16 Apr The Spirit’s Work in Your Life
It’s important to understand the Holy Spirit’s work in the believer. Many of us ignore or disregard this third member of the Godhead altogether, often because we just don’t understand what He does in our lives. But His work is vital.
The Holy Spirit enables you to live the Christian life, and if you haven’t been succeeding, perhaps the Spirit is what you need. Warren Wiersbe wrote, “What God the Father planned for you, and God the Son purchased for you on the cross, God the Spirit personalizes for you and applies to your life as you yield to Him.”
Scripture tells us that the first work of the Holy Spirit is salvation. The Spirit plays this key role either by convicting you—hounding you about sin—or by shedding His unmerited favor and love on you, because sometimes His kindness leads to repentance (see Romans 2:4). Between those two things, He hopes to bring salvation in your life.
This is why, apart from prayer, there isn’t anything you can do to save that family member or friend you so desperately want to be saved. You can’t force someone to be saved. It’s the work of the Holy Spirit alone. As Ephesians 2 says, “By grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (vv. 8-9).
The second work that the Spirit does in our lives is something called sanctification. To be sanctified means to be set apart, and it describes the transformation of a sinner into a saint.
I got saved when I was working as a bartender in a discotheque. And once I got saved, there were jokes that weren’t funny anymore. My craving for male intimacy was no longer okay. I used to smoke marijuana. When God showed me that was no bueno, that was out of my life. I had different appetites for different things, but the Lord convicted me about those things over time. It wasn’t like I magically became some perfect Christian overnight.
Sanctification is an ongoing process by which we’re changed from glory to glory. It’s a transformation: I’m not who I was, and I’m not who I should be, but I’m getting better every day. And just like salvation, sanctification is a work of the Holy Spirit alone. You can try in your own flesh to do it, to make New Year’s resolutions and follow different programs and regimens, but your flesh can only keep it up for a little while. Ultimately, you can’t achieve sanctification. It’s the Spirit’s job.
Even so, at the same time we’re called to “walk in the Spirit, and…not fulfill the lust of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16). Have you ever watched a toddler learn how to walk? Walking’s not easy when you’re learning how to do it. You’re going to fall down. You’re going to need others to come alongside you to help you get up and stay up. Because you do need to get up again. After all, you have to learn how to walk before you can run—which, as we’ll see over the next several posts, you can learn to do.