The Effects of the Spirit (2)
“Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by your name, O LORD, God of hosts.”
The heart cry of the saved
Jeremiah’s is the heart cry of every person in whom the Spirit of God has come to dwell. The first and most essential evidence that the Spirit of God dwells in us is an insatiable hunger for the Word of God. We can know that we have the Spirit if we experience a growing desire to know and obey the Holy Scriptures of God.
For where the Spirit comes to dwell, He comes to feed us with God’s Truth. He is the Spirit of Truth (Jn. 14:26), the Author of Scripture (2 Pet. 1.21), and the one Person of the Trinity Who can guide us into all Truth (Jn. 16:13). He will teach us all the things which Jesus Christ has spoken in His Word (Jn. 14:26) by comparing Scripture with Scripture to bring to light the eternal and life-changing truths of God (1 Cor. 2:12, 13). The Spirit of God is thus, in the first instance, the Teacher Whom God has sent to build us up in the Truth. If we have the Spirit dwelling in us, we will be eager and growing students in His classroom, hungering like Jeremiah for more of the Word and Truth of God every day.
The presence of glory
But how can we know when the Spirit is actually teaching us? What are the effects of His instruction in our lives? First, let’s agree that it will be difficult for the Spirit to teach us the things of the Lord if we are indifferent or merely casual about sitting at His feet. Daily time in God’s Word is required if we are to learn from the Spirit of God. If you lack enthusiasm for such a commitment, pray to the Lord, Who is at work within you by His Spirit, to make you willing and able to devote more time and attention to reading and studying the Scriptures (Phil. 2:12, 13). He will show you how to make the time and what approach to Scripture reading and study works best for you. Anyone who has the Spirit of Christ will find a way to “get to class” and to listen carefully as the Spirit teaches us the things of God.
We can know that we are learning from God’s Spirit in two ways: when we have the sense of being in the presence of God and His glory (2 Cor. 3:12-18), and when we experience conviction such that we take seriously the work of changing our lives (Jn. 16:8-11). Paul taught that, when we are studying the Scriptures, as the Spirit is present with us and we are waiting on Him to teach us (Ps. 139:23, 24; 1 Cor. 2:12, 13), we will begin to be aware of a kind of “heavy” spiritual presence, making itself known to our minds and hearts. We will discover ourselves in the very presence of God Himself, as He speaks to us from His Word. The effect of this will be to heighten our joy in reading and to make us more attentive to the passage we’re considering.
Then, as we continue to meditate and reflect in the presence of the Lord, the Spirit will begin to convict us of things that need to happen in our lives. He will convict us of sin, showing us by God’s Law and Word whatever is out of line in our lives, or any temptations that we might expect. We will become more sensitive to sin and temptation and more inclined to resist the devil. Second, the Spirit convicts us of righteousness. Not only does He warn us and tell us of what is wrong, He points the way to what is pleasing to God and illumines the path He wants us to walk, in terms specific to our own unique circumstances. Finally, He convicts us of judgment, which is kind of gentle reminder that God takes seriously His call to obedience, and we must as well.
You can know that you have the Spirit of God when you hunger for God’s Word and He feeds you by His Spirit, for a life of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Kingdom of God.
Is your own time with the Word of God what it ought to be? Are you consistent each day? Do you have that sense of being in the presence of God’s glory? Are you regularly brought under conviction? Meditate on these questions, then meet with some Christian friends and lead them in a discussion using these questions. See if you can reach some conclusions that will allow you to help one another make better use of your time in God’s Word.
Begin your own ViewPoint study group. Begin with this ViewPoint series, “The Effects of the Spirit.” A free PDF version is available, complete with questions for reflection and discussion which you can use to study the seven lessons in this series with others.
For more insight to this topic, get the book, Keep in Step with the Spirit, by J. I. Packer, from our online store. Or read the article, “Freedom in the Spirit,” by T. M. Moore.
Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture references are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.