Thanks to everyone who responded to my post asking for people’s experiences of the Holy Spirit.
Here are some common themes (with the warning from Marcus Honeysett against making our experience normative for everyone else):
- a passion for the word, for prayer or for intimacy with Jesus
- enabling us to hear God speaking through his word, other people, circumstances, promptings and words of prophecy
- conviction of sin, a desire for personal change or a removal of sinful desires or preoccupations
- an assurance of forgiveness and our adoption
Matt was not sure he ever ‘felt’ an experience of the Spirit, but could see the effects of the Spirit’s work in his life. I’ve been pondering Matt’s statement. I’m sure it’s true that genuine Christians often do not ‘feel’ an experience of the Spirit even when he is at work in their lives. But I was reading Galatians this morning and I’m not sure we can be content with this. Perhaps those us from conversative and Reformed circles have over-reacted against the excesses of some who seek experiences. Paul’s argument in Galatians 3:1-5 and 4:1-7 depends on an appeal to the Holy Spirit as someone who is directly and clearly experienced by believers. Without this the argument backfires! His argument is ‘You experience the Spirit through faith and without law.’ If the Galatians are at all uncertain about their experience of the Spirit then they will conclude, ‘We need to law to have this experience of the Spirit about which Paul writes.’
One or two suggested ideas for increasing our experience or awareness of the Spirit. Julie asks God ‘for eyes to see him present in my life’. Marcus bemoans the infrequency with which we ask one another, ‘What is God doing with you at the moment?’ In other words, we may not always have to ‘do’ anything to experience more of the Spirit. What we may need is a greater awareness of what the Spirit is already doing in our lives.
Jonathan Dobson offers three ‘practical steps in relating to the Spirit’:
1. Repent for diminishing and ignoring the third Person of the Trinity. Repent for sinful self-reliance and fear-motivated neglect of the Holy Spirit. Mortify the sin that has been an obstacle to your knowing and walking with the Spirit. Receive God’s gracious forgiveness in Jesus and rejoice that the Spirit is in you!
2. Begin addressing the Holy Spirit in prayer every day. Talk to him as a Person; don’t ignore him as an energy force. Ask him for filling and direction for your entire day. Ask him to guide your decision-making, to direct your thoughts, and to fill your heart with affection for Jesus.
3. Read the Bible with a Holy Spirit lens. Look for him in the Bible and ask yourself: “Who does this text tell me the Spirit is?” Then, refine the way you relate to him. It’s like getting to know your wife, the more you study her the better you can love her.