When we preach the Gospel we sometimes hear a comment that goes like this, “I don’t want to get saved today and then tomorrow I start doing the same old things I have been doing.” Although this concern [actually a fear] is understandable, it is nevertheless misguided. It stems from a lack of understanding of what salvation is. Salvation is not our work. It is the work of God all through. In the last blog, I talked about the Holy Spirit – the one who helps us [the parakletos].
Today I would like to share about one other aspect about the Holy Spirit: He is the One who makes us holy.
There are three aspects of salvation: The first aspect is the past stage of salvation: It is called justification: whereby God declared you righteous when you accepted Jesus Christ as your savior. You were declared holy, and were adopted as a son of God. You are a saint – the holy one of God! Amazing, isn’t it? The righteousness of Jesus Christ was imputed [or accredited, or assigned] on you. All your sins [past, present and future] have been forgiven; you have passed from death to life, from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light, from the power of sin to the power of the Lord, from the dominion of Satan to the dominion of God. You were saved from the power of sin. So you can say, “I have been saved!” There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. [Rom. 8:1 – NIV]
The second aspect is the present stage of salvation: It is called sanctification, whereby a believer is set apart for God. You are saved from the practice of sin and the dominion of sin by being filled with and walking in the Holy Spirit. It is in this stage that you grow in your relationship with God. This is what we call spiritual growth or Christian maturity. You can say, “I am being saved.”
The third aspect is the future stage of salvation: It is called glorification, whereby a believer will be saved from the presence of sin. You will be delivered from the coming wrath of God, share in the glory of God, receive rewards from God as a faithful overcomer, and received a glorified resurrected body. This future salvation is the goal to which all of us as Christians strive. You can say, “I shall be saved.” For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. [Romans 8:18-19 – NIV]
For now, I would like us to focus on the Holy Spirit who helps us in our present stage of salvation. He makes us holy.
Someone said that the Holy Spirit’s first name is “Holy.” There is a saying in one of the Ugandan languages which goes like this: “tell me whom you walk with and I will tell you your character.” In the last blog I said that the Holy Spirit is a friend – the One who stands by your side to help you—the One who goes all the way down with you. This means that when you make the Holy Spirit your friend you become more like him.
Some Christians have a tendency to have a superficial relationship with the Holy Spirit. We talk about his power but live defeated lives. We sing about Him as a friend but live our lives as if he does not exist. We talk about being filled with the Holy Spirit but live in sin. Yet He whom we claim to have is the Holy One.
The good news is that the Holy Spirit is your friend to help you live a holy life.
Someone may be asking, “What’s the big deal; my sins have been forgiven, can’t I live just as I wish?” Let’s face it, many of us are born-again but we don’t want to be labeled weird, or “out of class.” So, we are always asking, “what are the minimum requirements?” What is the minimum I can do to remain saved? First of all that question is problematic. It is not what you have done or even what you do that merits your salvation. You could have done the best you could but would still be lost in your sins. It is not what you have done or do that makes you saved but what Christ has done on the cross.
Here is the deal: the Holy Spirit wants to change you, BUT you have to be ready to cooperate with Him. He wants to make you more like Jesus, BUT you have to be willing to go his way. Stop playing “smart” and let the Holy Spirit guide and work in you.
There are many avenues that the Holy Spirit uses to grow us; let me suggest a few:
• The Word
• Fellowship [iron sharpens iron; accountability groups]
• Life’s situations