Why do I need the Holy Spirit?? What does the Holy Spirit really do? What’s Sanctification?
It’s a pretty tricky topic to understand sometimes. I just want you to know I’m praying for SO much wisdom as I write, because I know my own words are so insufficient to shed light on this topic! But I invite you to join me as we dig into it more together.
When I was new in my faith, the extent of my understanding of Sanctification was that I need to be surrendered to allow the Holy Spirit to work in me and through me. But this left me so confused on what that looks like on a practical level. If you’ve been reading my posts, you’ve probably already figured out that I’m an “action steps” sorta girl. I like understanding what my role is, or how to apply what I’m learning. So that was pretty abstract and vague for me. Maybe you can relate?
Imagery really helps to bring certain biblical topics or concepts alive to me. I’ve recently become so fascinated by the symbolism of the Holy Spirit, and I’d love to dive into that a bit more with you. So let’s take a few steps back now, and we’ll take a look together at the purposes of Fire. The Holy Spirit is symbolically referred to as fire throughout the Bible. The baptism of fire, the Holy Spirit coming upon them like tongues of fire, etc… So what’s the significance of this??
Fire purifies, Fire has power, Fire acts as light, and Fire spreads.
Fire purifies or destroys. If you didn’t already know this, a refining fire is different from an incinerating fire because it doesn’t consume completely, rather it purifies. Something like gold could be put in a refining fire- the fire melts it, separates out impurities that ruin its value, destroys the impurities, and leaves the gold pure.
This is a neat picture for sanctification. Sanctification begins as we give our lives to God and surrender to Him. The Holy Spirit then begins a work of purification in us, removing the “impurities”. He makes us more and more holy, more and more into the image and nature of Jesus, rather than that of our sinful human nature.
I didn’t suddenly one day wake up to find that my desires had been radically changed. It was over time that I became aware that they had shifted- instead of desiring acknowledgement, nice things, more money, and more travel, I found that the Holy Spirit changed these inner desires to ones that were glorifying to Him and set apart for His will.
As you journey together with The Holy Spirit and as the Holy Spirit works within you, your purpose is sanctified. Your passions are sanctified. Your anger is sanctified. Your vision, dreams, and plans are sanctified. Your desires are sanctified. Your thoughts are sanctified. Your ego is sanctified. Your priorities are sanctified.
To sanctify means to set apart for a purpose, to be made holy, to become consecrated, to be cleansed or purified, to become freed.
So all of these things I just mentioned become set apart for the purpose of God. Cleansed, purified, and freed from “self”.
In Romans 8 you can read more about how “those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.”
Giving your life to God is definitely a life-changing experience. If you’ve experienced God’s grace and forgiveness, you can attest to this too! I know that for me there were some distinct, immediate changes afterwards. But there were also things that I’d carried as a part of me for so many years that it took longer. I had placed my identity in things like appearance, partying, friends, and dating relationships, so I had no idea what it meant to live with my full identity in Christ. The Holy Spirit took me on a journey of becoming grounded in God and set apart for His purposes.
Over time I learned how to put my full identity in Christ- not in what I look like, what I do, or what I’m good at. As this happened, I started noticing that the things that I’m passionate about, things I spend my time on, ways I react to others, ways I love others, and desires and dreams for the future had shifted! It’s not something I could do in my own power though. Which leads me to the next point…
Fire has power. If you’ve ever seen a fire get out of control, you’ll be able to understand how powerful fire is. Fire has the power to destroy a house that’s taken months to build, within a single day. It has the power to destroy a thousand-acre Forest that’s been growing for decades upon decades. It has the power to snuff out life. It has the power to force wildlife out of their dwellings and entire cities out of their homes. It’s powerful.
Do we really understand the power of the Holy Spirit?! We can struggle for years to use every ‘self help’ method out there to quit gossiping, stop our laziness, become less apathetic, get rid of harmful stubbornness or pride, or to make a difference in the world. But all of this is totally in vain if we don’t have the power of the Holy Spirit within us. We’ll continue to find ourselves struggling with the same things, falling back into old patterns, and failing to find victory without the power of the Holy Spirit.
Friends, God didn’t intend for us as believers to live in defeat, but to exchange our defeat for victory. He intended for our lives of VICTORY to be a light to everyone around us.
Galatians 5:1 says, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and don’t let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”
We can read in Romans 6 that “our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin– because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.”
