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Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Work of the Spirit with Unbelievers and in and upon Believers - Part 2

  There are three things the Holy Spirit does in the life of a believer to transform them to the likeness of Jesus Christ. There are three transforming works of the Spirit in the believer. They are as follows.

The first thing the Holy Spirit does in the life of a believer is INDWELLING them at conversion.  This is the “in” (Greek en) experience referred to in John 14:17. In John 3 this work is described as being “born again.” Later in John 4:13-14 Jesus describes this experience as drinking “living water” that quenches the thirst for spiritual fulfillment in every human. In John 20:22 Jesus further describes this experience as receiving the Holy Spirit when He breathes on the disciples and tells them to receive the Spirit.  Disciples received the Holy Spirit as Jesus breathed on them. When the Holy Spirit comes to reside inside a person (1 Corinthians 6:19-20), the holy process (sanctification) of being conformed to the likeness of Christ begins and continues throughout life (Romans 8:29). The Spirit bears witness and communicates the heart and truth of Jesus to the believer (John 14:26; 15:26; 16:13-14). We are God’s workmanship (Ephesians 2:10). He works in us (Philippians 2:13). The power of the risen Lord Jesus is in us and it is the Spirit that brings that power to us (Ephesians 1:15-23; 3:14-21). The love of Jesus works in us by the presence of the Holy Spirit in us (Romans 5:5). All these things are associated with the work of the Spirit in us.

The second thing the Holy Spirit does in the life of the believer is EMPOWERING the believer for service. As the believer is conformed to the likeness of Jesus by the Spirit, like Jesus the believer acquires a desire to be used by God to reach the lost in the world, to minister (Matthew 18:11; Mark 10:45; Luke 19:10). This is the “upon” (Greek preposition epi) experience described by Jesus as torrents of living water gushing forth from the believer and as dynamic empowerment of the believer (John 7:37-39; Acts 1:8). In order to minister like Jesus, the believer needs to be empowered by God. If the believer seeks to serve in his or her own strength they will be frustrated and fail (Romans 7). They need to be supernaturally empowered and the Spirit provides that power. This power is invisible like the wind but powerful like a tornado (Acts 2). It is a fiery, purifying and cleansing of the heart by God. The believer surrenders their heart to God in faith trusting Him to work to destroy those challengers and hindrances to total trust in God (Acts 2; 15:8-9). The cleansing work of this empowerment attacks inhibitions and barriers between God and the believer. There is an essential empowerment for service subsequent to initial Spirit filling (Acts 1:8; 2). This empowerment involves Spiritual Gifting (Ephesians 4:7-13). This empowerment is the sufficiency of God’s grace revealed powerfully in our weakness (2 Corinthians. 12:9-10). The love of God working not only in us but also through us. This is the second work of the Spirit in the life of the believer.

The third work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer is that of ONGOING REFRESHING. The believer needs to be refilled or daily renewed and filled with the Spirit who refreshes and empowers. Those empowered at Pentecost were refilled later (Acts 4). There are subsequent re-fillings and refreshing by the Spirit in the believer’s life. The sense of this ongoing third work is found in Paul’s inspired letter to the Ephesians when he states:

  • Ephesians 5:18 – “And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit,” 
Paul is inspired to tell us here that we oughtn’t get “drunk with wine in which is dissipation.” To be drunk is to be intoxicated. It is a state of diminished senses and sensitivity to what is around you. To be drunk is to have your mind dulled. “Dissipation” (Greek asotia) means literally unsavedness, wastefulness, profligacy, prodigality, an abandoned desolate type of life. The Lord has so much more than this for us.

 The word “filled” is translated from the Greek term pleroo meaning ”to make replete, . . .to cram (a net), level up (a hollow), . . . to furnish (or imbue, diffuse, influence), satisfy, execute (an office), finish (a period or task), verify . . . accomplish, . . . complete, end, expire, fill (up), fulfill, (be, make) full (come), fully preach, perfect, supply.” In addition to this definition, the grammatical form of the term “filled” (Present/Passive/Imperative) conveys the thought of an ongoing and constant (Present tense) work that the believer receives or has done to them (Passive voice) that is absolutely essential (Imperative mood). Therefore, to “be filled with the Spirit” means to be constantly, regularly, daily filled up, satisfied, furnished and supplied with the Spirit for one’s daily needs and God-ordained plans.

 The impact of such a daily filling is conveyed in the book of Acts where those who had experienced the empowerment of the Spirit at Pentecost again pray for this ongoing empowerment and refreshing. In Acts it reads:

 ·         Acts 4:31  - “And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.”  

 The New Transforming Life of the Spirit

This is the newness of the Spirit Paul is inspired to refer to in Romans 7:6. Is the Spirit in you? If you do not have the Spirit, you do not belong to God, you remain in your sins (Romans 8:9). Pray for forgiveness for your sins; put your faith in Jesus; receive the Holy Spirit and be born again.

Have you been empowered to serve the Lord? Are you frustrated and failing in your walk with God? Pray for His power and the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Receive it by faith.

Have you been empowered but feel as though you’re running on empty? Pray for a refreshing and refilling of the Spirit in your life. Walk in the Spirit, filled and refreshed daily and receive this regular daily work by faith. Faithful is He who calls you to this and He will do it! (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24).

 Sanctified Transformation by Faith
The primary distinction that needs to be made and upon which all success rests, is for the believer to realize that sanctification as well as salvation is based on faith. Sanctification is something God does in us. In Paul’s opening inspired words he introduced this point by saying:

  • Romans 1:17 – “For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.” 

God offers salvation to us in a gracious provision through faith in His Son Jesus Christ. A person is saved from their sin when by faith in Jesus Christ they admit their sin, repent of it, and accept Jesus as their Savior and Lord. Sanctification is no different in that advance with the Lord in the power of the Holy spirit by faith, by putting our trust in God to do what He has promised to do in and through us which is, conform us to the likeness of His Son (Romans 8:29) and use us as His instruments of righteousness to reach a world lost in sin (Romans 12-16).

Read the role of faith in God’s work in us in the sanctification process of life described in the following additional verses:

  • Acts 15:8-9 - “So God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us,9 “and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.” 
  • Acts 26:18 – “to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’ 
  • Galatians 2:20 - “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” 
  • Galatians 5:5 – “For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.”

The sanctifying process of God in the believer takes place as the believer puts their faith and trust in God to do it. We surrender in faith to the Holy Spirit to do His holy work in and through us.

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