Pastor Cosand: June 2018
THE WONDERFUL HOLY SPIRIT
reflections on Romans 8:11
Perhaps the only other passage in the Bible that highlights the Holy Spirit more repeatedly than Romans 8 is Jesus' Upper Room Discourse in John 14-16. The subject of Romans 6-8 is sanctification, which is the process of the Christian's growth in Christlikeness. There is a very interesting and instructive dynamic revealed in the wording of Romans 8. The Holy Spirit is referred to 17 times in this chapter. He is referred to only 4 times in chapters 1-7 and only 6 times in chapters 9-16. Romans 8 has more references to the Holy Spirit than all other chapters of Romans, combined. This teaches us that the means and power of sanctification is the Holy Spirit. The key to growing in Christlikeness is the omnipotent Spirit of God.
It is probably true that the Holy Spirit is the most neglected of the three persons of the Godhead. It is understandable that we might have the tendency to overlook God's Spirit because He is not mentioned as often as God the Father and God the Son. Further, the work of the Spirit is to bring glory to the Son and the Father. Of the Holy Spirit, Jesus said, "He will glorify me; for He will take what is mine, and declare it to you" (Jn 16:14). But the Holy Spirit is God the Holy Spirit and, as God, He is worthy of infinite honor and possesses infinite attributes. He is, in essence, completely equal to the Father and the Son.
If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you. Rom 8:11
The text could have said, simply, that the Holy Spirit will be in us, which it does in many other passages. But when it says that the Holy Spirit dwells in us there is the connotation of deep intimacy and permanence. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit does not seem to have been the experience the Old Testament saints were privileged to have. There are some verses which refer to the Holy Spirit being in someone. The Holy Spirit was in Joshua (Num 27:18; Deut 34:9) and Ezekiel (Ezek 2:2; 3:24) and there are references to the Holy Spirit filling someone in the Old Testament (cf. Micah 3:8) or empowering someone (Judg 14:6). So the Old Testament has examples of the work of the Holy Spirit filling someone with power or even being in someone, but what we see in the New Testament, beginning with the experience of the disciples at Pentecost in Acts 2, is a fuller work of the Holy Spirit than was experienced by the Old Testament saints.
Let us not be nonchalant about the wonder that Christians have the unspeakable privilege of being indwelt by the omnipotent Spirit of God. This is a wonder afforded to us through Jesus Christ that was not afforded Old Testament saints. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit is a wonder only granted to Christians, but according to these verses in Romans, it is a reality in the life of every Christian. Oh, how we ought to treasure the amazing truth that the Holy Spirit abides within us.
What reality could be more wondrous for a human being than to be a residence, a permanent residence, for the infinite God? It lifts human life to the highest levels imaginable. It gives to life an element of glory and meaning and infinite wonder. God's Spirit has been given to believers as a wondrous gift from God and ought to be an encouragement to our weary souls and to draw our thoughts heavenward.
The Spirit owns us and draws us away from sin. “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body” (1 Cor 6:19,20). Lest we bristle at the thought of belonging to another, consider the nature of the Holy Spirit who owns us. He is full of mercy, so as to care for our suffering … infinite in goodness, so as to only do what is best for us … all powerful, so as to be able to help us in every situation … omniscient, so as to know what to do … utterly sovereign, so as to always bring his plans to completion … absolutely true, so as to be completely reliable.
Upon reflection, to be owned by such a God is the greatest comfort and the fullest encouragement and the deepest joy possible for a person. And He draws us away from our sin, which is a wonderful work and desperately necessary. In Galatians 5 the Spirit sets Himself against our sinful flesh (immorality, jealousy, anger, dissention) and produces in us His own fruit (love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, self-control). If you find yourself hungering for what is holy and hating what is wicked in your own heart, then it is an evidence that you are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. What a wonder to belong to the Holy Spirit of God.
And lest we think this is just theology, it is not. We ought to walk around, every day, and say to ourselves, "I am a child of the eternal God. I know His life in my soul because of the Holy Spirit. I have hope, both in life and in death, because of the Spirit of the living God Who lives in me." The doctrine of the Holy Spirit gives us strength and peace and hope. It is no wonder that we are commanded "do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption" (Eph 4:30). The Holy Spirit is the One who has breathed life onto our dead hearts. Let us revere Him and love Him and obey Him.
In awe of God's Spirit,