MBS138 THE SPIRITUAL LIFE AND THE HOLY SPIRIT
By Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum
But unto us God revealed them through the Spirit: for the Spirit searches all things, yea, the deep things of God.1 Corinthians 2:10
This study on the subject of “The Spiritual Life and the Holy Spirit” will be covered in eight major sections.
I. THE HOLY SPIRIT’S MINISTRY OF REGENERATION
The spiritual life requires three elements: regeneration, the Holy Spirit, and time. Regeneration is one of several ministries of the Holy Spirit, and it is this ministry that begins the process.
By way of definition, regeneration is “the impartation of eternal life to, and the spiritual birth of, the person who trusts in the Messiah” (Gal. 6:15–16; Eph. 4:24). Regeneration, then, is a rebirth: “to be born again” in terms of John 3:6. It is regeneration that puts one in a right relationship to God. It is regeneration that makes one a New Testament believer, one who has been rightly related to the Messiah.
It is this ministry of the Holy Spirit of the salvation package that sets the foundation for being “spiritual.” After all, spirituality cannot be achieved by an unregenerate person, an unbeliever. Only believers or “saved” people can attain true biblical spirituality.
Regeneration is what saves a person, and that sets the foundation for being spiritual, being rightly related to the Holy Spirit. Salvation is a right relationship to the Messiah; spirituality is a right relationship to the Holy Spirit.
II. THE HOLY SPIRIT’S MINISTRY OF INDWELLING
The second section of the ministry of the Holy Spirit in relation to spiritual life is His ministry of indwelling. There are three different facets of His indwelling.
A. Indwelling the Individual Believer
The first facet is that He indwells every individual believer. There are two ramifications of the Holy Spirit’s indwelling the believer.
1. The Characteristics of Indwelling
In the first ramification, there are three characteristics of indwelling.
The first characteristic of the indwelling of the Spirit in the believer is that indwelling is universal among all believers. The Holy Spirit does not indwell only some believers, but not others. The Holy Spirit indwells all believers; indwelling is universal among all believers according to Romans 5:5. Furthermore, Romans 8:9 teaches that the absence of indwelling means a person is unsaved. In the Old Testament, the indwelling of the Spirit was not universal among all believers (Ex. 31:3; Judg. 3:10; 6:34; Ezek. 2:2; 3:24), but as of Acts 2, indwelling became universal among all believers.
The second characteristic of the indwelling of the Spirit in the believer is that it is also permanent; the Holy Spirit indwells the believer forever. Once the Holy Spirit takes up His residence within the believer, He remains there forever. In John 14:16–17, Yeshua (Jesus) said the Holy Spirit will make His abode in the believer for ever, and for ever must mean exactly what it says. If the Holy Spirit could leave the believer, it would not be for ever, but temporary. Furthermore, 1 Corinthians 6:19 points out that even the Corinthians, who were sinning saints, had the indwelling Spirit. It is true that in the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit came and went; indwelling was not necessarily permanent in the Old Testament. In 1 Samuel 16:17, the Holy Spirit departed from Saul; in Psalm 51:11, David prayed: take not your holy Spirit from me. That was a valid Old Testament prayer, but it is not a valid New Testament prayer, for now the Holy Spirit indwells us for ever.
The third characteristic of the Holy Spirit’s indwelling the believer is that indwelling is distinct from the new nature. The new nature and the Holy Spirit are not one and the same; the Holy Spirit always remains distinct from the new nature. The new nature is created (Eph. 4:24; Col. 3:9–10), but the Holy Spirit is not created. Furthermore, if the conflict in Romans 7:1–25 and Galatians 5:16–24 were between the Holy Spirit and the old sin-nature, how then, could the Holy Spirit ever be defeated? The conflict in Romans 7 and Galatians 5 is between the old nature and the new nature. The new nature can be defeated, but the Holy Spirit cannot be defeated.
2. The Responsibilities of the Believer
The second ramification concerning the Holy Spirit’s indwelling the believer concerns the responsibilities of the believer. “In light of the fact that the Holy Spirit indwells us, what is our responsibility?”
a. To Be Filled with the Holy Spirit
Our first responsibility is to be filled with the [Holy] Spirit (Eph. 5:18). What this means will be discussed in detail later, since this is a very important aspect of the spiritual life.
b. Not Grieve the Holy Spirit
Our second responsibility is that we are not to grieve the Holy Spirit (Eph. 4:30). This, too, will be discussed later.
c. The Key Scripture—1 Corinthians 6:12–20
Third, there is an extensive passage on the responsibility of the believer in 1 Corinthians 6:12–20. This passage points out five things.
All things are lawful for me; but not all things are expedient. All things are lawful for me; but I will not be brought under the power of any. Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats: but God shall bring to nought both it and them. But the body is not for fornication, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body: and God both raised the Lord, and will raise up as through his power. Know ye not that your bodies are members of Christ? shall I then take away the members of Christ, and make them members of a harlot? God forbid. Or know ye not that he that is joined to a harlot is one body? for, The twain, says he, shall become one flesh. But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit. Flee fornication. Every sin that a man does is without the body; but he that commits fornication sins against his own body. Or know ye not that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you, which ye have from God? and ye are not your own; for ye were bought with a price: glorify God therefore in your body.
The first thing is that there is a repudiation of moral laxness. Being freed in the Messiah does not free us to commit sin. Freedom from the Law does not mean that we can do anything we want to do, because not all things are expedient. Whatever puts us into subjection is wrong. This passage refutes any moral laxity that someone may practice on the basis of being freed from the Law.
The second thing is that while food is for the stomach and the stomach is for food, Paul points out that these things have no eternal purpose, but the body does. This body may die, but it is going to be resurrected to live for all eternity. Therefore, the body [should be] for the Lord; and the Lord for the body. The primary responsibility of this body is to glorify God, not just to feed it.
The third thing is that in verses 12–14, Paul provides an argument in favor of moral purity: “you are part of the body of Yeshua.” In verses 15–18, he reminds us that there is a superiority of the spiritual union over the physical union. Because of our spiritual union with the Messiah, we should lead a pure and moral life.
The fourth thing is that the body is a temple of the Holy Spirit (v. 19); the body is a sanctuary.
And the fifth thing is that this leads to three implications: first, your body is to be kept morally pure. Secondly, your body is not your own; it belongs to God. And thirdly: glorify God therefore in your body (v. 20).
B. Indwelling the Local Church—1 Corinthians 3:6–17
The second major facet of the Holy Spirit’s indwelling is that the Holy Spirit also indwells the local church. This is taught by 1 Corinthians 3:6–17, a passage that can be divided into four segments.
1. The Illustrations—1 Corinthians 3:6–9
In the first segment, Paul begins with some figures or illustrations.
I planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that plants anything, neither he that waters; but God that gives the increase. Now he that plants and he that waters are one: but each shall receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are God’s fellow-workers: ye are God’s husbandry, God’s building.
Paul used two figures or illustrations. The first illustration is that of the plowed field (vv. 6–8). The second illustration is that of the house (v. 9). In this context, both of these illustrations refer to the local church. This is how Paul begins to show that the local church is also indwelled by the Holy Spirit.
