Foundations in Faith 5:
Whole and Holy
God's plan for each and every Christian is that we grow, “To the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13).
We grow as we read and study the Word of God, allowing the Lord to apply His Word to our lives, forming and shaping us. We grow as we live that Word day by day. We grow as we learn to fellowship with the Lord in prayer and in worship. We grow as we allow the Lord to minister to us in those areas of life where we are weak, hurting, immature or vulnerable to sin.
As we honestly open our hearts to Him, He progressively establishes His wholeness and holiness in us. This process is called sanctification.
Whole and Holy includes three lessons:
Receiving the Ministry of Jesus
Holy Spirit, Holy Life
Foundations in Faith 5:
Whole and Holy
Through repentance and faith in the atoning blood of Jesus, we stand before God justified. This is our position before God — forgiven of sin, declared by God to be just, righteous. This is a complete and finished act: “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1).
But there is also a process ongoing in our lives. This is called sanctification. Whereas justification refers to the removal of our sin and guilt before God, sanctification refers to the progressive work whereby we are cleansed of the corruption which sin brought about in us, a process of transformation in the grace and knowledge and likeness of Jesus.
On the night before He died for us, Jesus prayed to the Father on behalf of all His followers, “Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth” (John 17:17). The word sanctify is hagiazo. It has to do with being set apart. Having redeemed us from slavery to sin, God sets us apart from sin for Himself and for His purposes, to serve and glorify Him.
Hagiazo is the basis for the New Testament word saint — hagios — holy ones, people set apart. Saint is the word Paul used in his letters to greet all the members of the churches: “To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours” (I Cor. 1:2).
Since we are all “saints by calling,” what does it mean to be sanctified, set apart by God?
1. Sanctification is God’s revealed will for us.
“For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality” (I Thes. 4:3).
God’s will for our lives is that we trust in the blood of Christ shed for us whereby we are redeemed from sin and declared to be righteous. Having been saved, God’s will is that we would continue on in a progressive journey of sanctification — not simply declared to be righteous but growing in righteousness, becoming righteous persons. Abstaining from sin, of which sexual immorality is but one example, is not merely abstaining from the act of sin but putting away the desire for that sin. Purity of heart is not simply not doing something sinful. It is not wanting to do that sinful act. This is God’s revealed will for each of us.
2. Sanctification is God’s eternal choice for us.
“But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification” (2 Thes 2:13).
We have been chosen from the beginning — from eternity — not just for salvation but “salvation through sanctification.” Salvation is God’s gift to those who believe in Christ but salvation includes the process of being made holy. This dual gift — salvation and holiness — is a gift which God designed for us before the beginning of the universe.
3. Sanctification is a work of the Holy Spirit.
“God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit” (2 Thes 2:13).
“By the Spirit” refers to the Third Person of the Trinity. The Holy Spirit came to indwell us when we were spiritually regenerated through faith in Christ. He is working in us to bring us into conformity with God’s design for our lives. Peter refers to this as “the sanctifying work of the Spirit” (I Peter 1:2).
4. The instrument or means which the Holy Spirit uses is “faith in the truth.”
“God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth” (2 Thes 2:13).
“Faith in the truth” refers to our trust in God’s word. Sanctification occurs as the Holy Spirit takes the word of God and applies it to our hearts and empowers us to live that word. God’s truth revealed in the Bible is the Spirit’s instrument for producing holy change in us. As we read the word, listen to the word skillfully taught, meditate on the word and live it, the Lord shines the light of truth into us and uses this truth to change us from the inside out — we are challenged, corrected, refreshed, strengthened, nourished, equipped. People who do not believe in the truthfulness of God’s word cannot grow in holiness and may not have been redeemed to begin with, since salvation results from believing the good news that Jesus died an atoning death for our sins and rose from the dead.
The implication in this verse is that if we are not following in the way of holiness then we may question if we have entered the way of salvation. Or to put it another way, holiness is the evidence of salvation. This does not infer perfection for we will never cease to sin as long as we are living in this world. But salvation initiates a process of gradual sanctification and if that process is not ongoing and visible — inner cleansing resulting in progressively changed outward action — then how can we say we were saved?
5. Sanctification must be our pursuit.
“Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14).
