To continue this series on who the Holy Spirit is, we will look at how he unifies and sanctifies.
Spirit as our Unifier
One of the strong characteristics of the work of the Holy Spirit is that he unifies followers of Jesus. Let me unpack that.
Theologian Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen points out in his book on the Holy Spirit that the the Spirit is grounded in love. St. Augustine would similarly suggest that the primary presence of the Holy Spirit in someone’s life is that he offers love over knowledge. Augustine got that through John’s description of the Spirit as love in I John 4:7-16. His logic runs like this:
If we love one another, then God abides in us (v12), and since God is love, and he abides in love, then God will abide in them (v16b). We then recognize that we abide in him and he in us, because God has give us his Spirit (v13).
Did you see how Augustine would have concluded that?
If we exhibit love (love, not merely being tolerant), then the Spirit dwells within the person. And it is because the Spirit dwells in the person that they then begin to exhibit love.
As I have mentioned previously, the Spirit acts as a unifying role in the Trinity and with humanity. He is not only the communio (sharing, mutual participation) between Father and Son, but he is also the unifier between Christians and God and also among Christians themselves. He brings peace and connects people to the source of life and also to real community.
Author of Sanctification
Scripture also tells us that he is the author of our sanctification (I Peter 1:2). Please don’t be afraid though at the use of sanctification, it simply means “to be set apart” or “to be made holy.” The Christ follower will be made holy through the redemptive work of Jesus and they are then called to grow in holiness through the Holy Spirit. Eventually, the sanctification will be complete when the woman or man will be made into the image of Christ. Believe me though, it’s a tough road, but the narrow gate will surely lead to life abundant.
Fruit of the Spirit
To wrap this up, Paul reminded the church in Galatia to walk by the Spirit. He warns them that people who live contrary to the Kingdom of God are in fact not in the Kingdom of God. Jealousy, strife, sexual immorality, drunkenness, divisions, envy, fits of anger, and rivalries are only a handful of examples that Paul uses in Galatians 5, but suffice it to say that the follower of Jesus should be different from that list. Those who have the Spirit within them will exhibit love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. If you are in Christ, then these fruits will begin to grow.
“If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.” (Gal. 5:25)
How have you encountered the Spirit as a unifier or sanctifier?