We were never intended to live our lives apart from God. In fact, it’s impossible to try to live the Christian life apart from Him. God has not called us into a relationship with Himself, only to leave us alone to find our way through the maze of life. Prior to His departure, Jesus promised a Counselor who would guide us into truth and act as our guide and companion. The Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity, not only empowers us to become like Jesus, but he also fills us with a supernatural ability to do great things for God.
In West Texas there is a famous oil field known as the Yates Pool. During the Depression, this field was a sheep ranch, owned by a man named Yates. Not able to make enough money on his ranching operation, Mr. Yates was in danger of losing his ranch. With little money for clothes or food, his family, like many others, had to live on government subsidy.
Then one day, a seismographic crew came into the area and told Mr. Yates that they thought that there might be oil on his land. They asked permission to drill a wildcat well, and he signed a lease contract. At 1,115 feet the well struck a huge oil reserve. The first well came in at 80,000 barrels a day. 50 years later, a government test showed that one of the wells still had the potential to produce 125,000 barrels of oil a day.
And to think Mr. Yates owned it all! The day he purchased the land, he received the oil and mineral rights. Yet, he was living on government subsidy. A multi-millionaire, living in poverty! The problem? He did not know the oil was there. He owned it all, but did not possess any of it.
I know of no better illustration of the Holy Spirit than this. As Christians, the moment we receive Christ, we are indwelt (I Corinthians 3:16) and sealed (Ephesians 1:13; 4:30) with the Holy Spirit, and as such we have direct access to God’s unlimited power source for strength and victory. But, like Mr. Yates, most Christians continue to live in self-imposed spiritual poverty, because they do not know how to appropriate the power of the Holy Spirit, which is already theirs in Christ.
Such was the experience of Peter, who apart from the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, denied Christ three times, but who later under the power of the Spirit, proclaimed Christ boldly. Of course, we know that the Spirit had not yet been given when Peter denied Christ, but clearly Peter’s story shows us the difference the person and work the Holy Spirit can make in our lives. Not many sermons or talks are devoted to the work of the Spirit, but it’s important to understand the Spirit’s work in our lives, so we can experience the promise Jesus made to his followers in Acts 1:8 when we said, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
In looking at the biblical data concerning the person and work of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit’s roles are numerous. He assures us of our salvation (Romans 8:16); He baptizes us (Acts 1:4,5; 1 Corinthians 12:13); He convicts the world in regards to sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:8); He directs us (John 16:13); He empowers us (Acts 1:8); He fills us (Ephesians 5:18); He guarantees our inheritance (Ephesians 1:14); He helps us (John 14:16,17); He indwells us (I Corinthians 3:16); He regenerates us (John 3:5); He seals us (Ephesians 1:13; 4:30); and He teaches us (John 14:26). The regenerating, indwelling, baptism and sealing by the Holy Spirit take place at the moment of salvation. However, the assuring, directing, filling and teaching aspects are ongoing ministries of the Holy Spirit in the believer’s life.
Because the Holy Spirit is the source of the overflowing life (John 7:37-39), we must live in dependence upon Him, walking moment by moment in His strength and not our own. This is why Paul, in Ephesians 5:18, exhorts us to “be filled with the Spirit.” To be filled with the Spirit, means to be controlled and empowered by the Spirit, and the imperative is in the continuous progressive tense, suggesting that one must “continually be being filled.” By appropriating the fullness of the Spirit by faith, one is not only empowered to be Christ’s witness, but also empowered to live life to its fullest (John 10:10).
So, how do you know if you are walking according the Spirit? Check the fruit! As it says in Galatians 5:19-23, “The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” If you want your life to demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit, the solution is simple, walk according to the Spirit. As Romans 8:5 tells us, “Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit, have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.”
If you have been living in spiritual defeat, wondering if there is any validity to the Christian life, there is hope for you! The same power that was available to Christ is also available to you in the person of the Holy Spirit! And Jesus’ promise to us is this, “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father” (John 14:12).
Remember, if you are in Christ, you do not have to ask the Holy Spirit to come into your life, because He is already indwelling you. But to be filled, directed and empowered by the Holy Spirit, you simply yield to Him and ask for His fullness and power. It’s the difference of a glass of milk with a bunch of chocolate sitting at the bottom of the glass, and a glass of milk with the chocolate stirred up, so that it looks and tastes like chocolate milk. Both glasses have the same amount of chocolate in them, but one looks no different than a regular glass of milk, while the other is taking on the characteristics of its indwelling force. In the same way, as Christians, we need to allow God to stir us up (fill us), so that others see Christ in us, the hope of glory.
So here’s the point. When we live in the power of the Holy Spirit, the evidence of the Spirit’s work is supernatural. The church can’t help but be different. And the world can’t help but notice.
Post written as a contributor for Principles to Live By