6 June 2020

Blessings – Holiness(sanctification)

One major reason for the Holy Spirit to dwell in us is to change or sanctify us (Ezek. 36:27; Jer.31:33; 1 Thess 4:7-8). With the Holy Spirit, holiness is essential; without the Holy Spirit, holiness is impossible

How does change come about? The Apostle Paul highlighted the unrelenting inner conflict between the ‘flesh’ and the ‘Spirit’ in Romans 8 and Galatians 5. By the term ‘flesh’, Paul means our fallen, self-indulgent nature, and by the ‘Spirit’ the indwelling Holy Spirit Himself. The secret of holiness is in our attitudes to both ‘flesh’ and ‘Spirit’.

Our negative attitude towards the flesh is called ‘mortification’ – a process of putting it to death, a practice often neglected by believers. We are not to pamper our selfish nature; instead we should ‘execute’ it and deal with it rigorously Rom.8:13). It is clear from Paul’s teaching that if we mortify ourselves we will live but if we indulge ourselves we will die. In other words, we are called to deal decisively and to reject radically everything we know is evil in God’s sight. This is our responsibility but we cannot do it by ourselves – we can only do it through the power of the indwelling Spirit of God. Through the Spirit, we mortify ourselves; by the Spirit we put to death the deeds of the flesh.

In outworking, the Spirit helps us to discern the will of God in our minds; He enables us to distinguish between right and wrong; He enables us to desire God’s way and He also enables us to determine resolutely to follow God’s will.
In essence, the Holy Spirit changes and renews our hearts by instilling in us a recognition of Christ’s reality and by uniting us to Christ in HIs risen life; our way of thinking is altered; instead of alienation from and defiance of God, what comes from our hearts is grateful love to God and a desire to praise and please Him. Nonetheless, the inner conflict still continues; we therefore constantly need to ask God to enable us, through the Spirit, to do the right things in the right way (with love and hope and zeal for God). Only the Holy Spirit who indwells us can bring all these about.

Holiness is the fruit of the Holy Spirit; it constitutes ‘Christ-likeness’ of character and conduct. But the Bible clearly teaches that neither the eradication of evil nor the possibility of sinless perfection is promised. Rather we are progressively changed from glory to glory; we are pilgrims on a journey towards the heavenly city but we have not yet arrived nor been made perfect. However we press on ‘to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus told hold of us (Philp 3:12). Evil would be completely eradicated when Christ comes again.