“Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God. You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness.” (Reference: Romans 8:8-10 )
We have established that the Holy Spirit comes when a person accepts God and Christ, and has made signs both outwardly and inwardly that their lives are God controlled. The thing that may be hardest to understand is the time table for these changes. Actually, beloved, the outward sign often lags behind the inner changes. That is, baptism can come some time after a person had accepted God and Christ, at least in the Mennonite faith. But we have moved past baptism and are considering now just the Spirit.
Dirk Philips, a historic Anabaptist who gave much thought and wrote down his thoughts wrote the following; “. . . no one can understand Christ’s doctrine, much less abide in it, except through the
Holy Spirit. And no one has the Holy Spirit except one who is no longer carnally but spiritually minded, as Paul says, “But you are not in the flesh, you are in the Spirit, if the Spirit of God really dwells in you. Any one who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although your bodies are dead because of sin, your spirits are alive because of righteousness,” Rom. 8:9-10. . .”
Let’s take this in small thought bits. Christ and God, two parts of the triune Divine, have certain expectations and standards. To one who does not believe these expectations and standards can sound pretty unusual. To understand them and live them out, one must already have asked Christ and God to control their life. You see belief and faith really precede understanding. It is the desire to know God and Christ that leads to enough information that the beginning believer decides to take a “leap of faith” and commit themselves deeper.
And when this “leap of faith” is leaped – so to speak – that the Holy Spirit settles into the beginning believer’s heart and soul. Once there, the Spirit teaches the believer more. Paul, and Philips, say that the beginning believer is focused on the agenda and priorities of the Holy Spirit, and not worldly/sinful/flesh desires and agenda. Without the Spirit there is not even a beginning of belief, so the non-believer is considered to still be of the sinful world.
Remember that the historic Anabaptists believed the body was sinful because was of earth and flesh, but the mind/soul could be spiritual and pure. There was a sharp division between body and spirit/mind, and it took modern Anabaptists/Mennonites centuries to overcome that split to see that the body and mind are inexorably linked. And that the body is no impure than the mind, and that the mind is no purer than the body.
Worry not, beloved. If you have asked God and Christ (I use both these terms back and forth because one is no different than the other) to take control of your life, for your body and your spirit/heart/mind belong to the Lord. And you are of the Spirit. Selah!