Working with the Spirit

Sanctification in Hebrew has two meanings. First, it can describe a shining, as when, after Moses met the Lord on the mountain, his face shone from the encounter. (Think about Jesus being transfigured.) Second, sanctification can mean a cutting, as in separating or setting aside.

There is one reason, and one reason only, why we should all be sanctified and holy, and it is this: not that we may be happy, nor that we may get rid of our problems, but because God is holy, because we are God’s people and because Christ has died for us and purchased us. We do not belong to ourselves. We have no right to live a sinful life.[1]

It is easy to discuss justification and sanctification as two completely different activities. Justification is the forgiveness of sins. It is the new birth. Peter calls on the people of Jerusalem “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit,” (Acts 2:38).

Are we sinless when we come up out of the water? Yes, absolutely! Does that mean we never sin after that? Of course not. The Apostle John warned, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:8 – 9). That’s where the work of the Holy Spirit comes in. He is the power for real change. When Paul told the Philippians to “work out your own salvation,” he also told them, “It is God who works in you.”

What would it be like to receive John’s baptism without the Holy Spirit? What was missing from their lives? Paul noticed the difference in the Ephesian disciples (Acts 19:2). Isn’t that what we do functionally when we don’t grow in the Spirit?

So how do we grow in the Spirit? Think about these observations:

  1. The Spirit inspired the Bible (that requires us to read it).
  2. The Spirit instructs us (that requires us to listen).
  3. The Spirit brings us to God through interpreting our prayers, (but that requires us to pray!)
  4. The Spirit leads us (that requires us to obey).
  5. The Spirit produces fruit in our life (that requires us to grow).
  6. The Spirit comforts us (that requires us to be honest).

[1] Lloyd-Jones, D. M. (1997). God the Holy Spirit (p. 204). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

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