When Christ rose from the dead and ascended to heaven, he promised the Apostles a gift. Although he would no longer be with them physically, he promised something better. He promised to dwell within them. God would be with them through the Holy Spirit.
Who is the Holy Spirit? A quick look through the Bible reveals to us who the Holy Spirit is. The Spirit was present during the creation. The Spirit of God also empowered the prophets to speak God’s Word and wrote them down. You cannot read the New Testament without acknowledging the Holy Spirit. During the Last Supper, Jesus promised the Disciples that he would send a Helper. After the resurrection, Jesus told the Disciples to stay and pray in Jerusalem until they are empowered from heaven. In Acts, the Spirit guided the church in sending Paul and Barnabas to Antioch. The Spirit also revealed sin, empowered the Apostles to do miracles, speak boldly and opened people’s hearts to recognize Jesus as the Messiah. But the Holy Spirit is not among a few elite spiritual leaders. In the letters of the Apostles, believers are told that the Spirit of God dwells within the heart of every believer. It is the Spirit of God who awakens our hearts, empowers us to do God’s work, and helps us to discern God’s will. The Spirit is God. He is different than the Father, and different than Jesus. He is the third part of the Trinity. This means that the Holy Spirit is not a force we can manipulate. The Holy Spirit brings glory and attention to Jesus, not to people. Now that we know who the Holy Spirit is, we can discern what it looks like when the Holy Spirit dwells in a person.
Paul writes in his letter to the Romans and Galatians that those who are believers are not under the Mosaic laws. But they are guided by the Spirit of God. Believers are not just saved from eternal punishment, but the Spirit of God lives within each believer and helps them to do what God wants them to do. In Galatians 5, Paul tells the believers to walk by the Spirit (v. 16). This means to live according to the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
A person who lives their life guided by the Holy Spirit is called to do two things. First, they are called to no longer live according to the physical way of seeing things. Now although they are not bound by the law of God, they are bound by the Spirit of God. This means turning away from things like, “sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies and things like these.” The last phrase, “things like these” mean that this list is not complete.
But not only are believers to avoid these behaviors, they are to live their lives aligned to the Spirit’s desires. “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” The purpose of the law was to give practical guidance on how to love. But the law is unable to change the human heart. We are unable to fulfill the requirements of the law. But the result of Jesus’ death and resurrection allows God to live in you. You cannot live like Jesus. But someone filled with the Spirit will grow in these characteristics.
What does this mean for us? God certainly works in special, powerful, particular moments. At times, we hear of miraculous healings, demonic exorcisms, and supernatural occurrences. But these are relatively rare. But this does not mean that God is only present in those times. The Holy Spirit is at work in normal ordinary experiences as well. God is in our daily routines and the normal interactions we have with our coworkers, children, parents and neighbors. We are called to be led by the Spirit of God in all these moments. A believer should not neglect to pray for God to heal or intervene in a situation and focus on character growth alone. Neither should a believer be so focused on the miraculous to the neglect of a simple thing like loving their neighbor in practical ways. Let us then as God’s people, keep in step with the Spirit of God.
Questions for Meditation:
- How is Christ in you better than Christ next to you? How does the Spirit of God dwelling in you help you to do what you cannot do by yourself?
- How does it make you feel knowing that the Spirit of God works both in powerful unique ways, and in ordinary routine ways as well?
- In what ways does the list of fleshly behaviors challenge you? In what ways are you challenged by the list of actions led by the Spirit?
- How does the fact that God’s Spirit lives in you to help you do the right thing help you?