The Church Together: The Spirit Gives New Life

The Holy Spirit is mentioned in the second verse of the Bible. But just because He’s identified early doesn’t mean His identity is easily understood. As Christians, we may sing songs about the Spirit, refer to Him in everyday conversation, and even pray specifically for His help or comfort. But like me, you may still struggle to understand the Holy Spirit and then live with your mind set on the things of the Spirit (Rom. 8:5) by the power of the Spirit (Acts 1:8).

Holy Spirit 101: The Basics

Let’s start with some basics. The Holy Spirit is the third person of the triune God and as a person—not a force or impersonal power—He possesses all the divine attributes. The Holy Spirit is co-equal with God the Father and God the Son, and though each is distinct, they cannot be separated. The Spirit had a distinct role in the work of creation and continues to have a distinct role in salvation, conviction, sanctification, as well as the inspiration and illumination of the Scriptures. The Spirit empowers the believer to work, serve, understand, discern, and obey. 

In [Christ] you also were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and when you believed. The Holy Spirit is the down payment of our inheritance, until the redemption of the possession, to the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:13–14 CSB)

Jesus Himself explains the Spirit to His disciples in John 6:63 by telling them, “The Spirit is the one who gives life. The flesh doesn’t help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life” (CSB).

The Spirit is the one who gives life. The flesh doesn’t help at all. Let those words and their implications settle into your mind and soul for a moment. The Spirit gives life. You—your flesh—does not help at all. In fact, “if you live according to the flesh, you are going to die. But if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live” (Rom. 8:13 CSB). These Truths might be summarized in a single statement: The Holy Spirit gives new life.

From the moment the Holy Spirit awakens your heart and mind to believe that your flesh is sinful, that there is nothing you can do in your own strength to compensate for your sin, and that you need a Savior, you are given new life!

Second Corinthians 5:14–17 explains:

For the love of Christ compels us, since we have reached this conclusion, that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all so that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for the one who died for them and was raised.

From now on, then, we do not know anyone from a worldly perspective. Even if we have known Christ from a worldly perspective, yet now we no longer know him in this way. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, and see, the new has come! (CSB)

This newness is a special kind of new. All new. New because each believer has a new identity as a saved, redeemed child of God. New because we have a new goal—to glorify God and not ourselves. New because we have the Holy Spirit as a down payment sealing our inheritance of eternal life with the Father. And new because, as Susan Hunt explains, the Christian “not only has a new Pattern, she has a new Power.”1 While we are certainly justified (declared righteous) by Christ through the Holy Spirit the moment we believe, we are also sanctified (made holy) by the Holy Spirit as we act, think, and speak by His power and not our flesh—a new pattern and a new power.

Beyond the Basics: New Life with New Power

With the foundation of understanding who the Holy Spirit is and what He does, the question for every Christian becomes: are you living a new life with the new power that has been given to you?

Before you answer that question, here’s an illustration that we use in our family when my husband and I are challenging each other or one of our kids to live in a new way by the power of the Holy Spirit. (And in case you think this is strange, I should mention that in our house, illustrations typically revolve around cooking, basketball, or cars. It’s what we know and like.) 

The new life and power we receive from the Holy Spirit could be compared to a Corvette—a precision vehicle designed for maximum speeds and performance. Now, you can get in a Corvette and drive it twenty-five miles per hour around your neighborhood. Or (and this is where my husband and sons lock-in) you can take the Corvette to a racetrack, push the throttle to the floor, and let the power of that engine come through. Living our new lives with the full power of the Holy Spirit is like that speeding Corvette doing what it was designed to do. So now I’ll ask that question again: are you living a new life with the new power that has been given to you?

Understanding the identity and activity of the Holy Spirit is essential. Recognizing the new life we have through the Holy Spirit is humbling. But living by the Spirit—speaking, responding, feeling, thinking, acting, and obeying according to the Spirit—is the greatest way we can praise God for our new life. By His power, we can obey. By His power, we can serve. By His power, we can display Christ, honor Him, and point others toward Him. The Spirit of the Living God is in you if you are truly a child of God, so live like a true child of God!

Living the Spirit-Empowered Life

While living a new life has purpose for you as an individual, there are additional blessings when Christians live together in new ways with new power. Together—as pairs, groups, families, friends, neighbors, and churches—we can display and demonstrate Christ to the world around us. Local church bodies, specifically, have immense potential to do this. It’s what we're called to in Ephesians 4:1–4. When we "walk worthy of the calling you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace" (CSB), Christ is made known. 

Romans 15:5–7 describes this unity and its results as well:

Now may the God who gives endurance and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another, according to Christ Jesus, so that you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ with one mind and one voice.Therefore welcome one another, just as Christ also welcomed you, to the glory of God. (CSB) 

Living a new life with new power doesn't happen instantly, perfectly, or comprehensively. But through God’s grace and mercy and by His Word and Spirit, you can live that life consistently and increasingly like the Son. Spirit-empowered living has purpose for you personally, but even more so as you live a Spirit-filled life alongside others who are doing the same. 

You have a new life. Live that life by the power of the Spirit that has sealed and saved you.

1 Susan Hunt, Spiritual Mothering: The Titus 2 Model for Women Mentoring Women (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2016).

About the Author

Heidi Jo Fulk

Heidi Jo Fulk

Heidi Jo Fulk desires to know and live God's Word, then teach and challenge other women to do the same. Heidi and and her husband, Dan, live in Michigan with their four children where she leads women's ministries at her … read more …

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