“Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:4 & 5 NIV)
We start down the freedom trail—from confession to forgiveness and justification and finally to trust. That gets us started on the Spirit’s reconstruction project. When we are forgiven and when we trust Him, He is free to do His transformational work in our lives, to reveal the life of Jesus, who lives within. Today let’s consider two of the Spirit’s activities that empower us for obedience and victory in the Christian life.
The first activity of the Spirit is regeneration: what the Spirit does to transform us into a new creation at the outset of our relationship with Him. Paul said we are saved “through the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5).
We can agree that there is an external, visible part of us and an internal, invisible dimension—the irreducible, eternal self, the core person the Holy Spirit wants to transform. The old changes to the new in our choosing, our capacity to think, our values and our feelings.
Regeneration made you “a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come” (2 Cor. 5:17). The new you could clearly see for the first time that your failure was sinful because now you had 20/20 spiritual insight. And what’s more, it mattered to you; that desirable thing became ugly. But it wasn’t just your desires that changed. You found new empowerment in the Holy Spirit. You could reject that soul enemy you had always cuddled up to as a friend. You had the power to face down those sin-bullies that till now had always won out.
The second activity of the Spirit is indwelling: To become an altogether new person at the core with new capabilities and mighty transformations would seem to provide power enough to live successfully. But that’s only part of the Spirit’s work. He also empowers us for living, changing, loving, and growing. And the way He does this is very personal: He comes in person to live with us. The Bible teaches that Jesus and the Holy Spirit live within, or indwell, a believer. In fact, They are in us, and we are in Them.
I’ve come to exult in that; it’s evidence of His glorious infinities. But because He created us on His pattern for an intimate love relationship, as we have seen, surely His indwelling has something to do with an altogether new relationship. Not only am I a new creation, but I also have a new relationship. Jesus taught about it: “Remain in Me, and I in you. Just as a branch is unable to produce fruit by itself unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in Me. I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without Me” (John 15:4-5). Notice that Jesus used the idea of “you in Me” and “I in you” interchangeably. Take a few minutes and ponder the implications for your life because of our intimacy and our relationship with the Trinity.