28. Like Christ: Led By The Spirit.
"And Jesus being full of the Holy Spirit, returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness."óLuke 4:1.
"Be filled with the Spirit."óEph. 5:18.
"For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God."óRom. 8:14.
From His very birth the Lord Jesus had the Spirit dwelling in Him But there were times whom he needed special communications of the Spirit from the Father. Thus it was with His baptism The descent of the Holy Spirit on Him, the baptism of the Spirit, given in the baptism with water, was a real transaction: He was filled with the Spirit He returned from the Jordan full of the Holy Spirit, and experienced more manifestly than ever the leading of the Spirit. In the wilderness He wrestled and conquered, not in His own Divine power, but as a man who was strengthened and led by the Holy Spirit. In this also "He was in all things made like unto His brethren."
The other side of the truth also holds good: the brethren are in all things made like unto Him. They are called to live like Him. This is not demanded from them without their having the same power. This power is the Holy Spirit dwelling in us, whom we have of God. Even as Jesus was filled with the Spirit, and then led by the Spirit, so must we be also filled with the Spirit and be led by the Spirit.
More than once, in our meditations on the different traits of Christís character, it has seemed to us almost impossible to be like Him. We have lived so little for it: we feel so little able to live thus. Let us take courage in the thought: Jesus Himself could only live thus through the Spirit. It was after He was filled with the Spirit that He was led forth by that Spirit to the place of conflict and of victory. And this blessing is ours as surely as it was His: we may be filled with the Spirit; we may be led by the Spirit. Jesus, who was Himself baptized with the Spirit, to set us an example how to live, has ascended into heaven to baptize us into the likeness with Himself. He who would live like Jesus must begin here: He must be baptized with the Spirit. What God demands from His children He first gives. He demands entire likeness to Christ because He will give us, as He did Jesus, the fulness of the Spirit. We must be filled with the Spirit.
We have here the reason why the teaching of the imitation and likeness to Christ has so little prominence in the Church of Christ. Men sought it in their own strength, with the help of some workings of the Holy Spirit: they did not understand that nothing less was needed than being filled with the Spirit. No wonder that they thought that real conformity to Christ could not be expected of us, because they had mistaken thoughts about being filled with the Spirit. It was thought to be the privilege of a few, and not the calling and duty of every child of God. It was not sufficiently realized that "Be ye filled with the Spirit," is a command to every Christian. Only when the Church first gives the baptism of the Spirit, and Jesus, as the Saviour who baptizes with the Spirit each one who believes in Him, their right place, only then will likeness to Christ be sought after and attained. People will then understand and acknowledge: to be like Christ we must be led by the same Spirit, and to be led by the Spirit as He was, we must be filled with the Spirit. Nothing less than the fulness of the Spirit is absolutely necessary to live a truly Christian, Christ-like life.
The way to arrive at it is simple. It is Jesus who baptizes with the Spirit: he who comes to Him desiring it will get it. All that He requires of us is, the surrender of faith to receive what He gives
The surrender of faith. What He asks is, whether we are indeed in earnest to follow in His footsteps, and for this to be baptized of the Spirit. Do not let there be any hesitation as to our answer. First, look back on all the glorious promises of His love and of His Spirit, in which the blessed privilege is set forth: EVEN AS I, YE ALSO. Remember that it was of this likeness to Himself in everything He said to the Father: "The glory which Thou gavest me have I given them." Think how the love of Christ and the true desire to please Him, how the glory of God and the needs of the world, plead with us not through our sloth to despise this heavenly birthright of being Christ-like. Acknowledge the sacred right of ownership Christ has in you, His blood-bought ones: and let nothing prevent your answering: "Yes, dear Lord, as fax as is allowed to a child of dust, I will be like Thee. I am entirely Thine; I must, I will, in all things bear Thy image. It is for this I ask to be filled with the Spirit."
The surrender of faith: only this; but nothing less than this He demands. Let us give what He asks. If we yield ourselves to be like Him, in all things, let it be in the quiet trust that He accepts, and at once begins in secret to make the Spirit work more mightily in us. Let us believe it although we do not at once experience it. To be filled with the Holy Spirit, we must wait on our Lord in faith. We can depend upon it that His love desires to give us more than we know. Let our surrender be made in this assurance.
