Whole and Holy

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: 


Holy Spirit, Holy Life I and II


Foundations in Faith:

 Whole and Holy: Sanctified

Through repentance and faith in the atoning sacrifice 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).

However, 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 maturing 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, consecrated. Having redeemed us from slavery to sin, God sets us apart from sin for Himself and for His purposes, consecrates us to serve and glorify Him.

Hagiazo is the basis for the New Testament word saint — hagios — holy ones, people set apart as sacred unto God. 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 (hagiazo) in Christ Jesus, saints (hagios) 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 more than just avoiding the outward action — it’s 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 also 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.

Paul said to the church at Ephesus and to each of us, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him” (Eph. 1:4).

Before there was a universe, God chose to set His grace upon us and the goal of His saving grace is that someday we would stand “holy and blameless before Him.”

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). The Holy Spirit is God’s instrument in setting us apart in holiness.

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 the word, 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, encouraged, taught. 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 words of the gospel that Jesus died an atoning death for our sins and rose from the dead.

It is implied 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 wrestling against sin as long as we are living in this world. But salvation initiates a process of gradual sanctification and this ongoing process — inner cleansing resulting in progressively changed outward action — demonstrates the reality of salvation.

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).

Only the Holy Spirit can produce holy change in us but we must make this our pursuit — there is an intentionality on our part. We are directed to pursue sanctification as an intentional choice, a lifestyle, something we cultivate, desire. This is essential because without holiness, we will not see the Lord. This is true in an ultimate sense — people who are not pursuing holiness have not been born again, therefore, will not see God. They have no hope of eternal life with God.

But probably the writer is referring more to our fellowship with Christ in this life. We will not see Him in the sense of not enjoying an intimate relationship with the Lord as we navigate the challenges of this world. The essential description of God, the summary of all His attributes, is that He is “Holy, holy, holy.” How can we enjoy communion with a holy God if we are not pursuing holiness?

6. Sanctification is a cooperative work. 

As we have said, 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 there is a human side to it — we must choose to yield our lives to God’s work and cooperate with Him. 

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 the truth. 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’s assessment that we sinned and we agree to forsake our sin. 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 forgiving, 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. When we sin and fail we choose to repent, to turn from that sin. 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 and God’s work day by day.  

Paul exhorted the church, “Work out your salvation with fear (reverence) and trembling (humility); for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure” (Phlp. 2:12,13). It is God who works in us but we must choose to work with Him. He turns our will to His will, energizes us to do His will but our cooperation is necessary and it is the Holy Spirit working in us who enables us to cooperate.  We are to live out our salvation but it is the Spirit who empowers our living.

7. Sanctification is the result of our union with Christ. 

Through faith in Christ, we have been brought into union with His death, burial and resurrection (see Rom. 6:1-11). 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 said, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me” (Gal. 2:20).

Our old nature was put to death in Christ and Paul reminds us that because our new life is “hidden with Christ in God” (Col. 3:3), we are now able to resist manifestations of our old nature — old habit patterns incited by memories or by the corruption of the world around us. And we are able to “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). “Put on the new self” means we are able now to live out new patterns of thought and action consistent with the life of Christ in us. 

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. He is referring not just to those particular sins that he listed, but in fact, the entire church had at one time 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 live in union with God so we can serve and glorify Him. This process of sanctification is taking place through our union with Christ, our life in Him.

8. Sanctification involves conflict.

Choosing to resist the desires of our former, unredeemed humanness (the Bible calls this our flesh) is a constant struggle. Though our old nature was put to death in Christ and we are new creations in Christ, there are times when memories and habit patterns consistent with our old unredeemed human nature manifest and we wrestle against them. 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 which by nature rebelled against God. Now the rebel has been removed from the throne, Jesus Christ has been enthroned as Lord and His Holy Spirit now lives in us, energizing, empowering us to live this new life. As Paul said, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come” (2 Cor. 5:17). But we must choose every day to live as the new creation that we are, refusing to live the old habit patterns of our dethroned self will, choosing to submit to the Holy Spirit: “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh” (Gal. 5:16).

There is conflict in this but in Jesus we are more than conquerors. We are able to conquer manifestations of our old nature as we surrender daily to the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit enables us to realize when we sin, empowers us to confess and forsake our sin, ministers the restoring grace of God to us and enables us to walk on with a pure heart.

9. 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).

