This is our observance of Pentecost, the time we set aside to commemorate the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the Church. There are many things that can be said about all of this, but we sometimes overlook the obvious. Today we should consider the holiness of the Holy Spirit.
“For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness. He therefore that despiseth, despiseth not man, but God, who hath also given unto us his holy Spirit (1 Thess. 4:7-8).
SUMMARY OF THE TEXT
In the verses just prior to this text, the apostle Paul had been emphasizing the need for sexual purity. Then, as now, sexual corruption was readily available, right there for the asking, and Paul urged the Thessalonians to set and maintain a high standard of sexual purity. In the verses that follow this text, Paul is emphasizing the need for brotherly love. Put in one way, we show contempt for the holiness of the Holy Spirit by at least these two means—sins against eros, and sins against agape.
Paul makes very clear that we are not called to uncleanness, but rather unto holiness (v. 7). The one who is wiser than the apostle is not showing contempt for a man, but is rather showing contempt for God Himself (v. 8). This is the God, Paul says, who has given to us His Holy Spirit. There is to be a correspondence between the nature of the Spirit given to us, which is holy, and the nature of our lives, which are to be holy.
HOLINESS IS PERSONAL
Holiness is not to be thought of as an abstract standard, or a law detached from covenantal relationship between persons. The Holy Spirit is not an impersonal force, like electricity. He is not some sort of spiritual juice or power that makes us go. He is a Person, in His own right, one member of the triune Godhead. He is the Spirit of both God the Father and God the Son, and He brings with Him all the characteristics of those He indwells, and in whose name He indwells us.
It is not possible to vex or grieve an abstraction. “But they rebelled, and vexed his holy Spirit: therefore he was turned to be their enemy, and he fought against them” (Is. 63:10). And the New Testament speaks the same way. “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Eph. 4:29-32).
The Holy Spirit is a Person. He takes aim at things. He kills things. “For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live” (Rom. 8:13)
We must consider how we live in light of this kind of personal relationship. “But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land? Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God” (Acts 5:3-4).
THE CENTER OF RELATIONSHIP
The central duty in all personal relations is that of love. God the Father loves the Son, and the Son loves the Father. Their mutual love for one another is so strong (remember, this is mutual love between two infinite Persons) is therefore Himself a Spirit of love. “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us” (Rom. 5:1-5).
HOLINESS OF MIND
The Spirit is given in order to sanctify a people. The Spirit was poured out in the New Testament in order to sanctify the Gentiles, who previous to this had been a pretty greasy crew. “That I should be the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost” (Rom. 15:16). The point was to set the Gentiles apart from the world, making them part of the holy nation, the royal priesthood.
This requires the mind of Christ. When we hear phrases like this (the mind of Christ), we have a tendency (because of false Enlightenment assumptions) to limit this to rolling of propositions around in our brains. But this is not the mind of Christ. A good way to realize this is to begin realizing that there is such a thing as intellectual holiness. We are to be transformed in the renewing of our minds (Rom. 12:1-2). But what is the result? That we may prove in our lives what the will of God is.
“Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ” (1 Cor. 2:13-14).
“Let not then your good be evil spoken of: For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost” (Rom. 14:16-17). This is what the kingdom of God is.