THE UNOBTRUSIVE SPIRIT OF GOD

Given O. Blakely

"When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak, and He will declare to you the things that are to come" --JOHN 16:13 RSV

Introduction

Much of the current emphasis on the Holy Spirit grieves and quenches Him. He neither authors nor is impressed with the novelties, wrongly attributed to Himself, that so intrigue men in the flesh. The Spirit is preeminently the "Holy Spirit" (Eph. 1:13; I Thess. 4:8), and is thus separate and distinct from all that is unholy. The word "unholy" (I Tim. 1:9; II Tim. 3:2; Heb. 10:29) is descriptive of a character that is opposite to that of God. More than that, it is hostile to God and militant against Him. In His Person and all His manners, the Holy Spirit is in conflict with this condition. There are views of the Spirit that are not God's views; views that contradict His Person and revelation. These are unholy views, and it is in our eternal interest to be sure that we do not embrace them.

UNOBTRUSIVENESS - CAUSE FOR CORRUPT VIEWS

Men can corrupt the word of God

It is God's nature to make it possible for men to corrupt what they do not understand. Thus are we warned of men that "corrupt the word of God' (II Cor. 2:17). The condition requires the judgement of every message purporting to be from the Spirit. Those that speak so freely of the Spirit must know this: we are obligated to try their message. Above that, they shall ultimately account to God for what they have said about His Holy Spirit. We are standing on holy ground!

The Revelation Of Deity

The Father has revealed much concerning Himself, His character, and His objectives. These frequent and detailed revelations provide the basis for our worship of Him. Further, His Person is frequently expounded in Scripture (Ex. 34:5-14; Psa. 104:1; Nahum 1:3).

The same is true of the Lord Jesus Christ. The reason for His entrance into the world is clearly delineated in Scripture. His mission, the means through which it would be accomplished, and His personal involvement in God's eternal purpose, are matters of extended apostolic doctrine. The Person of Christ is also the frequent subject of exposition (Isa. 9:6-7; Phil. 2:6-8; Heb. 7:26). Our love and worship of Christ Jesus are based upon these teachings.

Such is not the case with the Holy Spirit. Apart from His relation to the Father and the Son, we know very little of Him. In fact, we do not know enough of the Holy Spirit for Him to be an Object of our worship. We worship God through the Spirit. We worship the Lord Jesus Christ because of the illumination of the Spirit. We are nowhere told, however, to worship the Spirit. He is nowhere presented as receiving worship, although He is most assuredly Deity (Acts 5:4), "holy" (Lk. 11: 13), and "eternal" (Heb. 9:14). In fact, were we commanded to worship the Spirit, how would we do it? Where is a commentary of His Person found in all the Bible?

Not An End Of Himself

The Spirit of God was poured forth in an unprecedented manner on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-17). His coming was in order to the revelation of Christ and man's participation in God's "great salvation." We know this is the case because of the written record of that epochal day.

Peter Speaks By The Spirit

When Peter was "filled with the Spirit," he did not speak of the Spirit, but of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is of signal importance! Peter told of the coming of the Spirit (Acts 2:33). He announced that the "gift of the Holy Spirit" would be given to those who repented and were baptized (Acts 2:38). But he did not preach the Holy Spirit. He did not expound the Person of the Spirit. He did not proclaim the character of the Spirit, or His activities apart from salvation.

We have a controversy with those that shine the light of attention on the Holy Spirit. They do so at the expense of the Lord Jesus Christ. The kingdom belongs to Christ, not the Spirit (Col. 1:13). Jesus has been exalted, and given a name that is above every name {Phil. 2:9). The foundation upon which the body of Christ is built is that of Jesus' relation to the Father (Matt. 16:16-18). To divert attention from these matters is serious beyond description.

The Spirit did not die for us (Rom. 5:6,8). He was not made a curse for us (Gal. 3:13). He did not humble Himself for us (Phi. 2:8). He does not tell us of Himself; i.e., He is not the focal point of revelation {John 16:13). In fact, when the prophets were moved of the Spirit to write Scripture, they spoke of "the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow" (I Pet. 1:11).

This Does Not Minimize The Spirit

There will be those that suppose this will minimize the Spirit. This is not so! He is correctly represented in Scripture, and within the Divine agenda He is properly apprehended. If we confine ourselves to God's "eternal purpose," and come away from the speculations of religious flesh, we will view and speak of the Holy Spirit in an acceptable manner.

