Tag Archives: identity in Christ

The Tyres: Be filled with the Holy Spirit.

 “For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 14:17)

“But for those who are righteous,
the way is not steep and rough”
(Is 26: 7, NLT)

A bicycle is not going to get very far without tyres, and those tyres need to be filled with air. For us, as we cycle along the track on the Mountain of the Lord, the air in the tyres is the breath, the Ruach, of the Holy Spirit. Without labouring the point made repeatedly on these pages, we do not progress far in our Christian walk unless we are filled with the Holy Spirit as instructed in Ephesians 5:18; and that filling has to be repeated and ongoing, as the tense of the Greek verb used translates as “be being filled…” We cannot move if our tyres are flat: they need to “be being filled” – pumped up – with the Ruach, the breath of God.

The old “penny farthing” cycles of the latter part of the nineteenth century had a massive single wheel above which the rider perched precariously, that was driven directly by pedals that were affixed to the axle and had a solid rubber tyre. In lots of ways it is a good picture of dead religion, running along a single wheel of the letter of the law, no chain (the connected body of Christ – that’s the next article), without the Holy Spirit, uncomfortable to ride, and certainly impossible to take onto the mountain track.

The penny farthing: a picture of religion.

For a more detailed study on the baptism of the Holy Spirit, see “The Name of the Father,” but for the purposes of this article we’ll just limit ourselves to some basic principles of what it means to be filled with the Spirit. And, as with the other parts of this series, these are just a few (relatively) concise notes for you to unpack further, either on your own or with other believers.

So what do we have in our tyres?

Love

“God’s love is  poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:5) The pre-eminence of love in the life of the Christian disciple is a given: I don’t need to add here to the millions of words that are already written on the subject: it’s enough that Jesus has commanded us to love one another. What is relevant here is that we cannot love one another as commanded; or love the world as God did by sending His Son, unless it is with the love that He has filled us with. God’s love prefers others, serves , gives unstintingly, blesses, builds, and doesn’t seek approval or reward. These are not qualities of our flesh. If we have compassion on the poor and needy without reaching into the heart of God for His resources we are just another social action group whose work will, ultimately, not stand. God in Christ loved His friends by washing their feet, and reached out in compassion to the fallen world. We need to pray for His compassion to fill our hearts if we, as His disciples, are going to do the same.

Our identity

God has given us the Spirit of Adoption, by which we cry out “Abba, Father!” (Romans 8:15) The Holy Spirit fills us with the revelation of our identity in Christ: it is only by the Spirit’s power that we know that we are children of God. Anyone can believe in their heads that they are a child of God or call themselves by that name. Some religious worldviews would say that we are all God’s children, because we are His creation and man was made in His image. But sin marred that image and broke the spiritual bloodline. Every man and woman is God’s creation and is a child of the first Adam; but God is Spirit, and it is only as brothers and sisters of the second Adam, Jesus Christ the Son of God, that our original spiritual family line is restored. Galatians 3: 26 makes this clear: “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.” Every Christian is of the Seed of Abraham (See Galatians 3: 29), yet when the Jews claimed that Abraham was their Father Jesus retorted that their father was actually the devil. (John 8:44) It is only by the Spirit of God, through the blood of Jesus, that we can be children of God. And as true children of God, let us be filled with the knowledge of His parenthood.

God’s faithfulness

Jesus told the disciples to wait in Jerusalem until “The Promise of the Father” was poured out from on high (Acts 1: 1-5). The promise was of redemption and blessing for himself and all his children, who would be numerous beyond count, and can be found in Genesis 12: 1-3. When the Holy Spirit was poured out at Pentecost this was like the uncorking of a great cask of blessing that had been stored up in Heaven since the time of Abraham, and it has been pouring ever since. Every time a believer is filled with the Spirit, whether for the first time or subsequently, God is re-affirming that He keeps His promises. And this affirmation is in itself another promise: it’s the very promise of Heaven, the deposit or guarantee of our eternal inheritance (Ephesians 1:14; 2 Cor 1:22). Meanwhile in this life, the promise that fills us is the promise to bless. Whatever obstacles or pitfalls might lay across our path, it tells us that He that is in us is greater than he that is in the world. (1 John 4:4) We carry within us the promise that, by the power of His Spirit, “in all things, we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” (Romans 8:37) Filled with blessing, faithfulness and promise, our tyres will take us over everything that comes our way on Earth, and they will carry us on to our eternal destiny in Heaven.

Power

Paul tells Timothy – and us –“You do not have a spirit of fear, but of love, power and a sound mind.” (2 Tim 1:7) The Spirit that is in us is the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead. We all know this Bible verse in our heads, but do we have it in our hearts? If we have within us a deposit of the power of the God who created all things, we don’t want to just know this truth as a fact, but we want to experience it as an aspect of the breath that fills our tyres, the ruach that we are riding on. What did I experience today of the power that raised Jesus from the dead dwelling in me? When I prayed, did I just mumble the first thing that came into my head that matched the need I was considering, or did I wait for the Spirit of God to reveal His perspective and release His provision?  What interactions have I had with other people, in or outside the church, that Jesus may have wanted to touch supernaturally through the operation of a gift of the Holy spirit? Paul says to the Corinthians: “Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?” (2 Cor 13:5) Many of us in the church today could probably benefit from following the same injunction.

