Wednesday Night Lesson: ‘The Spirit’s Work in the Believer’

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We continue in our study tonight of the Holy Spirit and in specific – How the Spirit Works in the Life of the Believer.

We have already learned how it is the Spirit that regenerates that which is dead and brings new life. Jesus told Nicodemus that men must be ‘born-again’ in order to see the kingdom of God. The term ‘born-again’ can also be translated as ‘born from above.’ Salvation is a spiritual new birth produced by the Spirit of God, based upon faith in the finished work of Christ.

Yet the new-birth is not the end of the Spirit’s work; actually it is only beginning. Consider these words once again from our Lord –

John 14:16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter,  that he may abide with you forever; 17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him:  but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.  18 I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.

I. The Spirit’s Presence

Note that Jesus said that the Spirit would ‘abide with us forever.’ From the moment the Spirit regenerates new life in the spirit of the believer, He becomes a permanent residence. Dr. David Kemp of Tennessee Temple University says in his notes – “The Holy Spirit indwells every believer, no matter how weak, imperfect, immature, or carnal that believer might be.”

The indwelling of the Spirit is not something we must seek. It happens automatically with the new birth. Actually it is the new birth.  Eternal life is not something that God gives to us, apart from Himself. Eternal life is God Himself living within us. Romans 8:2 speaks of – ‘… the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus’. The Apostle Paul wrote this concerning his own salvation – “I am crucified with Christ: (that is – my old man, my old sinful nature) nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me… (Galatians 2:2)

The Spirit’s permanent residence inside the believer began after the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. In the Old Testament the Spirit came upon a select group of believers for a specific purpose and length of time; yet His presence was not permanent. We read in 1 Samuel 16:4 ‘But the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul…’ David, after his sin with Bathsheba, prayed – “… take not thy holy spirit from me.” (Ps 51:11)

Once the work of Christ had been completed and redemption had been fully purchased, the Spirit came to indwell the child of God forever. According to Peter in his message on Pentecost, the Spirit’s residence in the believer is a sign that Jesus is indeed the LORD’s Messiah. (see Acts 2:12-36)

As the Spirit came upon the 120 disciples, He baptized them into what scripture calls the Church, or the body of Christ. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 12:13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.

In addition we should note that the Spirit’s residence in the believer is according to divine prophecy. It is part of the fulfillment of the New Covenant. We read in Ezekiel 36:27 And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.

II. The Spirit’s Productivity

Salvation is not as much something that the Spirit does for us as it is something that He does in us. The Spirit brings the life of Christ to us and by His presence in us He causes us to become the new creation.

Though there are many things that could be said about this sanctifying work, I would like for focus on just a few.

A. The Spirit Brings Assurance

We read in Hebrews 10:22 ‘Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience…’

The assurance of salvation is a major subject found in scripture. John tells us that God wants us to know that we have eternal life. (see 1 John 5:13) The Father does not want a questionable relationship, but rather an intimate relationship. Regarding this assurance, consider these words from the book of Romans –

Romans 8:15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. (Term of endearment) 16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God. Paul echoes this great truth in Galatians 4:6.

The Holy Spirit bears witness with our spirit and gives us the assurance that we have a personal relationship with God. One of the ways that Paul stresses this assurance is by speaking of the Spirit ‘sealing’ us in this relationship. We read in 2 Corinthians 1:22 Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts. (see also: 2 Cor 5:5; Eph 1:13; 4:30)  Along this same thought Paul wrote in Romans 5:5 ‘ … the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.’

