On the Christian calendar, June 9, 2019, was Pentecost Sunday. It commemorates the day the Holy Spirit was sent after Jesus ascended back to the Father. The Holy Spirit came and changed feelings we sometimes have that God is not involved in our lives. As proclaimed on that first day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit still lives in us.
Because we cannot sense him with our five senses, his presence has been missed and greatly misunderstood. Jesus, the Son, put a “face” on the Father. Jesus said those who had seen him had “seen” the Father as well. However, it is the Holy Spirit who brings the presence of Father and Son to every Christian.
The Holy Spirit is our Counselor, our Comforter. He is our Helper in time of trouble or any need. He helps us in our weakness as the apostle Paul said in Romans 8:26. Paul also said those who are led by the Spirit are sons and daughters of God, and are able to call him their Father. Being filled with the Spirit, God’s people are able to live in spiritual freedom. No longer slaves to the sinful nature, Christians live new lives in unity with God.
Paul calls our transformation by the Holy Spirit “the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5). That’s why Paul could say, “If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ” (Romans 8:9).
How can we have the power and presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives and know that the Spirit of God lives in us? We are empowered by accepting God’s grace in Jesus Christ, forsake old ways of thinking and to begin to live by the Spirit. When we allow ourselves to live by the Spirit, we’re helped to live out the fruits of the Spirit that include love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).
The way to be empowered by the Spirit is to ask God for and then be led by the fruit-producing presence of the Spirit. The most important evidence of the Holy Spirit’s work within believers is love. This quality defines the essence of who God is — and it identifies Spirit-led believers.
Paul could speak “in the tongues of men and of angels” (1 Corinthians 13:1). But if he lacked love, he said he was nothing but a noisemaker. Paul could also “have the gift of prophecy,” be able to “fathom all mysteries and all knowledge” and even “have a faith that can move mountains” (verse 2). But if he lacked love, he was nothing. Paul could even say, “If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing” (verse 3). Not even doing good works for the sake of doing good works should be confused with the working of the Holy Spirit in love.
What is essential for believers is the active presence of the Holy Spirit, and that we respond to the Spirit. Paul insists that the true people of God — real Christians — are those who have been renewed, reborn and transformed to reflect God’s love in their lives.
There is only one way this transformation can take place in us. It is through a life led and lived by the love of the indwelling Holy Spirit. God the Holy Spirit is the personal presence of God in our hearts and minds.
Kathy Houston of White Hall is pastor of Christian Fellowship Center of Grace Communion International Pine Bluff.
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