Moderator's Comments - Posted 17 February 2015
This is the third column in a series on truths which have been neglected and need careful and clear treatment.
Many writers have referred to the Holy Spirit as the shy member of the Trinity. Every believer has the Holy Spirit living within.
The Holy Spirit is divine, He is God the Spirit, the third person of the Holy Trinity (Acts 2:33, Acts 5:4, 2 Corinthians 13:14, John 14:16, 26). The Holy Spirit, though unseen, is real. Though a Spirit, He is a person rather than a force. He can be grieved (Ephesians 4:30) and He can be quenched (1 Thessalonians 5:19 – 20).
The Holy Spirit’s ministry is to apply the work of God the Son to the individual; in this way, He acts without our co-operation. Jesus said He is as sovereign as the wind; he brings new birth to us, without our help (John 3:3, 6, 8; John 1:13).
He also acts sovereignly, independent of us, in His distribution of gifts to the body of Christ. He allocates them as He sees best. Our ambition is not for any particular gift but to faithfully serve the body with the gifts which He gives us (1 Corinthians 12:7, 11).
But the Holy Spirit also acts co-operatively. The Scriptures were penned by men, but the Holy Spirit superintended what they wrote so that the words of Scripture are God’s words, Spirit-breathed (2 Timothy 3:16).
Therefore, there must be no wedge driven between the Spirit and the Word, for the Word, the Bible, is the Spirit’s Word and we honour Him as we take his Word seriously. As we study to understand His Word, he helps us, illuminating our minds (1 John 2:27).
The Holy Spirit also works co-operatively in our moral transformation, making us like Christ.
Whereas in the new birth, we are entirely passive, in sanctification or our growth to be like Christ, we are to be active. We are to live by the Spirit (Galatians 5:16, 25), to be led by the Spirit in battle against our sinful nature (Romans 8:14, Galatians 5:18). We are to queue up and keep in step with the Spirit (Galatians 5:25), notice not standing but actively walking in step.
The dynamic of this co-operative activity is evident in Philippians 2:12, “continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose”.
We are to work so that our salvation is evidenced, but as we work, God is at work in us to achieve His good purpose, He works in us as we work.
Likewise being filled with the Spirit, we all must be filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18), this is a command which is ongoing, yet a command in which we are passive.
How then are we to be filled?
Paul lists in Ephesians 5:19-21 five participles in which we are active: speaking, singing, psalming, giving thanks and submitting. These active words are both the fruit and the condition of being Spirit filled. As we do these things the Holy Spirit will fill us and doing these things is the fruit of His fullness.
How do we walk in, be led by, keep in step with, the Spirit?
By understanding and obeying the Spirit’s Word, by saying 'no' to the sin nature within us, by being actively aware that the regulatory influence in our lives is not a rite or the law, but God himself indwelling us in the person of the Holy Spirit.
We are Spirit-filled, Spirit-led, Spirit-regulated, Spirit-animated people and so we will love God, be contented with the sufficiency of the work of his Son and be contented with the sufficiency of his Spirit-breathed Word. “The comprehensiveness of our contentment is another measure whereby we may judge whether we really know God” J I Packer.
Do you know the Holy Spirit?
Do you have a living awareness of Him in your life?
Do you have a confident trust in Him to keep reminding you of Christ, that, as sons of God, you can call on the Abba Father to lead you in the conflict with the sin nature within you?
Toplady in Rock of Ages speaks of this:
“Be of sin the double cure
Cleanse me from its guilt and power”
The death of Jesus deals with our guilt; the indwelling Spirit leads us to say 'no' to the power of the sinful nature. He is the second part of the double cure.
Rev David Cook