The word ‘earnest’ is an interesting word. Many of you are familiar with what is sometimes called ‘Earnest Money.’ Earnest money is a pledge that a purchaser makes in order to prove the validity of his intention to finish the transaction. Studying this concept of ‘earnest’ I have discovered that it can mean at least two things:

1.   Proof

Romans 8:16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:

The Spirit’s presence within us is proof that we are the children of God. This is not the only proof. John states the purpose of his 1st Epistle – “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life…” (1 John 5:13) ‘These things’ include those things that he has spoken of in his letter; in specific – walking in light and in love. The security of our salvation cannot be based solely upon feelings. There must scriptural evidence to verify that what we believe is true; yet we cannot discount feelings as well. A true born-again believer feels a sense of assurance in their heart that they know the Lord. 

2.  Pledge

The Spirit’s permanent presence in our lives is a pledge from God to the believer that He will complete this good work which He has begun.  (see Php 1:6) Perhaps that is why the Spirit is called the ‘Comforter’ four times in John 14-16. Jesus began that discourse by saying – ‘Let not your heart be troubled…’ ‘I will not leave you comfortless…’ ‘I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you for ever.’

Here is a simple illustration of this truth. Suppose you were in trouble and seeking my help. Suppose I made you a promise that I would help you. You might find comfort in my promise and you might not. You might wonder, “Can I really trust Terry?” or, “I know that Terry means well, but what if he’s not able to do what he has said?” “What if he forgets about me?”

But suppose I made you that promise and I said, “Here is proof to you that I will do what I have promised. I am leaving one of my children to stay with you until I come.” How would that make you feel? Would you have more confidence that I would fulfill my promise? Of course you would and that’s one of the reasons the Lord has given us His Spirit. The Spirit’s permanent presence in our lives is God’s guarantee that He will do all He has said.

B. Strengthens Our New Nature

Ephesians 3:16 That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man.

There are two biblical words that help to describe the Spirit’s work in the life of the believer:

1. Salvation

2. Sanctification

The word ‘sanctification’ simply means to be “set-apart.”

a) Spirit sets us apart – Positionally (1 Cor 6:11; 2 Thess 2:13; Heb 10:29; 1 Pet 1:2)

Scripture speaks of the believer as being ‘in Christ’. Romans 6 describes this as being baptized into Jesus. The Spirit immerses us into the death, burial and resurrection of Christ and then seals us in that state.

b) Spirit sets us apart – Practically

Through the application of God’s Word, the Spirit teaches us how to be set-apart in day-to-day living. This is what Paul refers to when speaks of being ‘filled by the Spirit.’  Being filled with the Spirit is being controlled by the Spirit. We will study this in more detail on Sunday.

In his second letter to the Corinthians, Paul described this as being ‘transformed into the image of Christ.’

2 Corinthians 3:18 But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.

It is the Spirit’s primary purpose to make us more like our Savior. To do this, there is both a negative and positive aspect of His sanctifying work.

(1) Reproves of sin

The word ‘reprove’ means to convict and convince. Whenever we as a believer sin against the Spirit, we grieve Him. (see Eph 4:30)  But we also bring grief to ourselves.

The evidence of a proper relationship with God is peace. Peace is part of the fruit of the Spirit. Whenever a believer sins, they grieve the Holy Spirit and thus bruise the fruit of the Spirit’s peace.

Note the words of Paul –

Romans 9:1 … my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost…

According to the book of Hebrews, if someone can sin against the Spirit and yet feel no guilt or chastisement, they are not a true believer.

Hebrews 12:6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. 7 If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? 8 But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. 9 Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? 10 For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit , that we might be partakers of his holiness. 11 Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.

Note – spiritual chastening produces the ‘peaceable fruit of righteousness’ unto them which are trained by it. Heb

(2) Guides Us Into All Truth

Romans 8:14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.

Paul teaches us in 1 Corinthians 2 that the Spirit reveals teaches us by comparing spiritual things with spiritual. What a blessing it is to have the Spirit open your eyes and reveal to you something special about our relationship with God.

Conclusion

That is all time will allow us to study tonight. Next week we will come to this subject once again and consider how the Spirit empowers us for witnessing and equips us for serving. Until then, keep walking in the Spirit and listening to His voice.

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