Sabbath number 5 out of 7 in our count to Pentecost! Last week, we looked at what happens as God begins to work with us through His Spirit — baptism, a new way of life, a change in how we worship. This time, let’s focus on “how” instead of what, including how we should respond, starting once again with the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
Unity and Gifts
For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. (1 Cor. 12:12-13)
Jesus Christ baptizes us into His body, the church, as a beginning to His and the Father’s work in us. That key moment in our lives begins an ongoing process of spiritual growth.
If we back-up to the beginning verses of 1 Corinthians 12, we see the subject is spiritual gifts and unity. Paul tells us how to recognize the Holy Spirit in another person — “no one speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed, and no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:3). He emphasizes that while our gifts and roles differ, we all have the same Spirit, Lord, and God (1 Cor. 12:4-6).
But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills. (1 Cor. 12:7-11)
Spiritual gifts are the manifestation of God’s Holy Spirit in us, and we have a responsibility in this, to use the gifts we are given. Paul told Timothy to “stir up the gift of God” and not to “neglect the gift that is in you” (2 Tim. 1:6; 1 Tim. 4:14). We ought to do likewise.
There is a short phrase in 1 Thessalonians that is pivotal in discussing how we should respond when God places His Holy Spirit in us.
Do not quench the Spirit. (1 Thes. 5:19)
The word translated “quench” is sbennumi (G4570), which means to extinguish, go out, or quench. It has the sense of putting out a literal or figurative fire (Matt. 12:20; Eph. 6:16; Heb. 11:34). It can also be passive, as when the foolish virgins let their lamps go out and the flame died through inattention (Matt. 25:8). Applying this to the Spirit, we see that not only should we avoid forcibly smothering God’s Spirit in us, but we also cannot neglect it. If we do not use what we have been given by God — including the manifestation of His Spirit — the gifts will be taken away (Matt. 25:24-29).
Therefore take heed how you hear. For whoever has, to him more will be given; and whoever does not have, even what he seems to have will be taken from him. (Luke 8:18)
The metaphor of tending a fire is continued in 2 Timothy 1:6. We’ve already quoted part of this but here’s the whole verse, with the context that shows it’s talking of the Spirit.
Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. (2 Tim. 1:6-7)
This phrase “stir up,” from the Greek anazopureo (G329), is a compound word that means to revive a fire again. Strong’s lists the meaning as “rekindle.” It is the opposite of sbennumi. So, one way we can think of God’s Spirit in us is as a fire that needs fed and stirred up to prevent it from going out.
There are enormous benefits for us in choosing to continually rekindle God’s Spirit in us rather than smother it. One is a continuing relationship with God and Jesus. Another is that the Spirit makes it possible to walk in Christ’s footsteps and be given eternal life (Rom. 8:1-11). Yet another is the aid and assurance poured out on us through the Spirit as we try to lead a Christian life.
Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit itself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. (Rom. 8:26-28)
From Hebrews 7:25, we know Jesus Christ is the One who “always lives to make intercession for” us. This connection between Jesus Christ’s personal work in us and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit keeps coming up in these studies. We see it in John 14-16, in Romans 8:9-10, in Christ’s role as the One who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.
Having Christ in us is directly tied to having “the Spirit of Christ” (Rom. 8:9-10; John 14:18; 16:7). He cannot be present in us if we are smothering His Spirit in us. From what I’ve been studying these past few weeks, I would say that the Holy Spirit is the means by which Christ and God dwell in us.
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)