In raising us above ourselves, God had to deal with our sin. To deal with our sin required more than leniency, it required liberation. God’s salvation in Christ not only provides us with pardon, but also with power. It provides forgiveness for sin, as well as power over it and freedom from it.
It is, according to the Apostle Paul, “the law of the Spirit” that sets us free from “the law of sin” (Romans 8:2). The Holy Spirit works in us to enable us to overcome temptation. By no longer walking “after the flesh”—yielding to sin’s control—but walking “after the Spirit”—yielding to the Spirit’s control—we are delivered from temptation and condemnation (Romans 8:1).
Our miraculous salvation from sin is not just something to be enjoyed in the presence of God in the hereafter, but also something to be expressed for the glory of God in the here and now. This explains why Paul speaks of being filled with the Spirit within the same breath that he speaks of being drunk with wine (Ephesians 5:18). Just as strong “spirits” are bound to express themselves through those who are filled with them, even to the point of causing them to act unnaturally, the Holy Spirit is also bound to express Himself through those He fills, even to the point of enabling them to act supernaturally.
The Spirit-filled Christian can’t help but breakout in love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance (Galatians 5:22-23). Just as grapes are naturally produced on a healthy vine, these fruits of the Spirit are naturally produced on the spiritually healthy branches of the true Vine. As Jesus said in John 15:5, “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit.” If we abide in Christ and He abides in us, in the person of the Holy Spirit, our bearing of spiritual fruit is inevitable. On the other hand, the absence of it is a sure sign of either a life devoid of the Spirit or the carnality of a Christian.
I’ve always found it interesting that following Paul’s admonition of us to be filled with or controlled by the Holy Spirit he adds these additional instructions: “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:19). It is as though the Spirit-filled cannot help but break out in song because of the Spirit-inspired melody in their hearts. It is a melody that is impossible to suppress. We must give voice to it and set it to music.
“There’s within my heart a melody
Jesus whispers sweet and low,
Fear not, I am with thee, peace, be still,
In all of life’s ebb and flow.
Jesus, Jesus, Jesus,
Sweetest Name I know,
Fills my every longing,
Keeps me singing as I go.” (Luther B. Bridgers)