What The Holy Spirit Does - Part 2
What The Holy Spirit Does II
The Holy Spirit And Sanctification
It is popular in the religious world to contend that the Holy Spirit is given to the believer to purify the soul, this is sometimes called "sanctification" or a "second work of grace". That is, the forgiveness of our sins is a work of grace that removes the guilt of sin, but the total job is not yet done because the love of and desire to sin, along with its stains, are still there. It is believed that the Holy Spirit comes in and performs directly this second work, overwhelming the human spirit, taking charge of the individual and removing all desire to sin in the future.
"And such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and in the Spirit of our God" (1 Corinthians 6:11).
- The Holy Spirit does play a vital role in our cleansing from sin and resisting future temptation, but this role isn’t played against the freewill of the individual, rather, the Holy Spirit has revealed how to be saved and has given us many incentives as to why we should resist temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13; Hebrews 10:26ff; 6:4-6). In fact, in the above chapter, the Holy Spirit directly tells us the actions or attitudes which will keep us from heaven (1 Corinthians 6:9-10), and why sexual immorality is such an evil thing (6:13-20).The tool which the Spirit uses to cleanse us is the Word of God which He has revealed (Ephesians 5:26; 4:25-32; Hebrews 4:12).
- One of the huge dangers of believing that the Holy Spirit is going to give you an extra boost against temptation, separate and apart from the Word of God is…. "It weakens one’s sense of right and wrong. If one believes that the Spirit removes all desire for evil he must then conclude, if he is consistent, that all remaining desires, regardless of what they may be, are pure and holy. For example, if one, after he has been convinced that the Spirit has removed all desire for evil, desires his neighbor’s wife (which of course is sinful), he must conclude that the desire is pure and right because the Holy Spirit has removed all desires that are wrong. And, believe it or not, I have heard men use this or a similar reason to justify their sins" (The Work of the Holy Spirit, Howard Winters, p. 98).
- The Holy Spirit, through His message will assist us in removing the desire to sin as long as we are willing to cooperate (2 Corinthians 7:1; 1 Corinthians 9:24-27). Another danger of believing that the Holy Spirit gives one some "extra help" to resist temptation, is that such a belief can prevent spiritual growth and repentance, for I will start depending upon how I feel to resist temptation, instead upon what the Spirit has revealed, if I start believing in some subjective assistance from the Spirit, then what about when I fail? It is easy to believe in such a case that some sins are just inevitable. That is, if the Holy Spirit failed to keep me from yielding to a temptation, maybe it wasn’t that important to God, or maybe God doesn’t expect any more of me at this time. Maybe God has just conceded that this is something that I can’t resist at this time. On the other hand, when we believe that the Spirit guides, leads, and assists us through His objective standard, that is the Word of God, then when we yield to temptation, instead of seeing ourselves as a spiritual person, we will be convicted by our own selfishness and realize we failed because in this instance, we didn’t have faith in God (Acts 5:1ff; Numbers 20:12; Galatians 2:11-13; John 12:42-43).
- When a person starts believing in a subjective leading of the Spirit, what do they do when a passage doesn’t convict them as it should? In this situation it is so easy to say, "If that passage really meant what that preacher said it meant, then I should have had a greater feeling of conviction from the Holy Spirit when I heard it, and since I didn’t, I don’t need to concern myself with it.
- When we rely upon the objective leading of the Spirit through the gospel message, we cannot pretend to be spiritual when we aren’t. If you really want to give up a sinful attitude or habit, then you must face what the Spirit says about that sin head on. You must see yourself as God sees you (Hebrews 6:4-6; 2 Peter 2:20-22).
Indwells The Christian
Many passages make it clear that the Holy Spirit indwells the Christian (Romans 8:9,11; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Other passages make it just as clear that the tool in which the Spirit uses to abide, influence, lead and direct believers, is the Word of God (Ephesians 5:18-19 "be filled with the Spirit"; Colossians 3:16 "Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly"). In fact, the Bible also says that the Father and Jesus also dwell in the Christian (1 John 4:12; Colossians 1:27). Paul makes it clear that Jesus dwells in us through faith (Ephesians 3:17),which means that God is dwelling in us only in so far as we are believing what He has said. When we are following and accepting His truths, then God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) is influencing our lives for good. This indwelling isn’t a personal or direct indwelling, that is, the Holy Spirit (God) isn’t actually and personally living in our bodies, for Jesus said that God not only dwells in the believer, but the believer dwells in God (John 15:5), and yet no one argues that we personally dwell in God’s person. The Bible also says that the "truth" dwells in the Christian (2 John 2). Not that a copy of the Scriptures is literally inside us, but that if we are listening to the truth, then the truth is influencing our lives. "First, Christians dwell in God (1 John 4:13) and God dwells in Christians (4:12,16). This in no way denotes mysticism (and I use the word ‘mysticism’ here to mean the direct and intuitive acquisition of knowledge and power). Rather it is the indication of an established relationship. Second, Christians are in Christ and Christ is in Christians (2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 3:17; Colossians 1:27), but nothing mysterious is intended by this. Third, Christians dwell in (walk in) the Spirit and the Spirit dwells in Christians. But why assume that mysticism is meant here—why assume that the Spirit literally and directly dwells in, and works on, the mind and heart? Why not conclude as in the case with God and Christ, that this also indicates an established relationship—a relationship that is regulated by the Spirit" (Winters p. 139).
