I once knew a woman named Grace. She and her husband were family friends when I was younger. Grace was kind, generous and fun-loving. She was interested in your thoughts, your life and your welfare. She was loved, respected and admired by just about everyone who knew her.
Grace was able to show the love of God and demonstrate to my young mind the fruit of the Spirit of God by the way she lived and carried herself. Charm, kindness and love flowed from her. I didn’t realize it back then, but in the brief time our paths crossed Grace taught me some of my first lessons about the pricelessness of grace.
As I sit down to write about how life can be transformed by the Spirit of God, I remember the generous and gracious life of this person I once knew.
Can I convey in one article how to let God live in us through His Spirit? We all need to set our hearts to do so and achieve the state of grace personified by the lady named Grace I knew long ago.
I can think of no more pressing topic for us than to under-stand how God wants to have a relationship with us through the essence of His nature, the Holy Spirit.
Created to share glory
Jesus Christ tells us that “God is Spirit, and those who wor-ship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24 John 4:24God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
American King James Version×). God the Father and Jesus Christ exist in a harmony and unity beyond what we can humanly understand. They are without beginning or end, eternal, but wanting and willing to share Their way of life and glory with Their human creation. You were created in the image of God with the ability to share part of the glory of God in this life today. But how?
God graciously gives us the gift of His nature by and through His Holy Spirit. With that Spirit we can live a transformed life beyond any semblance of our life before that. In short, God offers us the opportunity to take on His divine nature, thus becoming like Him in character, thought and action.
Let’s look at how we receive that Spirit, what that Spirit is and what it can do for our lives.
Repentance to life
When the apostle Peter gave his defense to the Church members in Jerusalem after baptizing the gentile (non-Israelite) converts of the household of Cornelius, he summarized the essence of what happens when one receives the Spirit:
“‘And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them, as upon us at the beginning. Then I remembered the word of the Lord, how He said, “John indeed baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” If therefore God gave them the same gift as He gaveus when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could withstand God?’ When they heard these things they became silent; and they glorified God, saying, ‘Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life’” (Acts 11:15-18 Acts 11:15-18 15 And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning.
16 Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but you shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost.
17 For as much then as God gave them the like gift as he did to us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God?
18 When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then has God also to the Gentiles granted repentance to life.
American King James Version×, emphasis added throughout).
The change of your mind and heart that leads you to seek the crucial connection with God leads to receiving the essence of His nature, the Holy Spirit. This changed orientation is called repentance. It leads to a new life with the potential for a close personal relationship with God.
Godly repentance is a change of mind and attitude toward God. It follows conviction by the Holy Spirit and the Word of God acting on our conscience. Repentance involves an awareness of personal sin, which is the transgression of God’s holy and righteous law (1 John 3:4 1 John 3:4Whoever commits sin transgresses also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.
American King James Version×). It is accompanied by sincere remorse and resolution to respond to God’s calling by obedience and submission to His way of life.
Repentance toward God is not a temporary emotional response. It is a response resulting in a permanent change of thought, behavior and direction of life. It results in a determined commitment to turn to God, to forsake a life of sin that separates us from God and to walk forward in all of God’s commandments.
Scripture shows that such a mind change—coming to understand that we are sinners who must forsake sin and turn to following God—should be followed by baptism and the laying on of hands by a minister of God (Acts 2:38 Acts 2:38Then Peter said to them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
American King James Version×; Acts 8:17 Acts 8:17Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.
American King James Version×; Acts 22:16 Acts 22:16And now why tarry you? arise, and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.
American King James Version×). It is then that God gives His Spirit to those who obey (Acts 5:32 Acts 5:32And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God has given to them that obey him.
American King James Version×). It is then that a life of the Spirit can begin—a life graced by God’s presence dwelling in us through that Spirit.
Standing in grace
The apostle Paul explains the reality of this new life in some remarkable passages of Scripture. In his letter to the Romans he explains the gift of grace we have through the forgiveness of sin and God’s Spirit—His essence—dwelling in us.
He explains the grace we have as something “in which we stand” (Romans 5:2 Romans 5:2By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
American King James Version×). The step of faith leading to repentance, baptism and receiving God’s Spirit produces peace with God and our Lord Jesus Christ and a deep relationship built from confidence that our Father and our Elder Brother love us. God understands us fully. When Paul says we “stand” in God’s grace, he refers to a wonderfully comforting relationship with God, a relationship that is enduring and faithful.
Having made that commitment, we need not worry that God will instantly condemn us when we slip and sin (see Romans 8:1 Romans 8:1There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
American King James Version×). God does not remove Himself from us (Hebrews 13:5 Hebrews 13:5Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as you have: for he has said, I will never leave you, nor forsake you.
American King James Version×). The connection remains as long as we do not turn completely away from God in refusal to ever repent, totally quenching the Holy Spirit in us.
