Page 20 - January 2022 - Truth & Tidings
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within someone. Mercifully, though, “if   us to gratify the wicked flesh within us.
        Christ is in you, although the body is dead   But how do we learn and sense His lead-
        because of sin, the Spirit is life because of   ing? Thankfully, He has made His ways
        righteousness” (Rom 8:10). Our growth in   and desires clear in the Scriptures, which
        holiness is possible because we, as believ-  He has breathed out. If I prayerfully seek
        ers, do possess the Spirit of holiness. This   to follow the guidance of His Word, I will
        article began with the reminder that with-  experience growth, power and victory.
        out the Spirit of God we can do nothing.   “Be filled with the Spirit” (Eph 5:18) is
        But with Him, the most beautiful thing is   another command to obey. Certainly, we
        possible – likeness to Christ.        already possess as much of Him as we
        So … Do We Just Wait for the Spirit to   can, but the first part of the text gives us
        Sanctify Us?                          a key interpretive clue: “do not get drunk
          No. Sanctification is a lot like regenera-  with wine.” When someone is drunk, they
        tion. We did not save ourselves, but that   are living under the influence of alcohol;
        doesn’t mean we had no responsibility in   when someone is filled with the Spirit,
        the matter. By God’s grace, we did obey   they are living under His influence. His
        the word of truth; we did believe God; we   holy desires control our behavior. This
        did submit to the work of the Holy Spirit   doesn’t mean we roll around out of control
        to convict us and draw us to Christ. We   on the floor. In the context, a Spirit-filled
        do not sanctify ourselves, but we do have   individual will enjoy Christian fellow-
        responsibilities. For example, in Romans   ship, will sing, be thankful, and submit
        8:13, we are to “put to death the deeds of   to their fellow believers. This is the fruit
        the body.” But do not miss the vital quali-  that the Spirit produces (love, joy, peace
        fier in the text – we do that “by the Spirit.”   … self-control) – this is sanctification by
        The Holy Spirit’s power will be operative   the Spirit. And notice that this fruit is
        in an obedient believer, submitting to the   Christlike in character. This is an obvious
        Spirit’s word and work. Final victory and   contrast between being drunk and being
        likeness to Christ awaits the Lord’s return,   filled with the Spirit – “one makes us like
        but the Spirit will grant power over sin   beasts, the other like Christ.”
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        and growth in righteousness in a people   This text also helpfully blends human
        who trust and obey.                   responsibility with divine activity. “Be
        Walk … Be Filled … Sow                filled” is a command, but it is in the pas-
          In fact, God promises us victory in Ga-  sive voice, conveying our responsibility
        latians 5:16: “Walk by the Spirit, and you   to let Him fill us, to yield to Him and His
        will not gratify the desires of the flesh.”   power. The passive voice does not mean
        The walk of verse 16 is teased out in the   we have no role; it means the power to
        verses that follow, including verse 25 with   truly enjoy fellowship and worship comes
        another phrase that most translations   from Him. We actively choose whether or
        render something like, “let us also walk   not to get drunk, and we actively choose
        by the Spirit.” But the phrase is differ-  whether or not to let the Spirit control us.
        ent from verse 16; verse 25 more clearly   If we grieve Him with critical words and
        emphasizes the need to follow the Spirit’s   bitter attitudes toward fellow saints, in
        leading, to “keep in step with the Spirit”   ⁴ John Stott, Baptism and Fullness (Downers
        (NIV). Obviously, the Spirit will never lead   Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2006), 74.

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