The knowledge of the Word alone will not give us the power to overcome sin and be all that God wants us to be. The power to be changed into the image of God comes through the Holy Spirit. Just as evil spirits are at work to lead us to follow evil ways of deception, so the Holy Spirit wants to work in us, through us and with us to produce what God wants.
The Holy Spirit is much more powerful than any evil spirit. Nevertheless, He does not violate our will. Only evil spirits attempt to do this. You must cherish the presence and influence of the Holy Spirit more and more as He guides you into all truth. The more you walk in truth the more deeply the Spirit of God will be able to work in you - as long as you keep trusting God and remain willing. If you want God’s way with all your heart, if you hunger and thirst after righteousness, you will be filled (Matthew 5:6). You must be filled with the Holy Spirit always to fully fulfil God’s plan (Eph 5:18).
The importance of being filled with the Holy Spirit daily cannot be over- emphasised. In the early church, even to serve at tables, the requirement the men had to be “of good reptutation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom” (Acts 6:3). To return to apostolic power and love in the church we must make being full of the Spirit a major priority in our daily lives. The first thing we must do every morning is to seek God until we are full of the Spirit. It may be necessary to wake up earlier in order to have time to do this. May God help us.
We must not set too many rules about what may or may not happen when we are filled with the Holy Spirit. If someone touches a 220 volt power source different reactions are possible. Some may fall over - others might shake. To others, nothing may seem to be happening. The Holy Spirit is God and has unlimited power - much more than a household electricity supply. It is hard to say that being really filled with the Holy Spirit would never produce physcial manifestations such as trembling, shaking, laughing or falling over. We must be careful not to decide that we will limit the terms on which we will permit God to come and visit us. God is sovereign and has the right to do what he likes. Its not good to say, “Holy Spirit come, but only do those things our minds can accept easily and our theology can accommodate.”
All of God’s sanctification is by grace. It is God’s business to produce in us the fruit of the Spirit. Only He can make us holy. What is our part then? We must believe for Him to work, and co-operate with Him. And what is necessary for this? The answer is humility. Our spirituality is only limited by our pride and unbelief in the final analysis. We can always advance more if we are willing to humble ourselves more deepy.
“Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, ‘The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously’? But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:5,6)
God is always wanting to give more grace. Paul the apostle said, “By the grace of God I am what I am.” Grace from God is always undeserved. Grace comes through the Holy Spirit. A correct relationship with the Holy Spirit is what we need then in order to receive the grace God wants us to have.
The way to receive more grace is firstly to recognise that you need it, and secondly to humble yourself. God gives grace to the humble, and the more you humble yourself, the more grace you will receive.
Fundamental to the idea of humilty is the knowledge that we are not sources of goodness, but only reflectors of God’s goodness, as it were. Just as the moon shines only because of the sun, so we can be holy only through receiving moment by moment the life of God in and through us. Without Him we are nothing, and we can do nothing of any value (1 Corinthians 13:1-3; John 15:5). Its only God’s mercy and power that keeps us alive.
A humble man knows he should wait on God. We should let God be the initiator of our faith and actions, just as Jesus did (John 5:19,20; John 7:18; John 12:49,50). We should be prepared to wait for the Holy Spirit to lead us (Romans 8:14), rather than running ahead based on what we think we know we should do. We should wait on God continually (Hosea 12:6; Psalm 25:5).
One way to humble ourselves is to fast or stop eating for a while. During times of fasting we can hear the voice of God more easily. He will bring correction to us. If we truly humble ourselves, we will be willing to listen to His correction and obey Him.
Sometimes God uses other Christians to correct us. Proverbs 12:1 says, “He who loves instruction loves knowledge; but he who hates reproof is stupid.”
God wants to use other people, especially people in the local church, to correct us and build us up in the things of God. It takes humility to accept this. God will not always deal with us directly. If we want to be humble, we must learn to recognise our need for the rest of the body of Christ.
Our growth in sanctification and holiness is worked out in the context of a life of fellowship with other Christians. We need the other parts of the body (1 Corinthians 12:12-27). We need apostles, prophets. evangelist and pastor/teachers till we all come to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ (Ephesians 4:11-13). God has given these ministries to the Universal Church until all these purposes mentioned in Ephesians 4:12,13 are fulfilled. We would be foolish to reject them if we want to be fully sanctified.
Living in relationship with the Holy Spirit is very important to our sanctification. We cannot be holy in and of ourselves. Rather, our holiness is really the outshining of the life and character of God in us through a relationship with Him that must be maintained all the time.
Jesus told us to abide in Him (John 15:1-7). We abide in Christ not only by feeding on His Word in our hearts, but also by learning what pleases Him and what doesn’t. Through our relationship with the Holy Spirit, we will learn through experience which things quench his presence and working in us and which things please Him. Abiding in Christ will happen when we learn to surrender our will to the will of the Spirit, and stay in the conscious presence of God. It means letting the peace of God rule in our hearts (Colossians 3:15). It means settling down in the presence and under the influence of Christ’s Lordship.
Obviously prayer, thanksgiving, praise and worship are all important areas for the Spirit- filled Christian to cultivate. These things please God if they are done in spirit and truth (John 4:23,24). See the lesson on prayer for more details. To be a true worshipper all the time requires a high level of sanctification in the believer. Worship brings intimacy and fruitfulness in the life of the believer.
Books could be written about each of these aspects of our relationship with God. This introduction is presented with the purpose that it will motivate and encourage you to draw near to God and let Him work deeply in you.