: knowledge of sin, godly grief, change of mind and heart toward sin, and a turning back from sin to God.

    "Depth of mercy! can. there be
    Mercy still reserved for me?
    Can my God His wrath forbear--
    Me, the chief of sinners, spare?

    "I have long withstood His grace,
    long provoked Him to His face;
    Would not hearken to His calls,
    Grieved Him by a thousand falls.

    "Now incline me to repent;
    Let me now my sins lament;
    Now my foul revolt deplore,
    Weep, believe, and sin no more."

Faith, Justification, and Reconciliation. The story of the healing of the man born blind (John 9). graphically pictures the development of faith. Jesus anointed his eyes with clay made of dust and spittle, and the young man went to the pool of Siloam, washed, and came back seeing. Immediately the Pharisees threw obstacles in the way of the man's lately born faith. For him to confess that Jesus is the Christ would cost him Jewish-church privileges. But the man had had a personal experience with Jesus. He had come to believe and trust Jesus. Jesus' question, "Do you believe in the Son of man?" elicited this commitment: "lord, I believe." His confession, together with the accompanying act of worship, a beautiful picture of fully developed faith.

Similarly Peter's confession at the close of the discourse on the bread of life illustrates a genuine experience of faith. Here, too, belief bad to surmount formidable obstacles. In tense atmosphere faithless disciples were forsaking Jesus. Peter's reply to Jesus' searching question, "Will you also go way?" gave a profound insight as to the meaning of faith. Said Peter, "lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life; and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God" (John 6:68, 69). Two years of intimate association with Jesus had made a deep impact upon Peter. To Peter the words of Jesus were the words of eternal life. His state of believing issued in a state of knowing. It had to do with the profoundest of spiritual truths; namely, that Jesus is the Holy One of God. Here was a commitment which involved still more, if more is conceivable, than that of the man born blind. Peter was testifying to the godlikeness of Jesus.

Paul drew on the experiences of David and of Abraham for examples of the kind of faith which justifies (Rom. 4; Gal. 3:1-18). On the basis of genuine repentance and confession David, speaking of the experience of forgiveness, said,

    Blessed are those whose iniquities are forgiven,
      and whose sins are covered;

    blessed is the man against whom the Lord

      will not reckon his sin (Rom. 4:7-8).

Abraham's faith shone forth at two focal points of his life: at the birth and the offering of Isaac Paul gave a vivid pen picture of these personal experiences. "In hope he believed against hope. . . . He did not weaken in faith when considered his own. . . , or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah's womb. No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised" (Rom. 4:18-21).

Such is faith--the kind of faith which justifies. To understand these experiences, we must experience them ourselves. They must be our own. If we become participants with Paul in this faith, we can join in his joyous outburst, "Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in our hope of sharing the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us." (Rom. 5:1-5). The very personal character 9f these words is attested by the twelve occurrences in this paragraph of the first person pronouns.

Into this orbit of justification by faith Paul immediately drew reconciliation to God. "While we were yet sinners Christ died for us. . . . While we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son." (Rom. 5:8-10). We should note first the former condition of being sinners and enemies of God. Elsewhere Paul described the state as "alienated from the life of God" (Eph. 4:18) and as "estranged and hostile in mind" (Col. 1:2). Second, we should observe that the initiative was taken by God. "God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them" (II Corinthians 5:19). Our reconciliation to God is a breaking down of our estrangement, enmity, and hostility to God (II Cor. 5:20). This two-sided reconciliation led Paul to conclude, "we ... rejoice in God through our lord Jesus Christ."

Once more Paul rose to the intimate level of personal reference, precisely for the purpose that his readers might know that the Gospel has to do not with mere belief, not with merely keeping the law, but with a personal experience of reconciliation to God which issues in personal rejoicing.

    "Faith is a living pow'r from heav'n
    Which grasps the promise God has giv'n;
    Securely fixed on Christ alone, A trust that cannot be o'erthrown.

    "Faith finds in Christ whate'er we need
    To save and strengthen, guide and feed;
    Strong in His grace it joys to share
    His cross, in hope His crown to wear.

    "Faith to the conscience whispers peace;
    And bids the mourner's sighing cease;
    By faith the children's right we claim,
    And call upon our Father's name.

    "Such faith in us, ) God, implant,
    And to our prayers Thy favor grant,
    In Jesus Christ, Thy saving Son,
    Who is our fount of health alone."


Paul's Description of the Experience. Paul continued the autobiographical element in chapter 6. By his continued use of the first person pronoun, he was inviting the reader to participate with him in these personal experiences. The expression which captures our attention is united with him in verse 5. Stewart, seizing on these words, tells us, "The heart of Paul's religion is union with Christ. This ... is the key which unlocks the secrets of his soul" (James S. Stewart, A Man in Christw York: Harper, p. 147).

Paul had anticipated from his readers the charge that salvation through justification by faith would give license for continuing in sin. He hastened to show that this is entirely to misunderstand the nature of justifying faith. Furthermore, to forestall any such conclusion, Paul drew a most profound lesson from the crucifixion of Christ. Through faith in Christ, Paul insisted, we become united with Him in His death, burial, and resurrection, which are ours and ours alone. Paul did not mitigate his figure one bit. He brings us to the horrifying anguish of literal crucifixion in order that the spiritual experience of dying to sin might become real in us.

In like manner Paul designed that the glory and power of literal resurrection should lead us to an experience of spiritual resurrection that we might walk in newness of life.

Not to enlarge again on the details of Paul's description, we should, nevertheless, gain the force of the figure union with Christ. At the beginning of the Christian life we are justified by faith and gain peace with God. In this faith we identify ourselves with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection. United with Christ in these experiences, we in like manner pass through a spiritual death, burial, and resurrection.

