Tag Archives: holy spirit

Practicing Righteousness

“Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.” (1 John 3:7)

Every genuine Christian knows that part of the salvation gift is the promise of being made “unblameable in holiness” (1 Thessalonians 3:13). We sometimes have trouble, however, with the concept of present-tense holiness in our everyday lifestyles.

John speaks of the abiding Christian who “sinneth not” (1 John 3:6). Indeed, such a Christian “doth not commit sin” (1 John 3:9) because, John notes, the “seed” of God “remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.” Furthermore, “whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not” (1 John 5:18).

It’s accurate to translate those passages with the “continuing” implication of the Greek structure (i.e. “does not continue in [the practice of] sin,” etc.). However, the emphasis is on an obvious, continuous, clearly embraced lifestyle of righteous living!

The visible transformation from a worldly conformity (Romans 12:2) begins with a desire for “the sincere milk of [God’s] word” (1 Peter 2:2), fashioning ourselves after God’s holiness “in all manner of conversation” (1 Peter 1:14-15).

Neither are we to let sin reign in our bodies, but we are to yield ourselves as “instruments of righteousness” (Romans 6:12-13). Since we are “risen with Christ,” we are to “mortify” the fleshly appetites, “put off” emotional outbursts that reflect an ungodly nature, and “put on” godly attributes so that whatsoever we do is done in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ (Colossians 3:1-17). HMM III

The Power of Spiritual Control

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“Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit.” (Ephesians 5:17-18)

Two factors need to be identified with these verses. First, the preceding context confines the primary application to behavior, just as the following context relates the behavior to the fellowship of believers. Secondly, the imagery stresses control of that behavior by the Holy Spirit, contrasting drunken behavior with filled behavior.

The filling is not synonymous with the baptism of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:12-14) since all twice-born are so baptized but not all are filled. Nor is it equal with or subsequent to speaking in tongues since some specifically identified as being filled with the Holy Spirit (John the Baptist, Elizabeth, Jesus) never spoke in tongues. Some individuals (Paul, Peter, Stephen) were filled on different occasions. Apparently, the filling produces a temporary effect like alcohol does. The effect of the filling of the Holy Spirit enhances or encourages a God-like behavior in contrast to the Satan-like behavior stimulated by alcohol.

Some passages equate power with this filling (Acts 1:8; Romans 15:13; 1 Thessalonians 1:5), and others equate it to wisdom (Colossians 1:9-11; Philippians 1:9-11; Colossians 3:15-17). However, the immediate context lists four evidences of the Holy Spirit’s control: songs of praise together, personal singing and private melody to God in our hearts, thanksgiving, and voluntary submission to one another in the Lord (Ephesians 5:19-21).

Since the Holy Spirit distributes gifts to the saints (Ephesians 4:7-11) for the purpose of building the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:12-16), it stands to reason that the Holy Spirit’s control would be designed to enhance and stimulate the ministry of believers to each other and their personal joy and awareness of the goodness of God. HMM III

The Power of Spiritual Tools

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“But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:7)

The grace that is given (charis) is a distribution by the Holy Spirit of gifts (charisma) to every believer (1 Corinthians 12:4-11). Seventeen gifts are listed in Romans 12:3-8, 1 Corinthians 12:4-10, and Ephesians 4:11, all of them intended by the Holy Spirit to minister to the church and enhance its unity (Romans 12:3; 1 Corinthians 12:12; Ephesians 4:12). Three reasons are cited for these gifts.

The Perfecting of the Saints

This “perfecting” describes a process of making something useful or suitable that is not yet adequate. James and John mended their nets (Matthew 4:21). Paul prayed that he might supply that which was lacking (1 Thessalonians 3:10). The gifts of the Holy Spirit mend that which is lacking in the saints. The

Work of the Ministry

This is a joint effort of service (2 Corinthians 6:1) that recognizes the public visibility of that service (2 Corinthians 4:1-2) and steadfastly displays those gifts so that the “ministry be not blamed” (2 Corinthians 6:3).

The Edifying of the Body of Christ

The building process focuses the use of the gifts on the enrichment and betterment of the local assembly of believers (1 Corinthians 14:5, 12, 26). The goal is to bring all saints to a state of doctrinal unity (the faith) so that our maturity can be compared to the fullness of Christ (Ephesians 4:13). Eliminating susceptibility to “every wind of doctrine,” growing into Him in all things, and building the “body fitly joined together . . . according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love” (Ephesians 4:14-16). HMM III

The Power of a Sound Mind

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“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7)

The gift spoken of in the previous verse is based on a transfer of authority from God, and we are exhorted to “stir up” that gift (2 Timothy 1:6) because God did not give us a “spirit of fear.” The word fear (deilia) stresses timidity or cowardice, not terror. The gift does not function well if we are too timid to use it.

The gift referred to is not power. That spiritual gift comes with dunamis—the innate ability to do the gift. Whatever the Holy Spirit has gifted us with upon our entrance into the Kingdom (1 Corinthians 12:11), that gift comes with the power necessary to implement and use that gift.

The gift also comes with love. Again, love is not the gift. It is only part of the fruit of the Holy Spirit that comes with the gift. Were it not for the reflection in us of the unilateral and sacrificial love of our Redeemer, these supernatural gifts could well be misused, distorted, and abused for personal glory. Diotrephes misused his gift, failing to use the spirit of love (3 John 1:9).

