Christianity without the Holy Spirit is simply an impossibility. Left to ourselves we would never believe in Christ, never repent of sin, never love the Lord our God and never live lives worthy of the gospel, but God the Holy Spirit makes the impossible possible. He produces in us the salvation our Lord Jesus Christ died to secure. He gives us a new birth, and then he feeds, strengthens and deepens our new life, as sap flows from Christ the vine to each one of his branches.
Let’s think of this in six areas:
The Holy Spirit enlightens
It would be as easy to read this magazine in the dark as to understand the truth of God without the help of the Holy Spirit. He is the ‘Spirit of truth’, (John 14:17), and he enlightens us to understand God’s Word (John 14:26; 1 Cor. 2:14). More than that, he applies that truth to our hearts, sanctifying us and changing us.
Every delightful, humbling, uplifting, strengthening thought we have of our Lord Jesus Christ comes from the Holy Spirit who takes the things of Christ and reveals them to us (John 16:14).
The Holy Spirit sanctifies
We cannot become holy, or resist sin, without the help of the Holy Spirit.
He is the Holy Spirit – not unclean like evil spirits. He takes no delight in sin, but delights to sanctify us, transforming us more and more into the image of Christ.
It is by the Spirit that we put to death the deeds of the body (Rom. 8:13) and in their place grow the fruit of the Spirit, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Gal. 5:22-23).
The Holy Spirit enables
We cannot faithfully live the Christian life without the help of the Holy Spirit.
In every situation, the Lord’s grace is sufficient for us (2 Cor. 12:9) and it is by the Spirit that the Lord supplies the strength and the grace we need (Eph. 3:16; Phil. 1:9). This is true in all areas of Christian living and service.
Prayer is worth particular attention. He is ‘the Spirit of grace and supplication’ (Zech. 12:10) and helps us to pray. We have access to the Father, through Christ, in the Spirit (Eph. 2:18). To pray ‘in the Spirit’ means that ‘the Holy Spirit directs the prayer, creates the prayer within us, and empowers us to offer it and to pray it’ (D. M. Lloyd-Jones on Eph. 6:18), and on those occasions when we do not know what to pray, ‘the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered’ (Rom. 8:26).
The Holy Spirit assures
We cannot see things as they really are without the help of the Holy Spirit.
Assurance of salvation is essential to the health of our Christian lives – we can get to Heaven with little assurance, but the journey will be much less comfortable – and the work of the Holy Spirit is essential to true assurance. The evidence of our salvation is the presence of faith, life and love, and it is the Holy Spirit who enables us to see the reality of these things in our lives.
In addition to this, the Holy Spirit sometimes assures us more directly by making us aware of God’s love for us, ‘Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us’ (Rom. 5:5).
The Holy Spirit comforts
We would be cut off from Christ without the Holy Spirit.
He is the Comforter, the Helper, who fills up for Christians the absence of Christ. By him, the Lord Jesus Christ comes to us (John 14:18), and he strengthens, encourages and helps us.
The Holy Spirit guides
We could never find our way through life without the help of the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit leads Christians in paths of righteousness, ‘For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God’ (Rom. 8:14).
He also guides us in specific circumstances and times of need, giving us light from God’s Word, and constraining our spirits to hear the Shepherd’s voice and follow him.
If all God’s blessing flows to us through the Holy Spirit, what should we do to encourage him to work his good purposes in us?
Seek the Spirit
We are to ask, knock and seek, with the assurance that we will receive ‘good things’ (Matt. 7:11). The parallel passage in Luke 11:13 puts it differently, ‘If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!’ (Luke 11:13). It is the Holy Spirit who brings all God’s good things to us – and he does this when we seek him.
Cleanse his temple
We are temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:1), and the temple of the Lord should be holy.
Don’t grieve the Holy Spirit (Eph. 4:30) with sin, or he will draw back, his influence in our lives will decrease and our fellowship with God will be under a cloud.
Don’t quench the Holy Spirit (1 Thess. 5:19) by opposing his work in our lives or our churches.
Don’t resist the Holy Spirit (Acts 7:51) by refusing to obey his truth.
Keep his Word
Obedience to God’s Word, born out of love to Christ, is the promised path to know more of God by his Spirit, ‘If anyone loves me, he will keep my word; and my father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him’ (John 14:23).
The more we are concerned for holiness, sensitive to the truth and focussed on Christ, the more pleased the Holy Spirit is to dwell with us.
Let’s keep our confidence – God the Holy Spirit makes the impossible possible, even for people like us. Let’s pray that we will know more and more of God’s work in us by his Holy Spirit, and may all the glory be given to God alone.
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