“Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God…”1 Corinthians 2:12
What is a Christian? I am never tired of putting forward that question, because I think that of all things that are misunderstood in the world today, this is the one that is most misunderstood. What is a Christian—a good person, a moral person, a formal member of a church, one who pays an occasional visit to God’s house? Is that a Christian? Shame upon us if ever we have given that impression! No; a Christian is a spiritual person. Is that not the statement of the New Testament everywhere—a spiritual man or woman?
A spiritual person is one who has received the Holy Spirit—that is New Testament terminology. Christians are people who are altogether different from those who are not Christians. They are not just a little bit better or people who do certain things. No; they themselves are different; they are spiritual. “We have received,” says Paul, “not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God….He that is spiritual judgeth all things” (1 Corinthians 2:12, 15). Not so with the natural man. That is the difference.
Now there are some people who say that you become a Christian and then later you receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. But you cannot be a Christian unless you have received the gift of the Holy Spirit. It is that, in a sense, that makes you a Christian. It means new birth; it means being born again; it means, to use the language of Peter, to be “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4). It means, to use the language of our Lord Himself, that God is abiding in us. “He that keepeth his commandments,” says John, “dwelleth in him, and he in him” (1 John 3:24). And if you want the best commentary on that, read John 14, those great words of our Lord: “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you” (verse 18); or as some would translate it, “I will not leave you orphans, I will come again.” – Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones