Relationship between the Holy Spirit and the Christian

*Disclaimer*

I debated a long time about posting this. I do not consider this a great paper and I am very hard on myself. I hope it makes sense to someone other than me. 

Introduction

The relationship between the Holy Spirit and the Christian is to be intimate, righteous, and holy. The Christian relationship with the Holy Spirit is obtained by offering our bodies to God as slaves of righteousness—a living sacrifice—and not slaves to sin as it was once before. Comprehending that law is not sinful and even though we are released from the law, we are bound to Jesus Christ. By assimilating and achieving the Christian relationship with the Holy Spirit, there will be no doubt that it is true, pure, and will bear an enormous amount of fruit.

Christians are not exempt

Author Warren Wiersbe said, “It is not enough to know that Christ died for us; we must also know that we died in Christ. It is not enough to know that we have new natures within; we must also know that the old nature was dealt with on the cross.”[1] The Christian life is not easy nor delicate. Though many wish it was, it just is not feasible for Christians to walk a road bedded with rose petals, as Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:45, “so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” What Christians do have though is someone to alleviate some of the thorns that are associated with the Christian walk and that help is from no other than the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit sanctifies

Sanctification, by definition, means “Process of being made holy resulting in a changed lifestyle for the believer. The English word ‘sanctification’ comes from the Latin sanctificatio, meaning the act or process of making holy.”[2] Understand that a Christian will never be fully sanctified on earth, rather, sanctification is an ongoing process that is guided by the Holy Spirit. From the beginning, after the fall, we are dead to sin. Anything and everything we do is as filthy rags according to Isaiah 64:6. This leads to the need for the Holy Spirit. Paul, in Romans 8, tells how essential the Holy Spirit is in a Christian’s daily life. Paul explains in Romans 8:3–4, “For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” “Who walk,” is an important phrase, it means, “the most ancient expression of the bent of one’s life, whether in the direction of good or of evil” (Ge 48:15; Ps 1:1; Is 2:5; Mic 4:5; Eph 4:17; 1Jn 1:6, 7).[3] As a Christian we are to “bend our life” in the direction of the Spirit. Simply put, one cannot be sanctified without the Spirit, and one cannot have the Spirit and not be sanctified.

The Holy Spirit cannot walk with someone before Christ. Romans 8:7–8, “For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” John Calvin explains, “The will of God is the rule of righteousness; whatever does not agree with his will is unrighteous; and if unrighteous, it is at the same time deadly. When God is set against us, it is vain to expect life; for his wrath must directly and inevitably be followed by death, which is vengeance wrought by his wrath. And now let us remember that in all things the will of man is opposed to the will of God.”[4] Understand, that Paul is not saying that it is impossible for man to become good. John Chrysostom asks, if it was impossible for man to become good, how could David have recovered after falling, how could Peter been such a warrior for Christ after denying Him three times, how can an adulterer be in the Lamb’s book of life, how could anyone who has fallen from grace obtain their dignity?[5] John Chrysostom also states, after looking at this from that point of view, one must conclude that it is not impossible for man to become good, rather it is impossible for man to become good and continue to do evil.[6]

The relationship between the Holy Spirit and Christians

As in any earthly relationship, when one begins, there are certain things, ideas, and actions that are put away, such as dating, searching for someone, and thinking only of one’s self. In a Christian’s relationship with the Holy Spirit, there are also certain ideas, things, and actions that are put away. Paul delivers this in Romans 6:12–14, “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.” In layman’s terms, “Paul tells, that the parts of our body are not Satan’s possession now; they are God’s instruments. We are to use our eyes, our hands, our feet, our minds, and our mouths in a way that shows we are people who have been brought from death to life. That does not simply mean avoiding wicked uses of those features; it also means putting them to work to serve, to bless, and to draw others to God.”[7]

Paul’s teaching of the law

Notice in Romans 6:14, “For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.” Paul uses the term law for the first time in relation to being “slaves to sin.” One view that needs to be eliminated, as Douglas Moos states, “Paul is not stating that Christians have no commandments for which they are responsible, or that ‘under law’ means under the condemnation pronounced by the law and ‘under grace’ means the freedom from condemnation experienced by those who enjoy God’s grace.”[8] After careful reading of context and word study, both views are quickly dispelled. Douglas Moo continues as he states,