Romans 12:2 says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is- his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
In 1 Corinthians 15:57 we read, “But thanks be to God! He gives us victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
By definition, victory means “an act of defeating an enemy or opponent in battle” or “achievement or mastery or success in a struggle or endeavor against odds or difficulties.”
The power of the Holy Spirit is the only way this is even possible! We’re no longer under law, but under grace. By the grace of God we have the Holy Spirit leading us into victory.
Fire acts as light. If you’ve ever been outside in the evening and sat around a campfire, you’ll know that a fire illuminates very brightly. But it doesn’t light up the entire area you’re in…you’ll often most clearly see the things that are immediately surrounding the fire.
I like to envision that it’s the same way with the Holy Spirit. As I journey through life, the Holy Spirit illuminates the path immediately before me. It’s like I’m carrying a flaming torch with me. He sheds His light onto obstacles coming up and forks in the road that are approaching.
Let’s take one of the examples from above. How about sanctified dreams or plans:
So like I mentioned earlier, my dreams and plans looked a whole lot different a few years ago than they do now. I wanted to travel. I wanted to own a big, stunning home. I had the desire to make lots of money to buy lots of things. What happened? Did I wake up one morning and suddenly have a confusingly weird shift in the things I desired? No. As I spent time with God, as I fell more deeply in love with Him, as I learned more about His love, and as I prayed about what He wanted for my life, He changed my own plans for my life.
The Holy Spirit will shine His fiery light onto things He wants me to focus on, things He wants me to learn, areas He wants me to grow, and places He wants to take me as I walk in faith. This happens as I spend time together with God. I think of scriptures like Psalm 119:105 where we’re reminded that God’s Word is a lamp unto our feet and light unto our path. I invite you to read more on the topic of spending time with God here in my last blog post. Spending time with God daily is literally life changing.
And now this brings me to my last point…
Fire spreads. This is probably one of my favourite ones. When we have the fire of the Holy Spirit burning within us and through us, it will inevitably SPREAD!!!
If you haven’t recently read through the book of Acts, I highly recommend giving it a read through. Not chapter by chapter, but read it as a whole- from beginning to end. I promise that you will be captivated by what you read.
The Church in Acts was set on fire. As they had the Holy Spirit poured out over them, they become mobilized. They no longer just met together to hear about God, they had an urgency and passion within them to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Guys, if none of the other stuff fully made sense to you, my prayer is that THIS point stays with you:
When the power of the Holy Spirit is sanctifying you, your priorities shift. Your desires and purpose shift. And it becomes super evident in the way you live your life.
I want to give you a bunch of the one-liners that I’ve pulled out of Acts. Let me show you the ways that I saw the Church’s priorities, purpose, possessions, and gifts become totally set apart for the purposes of God!
They became devoted to Teaching. Fellowship. Earnest Prayer. Encouraging one another. Obedience in action. Giving to those in need. Selling their abundance to give more. Praising God. Healing and performing miracles in the name of Jesus. Glorifying God with every opportunity. Using their gifts to God’s glory. Sharing the gospel courageously. Becoming filled with wisdom. Reading Scripture with eagerness, studying it, knowing it, defending it. Becoming willing to sacrifice their own life for the sake of the gospel. Discipling new believers. Going anywhere the Lord called. New boldness and Courage. Deep humility. Listening to what the Lord God had to say. Growing in discernment. Showing Hospitality. Sharing testimonies of God’s grace. Loving those who persecuted them. Being sent to grow the Kingdom of God.
I want to pause there for a moment. I want us to really stop and reflect on this. Are my priorities, purpose, passions, and desires sanctified this way? Is our Church set on fire the way the Church in Acts was?
My prayer, friend, is that you and I live this way. My sincere prayer is for us as God’s church to be mobilized to live out the gospel together, equipped by the Holy Spirit. I believe with all my heart that we can run this race victoriously if we have the power of The Holy Spirit blazing within us!
Let the power of the Fire refine and purify you. Allow the Fire to light the way for you as you spread the gospel and aroma of Christ everywhere you go.
*Note: this list is in no way exhaustive! Scripture also tells us how the Holy Spirit acts as Counselor, He convicts, He comforts, etc. For the purposes of my fire analogy I wanted to focus on these four aspects to give a more tangible glimpse into the working of the Holy Spirit in our lives.