This week, as we continue our 6-week study on the person of the Holy Spirit, we will be looking at the Holy Spirit’s role in our becoming Christians.
New birth (regeneration) will always show itself in radical new desires and ways of living. ‘Fruit of the Spirit’ (sanctification) is evidence that one has actually become a Christian. You don’t have new life if you don’t have a new life! As Alan Redpath wrote,
‘One who believes with the head only, without evidencing grace, love, gentleness, humility, or other tokens of the indwelling Christ, has no right to say he is a Christian.’
SALVATION IS ALWAYS ACCOMPANIED BY SANCTIFICATION
’Sanctification’ means to be set apart for God. It means to belong to God. It also means to be set apart so as to become more and more like God. Anyone who becomes a Christian begins a radical journey of transformation. The new life of the Spirit will be seen in a new life in the mind and what we do with our body. Paul wrote of this radical transformation,
‘For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake. You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit.’ (1 Thessalonians 1:4-6)
Paul’s confidence that they were ‘loved by God’ and that He had ‘chosen’ them was based upon how the Holy Spirit’s power had changed their lives. They were not saved by works, but the Holy Spirit was seen in their new works and attitudes. When the Spirit is at work, the words of the gospel come with conviction and life-transforming power. When the Spirit is at work we become ‘imitators…of the Lord’. When the Spirit is truly at work we are prepared to ‘welcome the message in the midst of suffering’.
Another example of the sanctifying power of the Spirit is seen in 1 Corinthians where Paul writes,
‘Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.’ (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)
It is clear that those - who may even call themselves Christians - that continue in rebellion against God are not saved. The Corinthians are warned, ‘do not be deceived’ - do not allow people to tell you that it’s okay to live in sin whilst calling yourself a Christian. Of course, this is not about being saved through works or some unattainable standard of holiness, but it is about living a life in the pursuit of growth in Christlikeness.
A true Christian can say, like the Corinthians, “That is what I was. However, I have been washed, sanctified and Justified by Jesus and the Spirit.”
The Holy Spirit enables us to receive Jesus and He then continues to work on us to make us more like Jesus. In response, you might want to use the filling text to reflect and pray.
‘For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope – the appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.’ (Titus 2:11-14)