How The Spirit Is Revealed

He is "the Spirit of truth." Take away the truth, and there is no point to the Holy Spirit. His value is seen in His revelation and exposition of eternal verity. Truth is conceptualized in the words of Scripture, which were given to equip the man of God to please his Maker (II Tim. 3: 15-17).

He is "the Spirit of God." He is sent from God, and comes to clarify His purpose. Our acquaintance with God is accomplished through the Holy Spirit. He comes to reveal the great God of heaven, not to proclaim Himself. Those that are fundamentally ignorant of God only pretend when they claim knowledge of the Spirit of God. It is my observation that those emphasizing the Spirit are generally abysmally ignorant of the Person and purpose of the Father. On the other hand, those that have become acquainted with God (Job 22:21) have done so through the instrumentality of the Holy Spirit. This is achieved primarily through the Word of God, by which man "lives," or maintains reciprocity with God (Matt. 4:4).

He is "the Spirit of Christ." The focus of the Spirit's work is the Savior. The Lord Jesus is expounded by the Spirit. He is the One that makes "the testimony of Jesus" the "spirit of prophecy" (Rev. 19: 1O). The Spirit's role in redemption is to clarify the Person and work of Christ. Apart from Jesus Christ, there is no purpose for the Holy Spirit, so far as man is concerned. It is through His ministry that the life, death, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus are made relevant.

He is "the Spirit of Life." It is the Spirit that brings spiritual life. He produces identity with God through our faith in Christ and acceptance of God's Word. The important thing to Him is not that we see Him properly, but that we be reconciled to God. It is God from Whom sin has alienated us. It is God toward Whom we are "dead in trespasses and sin." The Spirit comes to correct that condition. It is through His effectual work that we are "washed," "sanctified," and 'justified" (I Cor. 6:11). We are made "alive unto God" through His work. This is not done in a glamorous way that appeals to the flesh. The Spirit performs these things in a background mode.

Enamorment Of The Mystical

It is most unfortunate that many professed believers gravitate to the mystical, when what is "REVEALED" belongs to them (Deut. 29:29). Much of the current emphasis on the Spirit is more akin to eastern mysticism than to the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory (II Tim. 2:10). Strange feelings, unusual happenings, sensations, languages that are not comprehended, and displays of fleshly intrigue, are credited to God's Holy Spirit. I am persuaded that this is viewed more seriously by heaven than some dare to imagine.

This condition should not surprise us. Simon tried to buy the ability to confer spiritual power (Acts 8:18ff). Certain vagabond Jews took upon themselves to exorcise wicked spirits (Acts 19: 13ff). The church at Corinth was ignorant of "spiritual gifts," though professing the possession of them (I Cor. 12:1-3). Why should it be thought a strange thing that we confront the same situations in our time?

The Effect Of An Erroneous Emphasis

There are several things about an emphasis on the Spirit l hat should be noted. Christ is no longer the focal point. This will be denied by those giving undue prominence to the Spirit. However, it is still the case. Gifts, miracles, exorcisms, experiences, words of knowledge concerning earthly occurrences, etc., are fundamental in their speech and writings. With alarming consistency, their newfound life is owing to the expansion of their understanding the Holy Spirit. Not of God, not of Christ, but of the Spirit! Not of salvation, not of glory, but of the Spirit. Such things ought not to be!

However noble this may appear, it has no Scriptural precedent whatsoever. It also brings dishonor to our Lord Jesus. Paul counted everything that was gain to him but loss for the "excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus," not for an expanded understanding of the Spirit (Phil. 3:8).

Enamored of men. Invariably, there comes an inordinate attachment to men - men that bring the glad tidings of the Holy Spirit. In spite of the freedom that they boast, they become slaves to individuals of powerful personality and influence. Among those emphasizing the Spirit, there is scarcely an exception to this rule.

Inconsistent behavior. True spirituality brings consistency of life. But this is not so with those majoring on the Spirit. Of course, to major on the Spirit, you must minor on Christ; if, indeed, He holds a place at all. The Spirit will sustain no one that focuses on Him. Since He does not speak of Himself, those that focus on Him received their message from someone else! Thus their valleys are as deep as their professed mountains are high, and their emotions fluctuate like the waves of the uneven sea. It is no surprise that religious camps noted for their emphasis on the Spirit have alarming degrees of immorality and foolishness among them.

