The 5 Marks of the Spirit (part one)
Updated: Oct 10, 2020
In wanting to help students take the next step to learn Jesus, we need to first find out where they need to grow in their relationship with Christ. 24:7 has what we call “5 Marks of the Spirit” to help fellow believers continue to grow in their faith. If a believer is growing in their walk with God they have a growing esteem for Christ, a discernible spirit of repentance, tenacious devotion to the word of God, interest in theology and doctrine, and an evident love for God and neighbor. These marks are mentioned in the Bible as traits Christians exhibit, so we naturally want to see students growing in them! Here, we’ll explain the first two marks and give you some ways to practice them.
1. Growing Esteem for Christ
The whole Bible is a story of how great God is and how the only response we
can have to that knowledge is worshipping him. For those of you who like some more specific places to look, an example of great esteem for Christ can be found in Colossians 1:15-23. Colossians is written by Paul, a direct disciple of Jesus. Paul writes in 15-17, “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or authorities-- all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things and in him all things hold together.” Paul highly values God above everything else in his life. You don’t say that all things were created for and through someone that you don’t hold in high esteem. Like Paul, we, as believers, should want to speak and act like people who KNOW God is someone who deserves all of our respect and attention.
So how do you grow in valuing Christ? Well, think about the different people that you respect and how you came to respect them. You probably know them personally or you know what they’ve done to have earned this respect from you. One of the best ways to esteem Christ is to learn more about who he is and what he’s done to deserve such respect. The Bible is a story that’s all about God and by reading it we can learn more of how amazing he is!
Another way to grow in your respect and view of God is to be aware of how you speak about him to others. Are you regularly telling others about what you love about Jesus or do you spend more time talking about your favorite hobbies or friends? You talk about what you love and you love what you talk about. Make sure that the way you speak reflects your esteem for Christ.
2. Discernible Spirit of Repentance
The word repentance can be one of those confusing “Christianese” words that’s said a lot, but never fully explained. We’re going to do our best to get rid of some of that confusion. A super simple way to explain repentance is confessing what has been done wrong and asking for forgiveness in that. It doesn’t seem so scary and confusing anymore right? Let’s look at Colossians again to get an even more understanding about repentance.
In Colossians 3:5-8, Paul writes, “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these too you once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth.” So, Paul lists out all of these things that are sins and things that we do wrong. There’s a 100% chance that you do or have done something that Paul brings up here. The response from God for that is wrath and that’s terrifying, but that’s where some key phrases come in. “Put to death” shows us that we don’t have to stay in this life of messing up! “In these too you once walked” and “when you were living in them” show that by turning our lives over to Jesus, we’ve already gotten out of that life of sin. In Jesus dying on the cross, our sins have already been forgiven, but since we’re in this time before God returns we’re still living sinful lives. Repentance is a way God has given us to take our sin and consciously hand it over to him again and again and again.
Think about how you talk with God about your sin specifically. Do you actually tell him about how you’ve messed up? Do you ask for him to forgive you? If the answer to those questions is no, then a way to grow in this is simply to make that a regular pattern in your life. Set an alarm on your phone to sit down and repent everyday. Eventually, your natural response to your sin will be turning to God. If you’re struggling to do this on your own, grab a friend that you really trust, talk to them about how you're struggling, listen to their struggles, and go to Jesus together. God already knows and has forgiven everything we’ve done wrong. There’s nothing to be fear in being honest with him.
So, these were the first two marks of the spirit.We hope breaking them down has helped you grow in your understanding. We’ll look at the other three next week, but in the meantime, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for any questions you might have!
By Gabi Houk