2. The Foundation—1 Corinthians 3:10–11
In the second segment, Paul discusses the foundation of this house, the local church.
According to the grace of God which was given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder I laid a foundation; and another builds thereon. But let each man take heed how he builds thereon. For other foundation can no man lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
In verse 10, Paul points out that, as the founder and the planter of the church at Corinth, he laid the foundation of that church. However, in verse 11 he points out that the actual foundation is Yeshua the Messiah; He is the foundation of every local church. The one who plants the church is the one who lays the foundation.
3. The Builders—1 Corinthians 3:12–15
In the third segment, Paul discusses the builders.
But if any man builds on the foundation gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay, stubble; each man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it is revealed in fire; and the fire itself shall prove each man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work shall abide which he built thereon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as through fire.
In the eschatological meaning of this passage, Paul is dealing with the Judgment Seat of the Messiah, which will occur after the Rapture when we stand to be rewarded to determine our degree of authority in the Kingdom. Having discussed the foundation, he now emphasizes the builders and points out four things.
First, he is writing about people who are saved. Both those who are building with wood, hay, and stubble, as well as those who are building with gold, silver, and costly stones are saved people. He is dealing with believers only, not unbelievers.
Secondly, he is dealing with work that is accomplished in the local church. Since we are rewarded on the basis of how we use our spiritual gifts, and since our spiritual gifts are given for the purpose of building up the local body, the work he is discussing here is work that is accomplished in the local church.
Thirdly, the differentiation in the work is the motivation. We should motivate ourselves not to build with wood, hay, and stubble; but with gold, silver, and costly stones.
Fourthly, eventually we will all be rewarded accordingly. Every believer is a builder. He may not be a good builder, he may be a lazy builder, he may be a wrong builder, he may be an incompetent builder, but he is a builder. If we build incompetently, not God’s way, we are building with wood, hay, and stubble. If we are building God’s way, then we are building with gold, silver, and costly stones.
4. The Destroyers—1 Corinthians 3:16–17
In the fourth segment, Paul discusses the destroyers.
Know ye not that ye are a temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If any man destroys the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, and such are ye.
In discussing the destroyers, he pointed out that the local church is indwelled by the Holy Spirit. Paul used the plural pronoun. Literally, he said, “Know you all not that you all are a temple of God.” In other words, collectively the Corinthian believers form one temple of God. Whereas in 1 Corinthians 6:19, Paul used the singular and pointed out that each individual believer is a temple of God, here he used the plural, pointing out that believers collectively, as a body, as the local church, are a temple of God. In verse 16, he pointed out that the local church is the temple of God because the local church is indwelled by the Holy Spirit.
In verse 17, he pointed out that the temple of God is holy, and such are ye; “because you all, as a local body in Corinth, are a temple of God. Because the temple is holy, positionally speaking, you are holy.” To destroy the local church is to destroy the temple of God. It is the temple of God because the Holy Spirit indwells individual believers.
C. Indwelling the Universal Church—Ephesians 2:11–22
The third facet of the Holy Spirit’s indwelling is that the Holy Spirit also indwells the Universal Church. That is Paul’s point in Ephesians 2:11–22. This passage has three segments to it.
1. The Past Separation of Jews and Gentiles—Ephesians 2:11–12
In the first segment, he speaks about the previous separation of Jews and Gentiles.
Wherefore remember, that once ye, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called Circumcision, in the flesh, made by hands; that ye were at that time separate from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of the promise, having no hope and without God in the world.
In these two verses, Paul pointed out that in the past, in the Dispensation of Law, there was a separation of Jews and Gentiles. Gentiles as Gentiles could not enjoy the Jewish spiritual blessings.
2. The Reconciliation of Jews and Gentiles—Ephesians 2:13–18
In the second segment, Paul deals with the reconciliation of Jews and Gentiles. There are two aspects of this reconciliation.
a. Reconciled to Each Other—Ephesians 2:13–15
The first aspect is that Jews and Gentiles were reconciled to one another.
But now in Christ Jesus ye that once were far off are made nigh in the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who made both one, and broke down the middle wall of partition, having abolished in the flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; that he might create in himself of the two one new man, so making peace.
Jews and Gentiles are reconciled to one another into one body, and this one body is the Universal Church, the Body of the Messiah.
b. Reconciled to God—Ephesians 2:16–18
The second aspect is that they were also reconciled to God.
and might reconcile them both in one body unto God through the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: and he came and preached peace to you that were far off, and peace to them that were nigh: for through him we both have our access in one Spirit unto the Father.
Not only were Jews and Gentiles reconciled to each other, but they were united in one body [and reconciled back] unto God.
3. The Universal Church—Ephesians 2:19–22
In the third segment, Paul concludes on the edification of this by pointing out four things.
So then ye are no more strangers and sojourners, but ye are fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God, being built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the chief corner stone; in whom each several building, fitly framed together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom ye also are builded together for a habitation of God in the Spirit.
Together now, we are: first, the household of God, we are the universal Church (v. 19); secondly, the foundation [of the universal Church is] the apostles and prophets (v. 20). These are the New Testament apostles and prophets, [with the Messiah] himself being the chief corner stone. Thirdly, this household of God [with] the foundation of the apostles and prophets [is] a holy temple in the Lord; the universal Church is a holy temple (v. 21). And fourthly, this universal Church is a habitation of God in the Spirit (v. 22).
The Holy Spirit not only indwells the individual believer, He also indwells the local church, and He indwells the universal Church. All three areas of indwelling have some bearing on the spiritual life of the believer.
III. THE HOLY SPIRIT’S MINISTRY OF BAPTISM
The third section of the ministry of the Holy Spirit in regard to the spiritual life is the baptism of the Holy Spirit or Spirit baptism. This will be discussed in four areas.
The first area to be discussed is some introductory material that includes three things.
1. The Definition
First, we must define the word “baptism.” In its root meaning, the word simply means “to dip” or “to immerse.” That is the meaning of the word. However, the meaning of the act is “to identify with” or “to be united with.”
In 1 Corinthians 10:1–2, Paul wrote about being baptized unto Moses [by means of] the cloud and … the sea. What this means is that by baptism they were identified with Moses. It is this secondary meaning of identification that applies to Spirit baptism.
When we are baptized by the Holy Spirit, we are identified with the death, the burial, and the Resurrection of the Messiah. Spirit baptism, then, is a work of the Holy Spirit by which He unites all believers with the Messiah. It is the means of being united with the Messiah. Spirit baptism unites us and identifies us with the Church, the Body of the Messiah. By means of Spirit baptism, we are placed under the head of the church (Eph. 5:23). The head is the Messiah in Heaven (Eph. 1:3), but the Body is the Church on earth. The Scriptures that bring out this particular definition of Spirit baptism are Romans 6:2–5; Galatians 3:27; and Colossians 2:12.
2. The Relationship of Spirit Baptism to Positional Truth
The second thing by way of introduction to the Holy Spirit’s ministry of baptism concerns the relationship of Spirit baptism to positional truth. Spirit baptism is not experiential; it is doctrinal. It is the clear teaching of Scripture that something takes place when we believe, whether or not there is any unique experience that accompanies it.