“Most likely this refers generally to the fact that believers no longer live under domination of the Mosaic Law. Because Christians stand under the new covenant, the law of the old covenant no longer has direct control over us. The contrast between ‘law’ and ‘grace,’ then, is a salvation-historical contrast: The Mosaic law dominates the old regime from which we have been set free in Christ; grace dominates the new regime inaugurated by Jesus.”[9]

Through Paul’s teaching he makes it known that we are slaves to sin, and his reasoning, that as humans, we would never be or do anything to obtain sanctification without the Holy Spirit. Even strict adherence of the Law. “Paul uses the practice of slavery to illustrate by way of analogy that living under grace, far from encouraging wickedness, actually places a person under obligation to righteousness.”[10] This begins Paul’s discussion of the law. Romans 7:1-6, William Conybeare, author of The Life and Epistle of St. Paul, states,

“The Law has been above said to be the occasion of sin. For when its precepts awaken the conscience to a sense of duty, the sins which before were done in ignorance, are now done in spite of the resistance of conscience. For the carnal nature of the natural man fulfils the evil, which his spiritual nature condemns. Thus a struggle is produced in which the worse part in man triumphs over the better, the law of his flesh over the law of his mind. And man in himself without the help of Christ’s Spirit, must continue the slave of his sinful earthly nature.”[11]

Paul goes on to explain in Romans 7, that if there was no knowledge of the law, then there would be no sin and no sin to atone for, but we do know the law and as sinful human beings, we strive to break some of those laws. The example Paul gives us in Romans 7:7-8, “What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet. But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead.” “Paul discovered that although the commandment was designed to bring life (Lev 18:5; Luke 10:25–28), it turned out to be a sentence to death.”[12] Some may question how a law given to protect a person, lead that person to death. Author Robert Mounce explains it perfectly,

“How did this happen? Sin deceived him (v. 11). The deceptive nature of sin runs throughout Scripture from the account of the fall (Gen 3:13) to the final days of human history (2 Thess 2:9–10).87 Elsewhere Paul counseled us to be aware of the schemes of Satan (2 Cor 2:11). Although defeated by Jesus’ death on the cross, Satan continues his wicked and deceptive plans, trying to subvert the best interests of God’s people. Paul pointed out that Satan’s ploy has been to convert an instrument intended for life (the law) into an instrument of death.”[13]

Therefore, to atone for those broken laws, Christ became the ultimate sacrifice. Now as human beings, we are not bound as slaves to those sins, rather we are bound to Christ through His death. Perhaps a better phrase would be, “’through His slain body.’ The apostle here departs from his usual word ‘died,’ using the more expressive phrase ‘were slain,’ to make it clear that he meant their being ‘crucified with Christ.’”[14]

The transformation of a Christian

Another aspect of a Christian’s relationship to the Holy Spirit, is the Romans 12:1, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” Once Christ died, the Old Testament sacrificial system is no longer acceptable. “But there is still a New Testament sacrificial system. It is not a sacrifice that we give in order to make an atonement, but a sacrifice that we give because an atonement has been made for us. God does not ask us to bring in our livestock and burn it on the altar; he asks us to give ourselves, to put ourselves alive on the altar.”[15] This is not to be taken literally at any time, R. C. Sproul explains this as to sacrifice our life by living a life that is acceptable to God. Living a life that is worthy of the price paid on Calvary.[16] After this short explanation, Paul proceeds to give qualities and characteristics of “presenting ourselves as living sacrifices, and a relationship with the indwelling Holy Spirit.” (Romans 12:9-21)

