ALL THINGS NEW

A NEW SPIRIT

Some weeks ago we looked at the ‘new heart’. The Ezekiel prophecies which mention the new heart also mention a ‘new spirit’.

 “I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh.” [11:19]

“Rid yourselves of all the offences you have committed, and get a new heart and a new spirit” [18:31].

 “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.” [36:26,27]

At first it seems that the ‘new spirit’ Ezekiel is talking about is simply a renewal of the human spirit. But the third text above makes it clear that there is far more is involved than that: there is also God’s gift of his own Spirit. This is confirmed in two further texts from Ezekiel.

“I will put my Spirit in you and you will live” [37:14]

“I will no longer hide my face from them, for I will pour out my Spirit on the house of Israel …” [39:29]

In the context of Ezekiel’s statements the impact of this two-fold gift of God is:

A soft, submissive heart that honours God as God and is aligned with the Word of God [11:18-20; 36:26,27].
Life, in contrast to judgement and condemnation [18:32].
Forgiveness [36:33]
Removal of guilt [39:26]
Knowledge of God [36:36,38; 37:13,14; 39:28].
A restored relationship with God [39:29].

These Ezekiel prophecies seem to look forward to two distinct New Testament truths concerning the Spirit of God:

The renewal of the human spirit: The regenerating action of the Holy Spirit, commonly termed being ‘born again’, whereby those who are ‘dead’ in their sins are made alive in Christ. This is one of the many facets of the salvation we have in Jesus Christ.  [John 1:12; 3:1-8; 1Peter 1:23; 1John 5:1]

The gift of God’s Spirit: The gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit given to those who are regenerated by the Spirit; from Acts 2 onwards this occurs simultaneously with that regeneration and is another facet of our salvation in Christ. [John 7:37-39]

The New Testament teaches us many things about the impact of the Spirit of God indwelling the believer. These include:

Awareness of a close Father/child relationship with God [Romans 8:15,16; Galatians 4:6].
The permanent and comforting presence of God [John 14:15-23].
The guarantee of permanent, complete salvation [2Corinthians 1:22; 5:5; Ephesians 1:13,14].
Instruction in the knowledge of God [John 14:25,26; 15:26; 16:13-15].
The assurance of God’s understanding and empathy with us in our weakness and suffering [Romans 8:26-27].
Continuing inner transformation resulting in ever-increasing likeness to Jesus Christ [2Corinthians 3:18; Galatians 5:22,23].
Over-flowing spiritual contentment [John 7:37-39].

Both the renewal of our human spirit in God’s sovereign act of regeneration, which involves restoration of a right relationship with God, and the presence of the indwelling Holy Spirit are the gracious gift of God. Neither is something that we have to strive for, or earn, or seek. Neither is a command; both are sheer gift.

But there are commands connected to God’s gift of his regenerating and indwelling Spirit: The command to ‘be filled with the Spirit’ [Ephesians 5:18] is a command to continually live in joyous and responsive awareness of the Spirit of God dwelling and at work within us. The command to not ‘grieve’ the Holy Spirit [Ephesians 4:30], is a command to make our every choice of thought, word and action such that brings joy to our God, not tears. The command to not ‘put out the Spirit’s fire’ [1Thessalonians 5:19] is a command to be constantly alert and receptive to his teaching and instruction.

To ignore these commands is to reveal our ignorance of how gracious, powerful and significant is this two-fold gift of God promised through Ezekiel and proclaimed in the New Testament.

© Rosemary Bardsley 2012