We are directed to pursue sanctification as, an intentional choice, a lifestyle, something we cultivate, desire. Without holiness, we will not see the Lord in the sense of having fellowship with Him. How can we enjoy communion with a holy God if we are not pursuing holiness?
6. Sanctification is a cooperative work.
Sanctification is a work which God produces in us: “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (I Thes. 5:23).
Only God can produce His holiness in us but we must choose to yield our lives to God’s work. The Holy Spirit takes God’s word of truth and applies it to our hearts and empowers us to live that truth but we must choose to live it. When the Spirit of God pierces our heart with the truth of our sin, we accept accountability by confessing our sin. Confess means to say the same thing — we agree with the Lord. As we submit to the Holy Spirit and obey the word of truth, as we commit ourselves to live that truth, as we confess our sins and failures and open our lives to God’s restoring grace, we are progressively transformed in the grace and knowledge and likeness of Jesus.
Our will is involved in this. We choose to refuse sin. We choose to resist temptation. We choose to do that which is holy. We choose to obey the truth. We choose to repent when we fail. We choose to accept God’s restoring, forgiving grace.
When Paul said, “For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality …” (I Thes. 4:3,4), he was referring to choices which we make each day. Only God can produce His holiness in us but we must choose to surrender to God’s will day by day.
Paul exhorted the church, “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure” (Phlpns. 2:12,13). It is God who works in us but we must choose to work with Him. It’s a cooperative work.
6. Sanctification is the result of our union with Christ.
Whereas we were formerly dead in our sins and separated from God, we are now “alive together with Christ,” raised with Him and seated with Him in the heavenly places (Eph. 2:5,6). The Apostle Paul reminds us that because our life is “hidden with Christ in God” (Col. 3:3), we are now able to put off our former way of life and “put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him” (Col. 3:10).
Paul, writing to the church at Corinth reminds the church who they once were and who they have now become, “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God” (I Cor. 6:9-11).
“Such were some of you” Paul says to the church in reference to those particular sins that he listed. In fact, the entire church had been separated from God by sin but the good news is that “you were washed … sanctified … justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
This is true for all of us — we were once separated from God by sin but we are now reconciled to God and sanctified (set apart) by God to serve and glorify Him. This process of sanctification is taking place through our union with Christ, our life in Him.
7. Sanctification involves conflict.
Choosing to resist the desires of our unredeemed humanness (the Bible calls this our flesh) is a constant struggle. Our unredeemed human nature wrestles against our new nature. Speaking of this warfare, the Apostle Paul said, “For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want” (Rom. 7:19).
Before we surrendered our life to Christ, our self will was enthroned. Now the rebel has been removed from the throne, Christ has been enthroned as Lord and His Holy Spirit now lives in us. But we must choose every day to resist the flesh and submit to the Holy Spirit:
“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please” (Gal. 5:16,17).
In Jesus we are more than conquerors. We are even able to conquer our own unredeemed humanness as we surrender daily to the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit enables us to realize when we sin, empowers us to confess and turn from our sin, ministers the restoring grace of God to us and enables us to walk on with a pure heart.
8. The immediate goal of sanctification is a life that glorifies God.
The Lord’s desire for us in this life is that we will be “a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work” (2 Tim. 2:21).
God has prepared works for each of us so that we can glorify Him with the time, resources and opportunity that He gives us (see Eph. 2:10). We can accomplish these works and truly glorify God only as we live and walk and work in holiness. This is so because only God can perform His works through us. And how can we partner in ministry with a holy God except that we walk in holiness?
9. The ultimate goal of sanctification is to stand before God, blameless.
Someday we will stand before God blameless in holiness. The Apostle Paul reminds us that Jesus loves the church and gave Himself up for her, “So that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless” (Eph. 5:26,27).
In fact, this future day is so certain that the writer to the Hebrews says, “For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified” (Hebr. 10:14). He does not mean that we have been made perfect today but that our present position before God is perfect and therefore our future standing before God is perfectly secure, as completely established as our present standing.
10. Sanctification is the highway to eternal life.
“But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life” (Rom. 6:22).