Sophronismos (sound mind) is a unique Greek word that is a combination of the verbs “to save” and “to control.” Its basic meaning would be “safe control” or “wholesome control”— perhaps even “control that saves”—the perfect combination of abilities that empower the gift, the love that keeps the gift focused on others, and the “safety controls” to keep it from doing damage unwittingly.

“As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God” (1 Peter 4:10). HMM III

Our Power Source

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“And . . . the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe.” (Ephesians 1:19)

The power of the triune Creator, as displayed in the resurrection of Christ, is directed toward us! We can be certain we will never fully comprehend that, but the Scriptures provide several clear statements that will help us gain a small grasp on this magnificent resource.

• We receive power when the Holy Spirit indwells us (Acts 1:8). The Holy Spirit takes up residence in everyone who is twice-born (John 14:17) and is therefore readily accessible to all believers (Ephesians 3:20).
• We use the power of God every time we preach the gospel (Romans 1:16), whether to one person or to thousands (1 Corinthians 1:18).
• We learn of the power of God through “great and precious promises.” Indeed, those promises involve “all things that pertain unto life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3-4).
• We see the results of the power of God in our lives when we are “strengthened with all might” so that we demonstrate “all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness” (Colossians 1:11).

The Lord desires “that [we] might be filled with all the fulness of God” (Ephesians 3:19) and “strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man” (v. 16). The purpose of this empowering is to be “rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith” (Colossians 2:7), “able to comprehend . . . the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge” (Ephesians 3:18-19). HMM III

Be Continually Filled With the Spirit

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“For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb.” (Luke 1:15)

This prophecy of the angel Gabriel, bearing as it does a tremendous testimony to the character of John the Baptist, contains the first reference in the New Testament to the unique Christian doctrine of the filling of the Holy Spirit. John was the first Christian witness, directing his own disciples to Christ (John 1:35-37) and clearly preaching the gospel of salvation through Christ alone (John 3:26-36). It is significant that he was filled with the Holy Spirit all his life. Jesus is also said to have been full of the Holy Spirit (Luke 4:1) and was undoubtedly so filled from the time of conception (Psalm 22:10), but the explicit statement is made only of John.

The fullness of the Spirit is available for every believer, of course. In the New Testament, both of John’s parents were said to be so filled on a specific occasion (Luke 1:41, 67). The disciples of the Lord were filled with the Spirit many times (Acts 2:4; 4:31; 13:52). Peter was said to be filled with the Holy Spirit on at least one special occasion (Acts 4:8), and Paul at least twice (Acts 9:17; 13:9).

One of the qualifications sought in the first deacons was that they were to be men full of the Holy Ghost (Acts 6:3), and one of those chosen, Stephen, was specifically so described (Acts 6:5; 7:55). Barnabas was another Spirit-filled Christian believer (Acts 11:24). Undoubtedly there were many others. In fact, every believer is commanded to be “filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18). The reference in this key passage is not to a one-time event, but to frequent fillings. “Be continually being filled” is the literal rendering. HMM

Lift Up Your Eyes on High

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“Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things, that bringeth out their host by number: he calleth them all by names by the greatness of his might, for that he is strong in power; not one faileth.” (Isaiah 40:26)

Our text makes three majestic statements about the cosmos, each reflecting true scientific insight as well as the work of each person of the divine Trinity:

  • The omnipresent Father has “brought out” an infinite “host” of organized systems in the cosmos—galaxies, stars, planets, animals, and people. All are capable of description mathematically, “by number,” and thus all bear witness to their great Designer. Chance processes never generate organization or complexity, so that special creation by God is the only legitimate explanation for the “numbered” host of heaven.
  • The Son is the omniscient Word of information, description, and meaning. Every system in the cosmos is not only numbered, but named! That is, in the mind of its Creator, it has a function and has been coded to fulfill its purpose. The Second Law states that systems never code themselves, but rather always tend to distort the information originally programmed into them. Only an omniscient Creator could thus implement the divine purpose for every created entity.
  • Finally, the Holy Spirit is the omnipotent Energizer who activates and empowers every system. The Second Law says that energy becomes less available as time goes on, so that only the Creator could provide the energy to activate the designed, programmed cosmos in the beginning.

When we finally look up and really “behold who hath created these things,” we must see God the Creator—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. HMM

Our Triune Comforter

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“Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)

  • One of the titles of the Holy Spirit, especially as used in the King James Version, is His beautiful identification as “the Comforter.” The Greek word is parakletos, meaning literally “one who is called along side to help.” A familiar verse is John 14:26: “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things.” He is our teacher, our guide, our helper, our Comforter.
  • The same word is also translated “advocate,” meaning an attorney for the defense. In this capacity, it is applied to the Lord Jesus Christ. “And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:1). Though we are guilty and lost sinners, He takes our side before the Judge, pleading the sacrificial offering of His own blood for our sins, and we are saved (1 John 2:2).
  • Even the Father is our “paraclete,” according to the verses cited above. He is “the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort” (Greek paraklesis), and as we pray to our heavenly Father, He indeed does provide great consolation in every hour of trouble and sorrow.

Thus, each person of the Godhead — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit — serves as Comforter (“paraclete”) to the believer, as needed, who also has access to the “comfort of the scriptures” (Romans 15:4). But there is still another “comforter.” Each believer receives such comfort so that we ourselves “may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.” HMM

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