Spirit baptism is not experiential; it is doctrinal, based upon the teaching of Scripture. Insofar as its relationship to positional truth is concerned, it is universal among all believers; every believer has been baptized by the Spirit (1 Cor. 12:13). That is why Spirit baptism is never commanded. There is no command in Scripture that states: be baptized by the Holy Spirit. This is not necessary because the moment someone believes, he is baptized by the Spirit. Because it is a once-and-for-all act, it is never repeated in the believer’s life.
3. A Distinctive Feature of the Church Age
The third thing by way of introduction is that, as of Acts 2, Spirit baptism is a distinctive feature of the Church Age. It is not something that was experienced or accomplished in the Gospel Period. That is why, when the Gospels speak about the baptism of the Spirit, it is always in the future tense (Mat. 3:11; Mk. 1:8; Lk. 3:16; Jn. 1:33).
It was still future in Acts 1:5, when Yeshua said: but ye shall be baptized in the Holy Spirit not many days hence, and the fulfillment of Yeshua’s words occurred in Acts 2:1–4. Later, in Acts 11:15–16, when Peter looked back on the experience of Acts 2, he quoted Acts 1:5 and pointed out that the word of the Lord had been fulfilled by what happened in Acts 2.
The second area of the Holy Spirit’s ministry of baptism is to discuss the relationship of Spirit baptism and unity. The main passage on this relationship is in 1 Corinthians 12:12–13: For as the body is one, and has many members, and all the members of the body, being many, are one body; so also is Christ. For in one Spirit were we all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether bond or free; and were all made to drink of one Spirit.
In verse 12, Paul began with an illustration, “there is only one body, but this one body has many members. Every body is marked by diversity.” In relationship to the Body of the Messiah there are many different types of members. So there is diversity within the Body, diversity within unity. This diversity is due to the fact that individual believers are marked by different kinds of spiritual gifts.
Having given the illustration, Paul went on to the doctrine in verse 13. The doctrine is: [that by] one Spirit were we all baptized into one body. Without exception, every believer has been baptized by the Holy Spirit. The result of Spirit baptism is not any one specific gift; rather, the result of Spirit baptism is membership in this one body of the Messiah. It is wrong to teach that Spirit baptism is an experience, which comes after salvation. The clear doctrinal statement of 1 Corinthians 12:13 is that every believer, without exception, is baptized by the Spirit.
It is also wrong to teach that the evidence of Spirit baptism is any one particular gift. It is true, according to the context of 1 Corinthians 12, that we receive whatever gifts we have at the time we are baptized by the Spirit. However, we are baptized by the Spirit when we believe, and so that is when we receive our gifts. It is wrong to teach that any one specific gift is always “a sign” of Spirit baptism. It is wrong to teach that the sign of the baptism of the Spirit is always the gift of tongues, just as it would be wrong to teach that a sign of Spirit baptism is always the gift of teaching. We do receive our various, individual gifts at the time that we are baptized by the Spirit, but God chooses who gets which gift. The result of Spirit baptism is not any one particular, individual gift, but it is membership in the Body of the Messiah. As believers, we are all members of the Messiah’s Body, and the way we got into this Body is by means of Spirit baptism.
Therefore, Paul continued: and were all made to drink of one Spirit. We all share one Spirit. It is the Spirit’s ministry of baptism that is the basis of unity among all believers. In spite of our diversity, there is unity; there is unity in our diversity. Just as our physical body has many members, even so the Body of the Messiah has many members. However, unity does not mean or require uniformity. Just as the whole body cannot be an eye, a nose, a hand, a foot, even so, no one gift is given to every believer, and no believer will ever have all the gifts. Unity does not require uniformity.
The third area of the Holy Spirit’s ministry of baptism concerns the relationship of Spirit baptism and sanctification. It is here, in particular, where the ministry of Spirit baptism applies to the spiritual life. The key passage that deals with the relationship of Spirit baptism and sanctification is Romans 6:1–14.
In chapters 1–5 of the Book of Romans, Paul has been dealing with the guilt of sin, pointing out that the solution for the guilt of sin is justification. In chapters 6–8 of the Book of Romans, Paul is dealing with the power of sin, and the solution to that problem is sanctification.
The transition between the two is Romans 5:20: And the law came in besides, that the trespass might abound; but where sin abounded, grace did abound more exceedingly.
This is the transitional statement between justification and sanctification. He states two things. First, the law came in besides. The Law was an addition in order that trespasses or violations might abound or increase. Secondly, right where sin abounded, grace [abounded even] more exceedingly. At this point, Paul touches on the subject of how grace and sanctification concern the spiritual life, and the main source of sanctification is the Holy Spirit.
This brings us to the passage in Romans 6:1–14, which can be divided into four segments.
1. The Question—Romans 6:1
In the first segment, the question is raised.
What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?
The question is: Shall we … sin, that grace may abound? This question is raised based upon what has been stated in that transitional verse of Romans 5:20: “If it is true that when sin abounds grace abounds more exceedingly, does that mean that we should sin more so that God can show His grace more? Shall we sin more so that grace may abound more?”
2. The Answer—Romans 6:2
In the second segment, Paul gives the answer.
God forbid. We who died to sin, how shall we any longer live therein?
The answer is: God forbid. Literally, the Greek says, “May it never be!” This is the strongest possible Greek for a negation. It is the formula that Paul would use in order to deny a false conclusion, which is derived from a correct premise. The only exception to this is Gal. 6:14. The premise is correct: where sin abounds, grace abounds more exceedingly. However, it is wrong to conclude from this that we should sin more so grace can abound more. The reason is that believers are dead to sin.
3. The Explanation—Romans 6:3–10
In the third segment of this passage, Paul gives the explanation to what he just said and points out six things.
Or are ye ignorant that all we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him through baptism unto death: that like as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we also might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with him in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection; knowing this, that our old man was crucified with him, that the body of sin might be done away, that so we should no longer be in bondage to sin; for he that has died is justified from sin. But if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him; knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dies no more; death no more has dominion over him. For the death that he died, he died unto sin once: but the life that he lives, he lives unto God.
The first thing is that all have been baptized by the Spirit (v. 3). This is the starting point in how the Spirit’s work of baptism relates to sanctification. This is the same truth he taught in 1 Corinthians 12:13; all have been baptized by the Spirit.
The second thing is that the reason we have been baptized by the Spirit is so that we could walk in newness of life (v. 4). While the result of Spirit baptism is to become members of the Body of the Messiah, the purpose is so that we could walk in newness of life.
The third thing is that he presents the logical sequence (v. 5). There is a future tense used which is a future tense of logical consequence. It is this: if we have been buried with the Messiah, which we have through Spirit baptism, then we shall also be resurrected in newness of life. Here he is speaking of our spiritual resurrection, which is already true. Logically, then, if we have been buried with the Messiah, we have also been resurrected with the Messiah for the purpose of walking in newness of life.
The fourth thing is that he gives the theological explanation (v. 6). He points out: that our old man [has been] crucified. The expression old man points to all that we were as unsaved people. As an unsaved person we were just the old man confined to a body of sin. The body of sin is the instrument of sin. We used our physical body as physical instruments to sin. Now, by means of the death of the Messiah, this was rendered inoperative. Our old man, what we were in an unsaved state, was co-crucified with the Messiah; for the reason: that the body of sin might be done away; for the purpose: that we should no longer be in bondage to sin.