In Galatians 2, within the scope of four verses, Paul personalized the experience still more vividly with the fourteenfold use of the first person singular pronouns. It would seem that Paul almost compels us individually to participate in his Magna Charta of personal commitment to Christ: "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me" (Gal. 2:20). And for fullness of commitment he added, "far be it from me to glory except in the cross of our lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world" (Gal. 6:14).

Formal Sanctification. Inherent with Paul's thinking on union with Christ is the formal aspect of sanctification. In order to help us gain reality in this phase of experience, let us turn back yet once more to the scene at Mt. Sinai recorded in Exodus l9-24. Taking our place with Israel, we hear God saying, "You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles' wings and brought you to myself. Now therefore, if you will obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my own possession among all pedples; for all the earth is mine, and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation." (Ex. 19:4-6a). To this proposal Israel responded, "All that the lord has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient" (Ex. 24:7b). Rising above time, we too give the pledge of obedience.

For Israel this was a momentous occasion. God set apart the nation for His own possession. Israel should be to Him a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. The people in turn consecrated themselves to God. This two-sided agreement was solemnized by a covenant sacrifice. This transaction was Israel's formal sanctification. It is analogous to the Christian's formal sanctification.

Under the new covenant this personal participation obtains still greater significance. Peter brought this directly to our attention in actual covenant-making language when he declared, "You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's own people, that you may declare the wonderful deeds of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were no people but now you are God's people; once You had not received mercy but now you have received mercy" (I Per. 2:9, 10).

In this context all the punctiliar actions we noted in an earlier chapter have their place. They spell out our vows of obedience to Christ under the new covenant. In essence they are integral to setting apart ourselves to Christ as His own people. Formal sanctification is simply another way of describing union with Christ.

Many of these punctiliar acts are in the first person and represent Paul's own consecration. They form the basis of his appeal to fellow Christians that they too might realize the full meaning of covenant commitment. "Yield yourselves to God as men who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments of righteousness" (Rom. 6:13). But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness" (Rom. 6:17, 18). "Present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship" (Rom. 12:1). "Put on the lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires" (Rom. 13:14). "Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, and make holiness perfect in the fear of God" (II Cor. 7:1). "Put off your old nature which belongs to your former manner of life . . . and put on the new nature, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness" (Eph. 4:22, 24).

We dare not be mere spectators of these covenant commitments; for it is alone by these commitments that we become sharers with Christ in the new covenant, that we become members of the body of Christ, and that we have participation in the blood and body of Christ.

Baptism with the Holy Spirit and the New Birth. David prayed:

    Create in me a clean heart, O God,
      and put a new and right spirit within me.

    Cast me not away from thy presence,

      and take not thy holy Spirit from me (Psalm 51:10, 11).

God's creative work and spiritual renewal were very real to David. The joy of God's salvation was again restored to him.

The experience of Nicodemus takes us to the heart of being born of the Spirit. Three facts become clear: first, the reality of such. a spiritual experience; second, the impossibility of explaining it; and third, the Spirit's begetting which effects a spiritual birth. By reason of the peculiar nature of these facts, some Christians have had difficulty satisfying themselves in regard to the reality of baptism with the Holy Spirit and have sought for external manifestations to prove this inner experience. Perhaps we need to remind ourselves of Jesus' illuminating words to Nicodemus. Jesus said, "The wind blows where it wills, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know whence it comes or whither it goes; so it is with every one who is born of the Spirit" (John 3:8). With these words Jesus desired to lead Nicodemus to believe in the fact of being born of the Spirit without his being able to understand it. The inner experience of baptism with the Spirit is as imperceptible as the "whence" and the "whither" of the wind.

The imperceptibility of receiving the Holy Spirit undoubtedly accounts for the accompaniment of outward supernatural demonstrations granted in turn to the believing Jews at Pentecost, to the Samaritans, and to the Gentiles, in order to give clear proof to these respective groups that they were common sharers of the fulfillment of Joel's prophecy. With this confirmation to Jews, Samaritans, and Gentiles of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit there was no longer need for miraculous attestation. It is sufficient for w to witness the results of the experience. They were filled with the Holy Spirit, they received the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit fell on them, the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out on them, and the Holy Spirit came on them. This language is marked by its simplicity. Drawing on the literal meaning of the Greek word pneuma (wind), New Testament writers very naturally described the Spirit's activity as a pouring, a falling, a filling, and a coming on. At the same time these writers assert the personal relationship between the Spirit and man by the expression, receiving the Spirit. What this means is that the act of being baptized with the Spirit is not a spectacular experience to be coveted for its outward demonstration. There is not any sudden display or vain show as though the external evidence of the baptism is a thing to be desired. Rather, the essential element is the calm and quiet assurance of the fact based on the consciousness of a new life within.

The clearest evidence of baptism with the Holy Spirit is found in Him to whom God did not give the Spirit by measure. We see Him full of the. Spirit, led by the Spirit, returning from the temptation in the power of the Spirit, claiming to have the Spirit upon Him, and by the Spirit casting out demons (John 3:54; Luke 4:1, 14; 18; Matt. 12:28). This is to say, we know that Jesus was baptized with the Spirit because He performed all the mighty works through the power of. the Spirit.

According to Pauline teaching we know that we have been. baptized with the Spirit when we are filled with the Spirit, have the witness of the Spirit, are led by the Spirit, by the Spirit. put to death tile deeds of. the body, produce the fruit of the Spirit, are praying in the Spirit, and are strengthened with might through his Spirit in the inner man."' (Eph. 3:16). When these and other Holy Spirit Operations constitute the dynamic of our own spiritual experiences, we have certainly been baptized with the Holy Spirit. These are so many evidences of the new birth and of the spiritual resurrection (John 3:1-8; 5:25, 26; Eph. 2:10).