Salvation is an event and a process. We were saved from sin when we trusted in Christ’s redeeming work on the cross. This led to the process of being made holy — sharing the holiness of God. This leads to eternal life — sharing the life of God.
From eternity God chose to set His love upon us, not only to redeem us but to share His holiness with us. The Apostle Paul’s goal for the church was to present the members to Christ “as a pure virgin” (2 Cor. 11:2). That is our final destiny and the Apostle John saw that great day as he gazed into the heavenly vision:
“Then I heard something like the voice of a great multitude and like the sound of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, saying, ‘Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.’ It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints” (Rev. 19:6-8).
Someday we will stand before God as a pure and holy bride. We live toward that day as we surrender hour by hour to the cleansing, transforming work of the Holy Spirit, as we honestly confess our failures and gratefully receive God’s restoring sanctifying grace.
1. What does it mean to be sanctified? (look for the word hagiazo)
2. How is sanctification a cooperative work?
3. What is the immediate goal of sanctification?
4. What is the ultimate goal of sanctification?
Reborn by the power of God, we are new creatures in Christ. Is there life after birth? Yes, it is the nature of living things to grow and it is the Lord’s purpose that we grow in the grace and knowledge and likeness of Christ.
Why is it important that we grow? So we can fulfill the priesthood which God has prepared for us. We are priests and as we grow into the image of Christ we are able to fulfill His purpose for our lives.
God’s purpose for your life is completely unique. The combination of gifts, talent, personality and opportunity which the Lord invested in you will never again be duplicated. You are a once in a universe event.
In order to grow into the fulness of our priesthood, we need to cultivate a healthy devotion to the Word of God. We need to develop a rich life of prayer and worship. We also grow as we allow the Lord to minister release, recovery, liberty, forgiveness and restoration to any areas of weakness, brokenness, immaturity or sin in our lives.
Jesus wants to replace our burdens with His rest. He wants to minister abundant life to us. He wants us to abide in Him as He abides in us, as branches on a vine drawing life from the vine, so that we can fulfill His priestly calling on our lives and glorify God in our generation.
A. Take a moment and read Luke 4:16-21
1. What did Jesus say He is anointed to do? (Anointing refers to God’s consecration and empowerment for ministry).
2. Does Jesus still carry this anointing?
3. How do you interpret this Scripture: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).
4. Are there any areas of your life where you need for Jesus, the "Anointed One,” to minister release, recovery, liberty, healing, forgiveness or restoration to you?
5. God heals the brokenhearted (Psalm 147:3). Is this still true?
6. Do you believe Jesus cares enough about you to minister these blessings to you?
7. How do you interpret this Scripture: “This is the confidence which we have before Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us” (I John 5:14).
8. How do we receive Jesus' ministry and how do you interpret this Scripture: “Ask and it shall be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7).
9. How do you interpret this Scripture: “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety (care, discouragement, despair, suffering) on Him, because He cares for you” (I Peter 5:7).
10. If we do not allow the Lord to minister to us in these areas of need, will our growth as a Christian be hindered?
As we humble ourselves before the Lord, confessing areas of weakness or immaturity; as we honestly confess our sins and ask the Lord to cleanse and deliver us, He does.
B. Take a moment and read Matthew11:28-30 and Psalm 55:22
1. What does Jesus want us to do with the labors and burdens of this life?
2. What blessing does He want to give us in place of the burdens?
3. What must we do to receive that blessing?
4. What is a yoke and what does it mean to be yoked to Jesus?
5. One of the marks of maturity in the Lord is the ability to refrain from carrying problems on our own shoulders, the capacity to rest in the storm. How do we cultivate that kind of maturity?
6. How do we accept responsibility / accountability for our priesthood while giving our burdens over to the Lord?
Even as we accept the responsibilities the Lord has entrusted to us, we also continually surrender to Him our strengths and our weaknesses, our gifts and our burdens, our hopes and our fears. As we honestly open our hearts to Him, He “yokes” us to Himself ever more deeply, extending His Lordship into every area where we need His ministry.
C. Take a moment and read John 10:10,11 and Psalm 23
1. What does a shepherd do?
2. What is abundant life? How do we receive it?
3. In Psalm 23 we read about the blessings off the Shepherd:
a. What are green pastures and quiet waters?
b. He restores my soul (Psalms 23:3). What does that mean?
