The Christian life isn’t a standard of performance or a code of ethics; it’s a vital personal relationship with a loving God. Our reconciliation with God is totally dependent on what God has done through Jesus Christ; in the same way, the ability to live a dynamic Christian life also comes totally from God. Because we are united to Christ through the Holy Spirit’s indwelling, we have all we need to live as a new creation in Christ (Ephesians 3:16-21). But to live according to our new identity in Christ, we must continually live in the power of the Spirit by faith.

The Holy Spirit enables us to live the Christian life as God intends.

The Holy Spirit is God.

For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God, that we may understand what God has freely given us (1 Corinthians 2:11-12).

The Holy Spirit came to dwell in us.

You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ (Romans 8:9).

The Holy Spirit came to convict the world of sin and justice.

When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regards to sin and righteousness and judgment (John 16:8).

The Holy Spirit came to lead us into the truth.

But, when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come (John 16:13).

The Holy Spirit came to glorify Christ.

(Christ speaking) He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you (John 16:14).

The Holy Spirit confirms our relationship with God.

because those who are led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children (Romans 8:14-16).

The Holy Spirit is the source of Christ-like qualities in our life.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law (Galatians 5:22-23).

Not all Christians experience the Holy Spirit’s power.

Although the Holy Spirit lives within all Christians, not all Christians are filled (directed and empowered) by the Holy Spirit. The Bible tells us there are three kinds of people in the world — the natural, the spiritual, and the carnal.

  1. The natural person—These persons have not yet trusted Christ’s death to pay for their sins. Therefore, Christ does not yet live in them (see 1 Corinthians 2:14). Natural persons direct their own life, since they have not yet recognized Jesus as Lord.
  2. The spiritual person—These persons have trusted Christ as their Savior and Lord and are trusting the Holy Spirit to direct and empower them moment by moment (see 1 Corinthians 2:15). These persons therefore yield fully to Christ’s direction, knowing their life is now his.
  3. The carnal person—These persons have trusted Christ to pay for their sins, but are still seeking to live the Christian life in their own strength rather than God’s (carnal refers to “flesh or human strength” as opposed to “the Spirit”). A carnal Christian lives in the energy of the flesh, not in the power of the Spirit (see 1 Corinthians 3:1-2). Carnal persons do not trust God enough to let the Spirit direct every aspect of their life. Instead, they seek to remain in charge of deciding what to do and how.

We can be continually empowered by the Holy Spirit.

The abundant Christian life is the Christ-directed life by which Christ lives his life in and through us in the power of the Holy Spirit. We can be filled with the Holy Spirit by trusting God to produce in us the fruitful life he has promised as we live for him.

Here is a “word picture” that helps us understand what it means to be empowered by our Helper, the Holy Spirit: 

Driving a car— We can picture our life as being a car; when we invite Jesus Christ into our life, he comes in and takes the driver’s seat. He is the best driver and he knows the way we should follow. But time and time again we think we know better, so we take back the wheel. When we realize that we have done so, we need to move over and let him take it back.

Because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God (Romans 8:14).

Just how do we follow the command to "be filled with the Spirit" (Ephesians 5:18)?

If you find that you have retaken control of your life through sin—any definite act of disobedience—simply breathe spiritually (exhale the impure and inhale the pure). This important spiritual exercise will enable you to continue to experience Christ’s loving direction over your whole life throughout each day.

Exhale — Confess all known sin.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).

Also read Hebrews 10:1-25. Remember the three steps involved in confession:

  1. Agree with God that you have sinned and reaffirm your decision to life fully for him.
  2. Thank God that he has already forgiven you because of Christ’s death on the cross.
  3. Trust God to change your wrong attitudes and actions.

Inhale—Claim by faith the fullness of the Spirit.

  1. Surrender the control of your life to Christ.
  2. Trust that he now directs and empowers you as you obey.

The Holy Spirit enables us to obey God in his strength rather than our own. As we trust Jesus Christ, God’s Spirit will produce his character within us and empower us to be his witnesses.

We must never stop breathing spiritually. We need to practice it throughout our lives to ensure we continue to live as God wants. The more constantly we do so, the more we will see God at work in and through us.

You can respond to the questions below to journey with a mentor and receive prayer. You’ll be able to talk through what you have learned.

This article, as well as this series, is an adaptation by The Life Project of Dr. Bill Bright’s material, Knowing Jesus Personally.
updated September 2019

Photo Credit: Christopher Sardegna