The Holy Spirit and His Work (2)
E. L. Lovering, Ilfracombe
IN our last paper we considered the Spirit's work in Creation, Conviction and Conversion We shall now refer to His work in relation to the Christian believer.
The Promise of The Spirit. In John 14. 16, 17, our Lord gave to His disciples the promise of the Spirit. " And I will pray the Father (that is, make request of, as one on equality with the Father), and He shall give your another Comforter, that He may abide with you for ever ; even the Spirit of truth ; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth Him not, neither knoweth Him : but ye know Him ; for He abideth with you and shall be in yon." He abideth with you !" What consolation, courage and comfort do these words convey to the trusting soul in a world in which he often finds himself misunderstood ,and rejected. How much the disciples would need The promised Holy Spirit as they went forth to face a hostile world, was known only to our Lord Himself.
The Presence of The Spirit. Further, the Holy Spirit was not only to be " with them ", as their guide, comforter and helper, He was to be " in them." The apostle Paul writing to the Corinthians, amongst whom existed divisions, disputes and desecrations. reminds them of the fact that they were not only God's " tilled land or husbandry," but also a temple, shrine or sanctuary of God. " Know ye not that ye are a sanctuary of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you ? If any man destroyeth the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy and such are ye " (1 Cor. 3. 16, 17, R.V. margin). What shall be the practical outcome of this astounding fact ? " Ye are bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body " (1 Cor. 6. 20).
The Purpose of The Spirit. The grand purpose of the Spirit when He came, was not to declare Himself, it was not to fasten attention upon Himself; the grand purpose of the Spirit would be to fix our gaze on the Saviour. For these disciples Christ was to be the object of their faith, and although there were many things which the Lord Jesus could not say unto them because they were not able to bear them, the time would come when the Spirit of God would say these things for Him. " Howbeit when He, the Spirit of truth is come, He shall guide you into all truth : for He shall not speak from Himself . . . He shall glorify Me : for He shall receive of Mine and shall declare it unto you " (John 16. 13, 14, R.V.).
The Power of The Spirit. The work of the Spirit is a demonstration of power. Power came with the coming of the Holy Spirit. The letter to the Galatians provides a most revealing and comprehensive study of the activities of the Spirit of God in the life of the believer, and in view of its importance we shall confine ourselves here to this Epistle. The subject is manifold in its scope. Briefly we note the following :
The Spirit of God and Christian privilege (Gal. 4. 6-8). When we were the children of this world we were held in bondage under the rudiments (the A.B.C. of letters) of the world ; but when the fullness of the time came (that is, the time appointed of the Father— a legal term) " God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, that He might redeem them which were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption of sons." In the natural realm how often it occurs that, though the adoption of the child is legally transacted and the child enters into all the privileges of the adopted son, the nature or spirit of the parent is not found in the child. Is it not wonderful, therefore, to find that in the spiritual realm, " because we are sons, God sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying Abba Father."
The Spirit of God and Christian conflict. (Gal. 4. 28-;ll). An historical parable is here. Two sons were born to Abraham, one by the handmaid (Hagar) and one by the freewoman (Sarah). The first was born according to natural laws, after the flesh ; the second according to the promise of God. The coming of Isaac into the home created conflict and resulted in the expulsion of the son of the bondmaid. So it is now, that which is born after the flesh persecutes that which is born after the Spirit. But we arc not children of a handmaid, but of the freewoman ; " For freedom did Christ set us free : stand fast therefore, and l>e not entangled again in a yoke of bondage " (Gal. 5. 1, R.V.).
The Holy Spirit and Christian activity (Gal. 5. 16). " But 1 say, walk by (the rule of) the Spirit and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh," Whatever may be our walk or calling in life, by those rules of our calling we are expected to conduct ourselves. By this standard alone can we maintain the honour and dignity of our profession. So, too, in our Christian activities, let us walk by the rule of the Spirit, and we shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. No promise is given that there will be no lust, but that we shall not fulfil that lust. It has been aptly said that " the best way to keep tares out of a bushel is to fill it with wheat."
The Holy Spirit and Christian guidance (Gal. 5. 18). " If ye arc ted by the Spirit ye arc not under law." Alas, how often we are led and directed by much that is not of the Spirit's mind and purpose, with devastating results in our lives. Self-will can only produce bondage and barrenness, but giving ourselves up to be led by the Spirit results in a " service which is perfect freedom."
The Holy Spirit and Christian fruitfulness (Gal. 5. 22). The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, (inward realization) ; long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, (outward manifestation) ; faithfulness, meekness, temperance, (upward culmination). What a contrast presents itself in these verses ! The works of the flesh, and the fruit of the Spirit. The former plural word denoting conflict and disunity, the latter singular word indicating one harmonious whole. Where shall we look for the perfect demonstration of the godly, Spirit-filled life ? Were not all these beautiful virtues exemplified in the life and character of our Lord Himself! Love characterized His life, and triumphed in His death ; joy deep and unchanging even in the darkness of the Cross, filled His holy soul ; He constantly moved in an atmosphere of peace, unruffled by storms, the anxieties of His disciples, or the threats of His foes. Long-suffering, He bore with unbelief, unfaithfulness, and misunderstanding ; gentle and lender, He was ever courteous and kind ; going about doing good. Never for one single moment was He guilty of self-indulgence, or self-will, or self-interest. He alone could say, " I do always those things which please (the Father)."
The Holy Spirit and Christian service (Gal. 6.8). " He that soweth unto the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap eternal life " (K.V.). What opportunities are presented to the Christian for sowing to the Spirit and reaping the reward, for the fallen one, overtaken in a fault, there is an opportunity to "restore in meekness, looking to thyself, lest thou also be tempted." The restoration here, perhaps implies the tenderness of one who seeks to restore the dislocation of a limb, the tenderness and resourcefulness of a nurse with a patient. For the overburdened one, an opportunity to " bear one another's burdens (weights) and so fulfil the law of Christ " (v. 2) ; by a right idea of one's own burden and infirmity, " for each man shall bear his own burden (load) " (v. S). By a practical responsibility to those to whom it is due, " let the taught communicate unto him that teacheth " (v. fi). By resolute welldoing, as opportunity arises, for " let us work that which is good toward all men, and especially toward them that are of the household of faith," and " let us not be weary in well-doing : for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not " (vv. 9, 10).
Note —The Holy Spirit in relation to the Church was ably dealt with by Mr. B. E. Holloway in the Jan/Feb. issue of " Precious Seed," and so will not be included in this series).