Monday, December 1, 2008

The Two Who Cannot Receive the Spirit

Jesus paid the price for the sins of the whole world, and now, “whosoever will” may be cleansed from sin by the Spirit of God. But there are two kinds of people who cannot possibly receive the spiritual cleansing that Jesus paid for.

The first group who cannot receive the holy Ghost is sinners. Sinners are people who are living in rebellion and sin, and they must stop doing that if they want God’s Spirit. Every man who has ever been sent by Christ has agreed that those who are living a wicked lifestyle must repent and cease from sin in order to receive God’s Spirit. They must, as Jesus said, “Repent and believe the gospel.” And when a sinner repents and stops sinning, then he is no longer a sinner and is in a position to receive God’s Spirit.

One ceases from sin before he can be born of the Spirit. The very reason God baptizes a person with His Spirit and washes his sins away is that the sinner has believed the gospel and has ceased from sin.

We learn from the Scriptures that everyone who truly seeks God stops sinning. The very act of seeking God implies a cessation of sin. Listen to what David said (Ps. 119:2-3): “Blessed are they that keep God’s testimonies and that seek Him with the whole heart. They also do no iniquity; they walk in His ways.” The author of Hebrews tells us that God is a “rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (11:6); that is, He rewards those who believe in His Son and stop sinning. And God’s “reward” for those who believe the gospel and cease from sin is the baptism of the Spirit.

The second group of people who cannot receive the Spirit of God is the saints of God. The ones who belong to God cannot receive the Spirit because they already have it. Paul said, “If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his” (Rom. 8:9b). And the corollary to Paul’s statement is this: “If any man have God’s Spirit, he is His.”

These, then are the two kinds of people who cannot receive the Spirit of God: Saints and sinners.

Becoming Innocent

“How long will it be, ere they attain to innocence?”
Hosea 8:5b

In prisons around the world, there are many poor souls sitting on death row who wish they could undo the crimes they committed. And there are even more people, not in prison, who live a life of regret, wishing they had not done some of the things they did in their lives. These are in another kind of prison, the prison of conscience, because once a deed is done, they know it cannot be undone. But because of Jesus, there is hope, for “if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and He understands everything” (1Jn. 3:20).

God can make a virgin out of a harlot. And God can make a guilty soul as innocent as a child. He begged Israel to take advantage of His offer of innocence: “Come now, and let us reason together. Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Isa. 1:18). This reversal of guilt is not possible with men, “but with God, all things are possible.”

God is willing to make us clean and innocent, regardless of our past. That is the wonder of the love and power of God. What more could any of us ask of Him? Through Jesus, God has provided a way to make us all pure and innocent, and worthy to live forever in His presence.