Wednesday, June 22, 2005

The Question

I want to share with you what I consider the best question I have heard in a long time. A REALLY long time! I don't expect you to answer the question in a public forum like this, but I hope you will answer this question with a close friend or an accountability group. Most of all, I hope you answer to the person you see in the mirror every day. Here it is:

If the Holy Spirit decided he was NOT going to indwell in you anymore, would anybody even be able to tell a difference?

Chew on that one for a while. A long while.


At 2:17 PM, Blogger Keith Brenton said...

I hope not.

Okay, that was probably not the answer you'd expect, but it's genuine. I believe the Holy Spirit does make an extraordinary difference in the life of the person He indwells. But I don't think He intends to create Bible-banging street-corner evangelists who suddenly shrug and then crawl inside a bottle if He leaves them.

I think His influence is subtle, just as it is a subtle thread of continuity throughout scripture He inspires instead of word-for-word you-forgot-a-comma thank-you-Miss-Jones dictation.

I think we as Christians got either scared or excited at the prospect - so prevalent about 20+ years ago - that His indwelling would have to be life-changingly miraculous. So much afraid that many of us chose to ignore the prospect. So much excited that many of us tried to make it more than it is.

I think we got it wrong. He doesn't make people someone that they aren't. He helps bad people be good (as my 9-year-old daughter is fond of bedtime-praying). He makes good people better. In the end, He perfects all of us who will let Him. Sometimes He does it without us even knowing or noticing ... and without others fully perceiving it, too.

That's what I think. I got no evidence, and I'm willing to be argued with.

At 2:23 PM, Blogger TCS said...

Glad somebody commented so I can. I truely believe that people would notice. I am assuming this is true for all. The ways that I have grown, changed, matured that are not of myself are too many to list. I'm not this good on my own. (OK, I'm not very good now). I am better than I would be without him. But I will keep chewing on that question.

At 4:02 PM, Blogger Dee O'Neil Andrews said...

I don't know, Keith. I think you CAN see the Holy Spirit in people's lives. They may not see it in themselves (we may not see it in ourselves), but I really think we can see the Holy Spirit in others.

I certainly know a lot of Christians who I would call "Spirit filled."

Maybe it's just a matter of semantics here, though, on what exactly we mean by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and how that "operates". You're right, I think, that we aren't suddenly, miraculously changed and that we're not made someone we're not.

Still, I think people should see a lot of difference in us if the Holy Spirit were suddenly not indwelling us anymore. I just don't ever want it to happen to ME. I, like Tommy, have enough trouble as it is trying to be good and do good.

Great question. But, it raises the question "how can we quench the Spirit?" That's an important related question, I think, since we're told not to quench the Spirit.

Anyone have any thoughts on that, perchance?

At 8:26 PM, Blogger PatrickMead said...

Can I cheat a bit? If the Spirit no longer indwelt me, I would assume that meant that I was not saved and would not be saved in the future. My behavior would change dramatically. I would become morose, angry, and destructive (self and other). I can't think of anything good that really originates with me. I know that bad people can do good things, but this person (in other words, me) can't muster the energy to do good or be good without that constant nudging of the Spirit.

At 10:16 PM, Blogger DJG said...

I too think it would be noticed. When I think back to who I was before he slowly, and yes subtly changed me I can see a major difference.

I too fail to give him the full reign in my life that I know I need to, but without him I would be nothing! At least not anything good.

At 7:44 AM, Blogger jettybetty said...

I hope so.

My very bad paraphrases:
Holy Spirit produces fruit.
Every good tree bears good fruit.

So, without the Holy Spirit in my life, could you see fruit?

Patrick has mentioned the salvation issue, too. HS is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance. Without that, I am sure I would have a different outlook on life!

I definitely agree with Keith on this:
"I don't think He intends to create Bible-banging street-corner evangelists who suddenly shrug and then crawl inside a bottle if He leaves them."
I don't think God has ever used the HS to heal someone through me, I have never spoken in tongues--but I can't imagine living my day to day life without the power of the Holy Spirit.

