A Holy Spirit, Day One
There is much talk within the western church today about the return of the works and power of the Holy Spirit. It is unfortunate that while we pray for signs and wonders, we neglect the transforming work the Holy Spirit does within the believer that cultivates His character within us. We often seek after the gifts without realizing our greater necessity of being changed into His likeness.
Over the next couple of weeks, I want us to reexamine the fruits of the Spirit that are to permeate our lives. Paul lists them for us, stating, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law." Most of us memorized this passage of Scripture as children, failing to read beyond, which tells us, "And those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another"(Gal. 5:22-26). This doesn't include Galatians chapter six, which continues with that which should mark the life of every believer. We'll get there, though.
However, before we embark upon this journey of rediscovery, we must first revisit what was evident to first-century believers. The defining characteristic of the Holy Spirit is He is holy. Out of all the things He is to us, and for us, first and foremost, He is holy. He is also called the Spirit of holiness. It is both an adjective and a noun. In his opening address to the Romans, Paul declares,
"Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God which He promised before through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures, concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead" (Rom. 1:1-4).
It was according to the Spirit of holiness that resurrection power flowed through Christ, and it is the same Spirit of holiness enabling us to walk in the same power. Peter touches on this life-altering transformation in his first epistle, stating,
"Therefore [because the Holy Spirit has revealed to us the message of the gospel, 1 Pt. 1:10-12] gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, 'Be holy, for I am holy.' And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one's work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you who through Him believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God" (I Pt. 1:13-21).
Note that one of the functions of the Spirit is to reveal the gospel, and upon receiving the grace of God through Christ's blood, we are sanctified by the blood of the lamb. In a world where many argue that holiness is an impossibility, it should be a defining characteristic of the child of God. However, this is not accomplished in ourselves but only by the indwelling Spirit of holiness. Peter begins his first address to the Dispersion by stating they are "elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus" (I Pt. 1:2).
We cannot in and of ourselves achieve holiness. It is a work of the Spirit as we are transformed into the likeness of Christ. It is all because of the blood of Jesus that we can have the promised Comforter. Jesus assured His disciples, "And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever – the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you" (John 14:16-17). As believers, we are changed by the Holy Spirit of God, who is the instigator and facilitator of our transformation, and throughout the next couple of weeks, we will explore this new fruit in detail.