The fifth thing is that Paul gives an illustration and an explanation (v. 7). It is a point of law: he [who has] died is justified from sin. That is a legal truth.
And the sixth thing is that he gives another sequence which is threefold (vv. 8–10). First, that if we died with [the Messiah], we believe that we shall also live with him (v. 8); having died with Him, we live with Him. Secondly, [the Messiah] being raised from the dead [dies] no more; death [no longer has] dominion over him (v. 9). What that means is that we die only once. Thirdly, in the sequence there is the connection between death and life: the death that he died, he died unto sin once: but the life that he [lives now], he [lives] unto God (v. 10).
4. The Responsibility—Romans 6:11–14
The fourth segment of this passage deals with the fourfold responsibility of the believer.
Even so reckon ye also yourselves to be dead unto sin, but alive unto God in Christ Jesus. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey the lusts thereof: neither present your members unto sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves unto God, as alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under law, but under grace.
The first responsibility is that the word reckon does not mean “to pretend,” but it means “to be put on account” (v. 11). It deals with position, it deals with the mind. It is in the present tense, meaning, “to keep on reckoning.” This should be a continuous perspective on life. “What should you keep on reckoning?” Negatively, keep on reckoning yourselves to be dead [to] sin; but positively, keep on reckoning yourselves to be alive unto God in the Messiah.
The second responsibility is: Let not sin … reign in your mortal body (v. 12). Your mortal body is the instrument that your sin-nature uses. Do not let sin reign over your mortal body [so as to] obey the lusts thereof.
The third responsibility is to present [your bodies] (v. 13). The word present means, “to give over.” This one deals with the practice. It deals with your body. It is in the Aorist Tense, which emphasizes a singular event and a fact of life. Negatively, do not present your members unto sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but positively, present yourselves unto God, as alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.
In the fourth responsibility, he brings out the doctrinal position: For sin shall not have dominion over you: for [you] are not under law, but under grace (v. 14). This is also taught in Galatians 2:20; and 3:27–28.
D. Spiritual Blessings
The fourth area of the Holy Spirit’s ministry of baptism to be discussed is the relationship of Spirit baptism to spiritual blessings. The main verse on this is Ephesians 1:3 and two things should be noted here: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.
1. The Possession of the Blessings
First, positionally: this means that we already possess all the spiritual blessings God intends for us to have. The source is: we are blessed by the God and Father of our Lord Jesus the Messiah. The content is: who [has] blessed us with every spiritual blessing. The sphere is: in the heavenly places.
2. The Enjoyment of the Blessings
Secondly, experientially: the enjoyment of these blessings will depend on obedience. A believer who is walking with the Lord already has them, so there is no need “to tarry” or “to hunger and thirst” or “to keep on in vigilant prayer” to try to wrestle blessings from God. We already possess these blessings because we have been baptized by the Spirit into the Body. However, to experience them, we must obey.
IV. THE HOLY SPIRIT’S MINISTRY OF FILLING
The fourth section of the ministry of the Holy Spirit in relationship to the spiritual life is His ministry of filling. The main passage which deals with the Spirit’s ministry of filling is Ephesians 5:18: And be not drunken with wine, wherein is riot, but be filled with the Spirit.
Because the filling of the Spirit is the major ministry of the Holy Spirit in relationship to the spiritual life, it will be discussed in detail in seven parts.
A. The Definition
The first part of the Holy Spirit’s ministry of filling in relationship to the spiritual life is the definition. By way of definition, to be filled with the Spirit means, “to be controlled by the Holy Spirit.” It means, “to be controlled from within.” When the word “filling” is used of the Holy Spirit, it means to be controlled by the Holy Spirit. In Ephesians 5:18, it is being contrasted with drunkenness. When one is filled with alcohol, he is controlled by it (Lk. 1:15; Acts 2:4, 12–18). In contrast to being filled with wine, Paul said: be filled with the [Holy] Spirit. It is from this comparison that we clearly see that to be filled with the [Holy] Spirit means “to be controlled by the Holy Spirit.” That is the simple definition of what it means to be filled with the Spirit.
It is the Holy Spirit’s ministry of filling that results in the spiritual growth of the believer as the believer submits to the control of the Holy Spirit. As long as the believer is being controlled by the Holy Spirit, he is being filled by the Holy Spirit. Filling has two basic concepts: first, it means to expel that which filled or controlled before; secondly, it is control of that which is now filled.
The grammar of Ephesians 5:18 should be carefully studied in order to understand clearly what is meant by “Spirit-filling.” There are four things about the grammar. First, it is imperative: believers are commanded to be filled with the [Holy] Spirit; they are commanded to let the Holy Spirit control them. Secondly, it is in the present tense, which means that Spirit-filling is continuous and can be repeated; we should be filled or controlled by the Holy Spirit many times in our lives. Thirdly, it is a passive voice, meaning that action is being done on the subject; the Holy Spirit is doing the controlling. Fourthly, the Holy Spirit is both agent, by, and the conten, with. The Holy Spirit is the agent who fills us with Himself.
B. The Method
The second part of the Holy Spirit’s ministry of filling is that there are no specific instructions given in the New Testament as to how to be filled. However, in John 7:37–39, Yeshua does provide two principles. First, you have to thirst, which means, “to have a desire” to be filled or controlled by the Holy Spirit. Secondly, you must come … and drink, which means “to do what is necessary” to be filled. In this context it means “to believe on the Messiah.” There must be an initial belief on the Messiah, then an initial walk with the Messiah, and then a continuation in that walk. Matthew 5:6 points out that those who hunger and thirst will be filled. If we hunger and thirst to be filled with the Spirit, we are going to be filled.
According to Colossians 3:16, to be filled, we need to be in subjection to the Word of God.
C. The Command
The third part of the Holy Spirit’s ministry of filling is that it is commanded. Again, the word filled in Ephesians 5:18 is an imperative or a command. It is in the present tense, meaning, “to keep on being filled with the Holy Spirit.” You cannot rely on past experience. Because you were filled with the Holy Spirit in the past does not mean you are filled right now. You must keep on being filled with the Holy Spirit. The passive voice emphasizes that once you commit your life to the Messiah, the Holy Spirit comes into operation, but you must keep on submitting yourself to the authority and control of the Holy Spirit.
D. The Fellowship with God
The fourth part of the Holy Spirit’s ministry of filling is to note the relationship of the filling of the Holy Spirit and the doctrine of being in fellowship. These two things occur simultaneously, but they are not identical. Fellowship means that the sin-question has been dealt with. Filling means to be under the Spirit’s control. Obviously, if you are living in sin, you are no longer being controlled by the Holy Spirit.
E. The Walk
The fifth part of the Holy Spirit’s ministry of filling is the relationship of the filling of the Holy Spirit and walking by means of the Holy Spirit. The distinction is: to be filled with the Holy Spirit means to be controlled by the Holy Spirit, while walking is to be controlled by the newborn human spirit (Gal. 5:16).
