Sweet, Sweet Spirit
For many of us, when we hear the words “Holy Spirit” we immediately have visions of some unknown spiritual creature that frightens us. We think of it as some religious hocus pocus that takes possession of people’s bodies and makes them do strange things. We sing praise and worship songs with lines such as “sweet, sweet spirit” but unfortunately, many Christians have been taught very little, if anything at all, regarding this part of the Trinity. This is such an important part of our relationship with God that I wanted to try and present some basic ideas regarding the Holy Spirit. To gain this understanding, all we have to do is go to God’s Word and see what He tells us on the subject. 2 Corinthians 3: 17-18 tells us “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” Remember that in God’s word there are two uses of the word “spirit.” When it is used with the big “S” it refers to the Holy Spirit and when it is the little “s” it refers to a person’s natural spirit. In this passage we learn that God is the Spirit and for those of us that have had the “blinders” of the world removed, our eyes are opened the glory that comes from striving to be like our Heavenly Father. We are made in His image and the Spirit aids in transforming us in that image.
In anticipation of his death, Jesus began to teach His followers what would happen after His departure to be with His Father. In John 16: 7-9 Jesus says “But I tell you the truth, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: in regard to sin because men do not believe in me;” It is by the Holy Spirit that we are brought under conviction of our sinful nature and discovering our need for a way out of the bondage of sin. Just as Jesus had to die a sinner’s death on a cross, be buried in a tomb, and arise from the grave on the third day, the “Counselor” (Holy Spirit) fulfilled the next part of God’s plan. So one purpose of the Holy Spirit is to increase our awareness and desire to enter into a relationship with God through His son Jesus Christ and further to grow in God’s likeness to glorify Him. Romans 8: 16 says “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.”
God promises us that He will be with us always. Matthew 28: 20b tells us “And surely I am with you always to the very end of the age.” So the Holy Spirit serves as a reminder of God’s presence in our daily life and helps us to feel the closeness of God. The Spirit also helps us stay focused on God’s presence and helps us avoid getting caught up in the trap of material belongings. Hebrews 13:5 says “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”
God not only promises to be with us at all times, He also promises us the ability and strength necessary to live and serve Him. Ephesians 3:20 states “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.” The Spirit can empower us beyond our imagination if we truly hand our will over to our Heavenly Father. 2 Peter 1:3 tells us “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” So the Spirit provides us the things we need to know so that all our needs for life and godliness are met. It’s also important to note that this verse says “of him who called us.” God, through the Holy Spirit, calls us to follow Him.
Our relationship with God can’t be one-sided, God giving everything and us taking everything. Acts 1:8 says “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” God needs and expects us to witness for Him. The best way for us to witness to others is by the way we live our lives. We can say all the right words but if it is not reflected in our actions, we cannot be effective for God. Our daily actions should create a vivid picture to everyone we come into contact with the joy and glory of serving the Living God. That means not only the happy moments of our lives but, more importantly, how we handle the bumps in the road that life will deal us. Galatians 5:16 says “So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.” The Spirit is the critical support mechanism that helps us deny our sinful nature and glorify God in all that we do.
While all true Christians have experienced the Holy Spirit, many have not yielded their lives to the Spirit. We must remember that a new Christian is a “babe in Christ” and must be nurtured to grow in their spiritual walk with God. If we leave it to chance, it is much like taking an infant and asking them to do battle with a full grown adult. There is little doubt as to who will win that contest. It takes work and the help of the Spirit to mature the spiritual person to overcome the natural person (sin). Romans 8:5 says “Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.” So to live our lives and fulfill god’s desires for us, we have to have the help of the Holy Spirit. Romans 8:6 says “Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.” God provides the Spirit to help us overcome our sinful nature and therefore be pleasing to Him.
We can never forget that this is lifelong process. God gives us a very clear picture of what a Spirit filled life should look like. Galatians 5:22-25 tells us “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live in the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” The Holy Spirit is our partner in developing these “fruit” and we need to work diligently while at the same time exercising patience with ourselves and others in this spiritual growth process