K Neill Foster

The Spirit of Life

a series of essays on the Spirit-filled life
by Del McKenzie

 1Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. 3For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, 4in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.

 5Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; 7the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so. 8Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.

 9You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. 10But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. 11And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you. - Romans 8:1-11 NIV

In Romans the Holy Spirit is identified as the Spirit of life.  In many ways the whole message of the Bible is a message of life.  Death came into the human race when Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden.  That death penetrated and has permeated our world ever since.  It is seen wherever we look in our culture today: death in marriages, families, churches, communities, for example.  Physical death stares each of us in the face as we move on in our journey of life.  The second death awaits people who don't discover eternal life.

One of the great ministries we can expect of the Holy Spirit, and ask Him to do for us, is give us life.  Jesus repeatedly declared that He is the life and the Holy Spirit, in making Jesus real to us, will impart that life.  The more the Holy Spirit fills us the greater will be the flow of life into us.  It is a matter of trusting Him because everything is by faith.  Human effort can never produce the life that comes from God.  He is the Creator and source of all life and it flows out of His grace in response to the believing heart.  The mind of the sinful man is death.  C. H. Spurgeon said that "the Spirit of God (is) the life of the spiritual man.  By Him we are quickened at the first; by Him are we kept alive afterwards; by Him is the inner life nurtured, and increased, and perfected."

There is an answer to the death that gnaws away at the human race.  It is the work of the Holy Spirit in those who know Him as a living Companion.  It begins with what the Bible calls the new birth, or being born from above.  There are a lot of spiritual experiences that leave a person short of the new birth.  They may even be called conversions.  It is possible to be turned around by a cultural conversion.  The influence of a family or religious group may turn a person from going one direction to another.  That person may even become a religious zealot but have never received spiritual life.  He may become extremely knowledgeable about the Bible and rigid in his lifestyle.  It is a conversion but it is a counterfeit to the new birth Jesus spoke about.  For a counterfeit to pass as real it must be very close to the authentic.  In fact the closer it is, the less likely it will be detected as phony.  But counterfeit conversion produces no life and what may appear to be life is only death wearing a mask.  That death is spread under the guise of authenticity.

A second kind of counterfeit religious experience is an emotional one.  People can become emotionally stirred by public meetings, extreme experiences, flamboyant leaders, or in many other ways.  They can shed many tears and give great testimonies of what has happened to them but often fade out like a flash fire.  It is because they have never been really born from above.  The life of God has not been allowed to reach their will and so they are still dead and separated from God.  Jesus said that the person genuinely born again will do the will of His Father in heaven.

Another counterfeit experience that can overtake a person is an intellectual conversion.  Over a period of time that person becomes convinced of the facts of the gospel and comes to agree that the Bible is God's revelation of Himself.  They come to accept all the basic teachings of Christianity and may even become experts in arguing them.  They have been turned in their mind but not in their will.  Life has never been imparted to the inner person because they have not believed on the Lord Jesus Christ with their will, but only their intellect.  They continue to walk in death and in moments of personal honesty they wonder why there seems to be no light in their soul.

The new birth which brings spiritual, divine life is taught throughout the Bible and has been testified to by countless people down through the centuries.  The Holy Spirit does come to live within people when they really repent and believe on Jesus.  The deceitfulness of the human heart can devise many shortcuts to those great steps but they always leave a person short of what the Holy Spirit wants to do for them: give them life!

Paul wrote to Timothy about a life that is truly a life.  Jesus said that He had come so people could have life and have it to the full.  It is possible to have spiritual life but have it so crowded out by death forces that it could not be described as a real and full life.  The really sad thing is that we can think we have a great life when the opposite is true.  Jesus said to the group of believers in Laodicea that they were deceived into thinking that they were rich, had acquired great wealth and didn't need anything.  The reality was that they were wretched, pitiful, blind and naked.  That doesn't sound like much of a life, does it?  The Holy Spirit will instill the life of Jesus in us when we allow and trust Him to be our Lord and fill us with Himself.  If we don't, we will be what the New Testament describes as carnal.  Paul told the Corinthians that in their carnality they were living as children, with jealousy and quarreling.  They were acting like people who had never been born again.  They did not have the abundant life which comes when the Holy Spirit is in full control.  None of us have to remain in a half dead spiritual condition where carnality dominates our life.  God has a vibrant, overcoming life through the ministry of the Holy Spirit when He is filling us.

Romans, chapter eight, is one of the great sections of the Bible that teaches about a life that is really a life.  It is the answer to the miserable life described in chapter 7.  Chapter eight is about the Holy Spirit and in the middle of it there is a statement that the Holy Spirit will give life to our mortal, or physical bodies.  The Holy Spirit is such a giver of life that even our present bodies benefit from His indwelling presence.  Our world is overrun with sickness and disease in more variations than can be tabulated.  God identified Himself in the Old Testament as Jehovah-jireh, "The Lord That Heals." Jesus declared Himself to be the one foretold in Isaiah 53 who would take people's infirmities and sicknesses.  His healing power cured multitudes of people.  The Holy Spirit now takes that same power and applies it to submitting and believing people.

There are times when we need to ask for and trust for healing.  There is also the possibility of trusting God to be our health.  It has been common for people all down through the centuries to seek for healing and health from other sources.  Some of those sources have been evil.  Superstition has replaced faith in God in more ways than can ever be determined.  Doctors are not ruled out in the Bible but there is clear warning that they should not be our first choice for healing and health.  Are there simple and clear-cut answers to all the questions about healing and health?  The answer is obviously, "no."  But the Holy Spirit wants to pour life into every part of our being.  We do not have to be walking around half dead spiritually, emotionally or physically.  An old song exclaims, "Life, life, eternal life, Jesus alone is the giver.  Life, life abundant life, glory to Jesus forever."  One of the great ministries of the Holy Spirit is to take that life of Christ and make it real to us.  It comes most fully when He has filled us and we are living in Him and walking with Him in that person to Person relationship.