The first characteristic of what a living sacrifice calls for is “love”. (Romans 12:9) It is important to look at how Paul views love in 1 Corinthians 13. “Love must be sincere means that love must be genuine, without hypocrisy. In addition, Paul tells us to hate what is evil and to cling to what is good. There is room for hatred in the Christian life, but it is not a hatred of people. This describes a loathing of sin and a sense of disgust at the destruction it causes to individuals and to the fabric of society.”[17] Next is “honoring.” (Romans 12:10) Paul stresses the need to put away the selfishness and the “me-first” syndrome. “Serving” comes next as Paul uses the word “fervent” in spirit meaning that a Christians desire to serve the Lord is a burning desire that may never cease to burn. (Romans 12:11) Paul then moves to being “joyful.” (Romans 12:12) “Those who possess this joyful hope have every reason to rejoice because they know that, in the end, Christ and his people will triumph. So we can be patient in affliction, calm in the face of any storm. The last phrase in this verse describes a key ingredient to developing the attitudes and actions found in this verse and in this passage: a life that is faithful in prayer.”[18] Paul emphasizes hospitality toward other Christians. (Romans 12:13) When the church first began in Acts, Christians pooled resources that way no one had any needs. Also, author Doug Redford, points out that hospitality is a trademark of people who serve as elders, deacons, pastors, but it should not stop with them, all Christians should exemplify hospitality.[19]

After Paul has given some qualities of a “living sacrifice to God,” He moves on and explains how Christians should act and not act. In Romans 12:13, Christians are to help one another, and in verse 14 Paul takes a turn and exhorts Christians to bless the depraved. As Doug Redford, author of The New Testament Church, notes, “Jesus pointed out in the Sermon on the Mount, if we love only those who love us, we are no different from the pagans (Matthew 5:46, 47).”[20] In Romans 12:15, Paul instructs to be emphasizers. Christians are to be happy when others are happy, and lament when others are mourning. Christians are to show no favoritism, as Paul mentions in verse 16. Simply meaning, Christians are to associate with everyone, regardless of education and/or financial status, race or other qualifying factors. Jesus died for all people and He associated with all people, therefore, Christians should associate with all people as well. Paul then moves to advocating peace. Christians should be at peace with everyone, and leave avenging up to the Lord. (Romans 12:17-19) In Paul’s list of actions, the most difficult thing to do as a Christian is to show goodness to an enemy. By doing this we “pour coals upon their heads.” “Paul is teaching that what we are doing is putting an avalanche of restraint upon him.”[21]

Paul closes his list of qualities and actions with a common principle. “Simply put, the world should not be influencing the Christian; the Christian should be influencing the world. Christians should take the initiative on behalf of what is good and act, not react.”[22] The list of qualities and actions that Paul gives, not only does that describe the true relationship of a believer with the Holy Spirit, it maps the transformation of a believer. Therefore, “The transformation and shaping of the life of the Christian are determined not by external worldly forms, but by this inward renewing, or renewing ascending to the whole of the external life through the productive power of the Spirit.”[23]

Conclusion

The relationship between the Holy Spirit and the individual begins at the moment of conversion. (Eph. 1:13, Gal. 3:2) “Christians have experienced the greatest exodus that is possible to human beings: they have been freed from sin.”[24] There is no other possible way to be associated with Christ apart from the Holy Spirit. What comes with great privilege, comes with great responsibility, obedience, and obligation. In any relationship there are obligations. In the relationship with the Holy Spirit, one is no longer obligated to the flesh, rather they are obligated to the Spirit. “True dedication is the presenting of body, mind, and will to God day by day. It is daily yielding the body to Him, having the mind renewed by the Word, and surrendering the will through prayer and obedience. Every Christian is either a conformer, living for and like the world, or a transformer, daily becoming more like Christ. (The Gk. word for “transform” is the same as the one for “transfigure” in Matt. 17:2.)”[25] Through the Holy Spirit, the sinful deeds of the flesh are put to death. The transformation that the Holy Spirit gives is greatly mapped out in a believer’s life and demonstrates God’s love and grace that he has for His children. That transformation can be seen by the outside world in which the Holy Spirit can begin to work in another’s life. Jesus said in Matthew 7:16, “You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles?” Bad trees will not bear any good fruit, “bad trees will transgress the standards of the true believer in one or more of the following three respects: their work will seek to glorify themselves, and not God, (Matthew 5:16) they will be materialistic, (Matthew 6:19) their moral lives will not be pure (Matthew 5:27–32).”[26] Obviously, there is no relationship with the Holy Spirit, because it is no other but the Spirit that can cause a tree to bear edible fruit. Therefore, there is no doubt, the relationship a person has with the Holy Spirit is intimate, righteous, and holy and the fruit that will be bore is tremendous.

Bibliography

Barrett, C. K. The Epistle to the Romans. London: Continuum, 1991.

