I know this whole “Holy Spirit lives in you” can be weird, mysterious, New-Age-ish, and more difficult to fathom than O-Chem II.
But if you believe the Gospel — that Jesus the Son of God dropped down into human history as a perfect, sinless, healing savior born of a virgin, absorbed the wrath you deserve for your sins on a dirty Roman cross, jumped out the grave like Shark Week, and flew up to Heaven with a promise to come back with 100 million angels — then you have God’s Spirit living in you. That’s no small thing.
So what does He do? What does this change?
Well — everything.
1) You are God’s house. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
You’re not really your own anymore. You are literally united with Christ as a member of his body. Just like you wouldn’t take a five year old to see the fourteenth sequel to Saw, you’re not going to drag the Holy Spirit into self-destructive unions. You wouldn’t borrow someone else’s toothbrush and then return it.
That sounds like uptight old-fashioned preaching, but God knows exactly what is best for you, and disobeying Him not only hurts Him but hurts you. God doesn’t want you to sin because sin always kills something. It killed Adam and Eve’s relationship with God and with one another, and in the end it actually killed them.
This is not to limit you, but rather for your highest maximum joy. If you’re a part of God’s body, then acting upon that in grateful obedience always leads to full joy found in Him.
2) He convicts you of sin. John 16:7-8
That sermon; your friend; your parents; that Bible verse — all these things will combine with the Spirit to create gut-exploding conviction. It’s a persistent insistence tugging upon your heart and mind that something must change.
It’s different than your conscience, since your conscience can be torn up by sin. But rather the Holy Spirit acts upon your conscience to tenderize you.
You can shut down that voice for a while, but as long as the cross of Christ is casting its shadow over history, you’ll be convicted of what sin does.
3) He gives you new desires. John 16:8-11,
After conviction comes a desire for righteousness: godly living. When the Holy Spirit regenerated us — what some call being “born again” — we were also given a new heart with new desires. This isn’t merely heart surgery, but a total transplant.
Stuff in the world starts looking like exactly what it is: stupid. The volume of drama gets turned down. You watch the news or see a homeless guy or see a look on your friend’s face; and you feel compassion instead of contempt. Even when times get difficult, you grow an inherent trust of God in what He’s doing. You grow a love for Jesus, for who he is, for what he’s done.
4) He creates change in you. Romans 8:5-17
This is probably the most mysterious part of the Spirit’s work. The Bible doesn’t detail 100% how the Spirit actively works on our hearts, but I don’t think it needs to. We’ve all had the sober moment after Prayer-Praise-Scripture when the burden has lifted, the scales have fallen from our eyes, and we stand renewed to obey Him. If you’ve been submitting to His Word, you are definitely more gracious today than last year. And tomorrow will be determined by how you submit today.
Some would say this is a “psychological mechanism” with a bunch of neurological activity and hormones firing and cognitive processes rearranged. And even though I agree some psychology helps to explain what’s happening, that’s all it really does: just helps. The Spirit creates a knowledge of real purpose, an actual motivation, an end goal, an overarching truth to live for. And underneath that, the Spirit makes a “daily change” on our souls at an almost imperceptible degree — so long as we’re submitting to and participating with Him.
It is not behavioral change for the sake of change. The Spirit acts upon you to be like Christ, live like Christ, follow Christ. Like Romans 8:15 says, He gives us a heart that calls “Abba, Father,” and we are no longer slaves to worldly fear.
Change is not merely internal. A Spirit-filled life pours out with the overflow of gratitude for what God did through His Son. Galatians 5 talks about the fruits of a Spirit-filled life: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. 2 Peter 1 also tells us about more fruits.
Saying you’re “filled by the Spirit” means you’re consciously living exactly as God intends. Nothing more, nothing less. It might be better to call it “Spirit-controlled” or “Spirit-compelled.” When Ephesians 5 tells us to “be filled with the Spirit,” the end result is singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. It’s an outburst of our relationship with Christ.
That’s why Apostle Paul compares being Spirit-filled with being drunk, because you can always tell when someone is wasted in just a few seconds. Someone who is filled with the Spirit is easy to spot.
6) He illuminates the reading of Scripture. 1 Corinthians 2:12-16
You probably find it easier to read the Bible today than a year ago. Some days the Holy Spirit will flip on a light switch, and other days He will massage you gently into truth.
I’ve noticed that when I’m “too tired” to read the Bible, I push through anyway. I push through that thick fog of initial distractions and internet-calling-my-name and all the sudden reminders of things I need to do. Somewhere around the 7-minute mark, I fly into a smooth runway zone. Around ten minutes, I take off. I can even go back to the first thing I read and see more than I did when I started. The same goes for praise and prayer. But we must choose to push through.
7) You are given the power to follow Him. 2 Timothy 1:7
The power to do what God requires comes from God.
Essentially you’re housing a spiritual atomic bomb in your chest. Like Iron Man style. The Creator of the very breath you’re breathing who holds your thoughts together and allows you to breath again is in you,ready to be unleashed on the face of the earth. You’re pretty dangerous; not because you are, but God is.
God does not command what His Spirit Himself cannot do through you. He arms you to fight a disarmed Satan, he has broken you from the power and penalty of sin, He has upturned any voice of accusation or condemnation, he empowers you to fruitful-missional, God-honoring living.
A billion years from now, you’ll be no more and no less powerful with the Spirit of God than today. One second after you die, you will have just as much access to the Spirit as you did one second before. No one in Heaven can complain that God didn’t supply the spiritual resources. He did, He does, he will.
Jerry Bridges calls this Dependent Responsibility. We are dependent on God’s Spirit everyday, and it’s our responsibility to choose Him. We rely on God like it depends on Him, but work like it depends on us.
— Question: What’s The Holy Spirit? (Discusses the gifts, which I didn’t mention here)
— Question: How Does The Trinity Work?
— Question: I Got The Holy Spirit, So Why Rebuke?
— Obeying The Grace of God: He Commands You To Have Fun, Dang It
— Question: Renewing My What?
— I Want To Read My Bible — But How?