Creator God carefully, purposefully designed each of us and has prepared works for each of us so that we can glorify Him with the time, resources and opportunity that He gives us, “For we are His workmanship (craftsmanship), created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them” (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?

10. The ultimate goal of sanctification is to stand before God in eternity, 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, that 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 our future standing before God is perfectly secure, as completely established as our present standing.

11. 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).

Freed from sin doesn’t mean we no longer sin but that we are free from sin’s dominion or control over us. Now we are free to resist sin patterns, able to overcome sin and yield day by day to the holy purpose and power of God as we grow in conformity to Christ. 

Salvation is an event and a process. We were saved from an eternity of separation from God because of our sin when we trusted in Christ’s redeeming work on the cross. God declared us to be justified, righteous. This is followed by the process of being made holy — sharing the holiness of God. This leads to eternal life — sharing the life of God.

The church at Corinth existed in an environment of extreme wickedness and all of the church, unless they were converted Jews, had come out of that evil culture, first generation Christians. But Paul said to them, “For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, so that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin” (2 Cor. 11:2).

That is our ultimate destiny. From eternity God chose to set His love upon us, not only to redeem us but to share His holiness with us and we will be presented someday before Christ “as a pure virgin.”

12. It is certain that we will stand before God someday, in the perfection of holiness.

“For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified” (Rom. 8:29,30). 

We were “predestined to become conformed to the image” of Christ and Paul is so certain of the outcome of this process of sanctification that he says, “These whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.” Glorified refers to our resurrection life with God in eternity but Paul is so certain of this that he uses a past tense verb — glorified — to describe the end point of our salvation. In Paul’s mind, we who are justified are already glorified.

This certainty is echoed in Jude’s prayer for us, “Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen” (Jude 1:24,25).

We will stand someday in the presence of God’s glory, blameless with great joy. 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. Don’t lose your confidence when you stumble or fail. The Apostle Paul exhorts us, “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus” (Phlpns. 1:6). 

Do we sometimes fall short of this high calling? Yes, and when we do, we honestly confess our sin and failure to the Lord, gratefully receive His forgiving, restoring, sanctifying grace and we get up, we walk on.

Study Questions

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?

Receiving the Ministry of Jesus

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.

Holy Spirit, Holy Life: Part I

Foundations in Faith: 

Whole and Holy

Holy Spirit, Holy Life: Part I

As born again believers in Christ, God’s will for us is that we grow in the grace and knowledge and likeness of Jesus. This new life is, from the roots up, 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 between the years 597 and 571 BC, said that a day would come when God would regather Israel. This prophecy has been partially fulfilled twice. The nation was destroyed by the Babylonians between the years 605 and 586 BC, but the people returned to the land in 538 BC. The nation was destroyed again by the Romans, in 70 AD, but reestablished in 1948. 

But Ezekiel also prophesied that there was coming a day when the Lord would cleanse the people, give them a new heart and would put His Spirit within them. Complete fulfillment of this prophecy in Israel awaits the end time when many Jews will recognize Jesus as Messiah. This will be a time of cleansing and outpouring of the Holy Spirit among the Jewish people.

In a spiritual sense, though, this prophecy has been fulfilled since the first century when Jews and Gentiles heard the gospel, repented and placed their faith in Christ. They and we were cleansed of sin, given a new heart / new nature and the Holy Spirit came to live in us.

Joel prophesied of that day when the Lord would pour out His Spirit “on all mankind.” Not only Jews, but all people would have the opportunity to stand in this outpouring. As we said, this prophecy of Ezekiel and Joel has an end time fulfillment but is also being accomplished today 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. But a day is coming, Jesus said, when 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 offered Himself as the atoning sacrifice, after He rose from the dead and ascended to the Father — after He was glorified — God 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, Convincing 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 — convicting us of sin, convincing us of grace. 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 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 celebrated 50 days after Passover), the Holy Spirit was poured out on the gathered disciples 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. For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself” (2:38,39).

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 of sin 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 stamp that was placed on a document signifying that it was under the authority of the person who 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 into eternity. The Holy Spirit seals our security.

The Holy Spirit is also given as a pledge, down payment, 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 immerses us into an intimate, living relationship with a living Savior.

“You will be baptized (baptizo) with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 1:5). The word baptizo refers to something immersed in water and could be used in reference to a piece of wood at the bottom of the sea. It is not only under the water but saturated with water, water-logged. Jesus told His disciples that they would be immersed in, filled with, saturated with the Holy Spirit. 