Let us not be deluded into thinking that we must be able to point to some extraordinary outward demonstration in order to know that the Lord has baptized us with the Holy Spirit. The Spirit does not operate so as to draw attention to Himself. The end of His work is to glorify Christ. This is accomplished by Christ's working through the Holy Spirit. On this account, when we fulfill the conditions of repentance from sin and faith in the lord Jesus Christ, we become united with Christ through the new birth. The act of being born of the Spirit is our Lord's baptizing us with the Holy Spirit.

One final word on the meaning of being born of the Spirit. As man fathers a child, so the Holy Spirit begets a spiritual life. The Spirit effects the new life within.

Commitment of Discipleship. Paul's teaching on the believer's union with Christ centers in being crucified with Christ. This is simply to restate Christ's teaching on discipleship. Said Jesus, "1f any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me" (Luke 9:23). With these words Jesus introduced the most exacting of His teachings. Discipleship to Christ is costly, even to the point of the surrender of life. In the several contexts where Jesus expounded the principle of discipleship, He imposed the absoluteness of His demands upon the disciple with the authority of His supreme lordship (Luke 9:23, 27, 57-62; 14:25-33).

The personal reference cannot be escaped. No one is spared from taking up his cross. On this account the reality of the disciple's union with his Lord is determined by whether or not he has taken up his own cross. A criminal literally took up his cross; it was the instrument by which he was put to death.

Plainly, there can be no mere spectator attitude to a person's taking up his cross to be crucified. There was a world of difference between the chief priest's view of Christ on the cross and that of the thieves who shared the horror of the cross. The essence of the disciple's cross is suggested by the paradoxes of one's seeking' to save his life and thereby losing it, and by gaining the whole world and thereby losing his own soul. Ultimately the tension centers in the self, and this becomes the disciple's cross. Thus the rich young ruler suddenly became aware of the cost of discipleship when the lord commanded him to sell all that he had and distribute to the poor (Luke 18:18-30). Moses experienced the tension between Christ and the treasures of Egypt. Definitive of this tension are the decisive acts on the part of Moses. He "refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, choosing rather to share ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He considered abuse suffered for the Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he looked to the reward. By faith he left Egypt, not being afraid of the anger of the king; for he endured as seeing him who is invisible. By faith he kept the Passover and sprinkled 'the blood, so that the Destroyer of the first-born might not touch them" (Heb. 11:24-28).

Jesus showed the futility of halfhearted service (Luke 9:57-62). This truth was brought home to three would-be disciples. Jesus shocked a man in his enthusiastic but premature commitment by telling him that the Son of man suffered the privation of having nowhere to lay His head. This man saw only the glamour of Jesus' popularity but had no idea of the coming cross. Another man thought that the fulfillment of filial obligations was higher responsibility than that of following Christ. Jesus bluntly told him, "Leave the dead bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God." The third would-be follower wanted first to say farewell to those at his home. Jesus, seeing through this man's divided affection, promptly told him, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom." Apparently discipleship's requirements of complete devotion and unconditional faithfulness were too much for him. He would have been willing to serve Jesus on a part-time basis perhaps--just so that it would not interfere with his career, his business, his physical comforts, or perhaps his aesthetic pleasures.

It was very difficult for the multitudes to learn the absolute demands of discipleship (Luke 14:25-33). During a surge in their idolizing enthusiasm, Jesus turned and said to them, "If any one comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me, cannot be my disciple." Matthew's account adds (Matt. 10:24-39), "A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. . . . If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household." Then followed words of encouragement against fear. Finally Jesus said, "Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man's foes will be those of his own household. He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me."

I have quoted from both Luke and Matthew in order to sharpen the idea of the tension which obedience to the absolute demands of discipleship requires. Follow Paul as he described the tension he experienced: "We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies" (II Cor. 4:8-10). Let us live with the Apostle the following experiences: "As servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: through great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonment's, tumults, labors, watching, hunger; by purity, knowledge, forbearance, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love, truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; in honor and dishonor, in ill repute and good repute. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold we live; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing everything" (II Cor. 6:4-10). These tensions seem unbearable, yet Paul endured them for Christ's sake. So also modern Jews and Moslems, socially elite and learned intellectuals, political dictators and financial magnates, self-righteous sinners and skidrow wretches--all need to suffer tensions in 'order to become disciples of Christ. I return to the Luke 14:25-33 context. There was reason for Jesus to interpose this question: "For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?" Building a tower was the one all-embracing task of a man's life. In like manner a disciple has no time or energy. for anything else than to bear his cross and follow his lord. Similarly, a king with only ten thousand men confronted by another king with an army of twenty thousand must decide on fight. mg to the end or on surrender. Relentlessly Jesus concluded, "whoever of you does not renounce all that he has can-not be my disciple."

No one, then, can be a disciple of the lord unless he is willing to commit himself 'to the absolute demands of his lord. This commitment means bringing the whole of life under the lordship of Christ. Either Christ is lord or the self is lord. No compromise arrangement is conceivable. There is no alternative. There is no escape from a personal decision.


The Meaning of the Expression "In Christ." At a strategic point in his second letter to the Corinthians Paul wrote, "If any one is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come." (II Cor. 5:17). This is one of one hundred and sixty-four uses that Paul made of this expression. Its prominence in the Epistle to the Ephesians led Moule to say, "The Epistle itself is a large comment on the phrase." [1] A strictly Pauline expression, its meaning lies within the framework of Paul's thought and relationship with Christ.