When we veer from God’s gracious relationship with us, through sin or neglect, we will suffer the devastating impact of sin. God has not moved, but we have. Life will hit us in the face with excruciating impact. We then have a choice whether to return to a right relationship with God. Yet this is also an aspect of God’s grace, as the difficulties are meant to help us, God working all the while to rescue us. Of course, the choice to continue with God, following the lead of His Spirit, ultimately remains ours. And we must strive to maintain that.
Paul explains the work of the Holy Spirit in us as the basis for our hope of sharing in the glory of God. The Spirit of God in us will create the essential quality of endurance and character to withstand the trials of our lives. Grace and righteousness are gifts that create a stable life. Paul explains that grace reigns through righteousness that leads to the hope of eternal life through Christ (Romans 5:21 Romans 5:21That as sin has reigned to death, even so might grace reign through righteousness to eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.
American King James Version×).
So when he then asks, “Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?” the obvious answer is “Certainly not!” (Romans 6:1-2 Romans 6:1-2 1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?
2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?
American King James Version×). God’s gift of grace and His Spirit should lead us away from sin—away from our corrupt natural inclination that leads us toward sin. Paul then explains that baptism—immersion in water—is a symbol of putting to death the old self, an outward sign of our inner desire to live a new life with new priorities and a completely different orientation.
Paul likens our emergence from the “watery grave” of baptism to Jesus Christ’s resurrection from the grave, with us rising to then walk in a new way of life. With Christ we then live a new life to God, “dead indeed to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:8-11 Romans 6:8-11 8 Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him:
9 Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dies no more; death has no more dominion over him.
10 For in that he died, he died to sin once: but in that he lives, he lives to God.
11 Likewise reckon you also yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
American King James Version×).
How are we doing?
The only right we have to call ourselves Christian—to bear the name of Christ—is through a genuine repentance in faith and baptism in Christ’s name. Have you ever examined yourself by this standard? Several scriptures convict us to do so. To the Church members in Corinth Paul said: “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?— unless indeed you are disqualified” (2 Corinthians 13:5 2 Corinthians 13:5Examine yourselves, whether you be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know you not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except you be reprobates?
American King James Version×).
The key, we see here, is Christ in us. That is the test as to whether or not we are truly Christian!
Paul expands on this in his letter to the Church members in Rome: “Letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. For the sinful nature [of the fleshly mind] is always hostile to God. It never did obey God’s laws, and it never will. That’s why those who are still under the control of their sinful nature can never please God.
“But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. (And remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them do not belong to him at all.) And Christ lives within you, so even though your body will die because of sin, the Spirit gives you life because you have been made right with God.
“The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you” (Romans 8:6-11 Romans 8:6-11 6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.
8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.
9 But you are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
10 And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.
11 But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwells in you.
American King James Version×, New Living Translation).
Here is a key fact to understand about the Holy Spirit. Receiving God’s Spirit makes God our Father in a literal manner. That Spirit makes us sons of God. When God gives us His Spirit, the divine nature enters our life, making us literal children of God. To use a parallel, as physical children carry in their makeup genes passed on from their parents, God’s Spirit—the essence of His divine nature—literally becomes a part of our life when we are baptized and receive that Spirit.
The beginning of grace
Through this relationship with God, we enter into the life of the Spirit. This is where we begin to live in grace and demonstrate the gracious nature of God. When I noticed the appealing and kind nature of my friend Grace all those years ago, I was seeing the wonderful qualities Paul called the fruit of the Spirit of God (Galatians 5:22-23 Galatians 5:22-23 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
American King James Version×) coming out in the warmth of her eyes, the gentle tone of her voice and the kindness shown toward so many people. These qualities drew people to her in friendship. She was using the Spirit to be like God in character.
How? She let God live in her life. That is what we do when we let God live in us through His Spirit.
This is profound. The truth of the Bible on this subject is never more needed. So many people live confused, complicated lives of despair. Seeking meaning in life often leads down a dead-end street. Don’t you want to connect to the purpose for your life? You can! That is what this article intends for you, through Scripture, to come to understand. When God invites us to understand His purpose for creating human life, we are connected to the most important of all knowledge!
At the heart of this revealed truth is the Holy Spirit of God, the divine nature of God in us as a force we can use to live with power, love and a sound mind. Fear need not be a part of our life (2 Timothy 1:7 2 Timothy 1:7For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
American King James Version×).
Christ in us
Let’s go back to the point made above that we are literally sons and daughters of God. This is not a vague symbolic religious thought. It is a fact of Scripture, and most people read right over the verses that reveal this truth, never stopping to grasp what God offers us in this life.
As human children we have the DNA of our biological mother and father in every cell of our body. The language in the DNA strands determines our features so that we are literally formed in the image of our parents. DNA is the definitive identifier of our lineage.