A sound mind

The word translated as “sound mind” is sophronismos. Sometimes translated as self-control or sobriety, it is more than that: it is actually an admonition to walk in full control of one’s faculties; to be disciplined. The full set of meanings listed in Strong’s concordance under the verb sophronizo are 1) restore one to his senses,” 2) “to moderate, control, curb, disciple,” 3) “to hold one to his duty,” and 4) “to admonish, to exhort earnestly.” Did you spot the word “disciple” tucked into the list? I don’t have an Amplified Bible translation to hand, but if we used the Strong’s definition of the original Greek for the noun translated as “self control,” or “a sound mind” to do our own amplified version, we could say that the Holy Spirit gives us “a restored mind that responds to an earnest exhortation to stay on course and not to wander out of control and go off track.” In other words, a renewed mind that responds to being discipled. Or quite simply, a discipled mind.

As well as filling us with God’s love and power, His fatherhood and His faithfulness, it is the Holy Spirit who disciples us. Jesus called Him the Counsellor or The Paraclete, the One who Comes Alongside. But it is up to us to keep our tyres pumped up.

Identity Crisis

Bartimaeus (Mark 10 v 46-52)

Bartimaeus knew about Jesus and knew what he would do for him, yet he also was aware that he did not deserve to be healed as he called out “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Herein lies another key, which is knowing our frail spiritual state. As Bartimaeus showed, we really don’t deserve anything: all that we receive is by the Lord’s mercy. But because of what Jesus has done on the cross for us  we can boldly enter the throne room of our Father and ask for what we want. “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Heb 4:16)

Bartimaeus recognised Jesus and not stop calling out to Him.  Even when he was told to be silent he was persistent and called out even more, and when Jesus called him he  threw off anything that was hindering him, jumped up  and went to Him.  Then jesus asked him what he wanted.  Bartimaeus simply said: “I want to see,” not “if it’s your will,” or “It would re really nice if I could see…”

So we can see how much he wanted to see and be healed: he threw his cover off and jumped up;  he didn’t just get up on his feet and tentatively wander over in the hope that he might be noticed.  Bartimaeus had one thing on his mind, and his actions expressed it. Although this story is used for healing, I believe we can do the same with whatever we want from the Lord. The writer to the Hebrews says:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. (Hebrews 12 v1))

These weights could be things that we have held onto from the past that we have allowed to  become part of our identity. This could include illness, disability, even sin:  essentially anything that we hold onto that means that we are not fully accepting our identity In Christ. Are we willing throw off everything, even things that have become our identity, like Bartimaeus’s begging bowl?  We don’t need them: we are new creations, as 2 Corinthians 5: 17 makes absolutely clear.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation: The old has gone, the new is here!

Our identity is in Christ and not things of the past; whether it’s our wealth, our position in our job, what we have given away, our house, our reputation, even our healing.  It has all gone, and the new has come. We are hidden in Christ.

For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God .(Colossians 3: 3)

So our identity should be focused who Jesus says we are; and since this is hidden in Him, nothing can take it from us.  It will always be true.  How we process this truth is our choice: we can either throw everything off to fully take hold of it in faith; or we can put some of our eggs in different baskets, maybe because we don’t want to let go of something else that has become our identity due to fear, or maybe we are just hedging our bets because our experience hasn’t matched up to the  truth. However, the truth remains, whether we choose to believe it and act on it or not, much like the sun is always shining even if it cloudy. If our experience is not matching the truth we need to take hold of the Word fully, letting go of everything that hinders us. 

Now go back to the sub-title of this article. I left a word out. What was it?

So anything that stops us remembering and living out these truths could be classed as part of the identity of our old self; the one that has gone.   Are we willing to throw them all off and jump up, making ourselves look  foolish, shouting louder than the noise of the distractions around us? Are we prepared to stumble blindly towards Jesus, through the mocking and the catcalls, despite all the adversity, until we hear Him say to us: “What can I do for you?”  Will we speak the truth that is in our hearts and say directly and plainly, “I WANT TO SEE!”

Our Father in Heaven doesn’t mince His words. Jesus tells us to let our “yes be yes, and our no be no.” I believe we need to follow His ways in this, and tell Him what is on our hearts without wrapping it up in formulae.

John Wesley and Billy Graham.
Two more recent examples of calling out earnestly and in desperation are John Wesley and Billy Graham.  In John Wesley’s house there are two knee sized marks in the carpet next to his bed where he cried out to God for revival. When Billy Graham was a student at Wheaton College he was one of a group of students that visited the building. When the lecturer returned to the coach he counted the students and found one missing, so he went back into the building to find Billy Graham kneeling in the same knee marks as Wesley, his face flat the bed, calling out: “Do it again lord!” Do we have this passion? How much do we want to know Jesus and do what He asks of us? Will we long for and cry out for healing and revival? Do we cry out for God to touch us again? And the big question: what are we willing to sacrifice to gain these things?

If we want to learn from Bartimaeus and Billy Graham we must be willing to shut ourselves away and lock into the Lord, to become more like Jesus and to let his holy fire refine us. In so doing we in turn will be set on fire for him.  If it only takes one man to stand in the gap for the Lord to do what He did through John Wesley and Billy Graham, just imagine what one church can do. Jesus said when two or three are gathered in my name I will be there in the midst.

Bartimaeus’s old identity.
Bartimaeus’s old identity was “blind.” This was the word I missed out earlier.  He knew who Jesus was, and not caring what he sounded or looked like he approached Him boldly and in complete faith that Jesus would meet his need. His identity was Bartimaeus, not Blind Bartimaeus. And yes, Jesus healing him was an awesome miracle, but there is more written about Bartimaeus than the miracle here. I think that the fact that he was blind is secondary to the fact that he was persistent and didn’t hold onto his disability. I think Mark is making the point that it was persistence and desperation for Him which caused  our Lord to stop. He wants to see how much we really want what He has for us.  He wants us to be utterly reliant on him and desperate for Him. In His presence all of us are beggars.