By the phrase "in Christ" Paul meant first of all a personal relationship to Christ. Paul's writings abound in personal references. A sample of the most intimate of these is the often quoted Galatians 2:20, "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." Here are embedded also ideas which help us understand the meaning of the phrase "in Christ": Paul was united with Christ in His crucifixion; Christ was living in Paul; Paul was living by faith in the Son of God; Christ's love, manifested by His having given Himself for Paul, was extremely personal.

Christ's personal touch with Paul was not only in His sacrifice for him and in His living in Paul, but also in His intercession for Paul. To this Paul gives witness in the words, "Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies; who is to condemn? Is it Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised from the dead, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us?" (Rom. 8:33, 34).

Paul claimed this distinctive personal relation in all of his references to his lord. It finds its deepest meaning in Paul's own characteristic expression "in Christ." This expression became more significant when the apostle attached to its meaning a relationship of faith in Christ. "The life I now live in the flesh," Paul said, "I live by faith in the Son of God." To the same effect are Paul's words to the Romans, "If you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved" (Rom. 10:9). The relationship of faith in Christ reveals dependence upon Christ, a belonging to Him. It stresses the personal activity of Christ in our behalf.

The life "in Christ" stood for a personal faith-relationship between Paul and Christ. But Paul very frequently included all his readers in these references to personal relationship with Christ. A case in point, chosen almost at random, is: "the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel" (Eph. 3:6). Let us realize the same faith relationship with Christ.

Following in His Steps. The near-equivalent in Peter's language to Paul's "life in Christ" is following in the steps of Christ. In an exhortation to servants he said, :For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps" (I Pet. 2:21).The life of Christ, filled as it was with trials, temptations, revilings, and sufferings, led Peter to urge his readers to imitate Christ. They should follow in His steps. In an earlier chapter we looked at the example of Christ as an object of human attainment. Here let us enter as intimately as possible into the experience of Christ's temptations. The meaning of Christ's encounters with Satan focalizes in the temptation (Matt. 4:1-11). Christ's temptation was integral to His earthly life. In like manner temptation enters into all human experience. We could not evade temptation if we would. This fact should help us to follow closely in His steps, since He "in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sinning" (Heb. 4:15).

As we interpret the individual temptations, we should observe that Satan's questions were not designed to cause Jesus to doubt that He was the Son of God. Further, the key to understanding the nature of each temptation lies in Jesus' respective answers to Satan. While Satan's questions moved on the plane of Christ's deity, more specifically His Messiahship, Jesus answered as a man.

The temptation for Jesus to command stones to become loaves of bread led Him to reply in the words Moses addressed to Israel: "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone; but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God'" (Matt. 4:4; see Deut. 8:1-10). By this allusion to Israel's wilderness experience Jesus asserted a point of fundamental similarity between His own experience and theirs. Israel's experience was one of humbling and testing by God. God was proving Israel's fidelity to Himself through obedience. In like manner the man Jesus, who possessed divine power as the Son of God, was being humbled and tested by God. All this centered in obedience. As man, Jesus was dependent on God for food. On account of hunger will the Son of God change stones into bread? To do so the man Jesus would no longer be true man with respect to being absolutely dependent on God. Jesus needed to have faith in God in the same way as all other men. To Jesus this was a test of the obedience which issues from faith.

This test is ours also. God would prove our obedience of faith. Following in Christ's steps, we too will be encountered by Satan on the same point. He would have us rebel against God's disciplinary acts which are designed to prove our obedience. Only as we resist temptation as Christ did, do we experience the tension that exists between obedience to God and obedience to Satan.

Satan's second encounter with Christ was in the form of tempting Him to demand repeated spectacular proofs from God of Jesus' being the Son of God. Jesus' answer, "You shall not tempt the Lord your God," again drew a lesson from Israel's wilderness wanderings (Ex. 17:1-7). At Rephidim the people lacked water to drink. In their murmurings they were requiring of God continuous miraculous intervention in their behalf. They insisted on this in order to prove that God was providing for them. This demand was putting God to test. Had not God amply provided for their needs both in Egypt and in the wilderness? Would He who delivered them from Egypt so soon forget His people? Was God so faithless? Jesus saw in this experience a likeness to His own. Scarce forty days had passed since God had baptized Him with the Holy Spirit and had declared in an audible voice from heaven, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased " (Matt. 3:17). Did Jesus need continued, miraculous, even spectacular, display to give Him adequate assurance of being God's Son? For Jesus to demand this would be tempting God. He would be lacking the trust in God which should issue from His faith. This was a test of the trust of faith.

As we follow in His steps we can hardly escape seeing ourselves in the same kind of test. In times of crises we are asking, "Is God with us?" Like Job our "way is hid" (Job 3:23); there is no voice from heaven to reassure us. In our extremity Satan tempts us to doubt God's providence and care. How can we trust God who has apparently forsaken us? But has God shown Himself unworthy of our trust? God is simply testing us to see whether or not we have the kind of faith that trusts. The life in Christ exhibits the trust of faith.

Satan encountered Jesus a third time and here his approach was ingeniously subtle. He would give Jesus all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them. He named but one condition, "Fall down and worship me." Jesus repulsed the devil with the Scripture, 'you shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve." The source of the quotations (Deut. 6:13) again leads to the meaning of Satan's attack. According to its context, Israel was soon to be confronted with a terrific tension in which their whole religion was at stake. It was the antagonism between the fear of the Lord God who brought them out 6f the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage, and the worship of the gods of the Canaanites. The lord God was a jealous God; worship of Him did not admit of any other worship. All this Jesus understood, but the appeal of the temptation lay in Satan's promise.. to Jesus. of receiving kingly power and glory immediately. Both Satan and Jesus knew God's redemptive plan through the Messiah of humiliation, suffering, and death, to be followed by exaltation to kingship at the right hand of the Father. Satan's offer by-passed the former and promised Jesus immediate kingship. With one bold stroke Satan would wreck the whole redemptive plan of God. The temptation to Jesus was to evade the cross and to receive at once, from Satan, not from. God, the glories of world kingdoms. Why should Jesus subject Himself to the humiliation of the cross when kingly power was within immediate reach? Why not worship Satan and become Satan's Messiah? If Jesus had yielded to this temptation, He would have lacked the patience which characterizes genuine faith. Faith in God recognizes the wisdom of His ways. It does not question what according to human judgment makes no sense. Why should suffering precede glorification? Why at all should. there be a stage of humiliation, suffering, and death?