F. The Results
The sixth part of the Holy Spirit’s ministry of filling is that there are four results of being filled with the Holy Spirit.
First, the primary result is the likeness of the Messiah. The fruit of the newborn human spirit is produced because it is controlled by the Holy Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit of the likeness of the Messiah is listed in Galatians 5:22–23. There are nine facets of this fruit. First, love, which means doing the will of God and may require different kinds of actions. Secondly, joy, which means seeing other believers advance in the knowledge of the truth (Phil. 2:1–2; 1 Thes. 2:19; 3 Jn. 4). Thirdly, peace, which means tranquility arising from a right relationship with God (Rom. 5:1; Eph. 2:17). Fourthly, longsuffering, which means evenness in character and conduct, including the concept of patient endurance and positive restraint. Fifth, kindness or gentleness, which means beneficent thoughts. Sixth, goodness, meaning kind actions. Seventh, faithfulness, meaning living and serving God with regularity. Eighth, meekness, meaning gentleness. And ninth, self control, which means discipline in all areas of life, especially in the area of morality.
The second result is a life of service. This means the believer’s service in general, and the work of restoration in particular according to Galatians 6:1:
Brethren, even if a man be overtaken in any trespass, ye who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; looking to yourself, lest you also be tempted.
The third result, found in Ephesians 5:19, is that it promotes worship and praise:
… speaking one to another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; …
The fourth result, in Ephesians 5:20, is that it promotes a spirit of thanksgiving:
… giving thanks always for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; …
G. The Distinctions
Finally, the seventh part of the Spirit’s ministry is that there are six distinctions between Spirit baptism and Spirit filling. First, Spirit baptism is not commanded, but filling is commanded. Secondly, for the believer, Spirit baptism is a past ministry of the Spirit, while filling is a present reality. Thirdly, Spirit baptism is true of all believers, but filling is true of only some believers. Fourthly, Spirit baptism only occurs once, whereas filling occurs many times. Fifth, Spirit baptism results in union with the Messiah, but filling brings communion with the Messiah. And sixth, Spirit baptism is a positional truth, but filling is a practical, experiential truth.
V. THE HOLY SPIRIT’S MINISTRY OF ILLUMINATION
The fifth section of the ministry of the Holy Spirit in relation to spiritual life is the ministry of illumination. Illumination, as a work of the Holy Spirit, will be discussed in four aspects.
A. The Definition
The first aspect of the Holy Spirit’s ministry of illumination is its definition. By way of definition, illumination is the work of the Holy Spirit by which He enlightens a man’s mind to enable him to understand what has been revealed by God. There are two ramifications of this definition.
The first ramification is that it does not involve further revelation. Rather, it means to understand what has already been revealed. The Holy Spirit’s work of illumination in the life of the believer today is not giving him more biblical revelation. God has already given us the revelation contained in the written Word. Illumination is His way of enabling us to understand that which has already been revealed by God.
The second ramification of this definition is that it does not involve the raising of natural intelligence. Natural intelligence has nothing to do with illumination. Many unbelievers are more intelligent than many believers. However, the work of illumination is not a work that the Holy Spirit does in the mind of the unbeliever; it is a work limited to the believer. Even the most uneducated believer, the most ignorant believer, can have the work of illumination which is given to him by the Holy Spirit.
B. The Necessity
The second aspect of the Holy Spirit’s ministry of illumination is its necessity. Illumination is essential because of the blindness of the human mind. In Romans 1:21, Paul wrote:
… because that, knowing God, they glorified him not as God, neither gave thanks; but became vain in their reasonings, and their senseless heart was darkened.
As far as spiritual things are concerned, because the mind and the reasoning of man’s mind have become unreasonable or darkened, this work of the Holy Spirit in illumination is necessary. Insofar as Romans 1:21 is concerned, it is speaking of unbelievers, because unbelievers do not have the ministry of illumination.
However, the blindness of the mind is not only true of unbelievers, it is also true of believers. That is why believers need the illuminating work of the Holy Spirit. Paul wrote to believers, distinguishing between believers and unbelievers in 1 Corinthians 2:14:
Now the natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him; and he cannot know them, because they are spiritually judged.
As far as the unbeliever’s mind is concerned, he is incapable of receiving the work of the Holy Spirit in illumination. But the believer’s mind also is unable to comprehend the deep things of God unless the Holy Spirit does that work of illumination in his mind.
2 Corinthians 4:4 states:
… in whom the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should not dawn upon them.
It is Satan who is responsible for blinding the unbeliever’s mind. Because the natural mind is blind, it is unable to understand the deep things of God, and we, as believers, will not be able to understand them either without the Holy Spirit’s work of illumination.
C. The Wisdom of God—1 Corinthians 2:6–16
The third aspect of the Holy Spirit’s ministry of illumination is the wisdom of God according to 1 Corinthians 2:6–16. This passage can be subdivided into three segments.
1. The Wisdom of God and This Age—1 Corinthians 2:6–9
6We speak wisdom, however, among them that are fullgrown: yet a wisdom not of this world, nor of the rulers of this world, who are coming to nought: 7but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, even the wisdom that has been hidden, which God foreordained before the worlds unto our glory: 8which none of the rulers of this world had known: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory: 9but as it is written,
Things which eye saw not, and ear heard not,
And which entered not into the heart of man,
Whatsoever things God prepared for them that love him.
The first segment concerns the wisdom of God and this age, where Paul makes two points.
The first point is that he drew a contrast between God’s wisdom and man’s wisdom in three ways (vv. 6). First, there is a contrast between the source of each: God’s wisdom is from God, but man’s wisdom is from man. Secondly, there is a contrast in the destiny of each: God’s wisdom is eternal, but man’s wisdom is doomed to destruction. Thirdly, there is a contrast in the means of obtaining each: God’s wisdom comes by divine illumination and man’s wisdom comes through human reason.
The second point that Paul points out is the human inability to gain understanding of the wisdom of God (vv. 8).
2. The Wisdom of God and the Holy Spirit—1 Corinthians 2:10–11
10But unto us God revealed them through the Spirit: for the Spirit searches all things, yea, the deep things of God. 11For who among men knows the things of a man, save the spirit of the man, which is in him? even so the things of God none knows, save the Spirit of God.
In the second segment, Paul said three things in discussing the wisdom of God and the Holy Spirit.
The first thing he discusses is the revelation of the Holy Spirit (v. 10a). In the New Testament, the term “reveal” has two connotations. One connotation means “further divine revelation,” the kind that was given to prophets and writers of Scripture. However, that is not the kind, which is spoken of here. The second connotation of the term means, “to illuminate.” This is its usage here. Revealing, in the sense of illumination, is spoken of elsewhere, in Matthew 11:25–27; 16:17; Luke 10:21–22; and Ephesians 1:17. In the 1 Corinthians 2:10–11 passage, Paul is not discussing new revelation, but illumination.
The second thing he discusses is the insight of the Holy Spirit in verse 10b: the [Holy] Spirit [searches] all things, [especially] the deep things of God.
And the third thing is that only the Holy Spirit knows the deep things of God (v. 11).
