There are certain things about God that we should know to understand His Word and particularly His promises. Firstly, we should full well know that He is a God who knows man’s heart thoroughly. We should know He does not show partiality, none whatsoever. We should know He desires His promises bear fruit in His children without misgivings. We should know He always testifies for those that believe Him. All these are true of Him, since He intends to hone His vision (plans) toward men. For this reason, the terms almighty, supreme, all-powerful and omnipresent are ascribed to Him. Whatever He does toward man is by the power He possesses to judge and bless him perfectly. He is a perfectionist, not like anything we see or have known in this world. By having a God like Him for us, what good thing should we expect of Him? The apostle Peter has rather laid it out clearly. “And God, who knows the heart, testified to them giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He also did to us” (Acts 15:8).
Of all the blessings that God yearns to bestow on us the greatest is the Holy Spirit. It is because there is no greater Person than Him to bring us into the image of His Son, Jesus Christ. He is God or the Spirit of God. When He comes into us, He brings the holiness that exists in the heavenly places. Can you imagine what it is like for us to live in the flesh and yet have the nature of God, who lives in heaven? For this reason, Christians are called saints in the Bible. As saints we reflect the Creator, His power, desire, ambition and justice. We act for Him on earth and deliver His righteousness where and when necessary. We bring Him glory and yet, do not touch it. Nevertheless, what makes Him give us His Spirit? It is our attraction to the gospel; our obedience to His Word; our passion to be guided by Him. With all these in us, He who judges our hearts gives us the Spirit. He makes the world around us know that we indeed have His Power, i.e. the Spirit. For not only does our inner man transforms but our outer man too works according to the One who lives in our inner man. In other words, the Spirit inside us comes into us with a gift from God to perform the works of God.
There are those that translate a gift to be a particular gift. It should not be so, because there are varieties of gifts and they are all from one Spirit. Whatever gift God gives a person is His judgment; and one thing is certain: it does not cause confusion and disgrace. It is well understood; for it will be meaningful at its demonstration. The demonstration of the gift in us is God testifying the presence of the Spirit in us so that His choice of us is known. Hence, the saints of the early church were able to demonstrate love toward the brethren and people in general as never before seen. Some displayed incredible charity toward one another and the weak and the poor. Others demonstrated immense courage, wisdom and faith. There were those that lived righteously and performed the desires of the Spirit. Still, others accomplished amazing things through prayer. The list goes on. God has opened the door for a plethora of demonstrations in the Spirit through Jesus Christ. He has done it for increasing His kingdom as well as for those in it. For the increase of His kingdom, because men must be influenced into Christ and obtain the comfort of the Spirit; for those in it, because they should be blessed. For life is full of toil and vanities; only a Spirit-filled life provides relief because of what it achieves for God. Therefore, Paul in the Spirit opined to Christians saying, “For he who was called in the Lord while a slave, is the Lord’s freedman; likewise he who was called while free, is Christ’s slave” (1 Cor. 7:22).
To whichever case one belongs there is no disadvantage. If one is the Lord’s freedman, he or she has been freed for the purpose of a greater life. And if one is Christ’s slave, he or she is called for a better freedom that has been hidden. Both are placed in the sphere of the Spirit. God uses them intelligently. To be the Lord’s freedman is to have the opportunity to rejoice in the Lord. To be Christ’s slave is to have the opportunity to serve Him and benefit. Both are made equals. Consider the man Paul. He was called while free, i.e. he was not someone in bondage, but a Pharisee and one with authority. He had all the freedom in the world to live as he likes while still fulfilling the Law of Moses. Yet, when he was bestowed with the Spirit for the Lord’s sake, he said, “Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am” (Phil. 4:11). That he learned to be content in every circumstance meant he became Christ’s slave through and through. It is the transition God brought in him from being a person who lived an opulent life to one who lived for Christ. It neither means he wasn’t blessed or taken care of nor does it mean he did not toil. God taught him to toil in the flesh and see the vanities in it so that the Spirit He bestowed on him may bring Him glory. Most of us, if not all, fall into Paul’s category as far as the term free is applied. We were called while free. But now God pleasantly wants us to become Christ’s slaves, as we have been called “according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure” (1 Pet. 1:2).
God in His foreknowledge has made plans for our lives. By them we can become Christ’s slaves. He chose us for this very reason. And we can realize those plans only with the Spirit. We have the ingredients necessary to serve Christ. We were chosen, sanctified in the Spirit, are willing to obey Christ and were sprinkled with His blood. Now, it is time to look to God for guidance that we fulfill His desires. Listen, the only way for grace and peace to be ours in the fullest measure is to become Christ’s slaves according to the will of God. Grace and peace are powerful gifts of God wherein they suffice us at any given time. They bring God’s love into our lives; all that is His is ours. They help us see He worked for us. Paul became Christ’s slave, because he learned to look to God for guidance. He cherished every bit of his fellowship with the Almighty. But, for it he had to learn from the Spirit to be content and yet, not be in want. It was a way for God to train him. Why did He do it? It was so that he would demonstrate greater things of godliness for God by the Spirit given to him. And so, we see him say, “For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please” (Gal. 5:17).
The maximum output we bring in the Spirit is when we are trained by God for it. The flesh can never teach us to be content. We knew this when we were sinners. Now, when God has given us the Spirit, it is for the purpose of opposing the sinful nature of the flesh. The Spirit can succeed in His work only at our desire to become Christ’s slaves. Then, the outcome as Paul said is inevitable. We cannot do whatever we wish, but only the works of the Spirit. These works are born of the gift or gifts of God that the Spirit brings into us. Unless we suffer by contentment, we cannot see the works of the Spirit emerging from us. If they do not emerge from us, our blessings will be suspended. We cannot play a role in increasing God’s kingdom.
Unless one chooses to deny God’s impartiality in giving the Spirit to His children, he or she would not wish to answer this question. “He answered them, ‘I told you already and you did not listen; why do you want to hear it again? You do not want to become His disciples too, do you?’” (John 9:27). Only those who do not wish to become Jesus’ disciples deny or find a way to get around the words of Peter (Acts. 15:8). Jesus’ disciples undoubtedly believe not only in His works, but also in everything He spoke about the Spirit. For the lack of Jesus’ presence in the flesh is filled by the Holy Spirit. If we want to become His slaves, we ought to believe it. There are many out there that deny the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and others that falsely interpret His indwelling us. All do it for selfish reasons or with a covetous heart. And, consider the case of the former. If the Spirit is not in them as was in the apostles and the gentile Christians of the former days, they are doing things they please.
There is nothing one can bring forth to bypass God’s promises concerning the Holy Spirit. He sent Him so that those who believe should become like Him and serve Him for much grace and peace. On the other hand, no service rendered to Him apart from the Spirit will be worthy of His reward. The Holy Spirit is a blessing that God yearns to bestow on us. So, do not refuse Him; rather pray that you are filled with Him. Through Him alone flow all the good things of God. With Him alone we learn to defeat the flesh to glorify God. With Him alone we genuinely learn to suffer for Christ. Through Him alone we see the rewards of suffering. And with Him alone we are intimate with God. So, do not listen to mere words, but to words filled with the Spirit. For there are many present to mislead you. Of them Jesus said, “Woe to you! For you are like concealed tombs, and the people who walk over them are unaware of it” (Luke 11:44).