The answer to these questions seems to-have been grasped long before by Moses who, according to the author of He. brews, "considered abuse suffered for the Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, .for he looked to the reward. . . . For he endured as seeing him who is invisible" (Heb. 11:26, 27). Faith trusts the wisdom of God's ways and times. Faith does not waver when God places the cross before the crown. For Jesus this was the test of the patience of faith.

We who are following in His steps have similar tests. James had caught this when he wrote, "Count it all joy, my brethren, when you meet various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness" (Jas. 1:2, 3). And James also found purpose in human trials; for the steadfastness produced by enduring trials leads to our. being perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. Paul laid hold on the same idea in his words, "More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance. produces character, and character produces hope" (Rom. 5:3, 4).

Returning. to Peter's words, we should note that the basis of his exhortations to servants was the suffering of Christ. As He suffered patiently, servants should suffer. He left us an example that we should follow in His steps.

Loving as Christ Loved. Our life "in Christ" is so intimate that we will love as Christ loved. His love towers above all human affection. May this love become as existentially ours as Paul expressed. it, "Walk in love, as. Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God" (Eph. 5:2).

We will receive help. in this experiential approach to loving as Christ loved by observing human love in action in two Old Testament characters. The beautiful story of Joseph shows that love is seen at its best when it is under test. Sold by his brothers into Egypt and suffering imprisonment under false accusation, Joseph finally rose in power second only to Pharaoh. In the circumstance of the famine his brothers were brought under his power. Joseph's love had not been quenched. He still loved and forgave.

The second illustration centers in the mutual love of David and Jonathan. Their love for each other was sanctified. by a covenant of love (I Sam. 20:12-17). Jonathan loved. David as he loved his own soul. Suffering a stinging rebuke from his father for this love, Jonathan continued to love. In Jonathan's death David wrote in his elegy, "Your love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women." (II Sam. 1:26).

In Jesus, perfect love in action shines forth in all its glory. Four incidents from His earthly ministry warm our hearts especially because they have to do with intimate human experiences. The first is the story of the man who ran up and knelt before Jesus, and asked, "What must I do to inherit eternal life?" (Mark 10:17-22). When Jesus confronted him with the cost of discipleship, namely, to sell what he had and give to the poor and to come and follow his Lord, this man of great possessions was not willing to pay the price. The story is enhanced by Mark's observation: "Jesus looking upon him loved him." Another heart-warming scene, especially beautiful in its domestic setting, is that of Jesus in the home of Mary and Martha at the death of Lazarus (John 11:1-44). The sisters had sent word to Jesus, saying, "He whom you love is ill." John comments, "Now Jesus loved [Gr. Agapao-not phileo] Martha and her sister and Lazarus." At the tomb, the Jews seeing the weeping Jesus remarked, "See how he loved him!" Here is a picture of the fellowship of love.

Even a casual reading of the opening verses of John 13 leaves a vivid impression of certain unexpected introductory clauses. Among these is, "Jesus . . . having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end." Some interpreters find nothing particularly significant in these words, while others sense an extraordinary meaning. The latter, taking their clue from the words which follow, "when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas . . . to betray him," regard Judas' foul intention as the reason for John's observation regarding Jesus' love. Jesus loved them to the end, to the uttermost. This interpretation suggests the profound purpose of love. Love is redemptive. Jesus sought to break down every barrier to Judas's reciprocating affection. In the contest between the devil and Jesus for the heart of Judas, Jesus would perform this last act of love to win Judas's affection. Jesus loved him to the uttermost.

The most touching incident revealing Jesus' love is the conversation with Peter in one of the resurrection appearances (John 21:15-16). Jesus puts to Peter a most soul-searching question: "Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?" To this Peter replied, "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you." The graphic nature of the conversation becomes clear in the remarkable interchange of Greek verbs for love. Jesus used agapao in the first two questions while Peter replied all three times with phileo. The third time Jesus changed to Peter's word phileo. Peter was grieved at the necessity of Jesus' having to stoop from >I>agapao, the word expressing love for God, to phileo, the word which rises no higher than filial affection. This change of verbs together with the thrice-repeated question led Peter to sound the depth of his love for Christ. Peter needed to probe his heart to its very depth to discover whether or not his love for Jesus was identical with his love for God. For Peter this was love's compassionate discipline. One may find a parallel in the transformation of John from a son of thunder to the disciple whom Jesus loved (Mark 2:17; Luke 9:54; John 13:23).

As we follow Jesus to the cross, we witness the supreme demonstration of sacrificing love. Paul most existentially entered into the reality of Christ's death. Paul discovered the love of Christ as the all-controlling motive of Jesus' giving Himself as a sacrifice for sin. In Romans 5:6-11 Paul pictured Jesus as dying for the ungodly. "God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us." In Romans 8:l-39 Paul used climactic language to magnify this love. The death, resurrection, and exaltation of Jesus which form the ground of His intercession are evidence that no one "shall separate us from the love of Christ." "We are more than conquerors through him who loved us." Satan and all his fiendish hosts will not be able to "Separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord" (See similar language in Gal. 2:20; Eph. 2:4, 5; etc.). Bound up with Jesus' supreme act of love are His and the apostles' teaching that we should love as Christ loved.