3. The Wisdom of God and Its Communication—1 Corinthians 2:12–16
12But we received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is from God; that we might know the things that were freely given to us of God. 13Which things also we speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches, but which the Spirit teaches; combining spiritual things with spiritual words. 14Now the natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him; and he cannot know them, because they are spiritually judged. 15But he that is spiritual judges all things, and he himself is judged of no man. 16For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he should instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.
In the third segment, Paul concludes by discussing the wisdom of God and its communication.
Here, he also points out three things.
First, Paul points out the capacity of the believer: it is the ability of the believer to know what God wants him to know (v. 12).
Secondly, he discusses the communication of faith: we receive our faith through the Holy Spirit (v. 13).
Thirdly, he again draws a contrast between the natural man and the spiritual [man] (vv. 14 16). Insofar as the natural man is concerned, he cannot understand the deep things of God. Insofar as the spiritual [man] is concerned, he receives all things, because the spiritual [man] is open to illumination.
The point of this passage is that we need the work of illumination to understand the Scriptures. Of course, Scripture is the basis by which we can live the spiritual life.
D. The Teaching Ministry of the Holy Spirit—John 16:12–15
The fourth aspect of the study on the Holy Spirit’s ministry of illumination concerns the teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit. This passage can be subdivided into three parts.
1. The Need for the Teaching Ministry—John 16:12
The first part is that John points out the need for the teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit.
I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.
Yeshua said to the disciples, “There are yet many things that He needs to teach them.” However, He is not going to teach them right then and there. At that point the disciples were unable to receive them. That is why the Holy Spirit would need to come later in order to illuminate them to understand these things, which Yeshua has been trying to teach them. After His Resurrection, Yeshua came and breathed on them … the Holy Spirit (Jn. 20:22). At that point, the Holy Spirit began to do the work of illumination so they could understand what He was trying to teach them. Yeshua was doing the work of revelation, and later the Spirit would do the work of illumination so they could understand that which was being revealed.
2. The Method of the Teaching Ministry—John 16:13
The second part of the passage points out the method of the teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit, which involves three things.
Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he shall guide you into all the truth: for he shall not speak from himself; but what things soever he shall hear, these shall he speak: and he shall declare unto you the things that are to come.
a. Guiding the Believer
The first thing is guiding; He will guide the believer. Of course, guiding presupposes a willingness to be led into the area of all the truth. We must be willing to be led into the whole truth of the revealed, written Word of God, regardless of the cost. The more we know, the greater the responsibility. Therefore, in order to be guided, we must be willing to be led into all the truth, regardless of the cost, regardless of personal preference, regardless of our present persuasion as to any one area of doctrine.
b. Speaking for the Messiah
The second thing about the method of the teaching of the Holy Spirit is that He will speak for the Messiah. The Holy Spirit will not speak from himself; but what things soever he shall hear, these shall he speak. In other words, the Holy Spirit is not the originator of this new revelation. The originator of the revelation is God the Father through God the Son.
The Holy Spirit has two tasks. First, He did the work of revelation in which He revealed these truths to God’s prophets and apostles. Secondly, He does the work of illumination. While the work of revelation was limited to a select few, the work of illumination is available to all believers today—if we are willing to be led into all the truth.
c. Speaking to Believers
The third thing about the Holy Spirit’s method of teaching is that He will speak to believers. Of course, this presupposes submission. If we are submissive to the Holy Spirit, He is going to illuminate our minds, He is going to teach us.
3. The Purpose of the Teaching Ministry—John 16:14–15
In the third part of the passage, John deals with the purpose of the teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit.
14He shall glorify me: for he shall take of mine, and shall declare it unto you. 15All things whatsoever the Father has are mine: therefore said I, that he takes of mine, and shall declare it unto you.
There are two purposes: first, to glorify the Messiah (v. 14); and secondly, to speak for the Messiah (v. 15).
VI. SINS AGAINST THE HOLY SPIRIT
This is the sixth section of our study on “The Spiritual Life and the Holy Spirit.” The first five sections dealt with specific ministries of the Holy Spirit to the believer which enables him to live the spiritual life. This section deals with specific sins that a person can commit against the Holy Spirit. There are two categories of such sins against the Holy Spirit: those which unbelievers commit and those which believers commit.
A. Sins Committed by Unbelievers
The first category of sins against the Holy Spirit are those committed by unbelievers. There are two sins committed by unbelievers against the Holy Spirit.
1. Blaspheming the Holy Spirit
The first sin is the blasphemy against the [Holy] Spirit, mentioned in Matthew 12:31–32; Mark 3:28–30; and Luke 12:10. This sin is covered in detail in other manuscripts, so there is no need to go into the details here. Simply put, the blasphemy against the [Holy] Spirit was not an individual sin, but it was a national sin. It was committed by the Jewish generation of Yeshua’s day and cannot be applied to later Jewish generations.
The content of the unpardonable sin is the national rejection by Israel of the Messiahship of Yeshua while He was present, on the grounds of His being demon possessed. It was a national sin committed at the time when Yeshua offered Himself to be the Messiah, but was rejected on the basis of His being demon possessed.
Because of the nature of that sin, it was a one-time sin. It was never committed before the events of Matthew 12, and it was never committed after the events of Matthew 12. It was limited to the time when Yeshua offered Himself as Israel’s Messiah and was rejected on the grounds of His being demon possessed.
2. Resisting the Holy Spirit
The second sin committed against the Holy Spirit by unbelievers is that of resisting the Holy Spirit. This is found in Acts 7:51:
Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Spirit: as your fathers did, so do ye.
Here, Stephen was referring back to the experience of the Wilderness Wanderings. He also pointed out that what was true in the Wilderness Wanderings was true also of the leadership he was addressing. Resisting the Holy Spirit means “to be disobedient to the clearly revealed will of God,” especially “to rebel against an appointed authority.” In the context of the Wilderness Wanderings, the appointed authority was Moses. When the people rebelled against Moses, they resisted the Holy Spirit. In the context of Acts 7:51, there was now another appointed leader—Yeshua of Nazareth. When they rejected Him, they were again guilty of resisting the Holy Spirit.
B. Sins Committed by Believers
The second category of sins against to Holy Spirit are those committed by believers. There are three sins against the Holy Spirit which believers can and do commit that affect the spiritual life.
1. Grieving the Holy Spirit
The first sin that can be committed against the Holy Spirit by a believer is grieving the Holy Spirit. This sin is spoken of in Ephesians 4:30:
And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, in whom ye were sealed unto the day of redemption.
The context deals with the “sins of the tongue.” In particular, then, the sins of the tongue is the means by which we can grieve the Holy Spirit. Ultimately, of course, it includes all sins. Every sin we commit is grieving to the Holy Spirit, but, in this context, especially the sins of the tongue.
This verse also points out two things, which are vital about the Holy Spirit and the spiritual life: first, it shows that the Holy Spirit is a person, since “things” could not be grieved; and secondly, it shows the Holy Spirit loves you, which is why He is grieved.
2. Quenching the Holy Spirit
The second sin that a believer can commit against the Holy Spirit is that of quenching the Holy Spirit. This sin is mentioned in 1 Thessalonians 5:19:
Quench not the Spirit; …
In the Greek, the word quench is in the second person plural. The point here is that this is not an individual sin, but it is a group or a congregational sin. In the context, Paul is dealing with spiritual gifts. So the way a congregation quenches the Holy Spirit is by forbidding one to use his spiritual gift.
