The Gift of the Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit is a gift. We learn also that through the gift of the Spirit the love of God is poured into the hearts of believers. Or, as Hofmann put it: “The Holy Spirit, who is the effectual cause of holiness of life, was not in us by nature. But now, through Him, the love of God is in our hearts.”
In Romans 7:6, Paul is contrasting the old life of the flesh with the new life in Christ. When we were in the flesh, he says, the law stimulated our sinful passions and so worked in our nature that we became producers of death. But now we stand clear of the law and are free to serve God, not in the old obedience to the letter of the law, but in a totally new way in the Spirit.
Henceforward the believer is subject, not to an external word of command, but to the inner compulsion of the indwelling Spirit. So Pentecost supersedes Sinai. The rule of God is “written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts” (II Cor. 3:3 ESV), “for the written code kills, but the Spirit gives life” (II Cor. 3:6 ESV).
Here is a challenging indication that it is to new life that Christ has called us. “Not to some new steps in life,” declares Horatius Bonar in his classic, God’s Way of Holiness,
“some new habits or ways or motives or prospects, but to a new life….
It is not merely the old life retouched and made more comely;
defects struck out, roughness smoothed down, graces stuck on here and there.
It is not a broken column repaired, a soiled picture cleaned, a defaced inscription filled up, an unswept temple whitewashed.
It is more than all this;
else God would not call it a new creation, nor would the Lord Jesus Christ have affirmed with such awful explicitness, as He does, in His conference with Nicodemus, the Divine Law of exclusion from and entrance into the Kingdom of God (John 3:3).”
Go through the New Testament Scriptures and count up the passages which speak of the new life in Christ by the Spirit. Everything begins with the new birth and it unfolds itself in the newness of the Spirit….
But it is not enough merely to meditate upon it. We must seek to make it our own. It was the poet Keats who insisted that “nothing ever becomes real until it is experienced.” This teaching about the Holy Spirit pouring the love of God into our hearts and leading us into newness of life will only become real to us as it ceases to be a theory and begins to be an experience.
May the gracious work commence even as we “receive with meekness the implanted word” (Jas. 1:21 ESV).
A. Skevington Wood (1917-1993) was a Methodist minister, preacher, and scholar. This excerpt is taken from his book Life by the Spirit, Zondervan Publishing House, 1963, pp. 14-16.
A. Skevington Wood (1917-1993) was a Methodist minister, preacher, and scholar.