The Pharisees had sadly perverted the concept of love (Matt. 5:43-48; Luke 10:29-37). They twisted Old Testament teaching so that it said, "You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy." One asked, "And who is my neighbor?" as though this were an essential matter to be discerned. But Jesus rose above such hypocritical thinking and declared, "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven." This is the true nature of love. This quality of love is the prime requisite for fulfilling Christ's command, "You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect."

Paul's teaching on the nature of the Christian life centers in love's relationships (Rom. 12:9-13:10). He exhorted, "Let love be genuine." Following this, he gave detailed applications of love in action. Most pertinent among these is love's action with regard to enemies. Love blesses and does not curse; love repays no evil for evil; love does not avenge itself; love overcomes evil with godd, "love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law."

Nothing surpasses Paul's teaching on love in I Corinthians 13. Though one possesses all kinds of special gifts, these are of no avail if love is lacking. "Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things." The three abiding graces are faith, hope, and love, "these three; but the greatest of these is love."

Because love is the greatest of these, Paul made powerful appeals for us to love as Christ loved. In a context reflecting gross misrepresentation against himself, Paul in defense of his ministry laid bare the driving motive of his life (II Cor. 5:11-21). Paul said, "For the love of Christ controls us, because we are convinced that one has died for all; therefore all have died. And he died for all, that those who live might live no longer for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised." This motivation, it should be observed, characterizes one who is in Christ. It. is descriptive of a new creation.

Paul's last word on this theme is most direct and pointed, "Walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God" (Eph. 5:2), One who has experienced Christ's saving love simply cannot escape the impact of Paul's command, "Walk in love."

The Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus. The life in Christ comes to fullest realization through the indwelling Spirit of life. In a final effort to bring ourselves to the fullest experience of the indwelling Spirit, let us look once more to the great contexts which unfold the Holy Spirit's mission. We must advance beyond mere talk of the Holy Spirit as being the One who indwells the believer.

Of the very essence of all the teachings on the Holy Spirit is His personal encounter with man. Those who have been baptized with the Spirit have experienced His personal indwelling, leading, filling, and strengthening. Apart from this personal interaction of the Holy Spirit with man's spirit there can be no discussion of the Spirit. Paul spoke out of personal experience: "The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set me free from the law of sin and death" (Rom. 8:2). A former slavery vividly came back to the apostle. Paul described its nature in the paragraph immediately preceding his announcement of liberation (Rom. 7:7:25). The constant use of the first person intensified the realism of slavery.

In verses 7:12 Paul acknowledged that the law spoke to his conscience. Through the law he came to know sin. But the law gave him no help to overcome sin. To make matters worse, Paul discovered that in addition to the powerlessness of the law was the power of indwelling sin. To this law of sin he was a slave. What an awful slavery! It brought upon him unspeakable wretchedness.

But this captivity to the law of sin served to magnify the liberation effected by "the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus" (Rom. 8:2). This liberation was Paul's very own experience. In his description Of this liberation he drew a close parallel between Christ and us. Christ had come in the likeness of sinful flesh. By His perfect life, achieved through the power of the Spirit, Christ "condemned sin in the flesh." In like manner we through the power of the Spirit may fulfill "the just requirement of the law." Paul showed the way to this goal. Living according to the Spirit we set our minds on the things of the Spirit. Indwelt by the Spirit of God we are in the Spirit. Christ being in us, our spirits are alive because of righteousness. "The Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead" indwelling us will give life to our mortal bodies. In this language Paul seems to be referring primarily to our spiritual resurrection. Here then is the dynamic for overcoming sin in the flesh. By the Spirit we "put to death the deeds of the body." Paul intended that this liberation, which was so teal to him, should become the personal experience of his readers. As for us, is it our present realization of once having been slaves to sin? Has the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus actually set us free from the law of sin and death? Living according to the Spirit, have we set our minds on the things of the Spirit? Are we by the Spirit putting to death the deeds of the body?

In the Epistle to the Galatians Paul unfolded further the work of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus. The walk by the Spirit is described in Galatians 5:16-26. Paul was deeply concerned that the Galatians should not use the freedom of the Gospel as an opportunity for the flesh. "Walk by the Spirit," he said, "arid do not gratify the desires of the flesh." By this he was saying, "Conduct yourselves by the Spirit, be led by the Spirit, let the Spirit be the dynamic in your lives to keep you from gratifying the desires of the flesh." Paul knew full well the antagonism between the flesh and the Spirit. But he knew also that in his having been led by the Spirit the law had no power over him; he was beyond its jurisdiction.

Sharpening the contrast between the life according to the desires of the flesh and the life led by the Spirit, Paul first named some of the evident works of the flesh. The very plural form works suggests, as Erdman Says, "the chaos of riotous vices which are produced by the uncontrolled 'flesh'." [2] Sins such as these result from following the desires of the flesh and are inevitable to those who do not walk by the Spirit.

Then Paul lists the fruit of the Spirit. On the singular form of fruit Erdman again aptly remarks that it "may intimate the harmonious, united, organic product of the in-dwelling Spirit" [3] In addition to saving us from the vices just named, the Spirit does possess the dynamic, as Paul hastens to show, for producing the graces and virtues which are distinctive of the Christian life. Manifestly this fruit is not natural to human nature; it is the product of the Spirit of God working within man. Foregoing a detailed study of these graces, let us be content to note how foreign they are to a system of legalism and how beautifully descriptive they are of our exemplar, Christ.

This list of graces suggests a similar one by Peter (II Pet. 1:3-11). He was concerned that grace and peace be multiplied to his readers "in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord." Thus faith, virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection, and love-each supplement. mg the other leads Peter's readers to being effective or fruitful in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. While Peter made no reference to the Holy Spirit, the growth he is describing is spiritual. Become partakers of the divine nature is intelligible only in terms of spiritual development.

