The Holy Spirit, the Power for Life, Walk & Witness
T. W. Carron, Worthing
Our God has provided adequately for our empowering through the Holy Spirit, as the following three sections show.
Power for Life. In answer to the surprised exclamation of Nicodemus, when the Lord spoke of the necessity of being born again, the Lord adds these words: "Truly, truly I tell thee except anyone is born of water and spirit he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God; what has been born of flesh is flesh, what has been born of Spirit is spirit", John 3. 5-6, Literal Translation. Nicodemus, who was a teacher in Israel, should have known this because new birth is taught in principle in the Old Testament. For example in Ezekiel 36. 25-27 r.v. we read: "I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean ... A new heart also I will give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you". Water in Scripture is often a symbol of the Word of God; for example, the Lord says to His disciples: "Ye are already clean by reason of the word which I have spoken to you", John 15. 3 j.n.d.
When a baby is born a miracle of nature takes place; it draws its first breath and then begins its independent life. Henceforth its life depends on breathing the air regularly every moment of its existence. Likewise the believer's spiritual life is in the Holy Spirit. This spiritual life is a new character of life. It is called eternal life because it will last for ever. But it is entered upon here and now while still in these mortal bodies; it does not cease with the death of the body, and in resurrection it will be enjoyed to a fulness now unknown. "If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit", writes Paul. This is not an if of doubt but of argument, and means "since we live in the Spirit". It is a fact. The world, the flesh and the Devil militate against this life in the Spirit.
The unconverted man or woman lives his life in the flesh. He loves the pleasures of sin, does not love God, does not understand His Word and does not Jove His people. The reception of the Spirit changes this; the person's eyes are opened, he understands God's Word, he loves God and loves His people. "We know", writes John, "that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren", 1 John 3. 14, which means all God's children.
Power for Walk. We have already quoted Paul's words "Since we live in the Spirit, let us walk by the Spirit". The New Testament says much about the believer's walk. The word "walk" is synonymous with conduct. To employ Bunyan's metaphor it covers the whole of the Christian's pathway from the City of Destruction to the Celestial City. Christ Himself is the pattern for that walk. We are exhorted to walk as He walked, 1 John 2. 6, and to walk worthy of the calling (the holy, heavenly calling of God) wherewith we are called, Eph. 4. 1. But there are many obstacles and hindrances within and without. Although a person is born again, the flesh, the old nature, is not taken away. The mind (that is the intention) of the flesh is enmity against God, and is not subject to the law of God, Rom. 8. 7. Paul deals with this in those important passages in Romans 7 and 8. Also from Galatians 5. 17, we learn that "the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these things are opposed one to the other", j.n.d. The apostle proceeds in verse 19 to enumerate the works of the flesh. The believer's heart is a battleground in which this conflict takes place. If he cultivates the flesh he will reap an evil crop; his life in the Spirit will become choked and the Spirit will become grieved. This is the cause of much weakness and failure among Christians in our day. The world creeps in with its varied allurements; prayer and the reading of the Word are neglected, Christian fellowship is not cultivated, assembling with the Lord's people has a low priority, worship is feeble or formal, and the walk becomes unworthy of the Christian calling.
Power for Witness. The Lord told His disciples to tarry at Jerusalem till they were endued with power from on high. The descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost was the fulfilment of this. It resulted in a mighty witness, which, within a short period, turned the world upside down. Effective witness is impossible without the power of the Spirit. "Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord". My power is perfected in weakness, the Lord told Paul. Hence he could say, "when I am weak, then am I strong", 2 Cor. 12. 10.
Prayer, which is the confession of our dependence on God's power, plays an essential part. Times of great blessing in the Gospel have always had a background of prayer. The great evangelical revival of a century ago was born in prayer. God delights to manifest His power in response to the prayer of His people. Prayer and power go together.
"Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus unto all generations for ever and ever. Amen," Eph. 3. 20-21 r.v.