Chrysostom, John. Homlilies of St. John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople, on the Epistle of St. Paul to the Romans. Edited by Phillip Schaff. Translated by J. B Morris, W.H Simcox, & George Stevens. New York: Christian Literature, 1889.

Conybeare, William John, and J. S. Howson. The Life and Epistles of St. Paul. Vol. 2. New York: Charles Scribner Sons, 1893.

Cranford, Lorin L. Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary: Sanctification. Edited by Chad Brand. Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2003.

Haroutunian, Joseph, and Louise Pettibone Smith. Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible. Philaadelphia: Westminster Press, 1958.

Jamieson, R, A. R Fausset, and D Brown. Commentary: Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible. Oak Harbor, 1997.

Lange, John Peter, and Philip Schaff. A Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Romans. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2008.

Mills, M.S. The Life of Christ: A Study Guide to the Gospel Record. Dallas, TX: 3E Ministries, 1999.

Moo, Douglas J. The NIV Applicaion Commentary: Romans. 16. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2000.

Mounce, Robert H. The New American Commentary: Romans. Vol. 27. Nashville, TN: Broadman and Holman Publishers, 1995.

Redford, Doug. The New Testament Church: Acts-Revelation. Vol. 2. Cincinnati, OH: Standard Publishing, 2007.

Sproul, R.C. The Gospel of God: An Exposition of Romans. Great Britain: Christian Focus Publications, 1994.

Wiersbe, W. W. Wiersbe Expository Outlines on the New Testament. Wheaton, 1992.

Witmer, John A. The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures. Edited by J.F Walvoord, & R.B. Zuck. Vol. 2. Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985.


[1] Warren W. Wiersbe, Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines on the New Testament (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1992), 383.

[2] Lorin L. Cranford, “Sanctification,” ed. Chad Brand et al., Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2003), 1443.

[3] Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset, and David Brown, Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997), Ro 8:4.

[4] Joseph Haroutunian and Louise Pettibone Smith, Calvin: Commentaries (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1958), 278.

[5] John Chrysostom, Homilies of St. John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople, on the Epistle of St. Paul to the Romans, ed. Philip Schaff, trans. J. B. Morris, W. H. Simcox, and George B. Stevens, A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, First Series, Volume XI: Saint Chrysostom: Homilies on the Acts of the Apostles and the Epistle to the Romans (New York: Christian Literature Company, 1889), 434.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Doug Redford, The New Testament Church: Acts-Revelation, vol. 2, Standard Reference Library: New Testament (Cincinnati, OH: Standard Pub., 2007), 133.

[8] Moo, Douglas J. The NIV Application Commentary: Romans. 16. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2000), 200.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Robert H. Mounce, Romans, vol. 27, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1995), 160.

[11] William John Conybeare and J. S. Howson, The Life and Epistles of St. Paul, vol. 2, New ed. (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1893), 212.

[12] Robert H. Mounce, Romans, vol. 27, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1995), 165.

[13] Ibid.

[14] Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset, and David Brown, Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997), Ro 7:4.

[15] R. C. Sproul, The Gospel of God: An Exposition of Romans (Great Britain: Christian Focus Publications, 1994), 195.

[16] Ibid.

[17] Doug Redford, The New Testament Church: Acts-Revelation, vol. 2, Standard Reference Library: New Testament (Cincinnati, OH: Standard Pub., 2007), 151–152.

[18] Ibid.

[19] Ibid.

[20] Ibid, 153.

[21] R. C. Sproul, The Gospel of God: An Exposition of Romans (Great Britain: Christian Focus Publications, 1994), 209.

[22] Doug Redford, The New Testament Church: Acts-Revelation, vol. 2, Standard Reference Library: New Testament (Cincinnati, OH: Standard Pub., 2007), 154.

[23] John Peter Lange, Philip Schaff, et al., A Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Romans (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2008), 382.

[24] R. C. Sproul, The Gospel of God: An Exposition of Romans (Great Britain: Christian Focus Publications, 1994), 112.

[25] Warren W. Wiersbe, Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines on the New Testament (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1992), 399.

[26] M. S. Mills, The Life of Christ: A Study Guide to the Gospel Record (Dallas, TX: 3E Ministries, 1999), Mt 7:15–23.

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About Ohm Punisher

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