KEEP IN STEP WITH THE SPIRIT

di J. L. Packer page 92

Do you know the Holy Spirit?
We should not be asking that.

We should instead be asking:
Do you know Jesus Christ? Do you know enough about him? Do you know him well?

Those are the questions the Spirit himself desires us to ask. For he is self-effacing, as we saw.
His ministry is a floodlight ministry in relation to Jesus, a matter of spotlighting Jesus' glory before our spiritual eyes and of matchmaking between us and him. He does not call attention to himself or present himself to us for direct fellowship as the Father and the Son do; His role and His joy is to further our fellowship with them both by glorifying the Son as the object for our faith and then witnessing to our adoption through the Son into the Father's family.

Should our interest shift from knowing the Son to knowing the Spirit, two evils would at once result.

  1. On the one hand, like the Colossian angel worshipers, we should impoverish ourselves by "... not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God" (Colossians 2:19).
  2. On the other hand, we should enmesh ourselves in a world of spurious "spiritual" feelings and fancies that are not Christ related and do not correspond to anything that actually exists except Satan's web of deceptions and his endless perversions of truth and goodness.

We should not take one step down this road. Questions about the Holy Spirit that are not forms and facets of the basic question, How may I and all Christians and indeed all the world-come to know Jesus Christ and know him better? ought not to be asked. This is a basic mental discipline that the Bible imposes upon us. In golf it would be described as keeping your eye on the ball.

Second, we ask: Do you have the Holy Spirit?

That question, too, should not be put to a Christian, for as we have seen, every Christian has the Spirit from the moment of his or her believing. "... If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ" (Romans 8:9 NIV). In that case, however, what a person must do is not go on a search for the Spirit, but rather come to Christ in faith and repentance, and then the Spirit will be given him. "Repent,

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and be baptized ... and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise [of forgiveness and the Spirit] is to ... every one whom the Lord our God calls to him" (Acts 2:38). A person receives the Spirit by receiving Christ, not in any other way, and the idea that one can have the Spirit and be "spiritual" apart from personal encounter with the risen Lord is a damaging error.

No, the question we should ask instead, both of ourselves and of each other, is:

Does the Holy Spirit have you?
Does he have all of you, or only some parts of you?
Do you grieve Him (see Ephesians 4:30), or are you led by Him (see Romans 8:12-14; Galatians 5:18-24)?
Do you rely on Him to enable you for all those responses to Christ to which He prompts you?
Do you reckon with the fact that "... your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? ..." (1 Corinthians 6:19 NIV).
Do you revere His work within you and cooperate with it or obstruct it by thoughtlessness and carelessness, indiscipline and self-indulgence?

Here again, the specific questions must be understood Christ centeredly;

they are all in reality ways of asking whether Christ your Saviour is Lord of your life.

But to ask them in relation to the Spirit, who indwells us in order to transform us and who works constantly in our hearts and minds to bring us close to Christ and keep us there and who is himself as close as can be to any foul thinking or behaviour in which we allow ourselves to engage, is to give them a force and a concreteness that otherwise they might not have.
In the world of projecting pictures onto screens this would be called sharpening the focus.