This post is the next in a series on calling. We’ve looked at our identity in Christ, following Jesus, finding our purpose and satisfaction in Jesus, surrendering our lives to God, and now the Spirit-filled life.
When my husband was in seminary, I invited a friend to a Christmas service at the church we attended. It opened the door for me to share the gospel with her, to tell her about Jesus dying for her sins and how by faith in Him she could be saved. At the end of our conversation, she asked, “So what’s the difference?” She wanted to know what the difference was between her and me, between a believer and an unbeliever, that was so distinct.
I had been raised in a Christian home, attended a Christian school for 13 years, grew up in a Bible-believing church, and always known about Jesus. I had had doubts at points, but I lived a life wanting to do what was right; there was no obvious rebellion. By nature, my personality tends to be a “rule keeper,” so it wasn’t hard to always look good. I had seasons where I attended Bible studies, particularly in college, and wanted to know and grow, and I wanted to see my friends turn to Jesus. There was authenticity in this. My life was committed to a certain direction. I had married the preacher’s son, and we had headed off to seminary to begin our own lives of ministry.
Looking back, I wasn’t aware of something I was missing: the Spirit-filled life. I was living life in my own strength, doing my best to keep the rules, and I don’t remember actually having much joy, much less a sense of calling or assurance of my faith in Christ.
When I returned home that night from the Christmas program, I shared with my husband about my friend’s question. I told him I wasn’t sure what to say. He said, “Well, did you tell her about the Holy Spirit?” And I honestly had to think about what he was telling me. Huh? The Holy Spirit, oh yeah. How had I missed this truth?
God gives us His Holy Spirit when we are saved. The Holy Spirit teaches us how to live and guides us in truth. My Bible has a list of the works of the Spirit, and it includes: speaks in Scriptures, regenerates, indwells, anoints, baptizes, guides, empowers, sanctifies, bears witness, helps, gives joy, gives discernment, bears fruit, gives gifts, comforts, illuminates the mind, reveals the things of God.
Jesus said in John 14:15-17:
“If you love Me, keep My commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever – the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him, but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.” (NKJV)
We can quench the Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:19) or we can be filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18). This is an incredible gift, a gift of God Himself in the life of the believer. And it changes everything.
It would be about another 10 years before I came to understand more about the life of the Spirit, and it came through surrender of my life to God, on my knees, in obedience, looking to Jesus. The Spirit then came and began showing me the plans God had for my life, and they were good, and He brought joy. I really long for people to know this truth of God’s Spirit lived in and through us, not living in our own strength, but relying on Him. We can’t live this life in our own strength or with our own power. All of this is ours in Christ. Praise You, Lord.