Fellowship Is of the Spirit
The Lord has been teaching us very precious lessons on this subject that no doubt would be a benefit to others who have been thinking as we did that it is a subject beyond the reach of the majority of God’s little ones. Different conclusions are now reached, and our influence shall be for all to seek to learn from God those precious lessons that draw us closer to Him, and to His people, and that preserve us from many of the deceptions of the devil.
Once everything concerning spirits was confusing to me and seemed bordering upon Spiritualism. But the eyes of my understanding were opened, and I began to see the different spirits that move the people of the world. Some are controlled by a proud spirit; others by one of contention; many religious people are governed by the antichrist spirit of error (1 John 4:3) instead of the Holy Spirit of truth.
The Holy Spirit is a spirit—one of love, purity, mercy, justice, power, life, light, and truth; and the church of God is His habitation through this Spirit. When we think of it thus we can see the need of each of God’s children being “filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18)—yes, the one Spirit that is to control, comfort, teach, reprove, bind together, and defend those who are saved of God, that His temple may be “glorious.” (Ephesians 5:27) This one Spirit is the only one God sanctions within His house.
A great many, having received the outward doctrine of Christ, conclude they have the Spirit of truth, when in reality they have only an intellectual understanding without an actual experience in the soul. They put on some of the fruits of the Spirit, and are often received as the children of God by those who do not discern between the “fellowship of the Spirit” (Philippians 2:1) (which is of God through the Spirit) and a mere fellowship of doctrine. Each denomination has it. When a company of people mostly believe the same things, there is an agreement, union, and fellowship that has resemblance to the true fellowship. But it is only a denominational fellowship, receiving those who assent to the truth, but have not humbled themselves to obtain a precious soul-experience of saving grace. And these with their spiritual lack exert a depressing, unwholesome influence that hinders the work of God.
In this time of great deception, God’s children are so rejoiced over those who do acknowledge truth that they may overlook the great necessity of spiritual life and “truth in the inward parts.” (Psalm 51:6) If we do this, we are consenting to the same thing as the denominations—doctrinal fellowship—with this difference: the doctrine of Christ instead of men.
The fellowship of the outward doctrine of truth is but the shell compared to the kernel—the “fellowship of the Spirit.” God wants us to discern the difference and be able to judge righteous judgment: to discern between him that serveth God and him that serveth Him not. If each one in a local assembly is filled with the Spirit of God and retains his experience, there can be nothing but love, peace, unity, and harmony existing. But let some not saved and filled with the Spirit be in the midst, and sooner or later something contrary to the will of God will be manifested. Sometimes people pass for years as true children of God and then manifest the spirit they are of in strife, contention, and opposition to the people of God on some line, and then go out from among them because they were not of them.
We need quickness of spiritual perception to detect the counterfeits. Some cry, “Correct them by the Word,” and we say, “Yes”: for the Word says, “If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” (Romans 8:9) By the Holy Spirit the apostles detected the lying spirit in Ananias and Sapphira, and openly rebuked it; so “fear came upon all.” (Acts 5:11)
However, when those who have received and advocated wrong doctrine were reproved, they have resisted the reproof because they deemed it improperly given; thus they fall under the accusing spirit against God’s children. The effects of this spirit is to make what the church does appear dark and repulsive, and unworthy of attention; or else censure falls upon a few individuals or upon certain methods of reproof or correction and all the workers who use them. We know from experience the oppressive power of the accusing spirit, and pity those under its power or influence in any way. But love, mercy, justice, life, and truth call us to warn, reprove, and openly rebuke those who yield to and are controlled by it (2 Timothy 4:2).
Often dear souls realize a lack of fellowship, and they complain that it is because God’s people are not being loving, warm-hearted, tender, and merciful: they do not comprehend that it is because of their own lack of saving grace. Dear ones, there is too much at stake to contend for ourselves. God has a people, and if we are not in harmony with them, it is because of our lack of the spirit of unity; and we should yield the contending point and humble ourselves before God and to those with whom we have contended. Sometimes that which hinders the return of souls to the truth and salvation is what they consider “a little thing”—a brother’s “lack of love,” “lack of wisdom,” or “of spirtual discernment,” or “of anointing for teaching,” etc. Yet there is just enough of the contending spirit to hinder the reception of the Spirit of Christ, and it manifests itself as a lack of humility for repentance. How sorrowful that any should cling to the spirit of contention rather than yield to God and obtain the “holy Spirit of promise,” (Ephesians 1:13) and enjoy fellowship with the saints of God.
Did you ever see true repentance before God and man that was not willing to take the blame for all the evil? If any one tries to throw the blame of his spiritual loss upon others and tries to get them down to confession, it is a sure proof that the heart is not broken and contrite before God (Psalm 34:18), and any experience built up in this way will not endure. How our hearts yearn after dear ones for whom we would gladly humble ourselves in the very dust at their feet if in this way we could reach them; but God requires the humility of their own hearts.
“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” (1 John 1:7)