Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Power of the Holy Spirit

I am preaching through Galatians at Redeemer and we are studying the section of chapter 5 that begins with:

Galatians 5:16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.

For the child of God to see sin defeated in his or her life, the ministry of the Holy Spirit is required. How does the Holy Spirit work?

Sometimes I think we expect the Holy Spirit to zap us or provide some wild manifestation to tell us it is present and working. In actuality, the Spirit’s powerful work is usually behind the scenes and subtle in our lives. The power of the Spirit working isn’t usually found in the flashes and explosions of mountain top spiritual experiences but more often quietly and softly as it kills our desires for certain sins and lusts and replaces them with a desire for God.

Growing up just a few miles from Niagara Falls I’ll bet I have seen the Falls a hundred times or more in my lifetime. I always knew they were a major source of electrical power but never really understood how. I have stood at the brink of the Falls many times thinking the power provided must come from the violently flowing, froth-filled final couple hundred yards of the water before it plunged a few hundred feet. Certainly that’s where the power resided, right? In fact, the power provided by the Falls came from a quiet, almost unnoticeable source a mile or two upstream from the spectacular brink of Niagara.

Well before the water drops over the edge, there are tunnels of conduit that divert water from going over the Falls and down long shafts where it passes through hydroelectric turbines that supply power to nearby areas of the Canada and the USA before returning to the river well past the Falls. Up to 375,000 gallons of water per second is diverted from the Niagara River through conduits under the City of Niagara Falls to power plants! When a person stares at Niagara Falls he or she is only seeing half (or less) of the water that could be going over because so much is quietly and subtley diverted to make power.

It’s a rough analogy I know, but this is sort of how I see the Holy Spirit doing it’s powerful work- quietly and subtley, but extremely effectively. It’s not the froth and foam on top that produces the power, it’s the secret tunnels of steady water flow that harness the energy and turn it in to something incredibly productive. I like what John Calvin said about the Holy Spirit’s ministry-

"The work of the Spirit, then, is joined to the Word of God. But a distinction is made, that we may know that the external word is of no avail by itself unless animated by the power of the Spirit ...All power of action, then, resides in the Spirit himself." - John Calvin


christianlady said...

Now this is a great post in my opinion. On my wordpress, there is a discussion on sanctification and spiritual formation. I have always wondered exactly what goes on in sanctification...how "it" happens. Yet, you give an illustration of the power of the Holy Spirit that makes things clear. Of course, we still need to be in the bible, need to follow...but the Holy Spirit does the subtle work.


christianlady said...

I am a little picky, but I do refer to the Holy Spirit as "He."

Woody Woodward said...

What a powerful and practical illustration you made about the dynamos power that is at our availability, 24 hours per day as we learn to “walk by and in His Holy Spirit.” This past Lord’s Day as you were giving this illustration, I looked around at several of the youngsters, drinking this metal picture in. Understanding, and “putting on” this practice, we know then, “That I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!”

Rick Calohan said...

From Table Talk Devotion for Today Wednesday, October 14, 2009: John Calvin say,"No one has received so small a measure that he may not be justly accounted rich; for the smallest drop of the Spirit...resembles an ever-flowing fountain, which never dries up."

Being justified by His grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. Titus 3:7

Reepicheep said...

You're right CL. Should be "He". Change made. Thanks.