In the previous posts, here and here, we’ve been talking about how we have a relationship with God, expressed in the three persons of the Trinity. So how do we have a relationship with God the Spirit?
We read about the arrival of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2, and the rest of the New Testament is all about the new relationship that humans can have with God, through the Spirit. In fact, Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 3 and 6 that we are the temple of the Spirit, God lives in us. In the previous blog series, we talked about how the Fruit of the Spirit is how God the Spirit works in us so that his life is being grow within ours. His fruit, love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control, flow out of us. That’s quite a relationship. God the Spirit at work in us.
We also read about something called the filling of the Spirit, and that we can quench the Spirit, which we will see in the Scripture passages below. When we place our faith in Jesus, the Spirit enters our lives. But that doesn’t mean we are suddenly transformed into perfect beings. Our evangelical forefather John Wesley taught that a Christian could be perfected, and because Wesley was a far smarter man than me, I don’t think Wesley was off his rocker. But as I look around the world and in my own heart and mind, I think there is a better way to understand the biblical passages on which Wesley based his teaching.
Our goal is to become more like Jesus, to live like he lived, or to put it another way, to live like he would live if he were us. Some have called it the pursuit of holiness. This pursuit of becoming like Jesus is directly connected to God the Spirit. We are in a relationship with God the Spirit who lives in us. But when we choose to rebel against or be apathetic about that relationship, we are not allowing the Spirit to fill us, and we can grieve the Spirit.
Paul wrote about this in Ephesians 4:29-5:2 “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”
Instead of grieving the Spirit, we pursue the filling of the Spirit, which Paul goes on to write about just a few verses later in Ephesians 5:16-20, “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”