As a shepherd cares for His sheep, so Jesus cares for us. He leads, guides, forgives and restores, sharing His life with us. This is abundant life — sharing the life of Jesus.
D. Take a moment and read John 15:1-11
1. What is the relationship between a branch and a vine?
2. What does a vinedresser do?
3. What does it mean to prune a branch? (15:2)
3. Is God's ministry to us sometimes a ministry of discipline? (see Hebrews 12:5-11)
4. What does Jesus mean when He says, "Abide in me and I in you?” (15:4)
5. When we abide in Jesus, what does He say will happen? (15:5)
6. When we do not abide in Jesus, what does He say will happen? (15:6)
7. Jesus says it is His will that we bear much fruit (15:7-16). What is a fruitful life?
8. Jesus said, “For each tree is known by its own fruit” (Luke 6:44). What does that mean?
9. If we are alive in the Lord, will others see His life in our growth and in the fruit we bear?
Abiding in Jesus means we live submitted to His Lordship. We gratefully allow Him to garden our growing. Jesus is a wise, loving, gentle and uncompromising gardener. He carefully cultivates our lives, knowing His purpose for each of us. When He sees anything in us that would harm us or others, anything that would impair His design for our fruitfulness, He shows us. If we allow Him, He will remove it, prune it out of our lives.
E. Take a moment and consider this Scripture:
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:9).
If we will be the priests Christ has ordained us to be, it is necessary that we humble ourselves before Him, confessing those areas of our life where we need forgiveness or restoration. He not only forgives, He also cleanses and restores, prunes and cultivates.
As we pray, as we worship and especially as we read, study and obey His word, as we live His truth and humble ourselves before Him, Jesus will minster His wholeness and holiness to us.
Foundations in Faith 5:
Whole and Holy
Holy Spirit, Holy Life
God’s will for us is that we grow in the grace and knowledge and likeness of Jesus. This new life is, at its roots, profoundly different from our former life. Before we were born anew, we were dominated by the values of a fallen world and a human nature that was inherently sinful and rebellious.
Our new life is defined by the values of the kingdom of God and a new nature. This is a holy life, devoted to the Lord. How can we live a holy life in a world so evil? Only by the power of the Holy Spirit. The same Spirit who birthed us into new creation will enable us to live this new life.
The word holy is derived from the early English word hal, from which we derive the words heal and whole. To grow in holiness is to become a whole person. This process is called consecration or sanctification. It means growing, maturing into the image of Christ. Only the Holy Spirit can bring about this growth in us. He does so as we yield our lives to Him.
A. The Promise of the Holy Spirit:
Take a moment and read Ezekiel 36:24-27 and Joel 2:28-32
Ezekiel, prophesying after the destruction of Israel by the Babylonians, said that a day would come when God would regather Israel and cleanse them, give them a new heart and would put His Spirit within them. This process of regathering has begun with the establishing of the modern state of Israel but complete fulfillment of the prophecy awaits the end time when many Jews will recognize Jesus as Messiah. They will be cleansed and the Holy Spirit will indwell them.
However, Joel expands this prophecy, proclaiming a coming day when the Lord will pour out His Spirit “on all mankind.” Not only Jews, but all people will have the opportunity to stand in this outpouring. The prophecy of Ezekiel and Joel is being accomplished now among Gentiles and Jews who repent of sin and place their faith in Jesus, the holy Lamb and risen Lord. God cleanses us of sin, gives us a new heart to love Him and places His Spirit within us.
Take a moment and read John 7:37-39
Jesus renewed the Old Testament prophecies, promising that all who believe in Him will experience “rivers of living water” rising up from their inner being. This is a reference to the Holy Spirit, “Whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given because Jesus was not yet glorified” (John 7:39). (Glorified refers to the atoning sacrifice, resurrection and ascension of Jesus. Prior to the cleansing which resulted from the atonement, the Holy Spirit could not indwell sinful people).
Jesus said that after He departed, the Father would send “another Helper that He may be with you forever; that is, the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive because it does not see Him or know Him but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you” (John 14:16,17). The word Helper is Paracletos and refers to one who is called alongside, an Advocate, Comforter. Notice Jesus said that He is “with you” now but “will be in you.”
