If you are a Christian, you carry the Holy Spirit around with you everywhere you go. So what? What does that matter? How do we live out our identity as temples of the Spirit?
It starts with confession and repentance for the sin in our lives. Admit it, and turn away from it. One of those of particular importance, when it comes to the Spirit, is an apathy toward the Spirit. Imagine how that must feel to the Spirit. Here he is, God, coming to live with us, to indwell us, which is an amazing gift of himself to us, and we can be very apathetic to him, often treating him as if he doesn’t exist. And yet he is with us! Imagine how your spouse or child or parent would feel if you spent most of every day ignoring them, though you are living together in the same house. It would feel incredibly offensive to them. Likewise imagine how the Holy Spirit feels if we rarely talk with or listen to him, though he is indwelling us?
Many people go through the act of being married. They have a ring on their finger, a signed marriage license, but that does not mean they have a healthy, thriving, loving marriage. To achieve that you need to invest in listening, spending time together, growing in communication, prioritizing the other. You are still married if you don’t have a loving healthy marriage, but it is not, and you are not, all that you can be and all that your marriage is meant to be and intended to be.
In the first post in this series, we looked at John 16 where Jesus said that he was leaving the disciples, but that was a good thing for them. He was giving the disciples something better, and what he said is true. Because having the Holy Spirit indwelling us and filling us is so good, then we should desire a close relationship with the Spirit to be a regular part of our heart, mind, and life.
To that, I want to talk about how we address the Spirit. I did it right there. I wrote, “THE Spirit.” On the one hand, there is nothing wrong with that. The biblical writers and Jesus himself addressed the Spirit that way. It is proper English. The Spirit does not have a given name, but instead a title. Kind of like “God THE Father,” and “God THE Son,” but when it comes to Jesus, we can feel more personal with him because he does have a given name. Jesus. So we never say, “THE Jesus” because he is Jesus. We call him by his first name, as is totally normal, and yet the byproduct is that we can feel closer to him. Likewise, we can feel more distant from the Spirit because of how we address him. But as we’ve seen in this week’s posts, the Spirit is actually closer to us than Jesus. The Spirit is living with us.
So I am going to make a suggestion. What if we start addressing the Spirit directly, as if that is his name? For example, and this might sound odd at first, but how about this conversation starter, “Spirit, how are you doing this morning?” Notice how it is more personal? More relational?
We sing songs like this, don’t we? “Spirit of the Living God, fall fresh on me.” “Holy Spirit, you are welcome here.” We don’t sing those songs, saying “The Holy Spirit, you are welcome here,” because we are addressing the Spirit directly. You can do the same as you pray to the Spirit, in order to help develop a closer relationship with the Spirit. Make it personal. Maybe we need to start with confessing and repenting of a neglect of the Spirit.
Next, be filled, ingest the Spirit into your life, but not just alone. Do it together with people. We so often think of this individually, or done in isolation, as if that is all that Paul intended. For the early Christians, Spirit-filled life was a group thing. When the Spirit first indwelled them, as we read in Acts 2, that group of disciples and followers of Jesus were praying together. Of course the Spirit can work individually, but it also very important to see the filling of the Spirit in a group.
How do we do this? Certainly by spending in time in prayer, talking with and listening to the Spirit. Include Scripture in these conversations. Read it, asking the Spirit to help you understand it, and listen for what he is saying to you through.
In a recent conversation with a friend, they told me that in their teen years they decided to read the Bible cover to cover. They were committed to it, but all that reading did nothing, they said. I appreciate the honesty of that. Maybe you’ve felt the same way. Just deciding to read the Bible isn’t a guarantee of growing closer to God. So I recommend that you connect with someone. Get someone to teach you how to read the Bible, and do it along with you. Remember when we talked about ways we can quench the Spirit? One of the ways is by looking at scripture intellectually and not as in relationship with God. How are you reading scripture? Read Scripture, asking the Holy Spirit within you to help you understand what God is saying to you through his Word. Include time for listening to the Spirit speak, through Scripture, through others, and for those mysterious impressions we call the voice of the Spirit. Throughout this Identity series, I’ve been advocating reading one chapter every day for a week, and then getting together with others and discussing it. Have a Spirit-filled, Spirit-led, spiritual discussion. If you believe the Spirit is talking with you, don’t keep it to yourself, but bring it to the group for confirmation.
You are children of God, alive in Christ, temples of the Holy Spirit. So live out of that identity. Serving, Giving, Sacrificing. Walking into situations with the personal knowledge and understanding that you are carrying Holy Spirit with you. In conclusion, just as Paul taught us in Galatians 5, walk in step with the Spirit, and you will see the fruit of the Spirit flowing from your life: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, goodness and self-control.