by Julie Zine Coleman @JulieZColeman
The days are getting longer, and the sun is getting warmer. The daffodils are up a good eight inches, their sunny blooms ready to pop. Sap in the trees is obviously flowing, because the buds on the maples have swollen and changed to a bright red. Anyone with eyes can see the daily evidence: what lay dormant all winter is coming to life. Spring has arrived.
It reminds me of God’s work in us. God took what was dead and brought us to life when we believed in Jesus. Paul wrote: “But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ” (Ephesians 2:4-6 NASB). Where only death existed, the Holy Spirit now exists.
And where the Spirit is, there is life.
A young man came into our church at the urging of his live-in girlfriend. He liked the love and enthusiasm of the church community, and so began to attend regularly. One of our young couples had he and his girlfriend for dinner one evening. They plainly laid out the truth of the gospel: sin had separated us from God, and Jesus died to pay for our sin. By believing in Him, we would forever be in relationship with God, never having to fear punishment or rejection from Him. Ever. It is salvation that comes only through grace, totally undeserved and unearnable. What did he think about that?
“Who wouldn’t want that?” he responded. “But if I commit to that, we will have to change our living situation, which I really love. And I would have to give up partying.” There was too much of his life that would have to change. And he didn’t know if he could do it. Or even wanted to do it.
“None of that has anything to do with your salvation,” his new friend assured him. “All God wants from you is your trust.”
“Well, that’s a no-brainer then,” the man exclaimed. “I’m in.” He bowed his head right there at the table and called upon the name of Jesus to be saved.
The next Sunday we could all see something had changed. He was full of joy and worshiped with all his heart. A few weeks later, I got the chance to talk with him. He told me about his new relationship with God. “I had no intention of changing anything. But something crazy happened,” he said. “Within two weeks, my girlfriend and I knew we needed to begin living apart, because we want our relationship to please God. I no longer feel a desire to get drunk or live the wild life. He has seriously changed my heart. In spite of me, really.”
Signs of life. Where only death and darkness once existed had been filled by the Spirit of light and life. And our new friend would never be the same. The more He learned about His God, the greater his love for Him. The more he loved Him, the more He yielded to the Spirit within.
And the result of that profound new relationship was fruit that the Spirit in him produced: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). All of them evidence of the life that existed inside him.
The Hebrew word translated as “Spirit” is ruach. It was normally used for the breath of an individual or sometimes air in motion. The Ruach moved over the waters at creation (Genesis 1:2). The ruach of God changed a lifeless form into a living soul (Genesis 2:7). The arrival of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost sounded like a rushing wind as He came upon each one in the Upper Room (Acts 2:2).
The very definition of ruach involves movement. Which is a great way to describe the Spirit of God. He is always moving, urging us forward into a more intimate knowledge of Him. And as we learn to love Him more, we are better enabled to yield to His Spirit.
Those fruits that the Spirit produces are evidence of life. Something that is dead cannot move. Or be transformed. But note that the fruit is not something we produce. It is the fruit of the Spirit. And undeniable evidence of His life within us.
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:17-18 NASB
About the author: Julie Coleman helps others to understand and know an unexpected God. A popular conference and retreat speaker, she holds an M.A. in biblical studies. Her award-winning book, Unexpected Love: God’s Heart Revealed through Jesus’ Conversations with Women, was published in 2013 by Thomas Nelson. Julie is the managing editor for Arise Daily. When she is not glaring at her computer, she spends time with her grandchildren, gardening, or walking her neurotic dog. More on Julie can be found at unexpectedgod.com and Facebook.
Join the conversation: Can you see evidence of the Spirit of life in you?