The Real Work Of The Spirit

The real work of the Spirit is to emphasize the indispensability of Christ as the way to God. The Spirit produces character, not impressions! His "fruit" (singular) is nothing less than divine traits, given to men in appropriate measure. His fruit is not flamboyant; it is not attention-getting; it has no appeal to the flesh or to idle curiosity. "Love. joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, and temperance" (Gal. 5:22-23). These will not make you famous in this world, but they certainly will get the attention of God!

The Spirit sheds the love of God abroad in our hearts (Rom. 5:5). He enables men to comprehend the magnitude of God's love as revealed in His word. The effect is that we will love Him "because He first loved us" (I John 4: 19).

It is through the Spirit that we put to death the deeds of the body (Rom. 8:14). One of the requirements of life in Christ is the mortification of our members "that are upon the earth" (Col. 3:5). These are propensities to the earth and lawlessness, and they are resident in every believer. How can we refuse them expression? How can we subdue their cries for fulfillment? It is through the Spirit that this is accomplished. He strengthens our will, softens our hearts, and clarifies our understanding. Operating in concert with the Word of God, He helps us to see the foolishness of sin and the wisdom of righteousness.

The indispensable qualities of righteousness, peace, and joy are the result of His work (Rom. 14: 17; 15: 13). The Spirit, working through our faith, and in accordance with the will of God the Father, produces these qualities in us. Were it not for the work of the Spirit, we could not possess righteousness, peace, and joy. Yet, there is an element of mystery about their presence. Explanations fail us when trying to account for their presence. This is because of the unobtrusive ministry of God's Holy Spirit.

The strengthening of the Spirit in "the inner man" is in order that Christ might dwell in our hearts "by faith" (Eph. 3:16ff) How is it that Christ can be "in" us (Col. 1:27)? The conflict between His holiness and our natural corruption is significant enough to cause our demise. Why doesn't this occur? It is because of the spiritual strength ministered by the Holy Spirit. He makes us capable of being "the temple of God" (I Cor. 3:16, 17).

There are a number of other activities found in the faith life with which the Spirit is identified. Prayer (Rom. 8:26; Jude 19), the use of God's Word in spiritual warfare (Eph. 6: 17), and the reception of the Word of God (I Thess. 1:5), are a few of them.

Salvation Is The Focus

The focus of the Spirit is the accomplishment of salvation. It is God's salvation, founded upon the work of Christ, and implemented by the Spirit through the Word. In the words of Scripture: "but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God" (I Cor. 6:11). Washing, sanctification, and justification are all rational concepts. They form an appeal to man's understanding. They are things man can comprehend.

The Spirit does not accomplish washing, sanctification, and justification in dark and mysterious ways. He works through man's comprehension of God's Word. That is the vehicle through which He works. This should offend no one. How is man capable of comprehending the work of the Spirit apart from the Word of God? How can he distinguish between an imagination that needs to be cast down (II Cor. 10:5), and truth that is to be accepted? Jesus opened men's understanding of the Scriptures (Lk. 24:45), and the Apostles preached only what Moses and the prophets had said (Acts 26:22). How is it that the Spirit would ignore this divinely established means of influencing men?

The HOLY Spirit

The Spirit is preeminently holy. He is not sensual! He is not impressive to the flesh, but He is "holy." Of old time people heard of "evil spirits" (Lk. 7:21), and "unclean spirits" (Mk. 1:27). But God speaks of His "Holy Spirit" (Eph. 4:30). Holiness is a divine attribute; it is a trait of the most Holy God. The Holy Spirit acts in strict conformity with the nature of God. Those that credit the Spirit with doing things that are unholy - unlike God - do greatly err. In fact, they come close to blaspheming the Holy Spirit. With all of the frivolous talk today about what the Spirit has done, and how the Spirit has led, it is time to "try the spirits, whether they be of God" (I John 4:1). Personal testimony is simply not sufficient evidence for much of what is credited to God's Spirit.

There are no valid views of the Holy Spirit extant in the world that are not expressed in the Bible. Further, all that we know of the Spirit relates to His mission, not His Person. It is WHAT He does, not Who He is, that is the point of revelation. This is not so of the Father or the Son.

Without belaboring the point, men everywhere are encouraged to think and speak of the Spirit in a manner that does not conflict with the Word of God. Our statements concerning Him must be true, else God will find us liars. Our doctrinal emphasis must also be that of God and Christ, else we will be false prophets. When speaking of Deity, our words must not be theory, but truth.