Jesus promised that after He returned to the Father, the Lord would send the Third Person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, also called the Helper, Comforter and the Spirit of truth, to live in us.
B. The Convicting Power of the Holy Spirit
Take a moment and read John 3:3-6
Jesus said that we must be born again to see the kingdom of God. Born again may also be translated born from above, that is, by the power of God. It is the Holy Spirit who applies the Word of God to our hearts and brings us to a place of repentance and faith. As we turn from our sin and trust in the sacrifice of Jesus on our behalf, the Spirit of God regenerates us — we who were spiritually dead are made alive in Christ. We are reborn us as children of God (see John 1:12,13). Only the Holy Spirit can fulfill God’s promise to make us new creatures filled with His Spirit.
C. The Indwelling Presence of the Holy Spirit:
Take a moment and read Acts 2:1-4
On the day of Pentecost (a Jewish festival), the Holy Spirit was poured out on the gathered disciples of Jesus in fulfillment of the Lord’s promise. The Spirit of God came to indwell the followers of Christ. Since that day, the gift of the Spirit is received when we place our faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior. The infilling of the Holy Spirit occurs at our new birth.
Notice that the disciples spoke in a variety of languages on that day, enabling them to praise God and preach the gospel to a variety of nations. The proof of a Spirit-filled life is a life empowered by the Holy Spirit who glorifies Jesus in us and through us.
Take a moment and read Acts 2:14-39
The Spirit-filled prayer meeting spilled out into the streets of Jerusalem and Simon Peter, after testifying that this outpouring of the Holy Spirit was a fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy (Acts 2:16-21), preached the first sermon of the newly born church. His message centered on Jesus — crucified and risen from the dead (Acts 2:22-36).
Notice that after Peter finished preaching, the people “were pierced to the heart” (2:37). The Holy Spirit used the word of God to pierce the heart of unbelievers with the reality of sin, the consequences of sin and God’s offer of saving grace. The result is that people cried out, “What shall we do?”
Peter responded, “Repent and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
1. According to Peter, the Holy Spirit is what?
The Holy Spirit is God’s gift.
2. Who qualifies for this gift?
As many as God calls to Himself will be forgiven of sin and given the gift of the Holy Spirit.
3. Who does God call to Himself?
Those who repent and place their faith in Christ.
Take a moment and read Galatians 2:20 and also Romans 8:9-11
1. Who lives in us now?
Christ lives in us (through the presence and person of the Holy Spirit).
2. If you have surrendered your life to the Lordship of Jesus, does His Spirit dwell in you?
Take a moment and read I Corinthians 3:16
1. We are a temple of what?
A temple of God.
2. Who lives in us now?
God’s Spirit lives in us.
Take a moment and read Ephesians 1:13,14
1. The Holy Spirit is given as what?
The Holy Spirit is given as a seal and as a pledge.
Having believed the gospel, we were sealed with the Holy Spirit. The word seal refers to the mark that was placed on a document signifying that it was under the authority of the person who stamped or sealed that letter or contract. The Holy Spirit living in us signifies that we are under the authority and ownership of God. We have been purchased by God and will be preserved by God through time and eternity. The Holy Spirit guarantees our security.
The Holy Spirit is also given as a pledge, deposit or promise of our inheritance in Christ. Someday we will be entirely redeemed — body, soul and spirit. We will reign with Christ and inherit, with Him, a recreated universe.
D. The Work of the Holy Spirit
1. The Holy Spirit purifies and transforms us:
Take a moment and read Malachi 3:1-3
How does Malachi define the work of the Lord?
He refines and purifies.
What does the process of refining involve?
A refiner of silver heats the silver, which causes the impurities to come to the surface. He skims off this dross and continues the heating and skimming process. He knows the silver is pure when he can see his reflection in the molten metal. This is what the Holy Spirit is doing in our lives — skimming the impurities until He can see the image of Jesus in us.
