Some of the most comforting promises in the New Testament are those that refer to the Holy Spirit’s ministry in the life of the believer. My thoughts immediately go to the Upper Room and Jesus’ parting words to the disciples. After the shock and awe of his announced departure, Jesus said to them, “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.” Jesus pledged that he would not leave his disciples as orphans. With his departure “another Helper” would come who would be like him in supplying everything needed to obey his commission. As we can imagine, this was a difficult teaching for the twelve. How would this happen?
Then came Pentecost, and the Spirit of the living God was given to the church. The disciples then began to understand that God did not dwell in a building made with hands, but the living God dwelt within every believer, just as Christ had promised. In Paul’s letters, he would emphasize the seal of the Spirit on the believer’s life and that “anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.” Through the saving work of Christ, the new covenant established that God’s law would not be written on tablets of stone, but on the heart of the believer. The prophet Ezekiel referenced the new covenant with great hope as he declared the word of the Lord:
“And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.
The Spirit’s Power for Altar Living
I’m drawn to this important doctrine because the Holy Spirit’s power is essential to presenting ourselves to God as living sacrifices. Life on the altar is not empowered by human grit but by the Holy Spirit. I believe we could include the beautiful ministry of the Spirit in Paul’s reference to the “mercies of God” in Romans 12:1.(more…)