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The Spirit Brings Forth New Life

By Horatius Bonar (1808 – 1889)

    It is to a new life that God is calling us; not to some new steps in life, some new habits or ways or motives or prospects, but to a new life.  For the working out of this, the Holy Spirit came down in power, entering men’s souls and dwelling there, that out of the old He might bring forth the new.

    A Christian is one who has been “crucified with Christ,” who has died with Him, been buried with Him, risen with Him, ascended with Him, and is seated “in heavenly places” with Him (Rom. 6:3-8; Gal. 2:20; Eph. 2:5-6; Col. 3:1-3).  As such he reckons himself dead unto sin, but alive unto God (Rom. 6:11).  As such he does not yield his members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin, but he yields himself unto God, as alive from the dead, and his members as instruments of righteousness unto God.  As such he seeks “the things which are above,” and sets his affection on things above, mortifying his “members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence and covetousness, which is idolatry” (Col. 3:1-5).

    The newness is comprehensive, both in its exclusion of the evil and its inclusion of the good.  It is summed up by the apostle in two things: righteousness and holiness.  “Put off,” says he, “the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; and be renewed in the spirit of your mind; …put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness” (Eph. 4:22-24, literally “righteousness and holiness of the truth,” that is, resting on the truth).  The new man then is meant to be righteous and holy, inwardly and outwardly, before God and man, as respects Law and Gospel, and this through the truth.

    It is then to a new standing or state, a new moral character, a new life, a new joy, a new work, a new hope, that we are called.  It is to the image of His Son that He has predestinated us to be conformed, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren (Rom. 8:29), having “chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love” (Eph. 1:4).

A Call to Holiness

    It is, then, to holiness that God is calling us (1 Thes. 4:7); that we should have our “fruit unto holiness” (Rom. 6:22), that our hearts should be stablished “unblameable in holiness” (1 Thes. 3:13); that we should abound in “all holy conversation and godliness” (2 Pet. 3:11); that we should be “a holy priesthood” (1 Pet. 2:5); “holy in all manner of conversation” (1:15); “called with a holy calling” (2 Tim. 1:9); “holy and without blame before Him in love” (Eph. 1:4).

    Holiness is likeness to God, to Him who is the Holy One of Israel, to Him whom they laud in heaven, as “Holy, holy, holy” (Rev. 4:8).  It is likeness to Christ, to Him who was “holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners” (Heb. 7:26).  It is not only disjunction from evil, and from an evil world; but it is separation unto God and His service.

    This holiness or consecration extends to every part of our persons; fills up our being, spreads over our life, influences everything we are, or do, or think, or speak, or plan, small or great, and outward or inward, negative or positive, our loving, our hating, our sorrowing, our rejoicing, our recreations, our business, our friendships, our relationships, our silence, our speech, our reading, our writing, our going out and our coming in – our whole man in every movement of spirit, soul, and body.  In the house, the sanctuary, the chamber, the market, the shop, the desk, on the highway, it must be seen that ours is a consecrated life.

    “Awake to righteousness and sin not” is God’s message to us (1 Cor. 15:34).  “Be ye holy, for I am holy” (1 Pet. 1:16).  “Present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God” (Rom. 12:1).  “Purge out the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump” (1 Cor. 5:7).  “Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity” (2 Tim. 2:19).  “Deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world” (Titus 2:12).  “Be diligent that ye may be found of Him in peace, without spot and blameless” (2 Pet. 3:14).  “Let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ” (Phil. 1:27).  “Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them” (Eph. 5:11).  “Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof” (Rom. 13:14).  “I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul” (1 Pet. 2:11).

    From sin, then, in every sense and aspect, God is calling us.  From all unholiness and unrighteousness, from all corruptions, from all crooked ways, from all disobedience, from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, He is calling us in Christ Jesus His Son.

Provision of the Holy Spirit

    Whatever amount of unreal religion may be in us, it is not because of any defect in the Word, any cloudiness in the Gospel, any scantiness or straitness in the divine liberality, any lack in the fullness of Him in whom it hath pleased the Father that all fullness should dwell.  He has made provision for our being made like Himself, and therefore He calls us to this likeness.  The standard is high, but it does not admit of being lowered.  The model is divine; but so is the strength given for conformity to it.  Our responsibility to be holy is great, but not greater than the means provided for its full attainment.

