I've said it before: I love the wilderness. When I go on vacation, I don't head for overcrowded resorts or big cities. I like the wild and quiet places where I can see wilderness all around me. The more I thought about that this weekend, the more I realized I've never really ever been lost in wilderness. I am usually on a trail or some sort of road which means somebody else has been there before me. It feels like wilderness, but someone else has blazed the trail.
That sounds like what the Lord has done for us. God is working hard to rescue us from the wilderness. The goodness of the Father, the sacrifice of Jesus, and the gift of the Holy Spirit are all cooperatively working together to guide us through this wilderness.
Romans 8 describes just part of what the Holy Spirit does within the life of the believer who trusts Christ. Here's a glimpse:
1] The HS places us in Christ the moment of our faith (Romans 8:1). Pay close attention to that phrase 'in Christ', because Paul uses it 164 times in his letters. It means being made right with God (justification). Think of it like being attached to Jesus (united with him), like an arm is attached to the body. It indicates a personal relationship that makes our identity immediately different. When God sees you, He sees Jesus! That's why there's no condemnation! He is the God who changes you.
2] The HS lives in us, enabling us to obey God (Romans 8:2-8). Paul admitted in chapter 7 that he struggled with sin, but he reminds us that we are filled with the Holy Spirit who makes obedience possible. The truth is, without the Holy Spirit, it is impossible to do God's will. Years ago when I was teaching high school, I used to do about an hour of team building with my students every day. I used to give the class a nearly impossible task to complete and told them they could use any person in the room as a resource. Very seldom did a class think to use me as a resource. They always tried to do it on their own as I stood back and watched them disintegrate into chaos. The Holy Spirit holds the key for us, our resource for life! He is the God who indwells us.
3] The HS breaks the death grip on you (Romans 8:9-10). I hate snakes. One of the creepiest species to me is the anaconda. The enemy of our soul is like an anaconda -- he puts the squeeze on us until we are dead. Satan always works to undo what God has done. God breathed life into us; the enemy tries to squeeze it out of us. God wants us alive; Satan wants us dead. The Holy Spirit breaks the power of death over us! He is the God who embraces us.
4] The HS will raise us from the dead into eternal life (Romans 8:11). The New Testament uses phrases like 'security deposit', 'guarantee', and 'seal' to describe how the Holy Spirit marks us as belonging to God until the day of redemption. Every person on earth will be resurrected, but not everyone will be resurrected to eternal life. The Spirit of God brought us up from the dust in the beginning, and He will do it again. He is the God who raises us.
5] The HS makes our adoption official (Romans 8:14-16). The Holy Spirit acts like the legal agent making our adoption as children of God official. I've stood in courtrooms to go through the legal process of adoption, but have to tell you that those courtroom experiences were just technicalities. Adoption began way ahead of time in my heart. It wasn't just the legal act that made them mine, but the legal process was necessary. That's the work of the Holy Spirit who adopts us into God's family. He is the God who fathers us.
6] The HS guarantees our inheritance (Romans 8:17). My inheritance from my parents included $21 (divided three ways) in my dads wallet plus a mermaid bottle opener. The inheritance we get from Christ isn't the stuff families like to fight over. Our inheritance is the glory of Christ -- the Father taking great delight in us. The glory of Jesus ours -- even if we're stripped away of everything we have on earth through persecution or suffering. No one can take this inheritance from us. He is the God who gives you His best.
7] The HS helps us in our weakness (Romans 8:26-27). Jesus calls the Holy Spirit our 'Helper'. He even helps us pray when we don't know what to say, translating our prayers to God by reading our hearts. He searches our heart! He knows we are weak -- and he does something about it. He is the God who knows you.
The Father, Son & Holy Spirit are working together to rescue from this wilderness. God does not sit idly back and let us disintegrate without making a concerted effort for rescue. He wants the world to trust Him! He even does for us what we cannot do for ourselves, and He gives us the best of Himself so we can be restored.
He knows what we need -- and He gives it through Himself.