The Holy Spirit remains, for many Christians, sort of the forgotten member of the Trinity. We’re on much more familiar terms with the Father and the Son, but the Holy Spirit? He’s sort of like the red-headed step child of the Godhead.
When we think about the Holy Spirit, we think in terms of mystery. Of the strange. Of the borderline paranormal. And it’s the Holy Spirit that turns Christians from regular people into raging crazies in the eyes of the world. At the extreme ends of the spectrum, you’ve got people who seem to be having a continuous conversation with someone no one else can see, hear, or understand. Then at the other end you have those who keep the Holy Spirit at an arm’s length, seemingly needing very little from this promised presence in their lives.
From the perspective of Scripture, however, you find a measure of both: the mysterious and the tangible, the logical and the incomprehensible. What you don’t find, however, is the relegation of the Holy Spirit to a distant third in the pecking order of the Trinity. The Holy Spirit is the most vital part of the Christian experience.
In fact, if you’re a Christian, then you can know for certain at least three glorious things the Holy Spirit is doing for you right now:
1. He is making you more like Jesus.
“We all, with unveiled faces, are looking as in a mirror at the glory of the Lord and are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory; this is from the Lord who is the Spirit” (2 Cor. 3:18).
Our spiritual maturity – our sanctification – is not accomplished in our own strength. Just as we are not able to take our own hearts of stone and remake them into hearts of flesh, just as we are not able to rescue ourselves from sin and death in our own willpower or intestinal fortitude, so also are we incapable of our own spiritual formation.
The best we can do is to surrender ourselves day by day to the transforming work of the Holy Spirit who has taken up residence in us. And whether or not we are aware of it, the Holy Spirit is using our circumstances, our relationships, our time in God’s Word, and everything else to mold us into the image of Jesus.
2. He is reminding you that God is your Father.
“For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father!” The Spirit Himself testifies together with our spirit that we are God’s children…” (Rom. 8:15-16).
Oh what a marvelous thing this is! That we, because of Jesus, have been adopted into God’s family. And because of Jesus, we are now co-heirs in the kingdom of God. That is our identity as Christians, and yet we are a forgetful people. We are barraged by the sinful impulses in our own hearts, not to mention a host of other circumstantial reasons that tend to dull our memories. We struggle financially, we have relational difficulties, we get sick and get well only to get sick again, we are weak and frail – when you only look at us, we certainly don’t stick out on the surface as the beloved children of God.
But the Holy Spirit reminds us. Despite our circumstances and our sin, He is faithful to time and time again whisper softly in the ears of our hearts, “You are the children of God.”
3. He is rightly interceding on your behalf.
“In the same way the Spirit also joins to help in our weakness, because we do not know what to pray for as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with unspoken groanings. And He who searches the hearts knows the Spirit’s mind-set, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God” (Rom. 8:26-27).
Surely you know the feeling: You’re in a time of desperation. You, or someone close to you is suffering in some situation, and you know the right thing to do is pray. And yet every time you approach the throne of grace you find yourself tongue-tied. It’s because you don’t know what to pray for. You don’t know the right end to ask the Lord for. But here again we find the wonderful Spirit of God, who knows our weakness.
He knows that we are easily confused and constantly short-sighted. But He intercedes for us, and He does so with such emotion and fervency that we can’t possibly comprehend it. Even more, the Holy Spirit intercedes for us, since He is God, in accordance with God’s will.
This some of the work of the Spirit, and it is the work He is up to whether we recognize it or not. The question for us, then, is not whether or not the Holy Spirit is at work, for He surely is. The question from our perspective is about awareness.
How well will we see, recognize, and embrace this ongoing work? May it be more and more as the days go by.