Do you sometimes feel like you’re not a real Christian because you continue to struggle with sin?
The Bible teaches that when you believe in the risen Jesus, the Holy Spirit starts to live inside you. In Galatians 4:6 (NLT) Paul writes: “because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts…”
This is wonderfully good news! However, it can leave people confused or discouraged. ‘If the Holy Spirit is in me, how can sin still be such a significant part of my life?’
Let me encourage you.
The Reformer Martin Luther said that “Christ dwells only in sinners.”* That might seem like bad news, but it’s simply the truth. But what about the Spirit? Is he therefore ineffective?
I recently heard Barry Cooper explain it like this. Imagine you’ve invited a painter to come into your house. He paints a few rooms and makes some real change. But there are still a few doors you haven’t unlocked. Do you tell him to leave your house and then invite him to re-enter to finish the job? No. You unlock the rooms.**
No analogy is perfect, but I think this one is helpful when thinking about the Spirit working within us. When you believe in Christ, the Holy Spirit starts to live and work within you. Some change is immediate; some will take time. Perhaps there are doors in the invisible house of your mind and heart which you’ve yet to unlock for the painter.
Christlikeness is a process. It is God doing his work in you through time.
Which invisible door in your mind and heart do you need to unlock?
When you know what it is, invite God’s Spirit to continue his work.
–“Conscience, the Puritans, and forming our minds today.” In my latest podcast episode, I was so pleased to talk with Richard Topping, professor and principal at VST. You can listen in here, or find The Pulse Podcast on iTunes, Google Podcasts, Spotify or Stitcher.
–Martin Luther, Luther: Letters of Spiritual Counsel – Library of Christian Classics, Vol. XVIII, ed., T. Tappert (London: SCM Press, 1955), 110.
–**Barry Cooper hosts the Simply Put podcast. “Being filled with the Spirit” was published on July 6, 2021 and can be accessed here.