The superlative excellence of the Holy Spirit
‘Nevertheless I tell you the truth; it is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.’ John 16:7
Suggested Further Reading: 1 Corinthians 2:9–16
Without the Holy Spirit no good thing ever did or ever can come into any of your hearts—no sigh of penitence, no cry of faith, no glance of love, no tear of hallowed sorrow. Your heart can never beat with life divine, except through the Spirit; you are not capable of the smallest degree of spiritual emotion, much less spiritual action, apart from the Holy Spirit. Dead you lie, living only for evil, but absolutely dead for God until the Holy Spirit comes and raises you. The flowers of Christ are all exotics—‘In me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing.’ ‘Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one.’ Everything must come from Christ, and Christ gives nothing to men except through the Spirit of all grace. Prize, then, the Spirit as the channel of all good which comes into you. And further, no good thing can come out of you apart from the Spirit. Let it be in you, yet it lies dormant unless God works in you to will and to do of his own good pleasure. Do you desire to preach? How can you unless the Holy Spirit touches your tongue? Do you desire to pray? Alas, what dull work it is unless the Spirit makes intercession for you. Do you desire to subdue sin? Would you be holy? Would you imitate your Master? Do you desire to rise to superlative heights of spirituality? Are you wanting to be made like the angels of God, full of zeal and ardour for the Master’s cause? You cannot without the Spirit—‘Without me ye can do nothing.’ O branch of the vine, you can have no fruit without the sap. O child of God, you have no life within you apart from the life which God gives you through his Spirit.
For meditation: Christians are what they are as the result of receiving the Holy Spirit, his teaching and his gifts (1 Corinthians 2:12–14). As recipients of everything we have, we should neither boast of our gifts as if they originated with us (1 Corinthians 4:7), nor should we monopolize them (1 Peter 4:10).
Sermon no. 574
12 June (1864)