The Word and the Spirit

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God the Holy Spirit has not suffered in any way from the world being in lockdown and therefore the Holy Spirit has continued to convict the world of sin, righteousness and the judgement to come. In Psalm 139 we hear David speak about the omnipresence of the Spirit, “where shall I go from your Spirit? or where shall I flee from your presence” (ps 139:7). As we proclaim and defend the triune God of scripture we are able to do it from such a verse as this one in Psalm 139. Once we have recognised the characteristics of God and the works of God, we are then able to identify who God is by those characteristics and works. Therefore, when we see Jesus forgiving sin and we know that no person can forgive sin but God alone, we recognise Jesus as God. When David says “where can I flee from your Spirit”, we recognise that omnipresence belongs to God alone and therefore we recognise the Spirit as God.

We do not need a specific verse to rest on to affirm the Triune God of Scripture when we know that God is holy other from His creation. As we speak of wisdom and the word of God we recognise that this same biblical exposition applies. When God speaks His Word and acts according to His own wise counsel, we recognise that God is not relying on someone outside himself as He speaks and acts. Rather God is in need of nothing, God is in need of no one.

The Word and the Spirit

God caused the Scriptures to be written and it is the Spirit of God that brings these words into the heart. God’s word is verified in our hearts because of the inward testimony of the Holy Spirit. We learn from the word of God that it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes, it creates faith in those who hear it, it shapes our worship of God into its proper form. Ezra knew what it meant to devote yourself to the word of God properly, he had to study it, live it, teach it, but before he did any of that he first had to write it on his heart.

The work of the Spirit in the life of the believer is a cooperative work and so without denying the work of the Spirit in applying the word of God into our hearts, we must read the word of God in the first place. However, in saying this I am not promoting the idea that the Spirit’s influence can be limited in us by our lack of devotion to the Lord, whilst at the same time, we do teach that we can grieve the Holy Spirit but this is not something which we must do. If two people are walking from the shop to their car in the rain, it would seem obvious that both would get wet, yet those who guard themselves against the rain with a coat and an umbrella are not exposed in the same way. The same is true when it comes to reading the word of God, how many of us have the spiritual equivalent of a raincoat on when it comes to being exposed to the word of God.

One of the reasons why the word of God is neglected is not because it is difficult to understand though some parts are more difficult than others. Neither can it be because it is irrelevant but rather it’s because it’s work. When Paul spoke to Timothy about the word of God he spoke about those who work hard in the word. Therefore, we devote ourselves to the word of God for this is what He uses to sanctify us (John 17). The Holy Spirit will enable us to understand the work involved in learning the Scriptures, but we must open our bibles and read.

Establishing communion

The Spirit of God establishes communion between the believer and the other two persons of the Trinity and when we are reading the word we can see how the Spirit is conforming us to the image of Christ. The work of the God the Spirit is not at odds with the Scriptures and therefore the believer should treasure the indwelling power of the Spirit. Life in the Spirit begins with regeneration and it convicts us to walk with Him, to keep in step with Him so that our lives would produce the fruit of the Spirit. With this in mind, we recognize that the life of the believer is a life of conflict. The desires of the Spirit are against the desires of the flesh, they are opposed to each other, to keep us from doing the things we want to do. Therefore, (as Richard Sibbes concludes) “Where there is no conflict, there is no Spirit of Christ at all”.

Therefore, communion with God is not without battles, but the Spirit of God who dwells within the life of the believer gives victory in those battles. Those battles are described for us in the following verses of Galatians chapter 5:16-25, so that through understanding where the conflict happens we are assured of the Spirits presence in our lives. There is a false confidence which occurs in the life of a person who doesn’t understand the Word of God or the work of the Spirit of God. Those who have continued in sin, but who have convinced themselves that it is not a sin or that God understands given the circumstances. Believe that if there is no conflict then God is not disapproving of their behaviour, but it is not the absence of conflict which assures the believer, it is rather the presence of conflict. God disciplines those who are His children and the desires of God the Spirit who dwells in us is opposed to the desires of the flesh.

Communication

Life in the Spirit is one where we should notice His work within our lives and appreciate it, lest we claim His work as our own. As we read the word of God we know that we do not do this alone but with the help of the Spirit and so we must pray that our minds would be enlightened and that our hearts would be changed by the power of the Spirit. Life in the Spirit is one of conscious communication, where we recognize his work in our lives through reading the word of God and where we learn that God the Spirit communicates with us through conflict and comfort. By relying on the work of the Holy Spirit within our lives we will be continuously thankful that we have this relationship with God and avoid benefiting from the works of the Spirit without appreciation.

The relationship between us and the Spirit when reading the word of God is one where we should submit and depend, humbly receive instruction and recognise the relationship, as well as the contributions. In the same way, a person buys something new for there home, they will often ponder beforehand or after where it will go and what will have to go to make room for it. When the Spirit of God moves into our lives it is His role to rearrange and remove, and we learn what can stay and what will go through the word of God. Life in the Spirit is one where we are being transformed because we belong to God.

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By Daniel Ralph

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