Friday, January 6, 2012

The Holy Spirit 'Outraged?!'

How do you view the Holy Spirit? What comes to mind when you hear those words? Some may have scary images of 'weird' people running laps around an auditorium or barking like a dog. Others may be filled with delight, thinking of things like a hunger for the presence of God.

Always remember, we aren't given the option of inventing our own view of God. Our view of God must be shaped by God's revelation of himself in Scripture. The Bible describes the Spirit of God as a Person - a 'he' rather than an 'it' (John 14:26; 15:26; 16:13-14). He is spoken of in Scripture as teaching (John 14:26), bearing witness (John 15:26; Romans 8:16), interceding or praying on behalf of others (Romans 8:26-27), forbidding or not allowing certain activities (Acts 16:6-7), speaking (Acts 8:29; 13:2), and being grieved by sin in the lives of Christians (Ephesians 4:30), among other personal activities (Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, p232-3).

There is another very interesting description of the Holy Spirit given in the book of Hebrews:
How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has spurned the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, 'Vengeance is mine; I will repay.' And again, 'The Lord will judge his people.' It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. Hebrews 10:29-30, ESV
This passage is a warning against apostasy, or leaving the faith ("shrinking back" - vs 38-39). It is an encouragement for believers to endure in faith to the end. In this warning the author reminds us of the death penalty brought by disobedience to the old covenant law of Moses. And if the old covenant law brought death - 'how much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has' turned away from Christ? This turning away is described three ways: as spurning the Son of God (scornfully rejecting Christ), profaning the blood of the covenant (treating Jesus' blood as unholy), and finally, outraging the Spirit of grace.

That phrase is terrifying! The same Spirit of God who was hovering over the waters at creation, empowering prophets, priests and kings in the Old Testament, and anointing the Son of God for his redemptive work - THIS Holy Spirit personally OUTRAGED toward someone? Amazing.  The Spirit who so mercifully moves through the preaching of the gospel (God's pardon to repentant sinners who believe on Christ) is not unmoved when his gospel is tossed aside like something trivial, unnecessary, or even offensive. "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God."

And what an interesting juxtaposition of terms! He is called here the Spirit of "grace" as he is described to be "outraged." God is filled with both grace and wrath. He is to be worshiped and glorified for both.

Perhaps our view of the Holy Spirit is too...weak? Perhaps we have thought of the Spirit as too sweet and precious to ever be righteously angry. Yes, we are to desire to be continuously filled with the Spirit (Eph 5:18), to walk in the Spirit (Gal 5:16), and to earnestly desire his empowering for spiritual gifts (14:1). Jesus spoke tenderly of the Father giving the Holy Spirit to those who ask him, as an amazing example of Fatherly love (Luke 11:13). We should have a growing relationship with the Person of the Holy Spirit through Jesus Christ ("...the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all" 2 Cor 13:14). But Jesus also said that every sin and blasphemy would be forgiven...except for the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit (which he called an eternal sin, Mark 3:29).

Let us desire the Holy Spirit!
But let us not forget that the "Spirit of grace," like the Father and the Son, will not laugh at sin.
The Holy Spirit is "holy."

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