The Spirit of God is one of the more intangible things about Christianity–we cannot see or touch him, we cannot confine him in a manageable box, and we have never experienced anything else like him. Even though we may struggle to understand the Holy Spirit, we desperately long for his presence and ministry in our life. The New Testament is full of promises that help us realize how great a gift the Holy Spirit is.
Every time I read one of those promises I stop to ask myself, ‘am I living in the Spirit’? ‘In the Spirit,’ however, can be a vague phrase. People often make living in the Spirit some mystical, esoteric endeavor; similar to walking through the grocery store blindfolded and attempting to pick out the right ingredients for a complicated recipe while guided by a mysterious force. What we really need is a simple way to measure how much or how little of our life is spent walking in the Spirit of God. And to do that that we need to know what the Spirit accomplishes in someone’s life.
While there are several things that God’s Spirit does, one of the predominant tasks he accomplishes is sanctification. Sanctification is the process of being conformed to Christ. If an individual is living in the Spirit, he or she will bear the marks of Chrsit-likeness. That is the point Paul makes in Galatians 5:16 – 24. The fruit of the Spirit is nothing more than the result of the Holy Spirit’s work in a life, a work that leads us in a sanctified, holy life. If we want to know whether or not we are living in the Spirit, we only need to ask, ‘how holy is my life?’ That’s the point J.C. Ryle makes in his book Holiness. He writes, “We may depend on it as a positive certainty that where there is no holy living, there is no Holy Ghost” (22).
Think about that. If I am not living a holy life, then I am not living a Spirit guided life. What we need is to desire holiness, Christ-likeness, and peruse it with the means God has given us–prayer, Scripture, private and corporate worship, and Christian fellowship. Then and only then will we find ourselves living in the Spirit and experiencing the great comfort and promises of a Spirit filled life.