Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Evidence Tells the Story

“Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.” Galatians 5:24-25

Last night we had quite a wind storm. I know this because when I pulled up the shade of my office window this morning, an assortment of twigs and branches littered the porch rooftop below. A tree in our backyard lost a rather large branch as evidenced by the fresh hole in its upper trunk. The yard has debris in it that did not exist yesterday. It must have been an impressive storm.

I slept through the whole thing. These past two weeks in seminary have been grueling. As it is the mid-point of the semester, there was a flurry of exams, papers, and assignments all due in a very short time span. I worked ceaselessly for several weeks at trying to stay caught up. Sleep had to become a low priority. Last night I fell into bed exhausted. I never heard a thing.

Yet while I did not hear the storm, I know it happened. Because the evidence was plain to see when I pulled up the shade.

The Holy Spirit is described in the Old Testament as a wind. The Hebrew word for spirit is ruach. It is translated as either wind, spirit, breath, or life. Although it can be used of a gentle breeze, most often it refers to power. The New Testament Greek word for spirit is pneuma. In Greek thinking, the word also took on and idea of a source of energy. The Bible does not spend very much time talking about the person of the Holy Spirit-- at least as far as in describing Him.

We know He is a person because He can be obeyed (Acts 10:19-21), He can be resisted (Acts 5:3), and He can be grieved (Ephesians 4:30). We know He is distinct from the Father and Son because at the baptism of Jesus, we see the three persons of the Trinity represented: Jesus the Son in the water, God the Father’s voice from the clouds, and the Holy Spirit coming to rest on Jesus like a dove (John 1:32). He is distinct from Jesus because Jesus promises to send Him when He returns to Heaven (John 16:7).

We can understand about the Person of the Holy Spirit from how he works. In the Old Testament, He often gave power for demanding acts of service to God. Joshua had this source of power (Numbers 27:18, Deuteronomy 34:9). The judges received a temporary filling of the Spirit for their calling (Judges 3:10, 6:34, 11:29). King David knew the power of the Spirit (1 Samuel 16:13) and when he sinned, begged God to refrain from taking it away (Psalm 51:11).

In the New Testament, the Holy Spirit was given as a permanent indwelling to all believers at Pentecost (Acts 2). His presence in our lives is a seal, a guarantee of the eternal life which God has given us (Eph 1:14). He sanctifies us (1 Corinthians 6:11). He teaches us about truth (John 16:13) and equips us for service (Romans 12:6).

He is invisible. Yet we can see His presence in our lives by the fruit we bear that marks us as His. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control all demonstrate the Spirit at work in us. Some bear more fruit than others. The amount of fruit we bear is in direct correlation to how much of ourselves we have yielded to His presence in our lives.

We had a family rule that everyone must come to the dinner table with clean hands. This was an important rule because my kids loved to play outdoors in the mud and dirt! I didn’t need to stand over them at the sink to watch them wash. All I needed was a quick glance to know whether or not soap and water had been given a chance to do their work. The evidence told the story.

Like the wind storm that left branches and debris to be seen this morning, we can see the Holy Spirit evidenced by the results of His work in our lives. Paul tells us in Galatians that since we have life by the Spirit, we should also be walking by the Spirit. The walking he is referring to is a yielding of our desires for His, putting our agenda in submission to what God wants for us. This is an hour-by-hour process. We daily make decisions which will impact how much the Spirit’s presence in our lives will be evident. And as we yield to Him, our lives will reflect that determination by the fruit we bear.

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