How do you pursue what you already have? If all Christians have the Holy Spirit, all are empowered by the Holy Spirit, then it doesn’t quite make sense to talk about pursuing the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:9). This is, of course, true, but there is a real sense in which we as Christians ought to be concerned with strengthening our relationship with the Holy Spirit.
“Walk” becomes a more profound word in the Scriptures. It is often used by Paul to refer to something much bigger than one’s stride. Paul uses the term to speak of the conduct of one’s life, how you live. Routinely too, he connects our walk with the person and power of the Holy Spirit. He commands the Galatians to “walk by the Spirit” (Gal. 5:16). He specifically tells them to “keep in step with the Holy Spirit” (Gal. 5:25). Clearly, then, this requires us to commit to working at our relationship with the Holy Spirit. It requires us, at one level, to “pursue” a deeper communion with the Holy Spirit. This is important for all Christians to realize, regardless of their views on the Charismatic gifts.
Whether you believe in the ongoing presence of the miraculous gifts of the Spirit or not, the Holy Spirit does have an ongoing presence today. Dan Wallace has written a wonderful piece for cessationists to wrestle with, aptly titled Who’s Afraid of the Holy Spirit? Far too many Christians think that if the gifts died in the early church, so did the Holy Spirit. They don’t pursue the gifts of the Spirit (1 Cor. 14:1), nor do they pursue a deeper relationship with the Spirit Himself. But regardless of your views on the continuance of the miraculous gifts, all believers should seek to know and grow in their fellowship with the Holy Spirit. We all have the Spirit, but we must strive to “keep in step with the Spirit.”
So then, how do we do this? We must first recognize that the Spirit works in conjunction with the Word of God. The Spirit loves to work through the Word of God to teach us and train us. He illuminates the Word for us (John 16:13-14; 1 Cor. 2:12). So as we dig into Scripture and pursue understanding of God’s Word we are naturally deepening our relationship with God. The Word is one of the primary ways in which we can strengthen our intimacy with the Holy Spirit.
We should also consider what it means in Scripture to be “filled with the Holy Spirit.” To be “filled” is distinct from what many Pentecostals call “baptism in the Holy Spirit.” Baptism in the Holy Spirit is, I would argue, an event that occurs at the moment of conversion. But being “filled” is something that we must seek and cultivate, and something that God grants as He desires. So Paul prays that the Romans would be filled with the Spirit (Rom. 15:13), and he urges the Ephesians to seek to be “filled with the Spirit.” The Ephesians passage is particularly helpful because Paul not only urges this filling, but gives us guidance on how to seek it. Ephesians 5:18-20 says:
18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
There is a command here from Paul, “be filled.” In the Greek the word is a plural imperative, it’s a command given to the church as a whole! The church is to seek to be filled by the Holy Spirit. Verses 19-20 gives us some context as to how to foster this kind of filling: worship and thanksgiving. As we worship God we know we are cultivating a deeper relationship with the Spirit, because God must be worshiped in the Spirit (John 4:24). Seek to be filled with the Spirit of God.
Regardless of your beliefs about the nature of the miraculous gifts today, God’s Spirit is still at work in our world and we are still in desperate need of Him. We ought to pursue greater fellowship with the Spirit of God on a daily basis. He is our helper and comforter, he is the giver of life and joy. We need Him, and He wants to be in deeper communion with us. Pursue the Spirit of God.