Ephesians 1:3-13. 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places…13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit.
When you heard and believed the gospel you were sealed with the Holy Spirit.
Let that truth sink in for a minute…
As we have been listing our spiritual blessings in the heavenly places over the past 16 days it’s pretty clear that we have all of these blessings FROM God. But in verse 13 the blessing IS God. God the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is God
OK a little Theology 101. The Holy Spirit is not a force. He is not an IT. He is a person. He has intellect, emotion, and will. He loves deeply. He grieves deeply. He has all the same attributes and power as the Father and the Son. In short – He’s God. And he is how God interacts with the created world. He is the presence of God with us, upon us, and now IN us.
What is the Holy Spirit’s mission?
The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Christ. When Christ ascended to Heaven “he became a life giving spirit.” It is by the Holy Spirit that we have union with Christ.
The Holy Spirit was sent by the Father to glorify the Son and his death and resurrection. The Holy Spirit will never glorify himself. He will never ask you to have faith in the Spirit. He will ALWAYS and ONLY point you toward the work of the Son on the cross. He will ask you to have faith in the person and work of Christ and your union with him.
What does it mean to be filled with the Spirit or to be led by the Spirit?
To be filled with the Spirit is never separate from living the crucified life. Christians often talk about being led by the Spirit or guided by the Spirit expecting him to lead them into greater power, and wisdom, and supernatural gifts. But this is not the way of the Spirit.
So….this is not quite what Paul had in mind. Notice there’s some good language, but also a lot of “greater and greater” “more and more” language. This is not the best language – we already have all of Christ. The Spirit makes us like Jesus. He doesn’t literally knock us over in large congregational waves.
The Spirit will only lead us into a deeper dependency upon Christ and his saving gracious work on the cross. Any power that the Spirit gives will be the power that comes as we grow weaker. Any wisdom the Spirit gives will be the foolishness of the cruciform life. Any gift the Spirit gives should be used to live that life of sacrifice.
How does the Holy Spirit grow us spiritually?
We have seen in this blog over and over that the Spirit does not grow us spiritually through what we might call “spiritual experiences.” We’ve said it before and we will shout it here again:
THE ONLY SPIRITUAL EXPERIENCE YOU WILL HAVE OR NEED IS YOUR UNION WITH CHRIST.
There are no greater spiritual experiences awaiting you. So stop looking for them. Stop trying to manufacture them. Stop trying to have more of the Spirit. Stop jumping from mountain top to mountain top. Stop re-dedicating your life to Christ. Stop making pledges and promises. Stop going to concerts, camps, and conferences looking for the perfect growth formula. All of these things place the emphasis on YOU and how YOU’RE doing. Rather than on Christ and what he has DONE.
WE DO NOT GROW BY MEETING CONDITIONS (yes I’m shouting again).
To be Spirit filled and led requires no conditions to be met and no special yielding to him. You have been sealed with the promised Holy Spirit. This work of God is all you need. You are Spirit filled. You are Spirit led.
The Spirit will always emphasize Christ. Not even growth. Spiritual growth is a real thing. But if you are obsessed with your spiritual growth my bet is you’re not growing. Be obsessed with Jesus instead and watch what happens.
WE GROW BY FOCUSING ON THE LIFE, DEATH, AND RESURRECTION OF JESUS AND OUR UNION WITH THAT LIFE, DEATH, AND RESURRECTION (Done shouting now).
“To live is Christ” is begun, sustained, and finalized by God the Holy Spirit. He is the greatest of spiritual blessings. The very life of God is now in us. His permanent presence transforms us and conforms us to the image of the crucified Christ the ultimate imago dei. All of this is by grace. God’s glorious grace.
This song doesn’t mention the Spirit only Jesus, which means the Spirit will love it.