I have noticed something and have been trying to sort it out recently. There seems to be so many people who once were Spirit filled and living the Spirit filled life who have left this life and now are in non Spirit filled environments for their spiritual growth. This, to me is baffling to say the least. I guess if you never really experienced the Spirit filled life fully, and it was more or less a function instead of a daily lifestyle, it would be easy to walk away. But what a person is walking away from is a relationship with the Holy Spirit, a person!
The Holy Spirit is a real person just like Jesus. The problem is we have looked at the Holy Spirit as a function we decide to engage into, instead of relationship with the personhood of the Holy Spirit. I believe those who walked away did not see what they desired, not knowing the ways of God are only found as the Holy Spirit speaks and instructs us concerning them as we are in relationship with Him. We today are repeating what the Romans and Pagans did in the past; we are questioning the doctrine of the Holy Spirit not realizing we are really questioning the existence of a person of the deity of God. If not careful, the next step is to question salvation and then the existence of God!
The Romans and Pagans claimed the Holy Spirit was just the influence of God and not a person. That what you saw and experienced were only influences that came because of a belief system. Today many believe in the Holy Spirit and even the Spirit’s activities but don’t believe in the relationship with the Holy Spirit. A lot of the Church today still holds to this belief. It allows us to have a mindset of the possibilities of God not being ruled out, but no real activation of relationship on a daily basis.
One of the more vocal opponents in the past was Arius, who taught the Holy Spirit was only the “exerted energy of God” realized in a created world; his view was rejected at the Council of Nicea in A.D. 325. Again a lot of the Church believes this, a power not the personhood of the Holy Spirit. Even though there is an energy that is released, it is not released based on our faith as much as the relationship of the Holy Spirit. The relationship like all relationships has energy in it. What we fail to recognize is all the activities of energy we want to enjoy are released as the relationship is engaged. If we deny this person of the Deity, we actually are denying the portion of God that gives us life. We get eternal life from the Son of God but we get spiritual life now from the Holy Spirit. Could the result of denying the personhood of the Holy Spirit which brings life, be associated with bringing the results of abortion in our nation?
We are in the same place again as the Romans and Pagans in our culture. We also are in the same place questioning the Holy Spirit doctrines? We either see the Holy Spirit as an influence, or a power. It seems the things so many desire to “see” or “experience” fall into either one of these categories of thinking. We seem to think the Holy Spirit is there for our entertainment or at our beck and call. When in reality, only a person can be grieved or can know the thoughts of God as they search out the deep things of God. Perhaps the reason we don’t see the things we desire is we have never really made room in our own lives first and in our corporate gatherings for a person over a function.
The name of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament for Spirit is Ruach meaning ‘wind or breath’. In the Old Testament, He is referred to as the Spirit of God, or the Spirit of the Lord, My Spirit or just the Holy Spirit (Psalm 51:11, Isaiah 63:10, 11). In the New Testament, the Greek word for Spirit is pneu’ma. Pneuma, which like the Hebrew, is derived from the meaning of wind or breath. The Holy Spirit is also called as the Comforter or Helper, translated from the Greek word, paravklhtoß. Parakletos, meaning ‘one who comes alongside to plead the case before the judge’ (John 14:16, 26; 15:26). He is also called the Spirit of Jesus (Phil. 1:19). This breath is living inside of us. It is the life flow of God and needs to have expression also.
We have relationship with the Son and through the Son have forgiveness of sin and become children of God. Through the Spirit, we experience sanctification and the transformation of our lives. I recently heard someone pray ‘God, help us to repent’. Another time, ‘God help me love you more’. Both are requests based on a non Spirit filled life. A life that only has relationship with the Son, believing salvation should fix the areas requiring sanctification when in reality; it is the Holy Spirit’s role to help empower us to change. It is being responsibility for your own heart and not putting the lack in how you respond on God not changing you!
Perhaps what many are seeking is to not deal with transformation and change, but are still hoping God will suddenly transform them like when they were first born again. That was freedom from sin and deep forgiveness was experienced but sanctification is an ongoing process. It is easy to live the Christian life without the Holy Spirit’s activity because nothing is really required. Christian life is only living by set standards and these happen to be Christian, not another religious belief. Those standards without the Holy spirits activity borders on works and being under the law.
Living a spiritual life will require relationship not only with the Son but the Holy Spirit as well. Without the Holy Spirit, there is no leading into truth, which causes change. No sanctification which requires deep dealing. No moving in the gifts which requires responsibility upon us for our future. No relationship means I don’t have to cultivate that relationship. It also means I set my own belief system and bring my own interpretation of the scriptures to my life. I can only come to one conclusion, those who are not living a full Spirit filled life are still at the believer stage of their Christian growth and are in need of transitioning into being a disciple (Disciples are trained by the Holy Spirit’s activity) and eventually a Christian (one who does the works of Jesus). Looking outwardly, we see most of the Church is in need of this type of relationship with the Holy Spirit.
The scripture says in John 3:3 “Except a man be born again, he cannot “see” the kingdom of God”. That is the Son’s role to open us into that realm and give us access to the Father. But then in John 3:5, it says “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God”. The Spirit is our guide and the one leading us. Not in some super-hyped spiritual way, but in a relationship of being alongside us. Without the life of the Spirit, we cannot be Kingdom people, for it is Spirit filled living and not having knowledge about God or memorized ways of living, which all have elements of the law and Old Testament modeling, that will produce life.
So my concluding thoughts are that people who have left Spirit filled living never really understood it as relationship. They have walked away from a large portion of how Jesus prayed to the Father to leave the Comforter. You see, until He prayed, this was not the plan of the Father. But our need justified the Holy Spirit staying. I believe people are saved, yes. I also believe unless you are filled with the Spirit, meaning a full relationship with the Holy Spirit, you are living below the fullness of life that God planned.