Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Work of the Holy Spirit, part 2.

In my last post I wrote briefly about the work of the Holy Spirit.  Today I read another essay on the Holy Spirit and his work, this time by William Shisko, titled The Sealing and Witnessing Work of the Holy Spirit

In writing to the Ephesians, Paul says in verse 1:13:

“In him [Christ] you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit.”

Of this idea of the believer being sealed in the Holy Spirit, Shisko writes:

“The act of believing that brings union with Jesus Christ brings every benefit of Christ with it, including the sealing work of the Holy Spirit, though subjectively believers often only realize this gradually over time.”

This comment of Sisko’s is something that resonates in my own experience as a believer in Jesus, and two particular ways come to mind to illustrate the gradual work of the presence of the Holy Spirit within me. 

The first is through a greater awareness of my own sin and the separation that it brings between myself and God.  Now it may seem as if there is something in the idea of being sealed in the Holy Spirit and also separated from God that doesn’t quite add up.  How can I be separated from the very One that I am sealed in?

The simple, and biblically true, answer is that I can’t.  It is more like when one of my children was young and they wanted to do something that I knew they shouldn’t, something that I was determined to prevent them from doing.  So I would hold them as they threw their tantrum.  Yelling, screaming, swinging arms and legs violently to get away and do as they sought fit, but my grasp was steady.  My sin is somewhat like that. 

I struggle against God thinking that my way is best.  God even lets me follow my ill-chosen path for a time, but He never releases His firm grasp on me.  Never.  And as the Spirit works in me I long for the time when I’ll stop fighting to have my own way and gladly trust in His ways, all of the time.

The other way I see the gradual effect of the presence of the Holy Spirit in me is through an increasing understanding of God’s nature.  As I learn more about God’s character and attributes I am filled with an increasing sense of wonder, of awe, and of love, for God.  I can more clearly see His presence in the natural world, in the people and situations of my daily life, in my family, and in his actions within my heart.

What about you?  How has the presence of God, by the Holy Spirit, been at work in your life?  What changes has He brought?   

Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

William Shisko’s essay is contained in The Beauty and Glory of the Holy Spirit, Beeke, Joel R. and Joseph A. Pipa, ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 2012) 176.

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