Did you know at the very beginning of your Christian life, already there was birthed in you a holiness that came from the Holy Spirit? In Titus 3:5, Paul says, “He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to His own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit.” A spirit of holiness has been placed into us – by the Holy Spirit!
Thus, everyone who is born of the Spirit begins to turn their back on sin, conquering more and more of it as they go through life. We just cannot stay comfortable with sin! I was 18 years old when I came to Christ, and I remember thinking, “if I could only win the war over profanity, rash words and drinking, then I would be holy.” These things seemed like spiritual mountains to climb. But to my utter surprise, they were nothing compared to the real mountains – pride, unbelief, self-centeredness, and so forth. The real battle was only just beginning!
In 2 Corinthians 3:18, Paul says, “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.” There is in this passage the idea that spiritual growth in every true believer goes on for a lifetime. I do not want to give the impression that there are not reversals along the way. Every believer has times in his or her life when it seems like they are not growing, or when old sins that seemed at one point in time to have been conquered suddenly rear up again.
Furthermore, there are believers who have struggled with certain habitual sins that are very difficult to break. And in the midst of these struggles, we do well not to despair. It was the old Puritan, John Owen, who reminded us that God could take all propensity to sin away in a second. But sometimes He allows us to struggle with certain sins so that we will not be arrogant, but instead, will continually confess humbly to our God how needy we are of Him.
But even though we may suffer reversal at times, and the struggle against the flesh, the world and the devil may seem harder than we ever thought, we are being led by the Holy Spirit to a gradual growth in holiness. We are being transformed to be more like Christ. The promise in the Bible is that this transformation will be complete when, at death, we are finally glorified. The day will arrive when our struggle with this world will end, and we will be presented before Christ without spot or wrinkle.
On that day, we will actually know what it is to do all things to the glory of God, without even the slightest influence of our old sin nature. And how we long for that! Let me get very personal with you. If on this day, you are finding your struggle with sin overwhelming – please do not lose heart. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 4:16 that our inner self is being renewed every day.
There is the necessity for all believers to be constantly filled with the Holy Spirit. We know we cannot win this battle alone. At times, we will sense the Holy Spirit arresting our sinful tendencies, but we will also sense Him drawing us to be like Christ. So, what have we learned?
While we acknowledge the real struggle we all have to learn to be obedient to Christ in all things, we also learn that none of this would be possible were it not for the Holy Spirit taking initiative. All that we become in Christ is due to Him. For this reason, let us be grateful for the Holy Spirit’s role in our salvation.
APPLICATION: Take some time to reflect upon and thank the Holy Spirit for the work He’s done in your life. If you struggle today with sins in your life, take comfort that He will help you overcome them. Do not lose heart!
A SPIRIT OF HOLINESS HAS BEEN PLACED INTO US – BY THE HOLY SPIRIT!
Dr. John Neufeld
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