My Musings – The Holy Spirit is perhaps the least understood and the most unappreciated person of the Trinity. But He is just as much part of the Godhead as is the Father and the Son. He is a personal being, not some impersonal force or vague presence. To believers, He plays an indispensable role. So much so, that even Jesus said it was to our benefit that He (Jesus) should depart, so that the Holy Spirit could come. This is because the Holy Spirit does so much for us. Among other things, He seals us, indwells us, empowers us, teaches us, guides us, controls us, gifts us, intercedes for us and produces fruit in our lives. Yet all too often we ignore Him, grieve Him, quench Him, take Him granted, dismiss Him or limit His influence in our lives. We allow ourselves to be deceived by “every wind of teaching” and whipsawed by the “cunning, craftiness” and “deceitful scheming” of man instead listening to the gentle whispers of the Spirit who can guide us into all truth.
The Holy Spirit is the great enabler in our lives. Things that are not possible for us to do in our own power He is able to do in and through us. He is at work within us to change our mindset so that our attitude conforms more and more to that of Christ Jesus (be “attitude’). He is at work within us to cause our worldly desires to submit to heavenly ones and to aspire to what God desires (loving mercy, acting justly and walking humbly). He is at work within in us to transform us to such an extent that there is a change in our lifestyle, as our “sin” nature increasingly loses its hold on us (or rather our hold on it) and we conform more and more to the “son” nature. In effect, we grow as disciples.
The question we must ask ourselves if we are not growing in these things is: what are we being filled with? It is difficult to rid ourselves of sinful habits without the help of the Holy Spirit. It is even harder to remain that way without His help. It is said that nature abhors a vacuum. Human nature abhors it even more. Once we rid ourselves of sinful habits we must replace them or they will be sucked right back in. It is like a glass filled with murky water from a filthy polluted spigot. If you merely remove the dirty water from the glass it does not automatically become clean unless you replace the source of what is filling it. So you place it under a spigot with a clean fresh water source and begin filling the glass. Eventually, the filthy polluted water is displaced (there is no vacuum) by the fresh water leaving a clean glass full of sparkling clear water. So it is with our spiritual life. Our old sin nature is like the dirty polluted water in the glass, clouding our outlook on life and how we behave. When we surrender our lives to Christ, the Holy Spirit comes along and begins to fill us and displaces the dirty water with fresh clean water. This affects our attitudes, our desires and our actions. But we must also be careful to turn off the source of the dirty polluted water. Otherwise, the clean water will never fully displace the dirty water and a cloudy residue will always remain.
Paul said it this way, “do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:2, NIV 1978). As we are transformed by the Holy Spirit death and discontent are replaced by life and peace.
We need to understand that the Holy Spirit is not a genie in a bottle or magic lamp that we keep on a shelf until we call upon Him to grant our secret desires or greatest wishes at our command. He is our Helper, but His purpose is not to feed our greed, stroke our ego or carry us to some figurative lush oasis of physical comfort and ease or health and wealth. Not that all of these are intrinsically bad, but they are things that can easily appeal to our sin nature and our worldly desires. They may satisfy us in the short-term, but eventually they will lead to discontent as we worry and fret over the “things” we do not have as we require more and more of them to satisfy our insatiable desires. In the end death awaits and all these things are meaningless – a chasing after the wind. We must break the cycle of neglect, regret and fret. The cycle begins when we neglect the present condition of our walk in the Spirit. In time, we come to regret the things we chased after and the choices we made in the past. This leads us to fret about the future – the blessings we will miss and/or the consequences we may face.
The Holy Spirit has a much higher calling for us than this. He is in our lives to give us a life that is not meaningless, a life that is at peace. But we must break the neglect, regret and fret cycle by replacing it with another cycle. We must change our mindset so that it is set on the Holy Spirit. This inevitably leads to a change in our desires as our sinful desires are replaced with Godly desires. This in turn leads to a change in our lifestyle as we leave our sinful habits, surrender control of our lives to the Holy Spirit and learn to walk by the Spirit. We no longer neglect, regret or fret.