Baptizo is also used of a piece of bread dipped in sauce — it’s no longer the same bread after that. It has a different consistency, different taste. God wants us to have a different consistency through the presence of the Holy Spirit.  

Baptizo is used to describe the dying of a garment. The dye not only covers the garment but is in the thread, it infuses the cloth. God wants to saturate us, infuse us with the Holy Spirit who immerses us into an intimate, living relationship with a living Savior.

Acts 1:8 resembles Old Testament language: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon (eperchomai) you.” Eperchomai has to do with the putting on of a garment. The idea is not so much that we put on the Holy Spirit but rather, the Holy Spirit puts us on, wears us as the human instrument through whom He can release the ministry of Jesus into this world.

Acts 2:4 refers to a filling: “And they were all filled (pletho) with the Holy Spirit.” Pletho is a word that is used when there is an overflow, more than enough. In serving our Lord in this world, we don't depend on the scant resources of past experience or program. We receive the overflow of the Holy Spirit.  

Acts 2:17 speaks of outpouring: “I will pour out (ekcheo) of my Spirit on all mankind.”

Ekcheo (ek keo) refers to an outpouring of abundance, a resource of release, like the opening of the gates of a mighty dam; though this produces a great noise as the water thunders down the wall of the dam, the purpose is not noise but energy which lights a city.  So with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.  The purpose is a release of the life of God energizing a human life to give and to serve.

Acts 8:16 provides yet another insight into the Holy Spirit impacting believers, “For He had not yet fallen upon (epipipto) any of them.” Epipipto means not just to fall upon but to embrace or seize. It is a word used in love letters of that time. It describes a person held completely in the embrace of another. In the Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32) the father ran to meet the son and fell upon him, embraced him — epipipto. It is the picture of a father capturing a long lost son in an embrace of overflowing thanksgiving and yearning compassion.  

The Holy Spirit wants to capture us in heaven’s embrace, the embrace of a living Savior, wants us to be caught up in the fulness of Christ’s love and to overflow that love to others whom Jesus would embrace through us. The Bible says that God redeemed us by the blood of Christ “according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us” (Ephesians 1:7,8). The lavishing of grace upon us includes the outpouring of the Holy Spirit within us in an epipipto, an embrace of Christ’s life and power and love.

Acts 2:38 speaks of a gift to be received: “And you will receive (lambano) the gift of the Holy Spirit.” This word is also used in Acts 8:17, “They were receiving the Holy Spirit.” 

Lambano means to take hold of, to seize. This is the human side of epipipto — we take hold of, embrace, seize the Christ who, through the Holy Spirit, desires to embrace us. This speaks of our willingness to yield to God’s purpose by taking hold of that which God desires to give and to do in our lives. Jesus promised that we shall receive power after the Holy Spirit has come upon us but we must receive, take hold of the promise.

Paul said, “For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ” (Gal. 3:27). The Holy Spirit has immersed us into living union with a living Savior. This union is so complete that Paul says we have clothed ourselves with Christ. As we worship, as we pray, as we read the word and live that word, the Spirit ushers us into a present experience of the reality of Jesus who then releases His ministry through us.

2. The Holy Spirit teaches us about Jesus.

Take a moment and read John 14:26.  

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 energizing us to 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.

3. 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?

In former times, a refiner of silver heated the silver, which caused the impurities to rise to the surface. He skimmed off this dross and continued the heating and skimming process until he could see his reflection in the molten metal — then he knew it was pure. This is what the Holy Spirit is doing in our lives — skimming the impurities until He can clearly 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 … His winnowing fork is in His hand … 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 only refer to final judgment on the unredeemed but also to present cleansing in the hearts of the redeemed. When we receive Jesus as our Lord, the Holy Spirit comes to dwell within us for the purpose of guiding us into truth, cleansing us from sin’s destructive impact on our lives 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. A winnowing fork was a tool which the farmer used to toss the harvested grain into the air. The breeze would blow the chaff away, leaving the wheat to be ground into flour. And so it will be on the day of judgment — the Holy Spirit will separate the redeemed from the unredeemed.

But more than final judgment, the winnowing fork also 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 the final fire of destruction of the ungodly 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 3:17,18 and I John 3:2,3.

