Summary: Only the Person of the Holy Spirit provides the power to overcome our sinful nature.
Pastor Tony Evans begins his book on the Holy Spirit by telling us an imaginative, hypothetical story. Suppose you’ve just come from the appliance store and you have seen the most incredible refrigerator. It’s huge. It has all the bells and whistles that you’d expect on a refrigerator, plus some things you’d have never imagined. This thing will turn off the lights at night, put out the cat, and lock the doors to the house. Of course, it costs thousands more than a typical refrigerator, but you are so impressed that you buy it anyway.
The refrigerator is delivered to your home. You are so excited; you shop for all your favorite foods to stock it. You stock it and go to bed for the night.
The next morning you run into the kitchen excitedly, only to discover the milk has soured and the ice cream has melted. The vegetables are wilted and changing colors. Your new refrigerator is not working.
You call the appliance store to give them a piece of your Christian mind. The salesman says, “I don’t understand what has happened. Open the door and see if the light comes on.” You open the door. No light.
“Put your ear close to the refrigerator and tell me if you can hear the hum of the motor.” You don’t hear any hum.
He says, “There’s a cord at the back of your refrigerator. Check to see whether it has been plugged in.” Lo and behold, there’s the cord, and it has not been plugged in.
You say to the salesman, “You’re right. The cord was not plugged in. But for the kind of money I paid for this refrigerator, that shouldn’t matter. This thing should work.” The salesman says, “No, no, you don’t understand. Appliances are dependent in nature. Although your refrigerator has all the parts and coolant necessary to cool all the food you put in it, it was manufactured in such a way that it will not operate without an invisible power source called electricity. Unless you plug in that cord, your food will continue to spoil.” (The Promise, Tony Evans, vv. 9-10)
Now that’s a silly story to state an obvious truth. No matter how much your refrigerator cost, it won’t work like it is designed unless it is plugged in to electrical power. Neither will your Christian life work as God designed unless you are living in the power of the Holy Spirit. If you are not living in the power of the Holy Spirit, don’t be surprised if your life turns sour and you have a meltdown when the heat is on.
A recent survey by LifeWay Research revealed a significant number of evangelicals have a profound misunderstanding about the character and nature of God. Almost one-third (30%) agree with the statement that “Jesus was a great teacher, but he was not God.” Almost one-half (46%) believe the “Holy Spirit is a force but is not a personal being.” Almost one-in-five (18%) believe the “Holy Spirit can tell me to do something which is forbidden in the Bible.” This kind of confusion about the Holy Spirit may explain, in part, the low living of the Christian life.
How important is the Holy Spirit? There would be no creation if there were no Holy Spirit. There would be no human race because we would not have the principle of life operating in us. There would be no Virgin Birth apart from the Holy Spirit. There would have been no victory over Satan in the wilderness for Jesus because it was the Spirit who led Him to be tempted of the devil. If there were no Holy Spirit, there would be no Christians, no Bible, no restraint of sin in this world, and no expectation of the return of Jesus Christ. No wonder John Stott said that the Christian life can be defined as life in the Holy Spirit.
That difference the person of the Holy Spirit makes in the life of the believer is seen between Romans chapter seven and chapter eight. There is one single reference to the Holy Spirit in chapter seven. Paul says in 7:6: But now we have been released from the law, since we have died to what held us, so that we may serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the old letter of the law. Later Paul describes life not lived in the Holy Spirit in 7:18b-19: For the desire to do what is good is with me, but there is no ability to do it. (19) For I do not do the good that I want to do, but I practice the evil that I do not want to do. Then you come to chapter 8 of Romans.
The word “Spirit,” referring to the person of the Holy Spirit, is found in the original language 21x, more frequently than any other chapter in the Bible! The difference the Holy Spirit makes in the life of a Christian is dramatically outlined for us in chapter eight. The chapter begins by stating that there is no condemnation before God if you are a Christian. The chapter ends by saying there is no possibility of separation from God, and in between, there is no defeat for those who live in the power of the Holy Spirit. The overarching theme of chapter 8 is your security as a child of God. The possession and power of the person of the Holy Spirit assures us of that security.