I used to believe that my inner life was my personal business. The good Lord showed me how wrong I was.
God in Us
The Holy Spirit entered my soul in a split second. He came with no fanfare or drama. In that same second, he told me to give authority to the Bible over my thoughts. His coming effectively cast the demons out of me. Christ had saved me. I burst into tears and sobbed my gratitude.
Two and half years earlier, demons had taken me over after I stopped participating in spiritualism and other New Age practices. The evil that I had denied existed dominated me. They produced terrifying visions and vile voices. With steely resolve, I refused to act on their evil and behaved as I remembered myself to be. Demons mocked my plight and flaunted their rule of me. I reasoned that if this evil had the final say, nothing good could survive in the world. I saw beauty in the mountains and heavens, and goodness in people. A stronger spiritual source surely existed, but would it find me?
Then, Jesus freed me. I could not have explained why Jesus had to die for me to be free. I only knew that it was true and that through the Holy Spirit and Word, Jesus would heal me. I followed Jesus who is faithful and true. Not every Christian experiences salvation this way, nor do they need to in order to receive the Holy Spirit; but I did, and I’ve never been the same.
God for Us
The profundity of the gospel can obscure its simplicity. God acts, we respond. We seek his holiness, and God changes us to reflect the Son Jesus Christ. Christians seek his holiness and the fruit of this mystical union with God is “love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Gal. 5:22–23).
The Reformers affirmed that salvation is from God: Grace alone, faith alone, Christ alone, Scripture alone, and to the glory of God alone. God does it all. His people respond to what he has done, is doing, and will do in and through them.
This certainly was my witness. The Holy Spirit communed with me. He illuminated Scripture and nudged me to think and behave differently. He convicted me of sin. Like a good friend, he had my best interest at heart, yet he was more. Rather than coerce and assault me as the demons had done, Christ over and over revealed his grace and power to change me to be the person he intended me to be. My, there is power in the gospel.
. . . That power is the same as the mighty strength he [God] exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come (Ephes. 1:19–21).
No part of us is beyond God’s reach – not our mind, heart, desires, or body. He is perfectly capable of making himself known whether we are fully awake or sound asleep. Though he hates sin, he loves human beings. He created us in his image. Jesus, the Man-God, dignified humanity and became a man – a feeling, reasonable man who confronted sin and loved sinners. After he atoned for human sin and rose from the dead, Jesus Christ and God the Father sent God the Holy Spirit to those who put faith in the Son. The contrast is clear: Satan destroys human beings; Christ redeems them. Satan hates human beings. God loves them.
Some Christians teach that we must mistrust, even deny, our humanity to be close to God. An early extreme example was Antony of Alexandria (251-356). He was a wealthy man who sold his possessions and retreated to the desert where he subsisted on water during the day and salt and bread at night. He pursued Christlikeness through self-denial, minimal contact with people, battling demons, prayer, singing of Psalms, and recitations of Scripture. After Constantine legalized Christianity and stopped the abuse of Christians, monasticism replaced martyrdom as the highest expression of love of Christ. But must we denounce our humanity to know God? I don’t think so.
The marvelous, too-good-to-be true fact is that God is in us. God is for us. Believers are temples of the Holy Spirit. We can be quiet before the Lord without suspending our rationality. We can meditate on Scripture when fully conscious and fed! God, who is distinct from his creation shares his nature in order to remake us to be the person he intended before the creations of the world. The Spirit influences our minds, emotions, and our bodies. Our rational and subjective experiences are always subordinate to Scripture. God is not limited by our intellect or passions. He makes himself known just fine through the Word and Spirit!
And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you (Romans 8:11).