Into whose image are we being transformed? Into the image of Jesus. This is a work of the Holy Spirit.

4. The Holy Spirit witnesses within us that we are children of God:

Take a moment and read Romans 8:14-17 and Galatians 5:22,23.

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 or characteristics of the life of Christ.

5. 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.

6. The Holy Spirit empowers us to be His witnesses.

Take a moment and read Acts 1:8.

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you and you shall be My witnesses.” The word power is dunamis, from which we derive the English words dynamite, dynamo and dynamic. The Holy Spirit works powerfully in and through us so we can tell the world about Jesus.


Study Questions:

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?

Holy Spirit, Holy Life: Part II

Holy Spirit, Holy Life: Part II

Foundations in Faith: 

Whole and Holy

Holy Spirit, Holy Life: Part II

When we were born again, the Holy Spirit came to live in us, immersing us into an intimate, living relationship with a living Savior. He teaches us about Jesus, purifies and transforms us, witnesses within us that we are children of God, prays within us and empowers us to be His witnesses. 

He also produces in us the character of Jesus. This is called the fruit of the Spirit.

E. The Fruit of the Spirit   

Take a moment and read Galatians 5:19-23.

1. What are the deeds of the flesh?  (5:19-21) 

The word flesh is the New Testament word for unredeemed humanness. When practiced without repentance, “the deeds of the flesh” signify a life lived outside the boundaries of God’s moral law and apart from His grace and blessing — a person who is spiritually dead, separated from Christ. This is not an exhaustive list but some of the deeds which are representative of this life are:

immorality (sex practiced outside the bounds of marriage between a man and a woman), 

impurity (a medical term referring to an oozing wound, thoughts and actions which separate a person from God), 

sensuality (lack of restraint or shame), 

idolatry (involvement with man-made religion, the worship of false gods), 

sorcery (cultic involvement; the word is pharmakeia from which we derive the English word pharmaceutical and my refer to the drugs that were used to incite ecstasy in some cults; in Greek culture the word became synonymous with witchcraft), 

enmities (hateful attitudes), 

strife (the conflict resulting from enmity), 

jealousy (an inner attitude of anger produced by covetousness), 

outbursts of anger (the outward action resulting from an inner attitude), 

disputes, dissensions, factions (outward, social expressions of the preceding sins),

envying (a different word from jealousy but again, motivated by covetousness)

drunkenness, carousing (probably in Paul’s mind associated with the orgies practiced in many of the cultic religions of that day)

These sins may, on occasion, manifest in the life of a follower of Christ because of memories and habit patterns aroused by the temptations of the world around us. But because we are new creations in Christ, indwelt and energized by the Holy Spirit, we are able to overcome and subdue these temptations. They are not an ongoing, unrepented practice.

2. Will those who practice these things enter the Kingdom of God?  (5:21)

The word practice has to do with a continual, unrepented state of being. That life gives no evidence of spiritual regeneration through faith in Christ. Such a person is not living in the kingdom of God (kingdom: jurisdiction, rule, authority). Rather, that person is living under the lordship of their unredeemed human nature.

3. What are the fruit of the Spirit?  (5:22,23) 

Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.

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 subdue any manifestations of our old life and practice the qualities of the new life which the Holy Spirit is producing in us.

F. Working with the Spirit    

Take a moment and read Colossians 3:5,8,12-17.

1. What does it mean to “consider ourselves dead” (3:5) to sin and to “put aside” the practices of our former life and to “put on” compassion, love, etc.?

The word consider, nekroo, might be better translated subdue subdue the members of your earthly body. Really, Paul is saying two things:

a. Consider your position in Christ — your old nature was put to death in Him and you were given a new nature. Consider this to be true. Live as the new creation that you are.

b. But at the same time, actively resist, subdue, overcome the habit patterns and practices of the old nature whenever they manifest.

Through faith in Christ we have been united with Him in His death and resurrection. Our old nature, dominated by sin and self-enthronement and conformed to the world around us, died and was buried with Christ. We are now new creations in Christ, risen with Him. But old habit patterns and memories may manifest in response to the corruptions around us and they strive against our new life, make war against our new nature. So we not only consider ourselves dead to the former life of sin and alive as new creations in Christ. We must also put off our old nature, subdue it by refusing to entertain the thoughts or practice the deeds that characterized our former life. At the same time we are to put on our new nature by actively practicing the attributes and qualities of this new creation that we are.