There are several ways the Holy Spirit helps us:
He seals us
lives within us
empowers and teaches us
guides, comforts, and encourages us
controls, gifts and intercedes for us
These are things that cannot be spent and then they are gone. They cannot be taken away from us by anyone or any power. They fulfill our needs, not our wants. And in the end, we find that what we needed was really what we wanted all along. The “things” that we chase after in this life, the things that could never ultimately satisfy us, we find are worthless after all. While the things that the Holy Spirit provides are priceless.
He Seals Us – He authenticates (testifies) that we are children of God. A mark of authority as an heir. He acts as a “security deposit” that guarantees the permanence of our relationship to Christ and as a surety of our future inheritance. His presence in our lives indicates ownership, bought with the blood of Christ, evidence of a completed transaction. “Having believed, you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance.” (Ephesians 1:13, 14, NIV 1978).
He Indwells Us – He lives within us to guide us spiritually and to help us to act in obedience to the word. “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16, NIV 1978).
He Empowers Us – He gives us spiritual and moral strengths and abilities that were not inherent in our old sin nature. He is now an inherent power that automatically resides in us by virtue of our new nature that results from our personal relationship with Christ. “I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being.” (Ephesians 3:16, NIV 1978).
He Teaches Us – He instills within us an ability to understand spiritual truths and doctrine that prior to salvation might have escaped us. He also causes us to recall to mind the things we have been taught when needed. “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” (John 14:26, NIV 1978).
He Guides Us – He leads us to the right path, the true path. He does not lead us astray. He is that still small voice from within that prompts us to do what is right, discourages us from doing what is wrong and convicts us when we go astray. “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all truth.” ( John 16:13, NIV 1978).
He Controls Us – As believers, with the Holy Spirit living within us, we have the capacity to put down our sin nature and do what the Father desires. We can allow our thoughts, words and deeds to be controlled by the Spirit. This is not involuntary servitude; it is an enabling by the Spirit to do the things that we really desire to do, but that in the flesh we are not capable of doing by ourselves. “You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you.” (Romans 8:9, NIV 1978).
He Gifts Us – He gives each believer at least one spiritual gift to be used for the common good. The gift(s) we receive are just as the Spirit determines. We should focus on and use the gifts we are given and not covet the gifts that others may have. “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. He gives them to each one, just as He determines.” (1 Corinthians 12:4, 11, NIV 1978).
He Intercedes For Us – He more than represents us before a Holy God. He mediates, petitions and intervenes on our behalf. He is able to do this because, not only does He know our mind and our heart, He knows the mind and heart of God. He knows and understands what we are unable to express or convey, but He also knows the “protocol” for communicating to the great “I AM.” “We do not know what we ought to pray, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, for the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.” (Romans 8:26, 27, NIV 1978).
My Advice – We cannot keep in step with the Spirit when we are walking in the ways (immorality, impurity, idolatry, selfish ambition, envy, etc.) of the world. This is how we used to walk. This is the way we used to live, before we surrendered our lives to Christ. Our sinful nature with its worldly passions and desires were crucified with Christ. Now we must rid ourselves of these things. We must walk to the beat of a different drummer. We do this by filling (setting) our hearts with things from above, not on the things of this earth.
Paul instructs us in Romans 12:2 not to “conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind,” which is just another way of saying “set your minds on things above.” In Philippians 4:8 Paul tells us how to do just that: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” (NIV 1978).
We need not do this alone. Indeed, we cannot do it alone. But the Holy Spirit, who lives in us, will help us. God has told us just that “I will put My Spirit in you and move you to follow My decrees and be careful to keep My laws.” (Ezekiel 36:27, NIV 1978). And before we know it, this will begin to bear fruit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control) in our lives. Whose drumbeat are you marching to? Keep in step with the Spirit.