Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The work of the Holy Spirit


Galatians 3:5 (MSG) Answer this question: Does the God who lavishly provides you with his own presence, his Holy Spirit, working things in your lives you could never do for yourselves, does he do these things because of your strenuous moral striving or because you trust him to do them in you?


The Galatians knew that they had received the Holy Spirit when they believed, not when they obeyed the law. People still feel insecure in their faith because faith alone seems too easy. People still try to get closer to God by following rules. While certain disciplines (Bible study, prayer) and service may help us grow, they must not take the place of the Holy Spirit in us or become ends in themselves. By asking these questions, Paul hoped to get the Galatians to focus again on Christ as the foundation of their faith.

The Holy Spirit gives Christians great power to live for God. Some Christians want more than this. They want to live in a state of perpetual excitement. The tedium of everyday living leads them to conclude that something is wrong spiritually. Often the Holy Spirit's greatest work is teaching us to persist, to keep on doing what is right even when it no longer seems interesting or exciting. The Galatians quickly turned from Paul's Good News to the teachings of the newest teachers in town; what they needed was the Holy Spirit's gift of persistence. If the Christian life seems ordinary, you may need the Spirit to stir you up. Every day offers a challenge to live for Christ.


Trying to be right with God by our own effort doesn't work. Good intentions such as "I'll do better next time" or "I'll never do that again" usually end in failure. Paul points to Habakkuk's declaration (Hab 2:4) that by trusting God-believing in his provision for our sins and living each day in his power-we can break this cycle of failure.

What we need is the person and power of the Holy Spirit to lead us, teach us, convict us and nudge us, as we live in close communion with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit works things in our lives that we could never do for ourselves. Things like: helping us to forgive those who have hurt us, even when they haven't asked to be forgiven; changing our nature from one that lies to one who speaks truth; moving us from bitterness to kindness; replacing lust with holiness; taking us from fear to peace; helping us to die to our sinful, fallen nature and causing the fruit of the Spirit to be evident in our lives.

I could go on and on, because there are so many examples of how the Spirit works things out in our lives as we allow Him to. We must, however, always remember that He doesn't do these things because of our strenuous moral living, but because we put our trust in Him to help us to "walk in the Spirit!"


"Thank you Lord for the precious Holy Spirit. I choose today to allow the Spirit to lead me, change me, challenge me, remind me, convict me and teach me in every detail of my life. I will become more like Christ in my choices this day. I am so thankful for the gift of your Holy Spirit. In Jesus name, Amen!"