So Paul is saying, “Consider yourself dead to the old life and alive in Christ. But put off any manifestations of the old life by not thinking or living according to those patterns. Put on the new life by living who you are, 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.”

And remember, “He rescued us from the domain (jurisdiction / authority) of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son” (Col. 1:13). We are no longer ruled by the powers of darkness which gained access to our lives through our unredeemed nature. We are under the kingdom rule of Christ — a rule of grace, forgiveness, restoration, new creation. By the power of the indwelling Spirit we are able to subdue any manifestations of our old nature and live as the new creations that we really are.

2. As we lay aside our former habits, the Holy Spirit is renewing us into whose image?  (Col. 3:9,10)

As we read these character traits we recognize the character of Jesus: compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, bearing with others, forgiving, acting from a love motive, ruled by peace, thankful. The Holy Spirit is renewing us in the likeness of Jesus.


To summarize: 

In Christ we died to sin’s penalty — Jesus paid the ultimate penalty for sin which is death and in salvation we were identified with His death. We also died to sin’s dominating power. When we died with Christ, the dominion of our old sin nature was broken. In union with Christ’s resurrection, we have been transferred into the dominion, the authority of Christ. The dominion of the world and the sin nature is broken. But though we died to sin’s penalty and power, we did not die to sin’s presence. Sin still tempts through memories and habit patterns that can be incited by corrupting influences in the world.

We are living on two planes of existence at once. Spiritually, we already live in the age to come. But we are also still living in this age. We live in union with Christ but also in daily contact with the world system and all its seductions, temptations and deceptions which arouse old habit patterns and practices. Therefore, we must actively resist / subdue manifestations of our old nature while living the new patterns and possibilities of life in Christ. 

It is the Holy Spirit who enables, empowers and energizes us to do this.

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)

Nothing. We live in it but our life is in Christ and in His kingdom rule of grace.

2. What does this mean, “We are the temple of the living God?”  (6:16)

The Spirit of God indwells us — we are His habitation.

3. How can we “be separate” and still live in the world?  (6:17)

That’s a daily lifestyle of intentional Spirit-led choices — resisting / subduing / overcoming the old habit patterns and practices, living out the new life.

4. Do sons and daughters resemble those to whom they are related?  (6:18)

Absolutely. We should progressively resemble the Lord who has redeemed us. We are not talking about perfection — we are talking about direction, progressive movement toward Christ-likeness.

5. What does it mean to be “perfecting holiness in the fear (reverence) of God?”  (7:1)

The word perfecting, epiteleo, means to fulfill, to make perfect. We are exhorted to complete the work of holiness in partnership with the Holy Spirit. Only the Spirit of the Lord can create holiness in us but He does so as we continually resist the temptations of the world, repent of sin, accept the restoring grace of our Lord and follow after Christ as we reverence God.

What a marvelous truth — the Spirit of God lives in us and 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 Hebrews 12:1,2 and I Peter 1:13-16.

The society in which we live has had a formative influence on our lives. How can we resist being conformed to the world and to whom are we to pattern ourselves after? 

As we shake off, put aside the entangling sins and focus 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 of sin (turn from it, forsake it), surrender to His Lordship and accept His transforming, restoring grace.

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)

Paul is using Old Testament, temple sacrifice imagery here. We are to make a daily surrender of our lives to the Lord as if we are a living sacrifice placed on the altar, submitting our thoughts, words, choices and work — our entire being — to His Lordship.

2. We are not to be conformed to this world, rather, we are to allow the Lord to do what? (12:2)

As we surrender our life to the Lord day by day, He is able to do a progressive work of transformation in our lives, conforming us to Himself.

3. How does the Lord accomplish this?   (12:2)

By the renewing of our minds — 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 and intentionally practice the values of the kingdom of God, 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. Continually Refreshed, Empowered and Filled with the Spirit

Take a moment and read Acts 4:23-31.

Baptism in the Spirit is a one time event — when we are spiritually regenerated / born again the Holy Spirit came to indwell us and baptized / immersed us into a living relationship with Christ. But the infilling of the Holy Spirit is a continual event. The continual demands of ministry, the constant temptations of the world inciting old habit patterns which seek to exert dominance over the Spirit and seasons of crisis and struggle require a fresh infusion of Holy Spirit resources.

