We’re up to week 4 out of 7 in the count to Pentecost, and deep in a study about the Holy Spirit. The reason I wrote last week’s post explaining my beliefs about the Holy Spirit was so I could better write an exploration of what the Holy Spirit does and is used for by God. There is much to cover, so this will probably spill over into at least one more post.
When John the Baptist was preaching and answering questions about the water baptism he was performing, he spoke of a greater Baptist who would baptize in something greater than water.
I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. (Matt. 3:11)
My Dad has an excellent series of posts on his blog (starting with this one) dealing with the ongoing baptism of the Holy Spirit. If you’re interested, click over there and check them out. Here, though, I’m going to focus on just a small aspect of this baptism.
Just as water is the medium of our physical baptisms, so is the Holy Spirit the substance with which Jesus Christ baptizes us. Fittingly, then, the Spirit is compared to “rivers of living water” in John 7:37-39 and is said to be poured out in Isaiah 44:3. The Spirit is something we can be immersed in, and which works a real change in us.
Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” (John 3:5)
Being born into God’s family takes time and is an ongoing process. The starting point is when God’s Spirit begins interacting with our spirits and opening our minds to understand His mind.
God’s calling goes beyond a mental awakening, though. The interaction of His Spirit with us changes our entire way of life.
For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. (Rom. 8:5-7)
The Holy Spirit is essential for us to even be capable of keeping God’s laws. Without God’s Spirit essence present and working in us with power, we “cannot please God” (Rom. 8:8) and we could not be part of His family.
Therefore, brethren, we are debtors—not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption whereby we cry out, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. (Rom. 8:12-17)
From these verses, we learn that it is the presence of God’s Spirit in us that makes us His children. This comes as a result of Christ’s indwelling presence (Rom. 8:9-11). Two weeks ago, we read parts of John 14, 15, and 16 and talked about how the Holy Spirit acts as Christ’s representative on earth and in us. Through the Spirit, He and God the Father dwell in us and work directly with our innermost being.
For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height — to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. (Eph. 3:14-19)
So, we see Jesus baptizing us with the Holy Spirit to begin a process of making us part of God’s family. Both the Father and Christ then work in us through Their Spirit to change our hearts and minds to bring us into fellowship with Them.
For through Him [Jesus] we both have access by one Spirit to the Father. Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit. (Eph. 2:18-22)
When God’s Spirit dwells in us, we become His temple (1 Cor. 3:16). It is our responsibility to live in a way that glorifies “God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Cor. 6:20).
But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth. (John 4:23-24)
We can’t truly worship God unless we are doing so in our spirits — in the part of us that is immaterial and given by God. The interaction between our spirits and God’s Spirit must go both ways. He cannot work in us unless we respond to Him in spirit and in truth. As Matthew Henry said in his commentary on Romans 8:26, “We must not sit still, and expect that the Spirit should do all; when the Spirit goes before us we must bestir ourselves. We cannot without God, and he will not without us.”
This is just the beginning, my friends. Once God starts to communicate with our spirits, and we respond to Him, we begin a journey toward being part of His family. And His presence — His Holy Spirit — is there with us every step of the way.