At 8:51 AM, Blogger drjimwhite said...

If the Spirit didn't live in me, you wouldn't see any love or joy or peace or kindness or goodness or faithfulness or gentleness or self-control. That passage in Galatians says, "Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit." (Gal. 5:25) Wow! Keep in step with the Spirit. That's my goal.

At 1:00 PM, Blogger Keith Brenton said...

Okay, I'm convinced. Maybe. Sort of.

Does that mean the Spirit indwells a lot of folks that I know who exhibit love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, self-control ... but don't acknowledge Christ? People who live His life, but don't own His name?

At 2:52 PM, Blogger jettybetty said...

I am going out on a limb here for Keith's question--
I know some really "good" people--I am talking really good--but I don't believe they are indwelt by the Holy Spirit.

"and he has identified us as his own by placing the Holy Spirit in our hearts as the first installment of everything he will give us."
II Cor 1:22

Just my opinion.


At 7:24 AM, Blogger Gem said...

What a question! I'll have to chew on that one for sure. You don't have trackback enabled, so I thought I'd let you know I mentioned you here.

At 8:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think I would be the one most surprised because I would see that everything good that was in me was from the Spirit, not personality or habit and it would be very humbling.

At 9:18 AM, Blogger pegc said...

I have chewed on this for a couple of days and my first knee jerk reaction was hummmm, I hope so.

I believe that the HS's indwelling in me gives me assurance of salvation and therefore my life is different; my actions are different with that knowledge.

I'm not sure I like that answer because it makes me think that there is nothing magical about the indwelling, only my response. So....still thinking.

At 8:39 PM, Blogger Keith Brenton said...

I guess I'm just wondering about those folks that I see who seem to be bearing spiritual fruit, yet have no apparent sense of the Holy Spirit.

Are they the folks Jesus is talking about when He says in John 16:8 of His Spirit: "When He comes, He will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment ..." (Or does He mean the alternate reading, "will expose the guilt of the world"?)

Does the Spirit lead more than those who already believe into "all truth" as He promises a few verses later?

Does the Spirit sometimes enter folks, even just long enough to prompt them to ask us the right question when we're hesitant to share the message of grace?

I guess I'm just being cautious about trying to fit the Spirit into a box whose dimensions I choose.

At 10:56 AM, Blogger drjimwhite said...

How do you box in love? How do you box in joy? How do you box in peace? I'm not trying to box in the Holy Spirit. On the contrary. In fact, you cannot box in any of the fruits. Are you saying that Paul boxed in the fruits by mentioning them?

At 10:22 AM, Blogger Gem said...

Ron, a regular commenter at my blog, left a comment there with this observation about fruit that seems to be evident in non-believers:

"The sure answer to this we will find out in due time. However, since God is obviously much more that our physical body, 'in our image' must take into account the fruit of the spirit. So, gentleness, etc. is part of unfallen man.

Having said that, what I believe is if a person has turned back from (i.e. repented) a life that didn't exhibit those qualities, and made a conscious decision to pursue those qualities of character, then the Holy Spirit would assist him/her (so long as that pursuit continued). I believe that God is more interested in the Name (i.e. character - Heb 1:4) of Christ than He is in the form of godliness (being called a Christian 2Tim 3:1-5)."

I found it a very interesting idea, that while the Fruit is evidence of the Holy Spirit indwelling us, it also could be part of the way we're created in His image. But regular, consistent evidence of ALL of the Fruit together is evidence of the HS in our hearts. Very thought-provoking!

At 7:17 AM, Blogger Jeff Slater said...

What a great question. Thanks for shaking us all up a bit, and making us think.

This Sunday evening, I'm preaching on how we (individually and collectively) are the temple of the Holy Spirit. I now know I'm going to conclude the sermon: With The Question!


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