This does not mean that we should allow the use of spiritual gifts in any and all ways. In several passages of Scripture; such as, 1 Corinthians 12 and 14, Paul lays down specific rules and regulations as to how the spiritual gifts are to be exercised. Even spiritual gifts that lend themselves to an office; such as pastor-teacher (Eph. 4:11), require specific qualifications. The point is this: if all of the rules and regulations of the Scriptures are being obeyed, in that context, we should allow a person to use his spiritual gift. If we do not allow it, then we are quenching the Holy Spirit. Withstanding the Holy Spirit in the local church, especially in reference to using spiritual gifts in accordance with Scripture, means, “to quench the Holy Spirit.”
The distinction between grieving and quenching is this: grieving is an individual sin; quenching is a congregational sin. Furthermore, grieving means we are putting out the work of the Holy Spirit in our own personal life. However, quenching means we are putting out the work of the Holy Spirit in another man’s life.
3. Tempting the Holy Spirit
The third sin committed by believers against the Holy Spirit is that of tempting the Holy Spirit. This one is spoken of in Acts 5:9:
But Peter said unto her, How is it that ye have agreed together to try the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them that have buried your husband are at the door, and they shall carry you out.
Tempting or trying the Holy Spirit means “challenging the Holy Spirit.” It means, “lying to the Holy Spirit.” Believers who make a claim that is not true are lying to the Holy Spirit. In this passage Ananias and Sapphira were claiming something that simply was not true.
VII. UNION WITH THE MESSIAH
The seventh section of this study is our union with the Messiah. This is connected with our topic, “The Spiritual Life and the Holy Spirit,” by virtue of the fact that our union with the Messiah is a by-product of the work of the Holy Spirit. We will discuss our union with the Messiah in five facets.
A. The Meaning
The first facet is the meaning. “What does it mean to be in union with the Messiah?” Let me mention three things.
First, union involves the principle of identification in that we identify ourselves with the Messiah, especially in His death, burial, and Resurrection (Rom. 6:11; Gal. 2:20). We are totally identified with the Messiah and the life which [we] now live is the Messiah living in us.
Second, union with the Messiah is the redeemed man’s new environment in the sphere of resurrection life. We are now living a new type of life, in a new sphere of life.
Third, union with Messiah carries the concept of being in Christ, in contrast of being “in Adam.” This is seen in three ways. First, as to justification: in Adam there is no justification, only condemnation; but in Christ justification is complete and we now have eternal life. Secondly, as to sanctification: in Adam we were enslaved to sin; but in Christ we are servants of righteousness. And thirdly, as to glory: in Adam we were destined for the second death; but in Christ, we are destined to resurrection unto life.
B. The Means: Spirit Baptism
The second facet is the means. As to means: we are united with the Messiah by means of Spirit baptism according to 1 Corinthians 12:13.
Concerning Spirit baptism, let me review five things: first, it includes all believers; secondly, every believer is baptized only once, not many times; thirdly, it is not conscious or experiential; fourthly, by itself it is not a display of power, but it may result in power; and fifth, it marks a position of authority, for it provides spiritual authority in spiritual warfare.
C. The Position: God’s Work and Provision
The third facet is the position. “What does the position of being united with the Messiah mean?” The position means God’s work and God’s provision. This involves five things.
First, it means that positionally, we have been co-crucified with the Messiah. When the Messiah died, we died (Rom. 6:3; Gal. 2:20; Col. 1:21–22). Being co-crucified with the Messiah means that we are dead to the sin-nature. Not that the sin-nature has been eradicated, but we are dead to it, and it no longer has any authority over us. We no longer are obligated to obey the sin-nature whatsoever!
The second thing about this position is that we have been co-buried with the Messiah (Rom. 6:4; Col. 2:12). This means liberation from the sin-nature. It means that the believer has been removed from the sphere into which he was born and was moved out of the cosmos over which Satan is the prince.
The third thing about our position is that we have been co-resurrected with the Messiah (Rom. 6:4–5; Eph. 2:1, 5; Phil. 3:10; Col. 2:12; 3:1). Being co-resurrected with the Messiah means that we are now righteous unto God.
Fourth, to summarize our position: we are dead to the control of the sin-nature—co-crucified, and Satan—co-buried, and we live a life to God—co-resurrected. This summary is taught in Ephesians 6:9–16.
The fifth thing about this position is spelled out in Romans 6:1–10, which makes two points. First, a death has taken place. Biblically, death means “separation.” Being dead to sin means that we are separated from the power of the sin-nature that caused the believer to continue in sin. Positionally, we are dead to the sin-nature; we are separated from it. It has no authority over us whatsoever! The word “destroy” does not mean “to annihilate,” but “to render inoperative” the body of sin. The body of sin, the sin-nature, has been rendered inoperative; it no longer has any authority over us. Secondly, a resurrection has also taken place. We have been resurrected to newness of life. We no longer need to serve sin, but are free to live a life of righteousness.
D. The Practice: The Believer’s Responsibility
The fourth facet about our union with the Messiah concerns practice, which is the believer’s responsibility. Position has to do with God’s work and provision, but the practice concerns our responsibility. The believer’s responsibility is: to present [our] bodies a living sacrifice (Rom. 12:1). The word present means, “to yield.” This truth is taught by Romans 6:12 and Colossians 1:22.
The most extensive passage on the practice of our union with the Messiah is Romans 6:11–23, where Paul makes four points.
11Even so reckon ye also yourselves to be dead unto sin, but alive unto God in Christ Jesus.
12Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey the lusts thereof: 13neither present your members unto sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves unto God, as alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. 14For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under law, but under grace
15What then? shall we sin, because we are not under law, but under grace? God forbid. 16Know ye not, that to whom ye present yourselves as servants unto obedience, his servants ye are whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? 17But thanks be to God, that, whereas ye were servants of sin, ye became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching whereunto ye were delivered; 18and being made free from sin, ye became servants of righteousness. 19I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye presented your members as servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity, even so now present your members as servants to righteousness unto sanctification. 20For when ye were servants of sin, ye were free in regard of righteousness. 21What fruit then had ye at that time in the things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death. 22But now being made free from sin and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto sanctification, and the end eternal life. 23For the wages of sin is death; but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
The first point is: know. “What are we to know?” We are to know that we are dead [to] sin through our union with the Messiah’s death (v. 11). We need to know that. That is why biblical doctrine is so vitally important. We are to know that we are alive [to] God through our union with the Messiah’s Resurrection. Because of our union with the Messiah’s death, we are dead [to] sin. Because of our union with the Messiah’s Resurrection, we are now alive [to] God.
The second point is: reckon. Reckon this to be true. This means, “count on it,” “believe that it is true,” count on it and act as if it is true, because it is true. In other words, we are to reckon the facts of Romans 6:1–10 as being true of us. The word reckon literally means “to calculate.” It is a mathematical term; it is to calculate in order to apply to the account. In other words, a provision has been made, now we need to exercise the will and reckon that this provision is true.