The approaches of both Paul and Peter were in terms of actual experience. The apostles intended that these graces and virtues were to be realized in the lives of their readers. In all verity these graces and virtues had become their very own. Though they were produced by the Spirit, they were found in the lives of men; they belonged to the very character of those Christians.

Triumphing in Christ. We look to Paul for a wholesome view of Christian victory. In the face of dire distress he wrote, "But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumph, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere" (II Cor. 2:14). This outlook in the midst of conflict presents a concept of triumph springing from a life full of "afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, tumults, labors, watching, hunger," and the like.

There are some mistaken ideas on the nature of Christian victory for which Paul gives an antidote. Some in an effort to achieve victory assert that a state of sanctification may be attained in which there is no longer any conflict. Others claim that Christian victory is gained by God's fighting the battle for us. Accordingly the Christian is delivered from combat. These and kindred ideas easily lead to smug complacency, false security, and even pharisaical self-righteousness. Let us examine Paul's antidotes to these erroneous views.

Paul's view of victory did not deny the reality of the conflict. He would have us know that we are contending "against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places" (Eph. 6:12). In Galatians he had written, "the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh; for they are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you would" (Gal. 5:17). Nowhere did Paul or anyone else indicate a cessation of the conflict. Both Peter and Judas experienced the attacks of Satan and both were defeated, the latter irretrievably. Paul did all in his power "to keep Satan from gaining the advantage" over the Corinthians; "for," he wrote, "we are not ignorant of his designs" (II Cor. 2:11).

Satan's encounters include every conceivable mode of attack. He put it into Judas' heart to betray Jesus (John 13:2). He deceived Eve by his cunning (II Cor. 11:3). He tempted our Lord (Matt: 4:1). He prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour (I Pet. 5:8). Even the names denote the wickedness of his character. Thus he is the adversary (I Pet. 5:8), the slanderer (Matt. 4:1), and wickedness (II Cor. 6:15). He is called the god and prince of this world (II Cor. 4:4; John 14:30), the ruler of darkness (Eph. 6:12), the tempter (Matt. 4:3), and the wicked one (Matt 13:19).

Paul's view of victory did not ignore the sinful flesh in which we live. He was more realistic than this. As he wrote to the churches, very specifically to the saints, he had much to say about "sinful flesh," (Rom. 8:3), and the "desires of the flesh" (Gal. 5:16, 17). Wherever he built the solid structures of genuine Christian morality, he gave appropriate exhortations and warnings against the sins of the flesh. He condemned the intellectual pride of the unspiritual man and the jealousy and strife of men of the flesh, as found among the Corinthians (I Cor. 2:14-3:9). His exhortations to the Ephesians to lead a life worthy of their calling frankly stated that they "must no longer live as the Gentiles do" (Eph. 4:17). "Put off your old nature," he wrote, "which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful lusts" (Eph. 4:22). In similar vein he wrote to the Colossians, "Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness But now put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and foul talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old nature with its practices." (Col. 3:5-10).

Paul's view of victory recognized that there is no escape from our personal engagement in the conflict. This was the tenor of his teaching on the Christian's armor (Eph. 6:10-12). His exhortation, "Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might," was addressed to individual Christians. The "whole armor of God" is the individual Christian's equipment for personal combat. All the forces of Satan are arrayed against the Christian. As on the battlefield or in the arena, the fight is inescapably ours, our very own.

Having exposed some false notions regarding Christian victory, I hasten to contemplate the provision made by God for the Christian's warfare as described in Ephesians 6:10-20. Paul arrests us by his challenging words, "Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might." His use of the present imperative stresses the continued or repeated need of being strong, thus telling us again that the battle is lifelong. This being strengthened is in the Lord, in union with Him whereby His strength becomes our strength. The phrase, "in the strength of his might," is paraphrased by Moule, "in the energy of Him the Strong." [4] Paul had already given a picture of this strength: "And what is the immeasurable greatness of his power in us who believe, according to the working of his great might which he accomplished in Christ when he raised him from the dead and made him sit at the right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come; and he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, which is his body, the fulness of him who fills all in all" (Eph. 1:19-23). The superlative degree, "the immeasurable great-ness," is not mere rhetorical figure, and the American Standard Version rendering of the phrase, "according to that working of the strength of his might," shows, in the words of Moule, "a magnificent accumulation. Here is the scale by which to measure the possibilities of the divine power; it is the surpassing victory of its exercise in the Lord's resurrection." [5]

Almost midway between these two passages Paul showed the manner in which this infinite power energizes man. Knowledge of this is essential to a full understanding of how we appropriate God's power in the conflict. In the midst of his great prayer we hear the petition, "That according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with might through his Spirit in the inner man, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith" (Eph. 5:16, 17a). The strengthening takes place in the inner man, in man's own spirit. It is the seat of the Spirit's indwelling and working; it is the heart where Christ dwells. Thus from the very center, origin, and source of man's self-determination the power of God strengthens the whole being of man. By faith the Christian draws on this infinite power for his combat "against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places" (Eph. 6:12).

In the language of physical combat Paul commanded, "Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil" (Eph. 6:11). Repeating the command in verse l3, he added, "that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand." A more vivid description of spiritual warfare could hardly be found. Paul would have us know that the warfare is real and that victory is possible.