Results Of This Indwelling
- Christians are led by the Spirit: "For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God" (Romans 8:14); "But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law" (Galatians 5:18). Carefully note that being led by the Spirit is a conscious choice which the individual must make (Galatians 5:16 "Walk by the Spirit"). Through the Word of God, the Holy Spirit guides us in every aspect of our lives that is connected with our eternal salvation. As one writer said, "When one is totally convinced that the Spirit is leading him directly by some subjective manner, such as by experience, feelings, intuition, nudges, etc…, he has little use for the Bible…..In theory he may hold to the Bible, but in belief and practice he abandons it---he accepts his ‘leadings’ as God’s will for him" (Winters p. 137), but what a wonderful blessing to know that at any time I can seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance in a very accessible and understandable revelation, that is, the Bible. The command to "walk by the Spirit", infers that we can live according to the wisdom revealed by the Holy Spirit. The standard of conduct that He revealed is very realistic.
- The Spirit produces fruit in Christians: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law" (Galatians 5:22-23). Take a good look at each one of these qualities. For example, "love" is an act of the will, rather than something that just happens in us. Through the gospel, the Spirit instructs us on why we should love, how we can have peace and why we should be peacemakers, what it means to be kind, gentle, and faithful, and why we should have self-control. The good news is that if you really want to have these attitudes in your life, all you have to do is listen and be willing to accept and apply the Spirit’s teaching (1 Corinthians 13:4-8).
- Christians are often made to feel unspiritual because they don’t attribute all sorts of feelings and actions to the direct operation of the Holy Spirit, but the real test of a Christian is whether they really do have a relationship with the Holy Spirit or not (Romans 8:14 "For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God"). There are many people who claim that the Spirit is leading them in some great endeavor or to make some great sacrifice (not found in the Scriptures), but the same people who make these claims are the same people who remain in false doctrine and opposed to God’s will on very simple subjects such as baptism. To me a study of how the Holy Spirit leads us is very convicting, and not always initially comforting, for if I am persisting in a sin, then I don’t have a relationship with the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:13). If I am practicing any of the works of the flesh, then the Holy Spirit and I don’t have anything in common (Galatians 5:16-21). How can I claim that the Holy Spirit is dwelling in me, when I am ignoring or rejecting what He has said? (Acts 7:51)
- The Spirit puts to death the deeds of the body: "for it you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live" (Romans 8:13). The Spirit enables us to overcome temptation and sinful habits, or a worldly frame of mind, through the instruction, enlightenment, and directions of the Spirit’s revelation, coupled with all the great words of encouragement and motivation which He has also revealed. For example, the Spirit has plainly told us that, "No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able" (1 Corinthians 10:13). He has also told us that God never entices anyone to sin, rather, we are tempted when we are drawn away by the evil thoughts in our heart (James 1:13-14), which means, if we will allow His message to clean up our minds, then we won’t be tempted as often. Why would God warn us about evil thoughts and lusts, if we couldn’t ever remove such thoughts from our hearts? The very fact that lust is condemned infers that we don’t have to lust, or that lust isn’t an inherent part of our thought processes (Mark 7:20ff; Philippians 4:8). If lust is something learned or acquired, then it is something that can be unlearned.
- In this very passage we have a tremendous incentive to get the upper hand in our lives over temptation. "You will live" (Romans 8:13), do we really want to "live" and live with God forever? Do we want to enjoy true life to its fullest and be alive instead of just subsisting?
- The Spirit enables us to cry "Abba! Father!" (Romans 8:15). The Spirit has revealed to us what a loving Heavenly Father we have. God wants us to be His children and Jesus died in our place so that we could become sons of God. Everything that He has ever done for us has always been in our best interest. The expression "Abba! Father!", was a common expression by which children affectionately addressed their fathers. The person who is really convicted by the teachings of the Spirit, won’t resent God or stand in dread of Him, rather, such a person will come running to God, crying out, "You are My Father!"
Mark Dunagan/Beaverton Church Of Christ/(503)644-9017