The Spirit of God joins with our spirit to make us children of God. Romans 8:16 Romans 8:16The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:
American King James Version×tells us: “For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory” (NLT). By the Spirit we are literal heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ. We are part of the God family. God is preparing us, as His children and heirs, to inherit all things (Revelation 21:7 Revelation 21:7He that overcomes shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.
American King James Version×).
With the Holy Spirit we are “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4 2 Peter 1:4Whereby are given to us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these you might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
American King James Version×). God’s “spirit DNA” is in us, and we take on the character and nature of God our Father and Jesus Christ our Brother and High Priest.
Think on this. What Paul writes takes on new meaning. “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20 Galatians 2:20I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
American King James Version×, King James Version). Paul plainly tells us that through the Spirit, Christ lives in us.
“I will come to you”
Paul here adds depth to what Christ told His disciples on the eve of His death. Before His arrest, He explained why He had to be killed and then raised and what that would mean for them and all who would follow after as disciples—including you today. Jesus promised a “Helper” or “Comforter,” from the Greek word parakletos. This presence would be with us—in fact, the presence and power of the Father and the Son dwelling within us. Christ called it “the Spirit of truth” and said it “dwells with you and will be in you.” And He added, “I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you” (John 14:16-18 John 14:16-18 16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;
17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it sees him not, neither knows him: but you know him; for he dwells with you, and shall be in you.
18 I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.
American King James Version×).
Christ’s words speak to us today, explaining how we can have a relationship with Him and access the power of the Spirit to live out a meaningful life touched by the kindness and grace of God. His suffering and death provided the means for this to happen. His resurrection from the dead forever made possible the Father sharing His glory with humankind.
“At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you” (verse 20). Jesus Christ and the Father are one in purpose and intent. They share the glory we will inherit. They also share the peace and power we desire and need to live successfully today. Christ is explaining the key to success in life. Through the Spirit of God living in us, we have power to cope with whatever life deals us.
Hope without despair
A friend of mine recently called to tell me his only daughter had died. She was 39 years old, and though she had some health issues, the sudden death was unexpected. He and his wife were devastated. As we talked he commented on what life sometimes deals us. “It is sometimes a bad hand,” he said, using the well-known analogy of being dealt a hand of playing cards. “And you have to work with it. You cannot change it.” How true. Real life circumstances cannot be turned back. We must “play the hand” we’re dealt.
How much better for us to “play the hand” with the power of God in us, the life of Jesus Christ? That is what God offers with the promise of a “Comforter” or “Helper.” God in us gives hope when there is despair. The Father in us gives a quality of love that leads to a patient endurance of the sorrow and pain. God does not intend that the trials of this life be endured without the calming salve of His grace. It is a bitter experience to go through this life, what William Shakespeare called “this vale of tears,” without the comfort of God’s presence.
This abiding presence of God is like a soothing salve, a lotion that calms and aids in healing. God’s grace ultimately works like a balm that comforts our heart and soul with kindness and patience and love. The abiding presence of God in us provides the hope beyond the hurt, the expectation of joy beyond the depth of sorrow and the gentleness of spirit when life and people cause hurt and harm.
Check the headlines of your life. Chaos? Lack of purpose? Fear? A search for understanding among competing ideas? Life is not meant to be like that. You can find the way out of fear and confusion to a place of love and a sound mind—a place of grace. You can find it in the pages of a book you probably have in your home—the Bible. It contains the words of God waiting to speak to you and reveal the mind of the Creator of life to you.
Wired into your makeup is the need for this connection with God. The yearning you have to be loved and to be understood—to understand and to show love—comes from the fingerprint of God on your life from conception. We are at first an incomplete creation, in need of the Spirit of God to join with our spirit, forming the connection of grace by which God lives His life in us—transforming us into His image.
You can choose to begin today!
Jesus Christ added another crucial thought while teaching His disciples: “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come and make Our home with him” (John 14:23 John 14:23Jesus answered and said to him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come to him, and make our stayed with him.
American King James Version×). By the Holy Spirit, the essence of Their nature, both the Father and Son live in the believer. Thus, Christ presented Himself and the Father to be the Source of comfort, help and encouragement provided through the promised Comforter. Part of His purpose in this passage was to point out that He would do far more through the Spirit dwelling in them than He did while He lived among them in the flesh. And this was borne out by the work Christ did through the Church, as recorded in the book of Acts.
We have access today to this power that can make all the difference in our lives. What I saw in my friend Grace was the fruit of the Spirit in her life. Her words and deeds gave benefit and grace to those she knew. To this day I remember her as an example of the grace of God shown through the life of one person. It is what happens when we submit to God in faith and allow Him to live in us.
Paul lists the fruit of the Spirit as “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23 Galatians 5:22-23 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
American King James Version×). Taken together these qualities are the essence of God’s nature, the manifestation of His grace. A life led by the Spirit of God will demonstrate these traits. It will transform our lives, giving power to live a life free of fear.
May you begin to do what God requires to begin such a life!