With the twice-given command to take the whole armor of God Paul proceeded to identify its parts. In the command to have the loins girded with truth he alluded to Isaiah's description of Immanuel. Said the prophet, "Righteousness shall be the girdle of his waist, and faithfulness the girdle of his loins" (Isa. 11:5). Righteousness, faithfulness, and truth are integral to uprightness of character. In them lies inner strength for spiritual warfare. They are as the girdle which held the soldier's garments in place and allowed him to engage in combat unimpeded. What Paul would show us is the need of uprightness and integrity of character if we would fight the spiritual warfare without hindrance. This is a stern rebuke to all who are careless about their personal integrity, seemingly thinking that loss of uprightness of character has no bearing upon victory in conflict.

Drawing again upon Isaiah, Paul referred next to the breastplate of righteousness. The context of the quotation sheds light on Paul's use of the reference. Justice, righteous. ness, truth, and uprightness were defeated because of national wickedness. In this breach the Lord with

    His own arm brought him victory,
      and his righteousness upheld him.

    He put on righteousness as a breastplate,

      and a helmet of salvation upon his head
(Isa. 59:16, 17).

Personal righteousness is therefore the great defensive weapon, and salvation the protective armor for the Christian-again a testimony to the effectiveness of spiritual integrity in the battle against Satan.

The command to have the feet shod with the equipment of the Gospel of peace reflects still another Isaianic passage, the beautiful message,

    How beautiful upon the mountains
      are the feet of him who brings good tidings,
    who publishes peace, who brings
        good tidings of good,
      who publishes salvation,
      who says to Zion, "Your God reigns" (Isa. 52:7).

Just as the messenger who announced good tidings and published peace was equipped with a faith inspiring message, so the Christian equipped with the Gospel of peace is borne along with confidence, faith, and hope in God.

Paul gave special emphasis to the shield of faith. He knew well that faith was the great defensive and protective weapon. Absolute dependence on God is the only adequate weapon of defense with which one may "quench all the flaming darts of the evil one." These darts may be doubt and distrust, arising from tragic experiences, the meaning of which we can never learn.

Paul mentioned last the weapon of offense, "the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." Here is the invincible weapon used by the Spirit. It is the Word of God. According to Hosea God had slain apostate Ephraim and Judah by the words of His mouth (Hos. 6:5). The Servant of the Lord said, "He made my mouth like a sharp sword" (Isa. 49:2). The author of Hebrews caught the meaning of this when he wrote, "The word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart" (Heb. 4:12). The Christian's offensive weapon, then, is the Word of the Lord which the Spirit wields so effectively. Ours being a spiritual warfare, the invincible weapon is that which the Spirit wields. The Word of God alone deals effectively with our spiritual foes. It was in this manner that Christ withstood Satan, and having done all, remained standing. Paul's final word of preparation for the conflict was the exhortation to prayer "Pray at all times in the Spirit," he wrote, "with all prayer and supplication" (Eph. 6:18). He knew the value of prayer. A literal translation of the verse may express Paul's thought more fully, "Through every prayer and supplication be praying in every season in the Spirit."

One more thought brings this entire study to completion. The return of our Lord sets all the teaching of the Holy Spirit and the holy life into perspective. It gives the highest incentive to holy living. In this vein Paul prayed most fervently for the Thessalonians: "May the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all men, as we do to you, so that he may establish your hearts unblamable in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his Saints" (I Thess. 3:12, 13). Expectation of this most momentous coming event troubles the natural heart. It was Paul's concern to remove all anxiety. Through the Lord's causing the Thessalonians to increase and to abound in love to one another and to all men He would confirm their hearts blameless in holiness before God at our Lord's coming. Similarly, he addressed Titus: "For the grace of God has appeared for the salvation of all men, training us to renounce irreligion and worldly passions, and to live sober, upright, and godly lives in this world, awaiting our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all iniquity and to purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds." (Titus 2:11-14). Thus holy living leads to genuine expectancy of our blessed hope.

As Peter contemplated the imminent coming of the day of the Lord with its attending judgment, he exclaimed: "what sort of persons ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God" (II Pet. 3:11, 12). The coming of the day of the Lord is most awful, but it need not be terrible or appalling. We shall stand in the presence of God. In order to prepare his readers for this expectation Peter repeated, "Therefore, beloved, since you wait for these, be zealous to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace" (II Pet. 3:14).

The Apostle John was the last to show our Lord's coming as the most impelling incentive to holy living when he wrote, "Beloved, we are God's children now; it does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. And every one who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure" (I John 3:2, 3). Here the appeal is for a purifying into the likeness of Him who is pure. Only by spiritual likeness to Christ will we be prepared to enjoy fullness of fellowship with Him. "Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!" (Rev. 22:20).

"To him be the glory for ever and ever. Amen" (II Tim. 4:18).


1 Cambridge Bible for Schloo1 and Colleges (Cambridge at the University Press, 1923). The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Ephesians , edited by the Rt. Rev. H. C. C. Moule, D. D. p.44.

2. The Epistle of Paul to the Galatians (Philadelphia: Weatminster, 1980), pp. 110, 111.

3 Idid., p. 111.

4 The Cambridge Bible for School and College, The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Ephesians, edited by the Rt. Rev. H. C. G. Moule, D.D. (Cambridge at the University Press, 1923), p.150.

5. Moule, op. cit., p. 60.

This study is Chapter VIII. of The HOLY SPIRIT and the HOLY LIFE by Chester K. Lehman. Copyright 1959, renewed, by Herald Press, Scottdale, Pennsylvania. Copyright now owned by Leland M. Haines, Northville, MI 48167.

The source of this study is http://www.bibleviews.com/holyspirit8.html


You are welcome to make copies of the above article provided you show the copyright information and bibleviews.com source.

We welcome your comments and suggestions. Send them to the Webmaster.

This page is presented by:

Biblical Viewpoints Publications
63100 County Road 111
Goshen, IN 46526
Phone: 574-875-8007

Back to the Articles page.

Return to Home Page

May God's grace and peace be with you as you study His Word.

June 22, 2000