The Spirit is Good (2)
Teach me Your way, O LORD;
I will walk in Your truth;
Unite my heart to fear Your name. Psalm 86.11
I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Ephesians 4.1-3
Keeping it together
Christians are redeemed and called to do good works. The purpose of this study of the goodness of God is to help us identify and improve in doing good, since this is how we restore a measure of God’s original design to the world (Gen. 1.31; Eph. 3.2-10).
Jesus Christ is filling the world with Himself through the good works of His people (Eph. 4.8-10; Eph. 1.22, 23). He does this as believers, filled with His Spirit, discern the course and walk the path He walked. To this end, the Lord Jesus and our heavenly Father have sent the Holy Spirit to abide with and dwell within His people, that He might work within us in powerful ways to bring the goodness of God to light in the land of the living (Jn. 14.15-17; Gal. 5.22, 23).
The Spirit works within individual believers and their churches to effect a powerful unity, a unity that cannot be realized apart from Him, and that has the effect of bringing the goodness of God to light in all aspects of life and the world, and of convincing the world of the truth of the Gospel. Without the unifying work of the Spirit, nothing good would issue from us or our churches. He must unite the different aspects of a believer’s soul, and the inward and outward operations of the believer’s life; and He must bring together the various members of the Body of Christ for consistent service and witness to the surrounding world.
The Spirit within us is ever working to unify our souls and lives, and to bind us together as one Body so that, through us, Jesus might fill our world with His living and loving presence, beginning in our Personal Mission Fields and our local communities (Phil. 2.13). But for this to happen, we must work out this inward salvation, devoting ourselves to seeing soul and body unified in Christ, and our churches united in their mission and witness to the surrounding community and the world (Phil. 2.12; Eph. 4.3).
The unity of the Spirit, which sustains the glorious bond of peace and declares the reality of Jesus to the watching world (Jn. 17.21), does not just happen. We must work hard, as Paul explains, or this great spiritual unity and the goodness it spawns will never come to pass.
Unity in the believer
The Holy Spirit is the divine power for restoring our reconciled souls and lives to God the Father through our Lord Jesus Christ. Without that power, our souls fragment – heart, mind, and conscience warring against each other, each insisting that it knows best how we should will and choose. And without the power of the Spirit, soul and body do not coordinate for good works, but pursue every wanton path of self-interest that strikes our fancy.
The Spirit comes to give us the mind of Christ, to renew our affections in the heart of God and His Law, and to anchor our values and priorities in the will of God as revealed in His Word. He works within us to transform all aspects of our soul into the image of Jesus Christ, and then to apply that renewed soul to a life of worship, obedience, and good works.
The Spirit unites our affections – all those powerful sentiments that issue from the heart – under the fear of God, which is the most important affection, and which focuses the mind and aligns the conscience for obedience, love, and service for God. Our part is to: submit to the Spirit as He teaches and convicts us from God’s Word (Jn. 16.8-11); seek the filling of the Spirit for all aspects of life (Eph. 5.18-21); and walk in the Spirit, allowing His ways to direct all our steps, so that we become the witnesses for Christ the Lord intends (Gal 5.16-23; Acts 1.8).
Unity among the churches
Similarly, the Spirit works to create unity within and between the churches of the Lord, so that all the various members can find their place in the Body of Christ, and collaborate harmoniously in being that Body in the world. Our part here is to identify, develop, and employ the gifts of the Spirit for ministry, and to seek ways of joining our various congregations – in worship, service, and witness – into a larger Kingdom community within our local community, as the holy presence of Christ and a powerful source of beauty and joy for that community (Ps. 48.1-3).
When believers live in the unity of the Spirit, when their churches reflect that unity in spiritual fruit and gifts, and when churches together within a community work hard (Eph. 4.3) to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, then the world will believe that Jesus has been sent from the Father and that the dispensation of saving grace and Kingdom goodness has broken into the world (Jn. 17.21).
Believers must become better acquainted with the Person and work of the Holy Spirit, so that we might know His sanctifying and unifying power at work within us for bringing the goodness of God to light through us throughout our communities.
1. How does the power of the Spirit work in us to enable us to do good works?
2. Paul says we have to “work hard” to maintain the unity of the Spirit, both individually and as churches. What does that entail?
3. What does it mean to submit to the Spirit? How can we know when we are filled with Him?
Next steps – Transformation: How can believers help one another know more of the transforming power of the Spirit in their lives? Talk with some Christian friends about this question.
T. M. Moore
The Spirit of God executes the will of King Jesus, as His Agent on earth, for the progress of His Kingdom. Learn more about the kingship of Jesus and our place in it by ordering a copy of the book, The Kingship of Jesus, from our online store (click here).
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.