Take a moment and read Matthew 3:11,12
John the Baptist said, in reference to Jesus, “He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire … He will gather His wheat into the barn, but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”
The baptism which Jesus brings, the Holy Spirit and fire, does not necessarily refer to final judgment but to present cleansing. When we receive Jesus as our Lord, the Holy Spirit comes to dwell within the believer for the purpose of guiding us into truth, cleansing us from sin and preparing a people holy unto the Lord. Likewise, the image of the winnowing fork and the chaff burned in the fire do not only refer to final judgment. The winnowing fork speaks of the present ministry of Jesus working in harmony with and through the Holy Spirit, separating out of our lives those sins, habits and characteristics which are as useless as chaff, while confirming the wheat, which speaks of the life of Christ in us. The fire refers not merely to final fire of destruction but the purifying fire of the Divine Refiner, that is, the present work of the Holy Spirit cleansing us of sinful habits and attitudes which work death and destruction in us.
Take a moment and read 2 Corinthians 3:18 and I John 3:2,3
Into whose image are we being transformed?
2. The Holy Spirit witnesses within us:
Take a moment and read Romans 8:14-17
The Holy Spirit witnesses within us that we are children of God, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Jesus. He does this by giving us the power to live our new life and by producing in us the fruit of the life of Christ.
3. The Holy Spirit prays within us:
Take a moment and read Romans 8:26,27
The Holy Spirit knows us perfectly and knows the mind of God perfectly and so is able to pray for us in perfect agreement with the purpose of God for our lives and for this world.
4. The Holy Spirit teaches us about Jesus.
Take a moment and read John 14:26
How does the Holy Spirit teach us about Jesus and reveal Jesus to us?
The Holy Spirit reveals Jesus to us and teaches us by opening our minds and hearts to the Word of God, enabling us to understand spiritual truth and live it. The same Spirit who inspired the writing of the Bible indwells us and interprets the Word to us. The Holy Spirit also raises up Godly teachers of the Word who help us to learn and grow. The Spirit of truth enables us to discern ungodly, false teachers. The Spirit ushers us into the present reality of Jesus as we pray and worship.
5. The Holy Spirit empowers us to be His witnesses.
Take a moment and read Acts 1:8
The word power is dunamis, from which we derive the English words dynamite, dynamo and dynamic. The Holy Spirit works powerfully through us as we tell the world about Jesus.
E. The Fruit of the Spirit
Take a moment and read Galatians 5:17-26
1. What are the deeds of the flesh? (5:19-21)
2. Will those who practice these things enter the Kingdom of God? (5:21)
3. What are the fruit of the Spirit? (list them — 5:22,23)
The fruit of the Spirit is a description of the character of Christ. Only the Holy Spirit can produce the character of Christ in us but He requires our cooperation. We must be willing to turn from the old life and practice the new life.
F. Working with the Spirit
Take a moment and read Colossians 3:1-17
1. What does it mean to “consider ourselves dead” to sin? (3:1-5)
2. What does it mean to “put off” the practices of our former life? (3:8)
3. As we lay aside our former habits, the Holy Spirit is renewing us into whose image? (3:9,10)
4. List the character traits of our new life. (3:12-17)
5. What does it mean to “put on” compassion, love, etc.? (3:12-17)
We put off our old nature by refusing to entertain the thoughts or practice the deeds that characterized our former life. We put on the new nature by practicing the new life: obeying the Word of God, submitting to the leading of the Holy Spirit, forsaking our sins, honestly confessing when we fail and allowing the Lord Jesus to forgive, cleanse and restore us.
G. Separated by the Spirit
Take a moment and read II Corinthians 6:14 - 7:1
1. What do Christians have in common with the world-system? (6:14-16)
2. What does this mean, “We are the temple of the living God?” (6:16)
3. How can we “be separate” and still live in the world? (6:17)
4. Do sons and daughters resemble those to whom they are related? (6:18)
5. What does it mean to be “perfecting holiness in the fear (reverence) of God?” (7:1)
The word perfecting means to complete. We are exhorted to complete the work of holiness which the Holy Spirit has begun in us as we continually resist the temptations of the world, repent of sin and follow after Christ as we reverence, worship God.
What a marvelous truth — the Spirit of God lives in us! By His presence and power, we are able to live a holy life in the midst of a corrupt and dying world.