And let this surrender of faith be entire. The fundamental law of following, Christ is this: "He who loses his life shall find it." The Holy Spirit comes to take away the old life, and to give in its place the life of Christ in you. Renounce the old life of self-working and self-watching, and believe that, as the air you breathe renews your life every moment, so naturally and continually the Holy Spirit will renew your life. In the work of the Holy Spirit in you there are no breaks or interruptions: you are in the Spirit as your vital air: the Spirit is in you as your life-breath: through the Spirit God works in you both to will and to do according to His good pleasure. Oh, Christian, have a deep reverence for the work of the Spirit who dwells within you. Believe in Godís power, which works in you through the Spirit, to conform you to Christís life and image moment by moment. Be occupied with Jesus and His life, that life which is at the same time your example and your strength, in the full assurance that the Holy Spirit knows in deep quiet to fulfil His office of communicating Jesus to you. Remember that the fulness of the Spirit is yours in Jesus, a real gift which you accept and hold in faith, even when there is not such feeling as you could wish, and on which you count to work in you all you need. The feeling may be weakness and fear and much trembling, and yet the speaking, and working, and living in demonstration of the Spirit and of power (1 Cor. 2:3, 4). Live in the faith that the fulness of the Spirit is yours, and that you will not be disappointed if, looking unto Jesus, you rejoice every day in the blessed trust that the care of your spiritual life is in the hands of the Holy Spirit the Comforter. Thus, with the loving presence of Jesus in you, the living likeness to Jesus will be seen on you; the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus dwelling within, the likeness of the life of Christ Jesus will shine around.
And if it do not appear that in thus believing and obeying your desires are fulfilled, remember that it is in the fellowship with the members of Christís body, and in the full surrender to Christís server in the world, that the full power of the Spirit is made manifest. It was when Jesus gave Himself to enter into full fellowship with men around Him, and like them to be baptized with water, that He was baptized with the Holy Ghost. And it was when He had given Himself in His second baptism of suffering, a sacrifice for us, that He received the Holy Spirit to give to us. Seek fellowship with Godís children, who will with thee plead and believe for the baptism of the Spirit: the disciples received the Spirit not singly, but when they were with one accord in one place. Band thyself with Godís children around thee to work for souls; the Spirit is the power from on high to fit for that work: the promise will be fulfilled to the believing g servants, who want Him not for their enjoyment, but for that work. Christ was filled with the Spirit that He might be fitted to work and live and die for us. Give thyself to such a Christ-like living and dying for men, and thou mayest depend upon it, a Christ-like baptism of the Spirit, a Christ-like fulness of the Spirit, will be thy portion.
Blessed Lord I how wondrously Thou hast provided for our growing likeness to Thyself, in giving us Thine own Holy Spirit. Thou hast told us that it is His work to reveal Thee, to give us Thy Real Presence within us. It is by Him that all Thou hast won for us, all the life and holiness and strength we see in Thee, is brought over and imparted and made our very own. He takes of Thine, and shows it to us, and makes it ours. Blessed Jesus! we do thank Thee for the gift of the Holy Spirit.
And now, we beseech Thee, fill us, oh fill us full, with Thy Holy Ghost! Lord! nothing less is sufficient. We cannot be led like Thee, we cannot fight and conquer like Thee, we cannot love and serve like Thee, we cannot live and die like Thee, unless like Thee we are full of the Holy Ghost. Blessed, blessed be Thy name I Thou hast commanded, Thou hast promised it; it may, it can, it shall be.
Holy Saviour! draw Thy disciples together to wait and plead for this. Let their eyes be opened to see the wondrous unfulfilled promises of floods of the Holy Spirit. Let their hearts be drawn to give themselves, like Thee, to live and die for men. And we know it will be Thy delight to fulfil Thine office, as He that baptizeth with the Holy Ghost and with fire. Glory be to Thy Name. Amen.