The third point is: stop yielding. Stop yielding your body as instruments of unrighteousness; stop yielding to the body of sin (vv. 12–13a).
And the fourth point is: start yielding. But start yielding your body as instruments of righteousness; start yielding to the newborn human spirit (v. 13b).
That is what the practice means: we are to present, we are to yield—after knowing the facts and reckoning them to be true—our body as instruments of righteousness.
E. The Balance
The fifth and last facet about our union with the Messiah is the balance. There are two extremes in teachings on spiritual life: the God-does-it-all extreme and the man-does-it-all extreme. The balance is Galatians 2:20:
I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I that live, but Christ lives in me: and that life which I now live in the flesh I live in faith, the faith which is in the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself up for me.
One extreme states: “Let go and let God. The Holy Spirit does it all; you do not do anything.” The second extreme states: “Now that you are saved, you are to do it all to make it.” Both extremes are wrong because, in actuality, both God and man are involved. In fact, to counteract the God-does-it-all extreme, Paul wrote the Book of Colossians in which he said much about the spiritual life but never mentioned the Holy Spirit, not even once. To counteract the man-does-it-all extreme, he wrote the Book of Galatians, emphasizing the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
The balance is clearly spelled out in two books: Romans and Ephesians. Paul pointed out that God has made a provision; now you have to live it in that power. For example, Romans 1–11 deals with the position of our union with the Messiah, chapters 12–16 deal with the practice. Ephesians 1–3 deal with the position; chapters 4–6 deal with the practice. We need to balance the two extremes. Both God and man are involved together in living out the life of a believer.
VIII. THE WORD OF GOD AND THE SPIRITUAL LIFE
The eighth section of our study on “The Spiritual Life and the Holy Spirit” concerns the Word of God and the spiritual life. In discussing illumination, we pointed out that the ministry of illumination is to enlighten the mind of the believer to understand that which God has revealed in His Word. This section will be discussed in three parts.
A. The Symbols
The first part is the fourteen different symbols used for the Word of God.
The first symbol is a hammer (Jer. 23:29). The Word of God is a hammer in order to break the hardened heart of man.
The second symbol is a critic (Heb. 4:12). The Greek word used is kritikos. Our English word “critic” comes from this Greek word. It means, “to discern the feelings and thoughts of the heart.” The Word of God has the ability to discern the innermost parts of man.
The third symbol is a mirror (2 Cor. 3:18; Jas. 1:23–25). The mirror is there to reveal the true condition of man.
The fourth symbol is a laver (Ps. 119:9; Jn. 15:3; Eph. 5:26). This shows how the Word of God is able to do the work of washing from defilement; it does the work of sanctification.
The fifth symbol is a seed (Lk. 8:11; 1 Pet. 1:23). The seed in the believer is for the soil of the believer in sowing the seeds for good works. The seed is the good works the believer commits in response to his obligations to the Word of God.
The sixth symbol is the sun (Ps. 19:1–6). The sun helps the seed that has been sown in the heart of the believer to grow.
The seventh and eighth symbols are the rain and the snow (Is. 55:10–11). Both have the same purpose, so that the seed, sown in the believer, can sprout and grow into spiritual life.
The ninth symbol is food (Job 23:12). In the area of food there are three ramifications: first, milk for baby believers (1 Cor. 3:2; Heb. 5:12–13); secondly, bread for the mature (Deut. 8:3; Is. 55:1–2); and thirdly, meat for the full-grown believer (1 Cor. 3:2; Heb. 5:12–14).
The tenth symbol is honey (Ps. 19:10). This emphasizes the sweetness of the Word of God.
The eleventh symbol is gold (Ps. 19:10; 119:72). This shows that the Word of God is wealth for the poor.
The twelfth symbol is a lamp (Ps. 119:105; Prov. 6:23; 2 Pet. 1:19). This emphasizes how the Word is a provision of light.
The thirteenth symbol is a sword (Eph. 6:17; Heb. 4:12; Rev. 19:15). The Word of God is a sword for the spiritual warfare.
The fourteenth symbol is fire (Jer. 20:9; 23:29). This emphasizes the Word of God as doing the work of refining the believer.
These fourteen symbols for the Word of God all emphasize different facets of the Word of God in the spiritual life. They become workable only through the work of the Holy Spirit in illuminating our minds to understand this Word.
B. The Word of the Word of God
The second part by way of the Word of God and the spiritual life is to deal with the “word” of the Word of God. What is the word of the Word of God? Altogether, the word of the Word of God is seven things.
The first thing is that the word is the seed, the gospel seed that brings forth life (Mat. 13:23; Mk. 4:20; Lk. 8:11). When the gospel word was sown in our hearts and we believed it, it issued into eternal life.
The second thing is that it is an instrument of the new birth (Jn. 15:3; 1 Pet. 1:23).
The third thing is that it is the agent for cleansing (Ps. 119:9; Eph. 5:26). It is the means by which we are cleansed of our sins.
The fourth thing is that it is the agent of sanctification (Jn. 17:17). As we conform to the demands of the Word of God we are, in turn, being conformed more and more to the image of the Son of God.
The fifth thing is that it is the means of growth (Heb. 5:13–14). We grow by means of the Word of God.
The sixth thing is that it is the means of transformation (2 Cor. 3:18). The Word of God transforms us as we submit to it.
And the seventh thing is that it is the key to service (2 Tim. 3:15–17). We can only understand how we can best serve God by means of the written Word of God.
Again, all of this is impossible unless we understand the Word of God, and we can only understand it by the Holy Spirit’s work of illumination.
C. The Believer’s Responsibility
The third and last part about the Word of God and the spiritual life concerns the believer’s responsibility. Basically, the believer’s responsibility to the Word of God, insofar as the spiritual life is concerned, is twofold.
First, he is responsible to meditate upon the Word of God. Meditation involves contemplating with the mind upon the Word of God so that we clearly understand what the Scriptures teach and, therefore, it can have an effect in our lives. There are several Scriptures that emphasize the importance of meditating upon the Word of God: Joshua 1:8; Psalm 1:2; 104:34; 119:11, 15, 97, 99; Jeremiah 15:6; Matthew 4:4; Romans 15:4; Philippians 4:8; and Colossians 3:16–17. However, meditating upon the Word of God does presuppose studying the Word of God. We cannot meditate upon that which we have not studied. So, first and foremost, it emphasizes the importance of studying the Word of God.
Second, it also implies memorizing the Word of God. We cannot meditate on that which we do not have in the mind. It gets into the mind by means of memorization. To meditate presupposes studying the Word of God and it implies memorizing the Word of God. The purpose is to obey the Word of God. By means of studying, memorizing, and meditating, we will know what it demands and, therefore, we can obey it.
The believer’s first responsibility, then, is to meditate upon the word and the second responsibility is to integrate doctrine and practice. James 1:23–24 states:
23For if any one is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a mirror: 24for he beholds himself, and goes away, and straightway forgets what manner of man he was.
The point of these verses is that we have the responsibility of integrating what we have learned doctrinally with day-to-day practice. The Greek word that James used for the term one is the term “male.” It is especially obligatory for the male, since he is the spiritual head of the home.
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