The objective working of the Holy Spirit in creation and redemption deserves careful attention. This great God the Spirit, this all-powerful person of the Godhead, must be appreciated for all that He is and does. He is not a milquetoast will-o’-the-wisp who comes only as a divine afterthought in the progress of redemption. From creation to consummation, He is the Great One who continually performs wonders.
the wondrous work of the holy spirit within the believer
In similar fashion, the scope of the Spirit’s work within the life of the redeemed must be appreciated in all its fullness. Note seven works of the Spirit among the elect, the favored of the Lord:
First, the Spirit regenerates. How often the clear words of Jesus have been misunderstood. People universally rewrite “You must be born again” so that it reads instead, “You must born yourself again.” Not only does this misinterpretation make no sense grammatically (an intransitive verb has no object), but it makes nonsense of a profound spiritual truth. Just as we did nothing to cause ourselves to be born into this fallen world, so we can do absolutely nothing to bring ourselves into the divinely renewed world of redemption. We must be born “of the Spirit” (John 3:5, 8). We cannot coerce the Spirit of God to effect our regeneration. The wind blows where it will—and it is the Spirit’s will, not ours, that causes a person to be born from above (v. 3). Indeed, if our wills are renewed by the regeneration of the Spirit, we will choose to cry out to God for salvation, just as a newborn baby cries out once born. But give the divine Spirit the glory He deserves. The cry for salvation comes as a consequence of the new birth and could never be the cause of regeneration. The Spirit Himself sovereignly does this great work of total renewal.
Second, the Spirit assures. We keep on sinning even after we have been born again, don’t we? So how can we be so sure that we are children of God?
We can be so bold because of the assurance of the Spirit. In this most wondrous of works, “the Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children” (Rom. 8:16). Nothing less than the Spirit’s constant working could keep the sinner certain of his salvation. After all, who would dare contradict the witness of God’s own Spirit? Because of His personal testimony within our own spirits, we can be at peace. Be assured: if His witness is there, you are a son of God.
Third, the Spirit seals. The gummed seals that we use today on an ordinary letter are not so impressive. They can be easily ignored and violated. But in the days of old, dripped wax with an official stamp of the king made it a perilous thing to break the royal seal.
So the regal Spirit seals every believer in the possession of all the blessings of redemption. In this case, it is the seal of the King of kings that cannot be broken. Beyond making us certain at the present moment that we have been redeemed, the Holy Spirit seals us in the permanent possession of our salvation. For “having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance” until the day of Christ’s return (Eph. 1:13–14). It is a settled fact. His sealing work cannot be undone—all “to the praise of his glory” (v. 14).
Fourth, the Spirit sanctifies. The Apostle Paul uses a strange comparison and contrast to describe this work of the Spirit: “Do not get drunk on wine, . . . [but] be filled with the Spirit” (5:18). What happens when a person gets drunk? The alcohol of the “spirits” gets into his bloodstream and permeates every part of his person. He walks differently and talks differently, and he sees, hears, and acts differently. So is the experience of everyone who is “filled” with the Spirit. God’s holiness, the holiness of the Holy Spirit, permeates every part of his person. He goes happily to places of worship, praise, and prayer—places that he would not otherwise go. He talks boldly about Jesus the Christ. To abuse, he responds with love.