Work of the Spirit

For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.

Romans 8:2


In Paul's writings, there are two pivotal passages on the work of the Holy Spirit. One is found in Romans 8 and the other is found in Galatians 5. In the first seven chapters of Romans, he mentions the Holy Spirit four times. But in Romans 8, in just the first 27 verses, the Spirit is mentioned 19 times!

The first mention comes in verse 2: "For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death." This verse raises the question: Exactly what are we set free from? The answer is found in Romans 7: We are set free from the law, even though the law is God's law and it is holy and good in itself.

Still, our sinful tendency, our flesh, takes this good thing and uses it to stir up a bad thing, sin. This same point was made early in chapter 7: "But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code" (7:6).

The Old Testament was basically life under the law. The New Testament is life under the Spirit. We are set free from our own efforts, from striving, from performance, from religion, from rules, from measuring up. The key motif of the spiritual life is no longer strive, but surrender. Surrender to the Spirit.

The Christian life is a supernatural life and that requires supernatural power, the power of the Spirit. We now live in the age of the Spirit. The Old Testament prophets foretold this day. For example, Ezekiel 36:26-27 states:

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.

Beginning with Acts 2, this promise has been fulfilled. God has put a new spirit, his Spirit, within us to empower us to live for him. As Zechariah 4:6 puts it: "Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit says the Lord of hosts."

Lord, would you fill us afresh with your Spirit. Your power, not mine.