    In Christ dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.  He has the Holy Spirit for us, and this Spirit He gives freely and plenteously; for that which we receive is “grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ” (Eph. 4:7).  The early saints were “filled with joy, and with the Holy Ghost” (Acts 13:52), and we are to be “filled with the Spirit” (Eph. 5:18), for it is the Holy Ghost Himself, not certain influences that are given unto us (Rom. 5:5).

    He falls on us (Acts 8:16; 11:15); He is shed forth on us (2:33); He is poured out on us (Ezek. 39:29; Acts 10:45); we are baptized with the Holy Ghost (11:16).

    He is the earnest of our inheritance (Eph. 1:14); He seals us (1:13), imprinting on us the divine image and superscription; He teaches (1 Cor. 2:13); He reveals (2:10); He reproves (John 16:8); He strengthens (Eph. 3:16); He makes us fruitful (Gal. 5:22); He strives (Gen. 6:3); He searches (1 Cor. 2:10);  He sanctifies (1 Cor. 6:11); He leads (Rom. 8:14);  He speaks (1 Tim. 4:1; Rev. 2:7); He instructs (Neh. 9:20); He demonstrates (or proves) (1 Cor. 2:4); He intercedes (Rom. 8:26); He quickens (8:11); He gives utterance (Acts 2:4); He creates (Psa. 104:30); He comforts (John 14:26); He sheds abroad the love of God in our hearts (Rom. 5:5); He renews (Titus 3:5).

    He is the Spirit of holiness (Rom. 1:4), the Spirit of wisdom and understanding (Isa. 11:2; Eph. 1:17), the Spirit of truth (John 14:17), the Spirit of knowledge (Isa. 11:2), the Spirit of grace (Heb. 10:29), the Spirit of glory (1 Pet. 4:14), the Spirit of our God (1 Cor. 6:11), the Spirit of the living God (2 Cor. 3:3), the good Spirit (Neh. 9:20), the Spirit of Christ (1 Pet. 1:11), the Spirit of adoption (Rom. 8:15), the Spirit of life (Rev. 11:11), and the Spirit of His Son (Gal. 4:6).

    Such is the Holy Spirit by whom we are sanctified (2 Thes. 2:13), “the eternal Spirit” by whom “Christ offered Himself without spot to God” (Heb. 9:14).  Such is the Holy Spirit by whom we are “sealed unto the day of redemption” (Eph. 4:30), the Spirit who makes us His habitation (2:22), who dwelleth in us (2 Tim. 1:14), by whom we are kept looking to and looking for Christ and by whom we are made to “abound in hope” (Rom. 15:13).

    On the right receiving and entertaining of this heavenly Guest, much of a holy life depends.  Let us bid Him welcome – not vexing, nor resisting, nor grieving, nor quenching Him, but loving Him and delighting in His love (“the love of the Spirit,” Rom. 15:30), so that our life may be a living in the Spirit (Gal. 5:25), a walking in the Spirit (5:16), a praying in the Spirit (Jude v. 20).  While distinguishing Christ’s work for us and the Spirit’s work in us, and so preserving our conscious pardon unbroken, yet let us not separate the two by any interval; but allowing both to do their work, let us “follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord” (Heb. 12:14), keeping our hearts in “the fellowship of the Spirit” (Phil. 2:1), and delighting ourselves in “the communion of the Holy Ghost” (2 Cor. 13:14).

Christ and His Spirit in Us

    The double form of expression, bringing out the mutual or reciprocal indwelling of Christ and of the Spirit in us, is worthy of special note.  “Christ in us” (Col. 1:27) is the one side; we “in Christ” is the other (2 Cor. 5:17; Gal. 2:20).  The Holy Spirit in us (Rom. 8:9) is the one aspect; we live in the Spirit (Gal. 5:25) is the other.  Nay, further, this twofold expression is used of the Godhead also, in these remarkable words:  “Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God” (1 John 4:15).

    It would seem as if no figure, however strong and full, could adequately express the closeness of contact, the nearness of relationship, the entire oneness into which we are brought, in receiving the divine testimony to the person and work of the Son of God.  Are we not then most strongly committed to a life of holiness, as well as furnished with all the supplies needful for carrying it out?  With such a fullness of strength and life at our disposal, what a responsibility is ours!  “...What manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness” (2 Pet. 3:11).

    And if to all this we add the prospects presented to us, the hope of the advent and the kingdom and the glory, we shall feel ourselves compassed on every side with the motives, materials and appliances best fitted for making us what we are meant to be, “a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people” (1 Pet. 2:9), “zealous of good works” here (Titus 2:14), and possessors of “glory and honor and immortality” hereafter (Rom. 2:7).

    – From God’s Way of Holiness.