H. Conformed by the Spirit
Take a moment and read I Peter 1:13-23
1. The society in which we live has a formative influence on our lives. How does Peter tell us to resist being conformed to the world? (1:13,14)
2. To whom are we to pattern ourselves after? (1:15,16)
As we fix our hearts and minds on Christ, He will progressively conform us to Himself and transform us in His likeness. There are times when we stumble and sin but the Lord’s words to us are not only a command — they are also a promise: “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” He calls us to holiness and He will create His holiness in us as we continually repent and surrender to His Lordship.
I. Transformed by the Spirit
Take a moment and read Romans 12:1,2
1. How are we to present ourselves to God? (12:1)
2. We are not to be conformed to this world, rather, we are to allow the Lord to do what? (12:2)
3. How does the Lord accomplish this? (12:2)
As we daily surrender our lives to the Lord as if we are a living sacrifice, submitting our thoughts, words, choices and work to His Lordship; as we read His Word and allow Him to plant His truth, thoughts and values in our minds; as we worship the Lord in all that we do, keeping our hearts focused on Christ; as we resist practicing the values of the world around us, the Lord Jesus through the presence and power of the Holy Spirit will progressively renew our minds and transform our lives in conformity to Himself.
J. Refreshed and Empowered by the Spirit
Take a moment and read Acts 4:23-31
1. Peter and John had been arrested for proclaiming Jesus. They were then warned to stop preaching. After their release, what was their response? (4:23-30).
2. What was God’s response to their prayers? (4:31)
Though the disciples had already been filled with the Spirit, they needed to be continually refreshed and empowered by the Holy Spirit. When they encountered a crisis, they called out to God and the Lord responded by ministering a fresh infilling of the Holy Spirit.
K. Gifted by the Spirit:
Take a moment and read I Corinthians chapter 12. Underline verse 7:
“But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.”
In this chapter of I Corinthians, Paul is not speaking of natural talents but spiritual gifts, charismata, supernatural endowments from God. The Greek word for manifestation (shining expression) is phaneroosis, from phanos, meaning lantern. A spiritual gift is a lantern from God.
God graciously grants us supernatural lights that we might better see Him and serve Him in this dark world and that the world might better see and encounter God through His church. Paul says that these gifts are given “for the common good.” People are blessed as God’s grace is lavished upon them through the exercise of gifted ministry.
In summary, the gifts of the Spirit are for the blessing of people and the glory of God. We are not owners but stewards of the gifts of the Spirit. They are not given to us but through us. As God is glorified and as people are blessed, the church is built up.
1. Are there any ungifted followers of Christ?
2. We have natural giftings and spiritual gifts. Are you familiar with your gifts?
3. Why has God gifted you?
L. Restored by the Spirit:
Take a moment and read I John 1:9
1. What does this mean?
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
When we fail, sin, stumble or fall, the indwelling Holy Spirit shows us our failure, not to condemn or destroy us but so that we can repent of that which would condemn and destroy us. The Holy Spirit enables us to honestly confess our sin, gives us grace to turn from it and empowers us to resist it. He then ministers to us the Lord’s forgiving, cleansing, restoring grace.
This is “the sanctifying work of the Spirit” (I Peter 1:2).
Sanctification is the process whereby God sets us apart for His purposes, gradually transforming us in His holy likeness. Only God can do this in us. He does so only as we continually yield our lives to the presence and power of the Holy Spirit.
Take a moment and read Ephesians 4:11-13
“And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11-13).
Following our new birth by the power of God, the Spirit of God came to indwell us. He then placed us in His church which has the responsibility of equipping us so that we can grow into maturity. Maturity is defined as “the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.”
God’s will for us is that we grow and mature into the image of Jesus! Because we were born again by His Spirit and because His Spirit indwells us, we are able to resist conformity to this world and are able to develop new habits, new responses, a new lifestyle.
As we humble ourselves before the Lord, the Holy Spirit works in us transforming and renewing us, conforming us to the life and holy character of Jesus.
As we grow toward eternity, holy is the way we must walk if we would walk with a holy God.
Holy is what we become as we walk with a holy God.
1. If you are a disciple of Jesus, when did the Holy Spirit come to indwell you?
2. What work is the Holy Spirit doing in us?
3. How do we put off the old nature and put on the new?