We see this in the lives of the apostles who were baptized in the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost but were filled with the Spirit on more than one occasion. In Acts 4 Peter and John were arrested for preaching the Gospel. When they were brought before the authorities, we read, “Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them” (Acts 4:8). This could refer to the fact that Peter was already filled with the Holy Spirit and therefore was able to witness powerfully. 

However, the verb tense indicates a fresh infilling and could be translated, “Then Peter, having just been filled with the Holy Spirit.” This does not mean that the Holy Spirit had left Peter or had been diminished in him, but for the purpose of speaking to the governing body with wisdom and with boldness, a fresh measure of the gift and grace necessary to proclaim Christ was given to the apostle.

After Peter and John were released, they returned to their companions and lifted up their prayers to God, asking that the Lord would continue to grant them confidence to proclaim Christ and grant signs and wonders to confirm their preaching. Their response to a crisis was to hold a prayer and praise meeting. Here’s what happened: “And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness” (Acts 4:31). 

God’s response to their prayers was to fill the apostles with the Holy Spirit and again the verb tense indicates a fresh infilling for the purpose of speaking the word with boldness. 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.

When we confessed Christ, we were baptized / immersed into a spiritual union with His death and resurrection, immersed by the Holy Spirit into a living relationship with a living Savior. We will never again need to be baptized by the Holy Spirit into union with Christ. Neither will the indwelling Holy Spirit ever leave us. However, because of the challenge of living in a fallen world and the continual demands of ministry and because we sometimes become weary or discouraged, we need fresh expressions, fresh infillings of the resources and empowerment of the Spirit.

What does it mean to be filled with the Spirit? It means we are continually being led and energized by the Spirit — we live our lives under the influence of the Holy Spirit. As we continually submit to the leadership of the Spirit, He continually fills us with the resources and empowerment necessary to fulfill the ministry to which we have been called.

How do we know if we are continually being filled with the Holy Spirit?

We have a fresh experience of the real presence of Jesus.

The truth of Christ and truth about Christ is revealed to us.

We are able to walk in holiness and obedience to Christ.

We have power to bear witness of Jesus and to live this new life.

We have authority to triumph in spiritual conflict.

We have clarity of direction. 

We have the ability to walk in love.

We are able to be thankful in every season of life.

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. To each one — to each of Christ’s followers is given the manifestation of the Spirit. The word manifestation is phaneroosis, which could also be translated shining expression, from the root phanos, meaning lantern. A spiritual gift is a lantern from God, a shining expression of 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 poured out through us in 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?
No, “To each one is given.”

2. We have natural giftings and spiritual  gifts. Are you familiar with your gifts?

3. Why has God gifted you?

“For the common good” — for the blessing of others.

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, turn from what 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 and overcome 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, progressively 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. “You shall by holy for I am holy” is both a command and a promise (I Peter 1:16).

M. Crafted by the Spirit:

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10).

The word workmanship, poeima, refers to a design created by an artisan. It could be translated craftsmanship. We derive the English word poem from this word. God, the Master Artist, designed this universe as a stage on which He displays His creative glory. Adam and Eve were created in the image of God so that they could not only behold God’s glory but also reflect God’s glory. Through sin, they and we lost that capacity. But now, redeemed by Christ, we are new creations being crafted by the Holy Spirit to show forth the glory of God on the earth. We are God’s art, His masterpiece — fallen, yes, but now redeemed and restored and crafted by God the Master Craftsman.

Jesus, praying to the Father, said, “The glory which You have given Me I have given to them” (John 17:22). Through the indwelling presence and power of the Holy Spirit, we have been immersed into a living relationship with a living Savior whose desire is to release His life and ministry through us, thereby putting His glory on display in our generation.

What does that look like? The Apostle Paul tells us:

“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” (Eph. 4:11-13).

God’s will for us is that we grow and mature into the likeness of Jesus! Because we were born again by His Spirit and because His Spirit now indwells us, because we are new creations in Christ, we are able to resist conformity to this world and 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, crafting and conforming us to the life and holy character of Jesus who then manifests His glorious life and ministry through us.

Yes, we bear this treasure in earthen vessels, flawed, imperfect, sometimes stumbling, but it is treasure nonetheless — the holy, glorious life of Jesus lived through us.

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.

Study Questions:

1. How do we put off the old nature and put on the new?

2. Into whose image are we being renewed?