The Holy Spirit convicts us of our sin. We repent and make a decision to turn away from our sins and walk towards God. When John the Baptist baptized people in the wilderness, he said "I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire." (Mathew 3:11). John the Baptist was referring to Jesus, who would baptize people with fire, that is the Holy Spirit. When we accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and surrender our lives to Him, He gives us His Holy Spirit, who comes and lives in us. Therefore, we are born again. We no longer live but Christ lives in us. Galatians 2:20, "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me."
We are a new creation in Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:17, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" We no longer continue in our sinful ways but begin a new life; dying daily to the flesh and separating ourselves every minute from the influence of sin (sanctification). The Holy Spirit in us gives us the power to overcome and live a sacrificial life; a life holy and pleasing to God. But the question arises, why does the Holy Spirit come and reside in us? The answer is because God wants to transform us into His image and likeness. Can a fig come from an apple tree? No, a fig can come only from a fig tree! Similarly, if we are born of Christ, we need to resemble Christ. We are the temple of the living God; the Holy Spirit resides in us. Our lives, everything we do and say has to reflect the glory of the living God. A Christian is known by his fruit!
Is it possible that the encounter with the living God will have no effect on our lives? It's impossible! The presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives will be evident in the form of the fruit of the Holy Spirit. Galatians 5:22-23, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control."
Love: What made God send His one and only Son, Jesus Christ to die for our sins on the cross? Wasn't it His unconditional love for us? God gave us His best to us in Christ and we are called to give our best to Christ. Not because we have to, but because we want to. When the Holy Spirit resides in us, we are flooded with His awesome love! The love that we receive from the Father we shower on those around us. The life that we lived prior to being born again, was one full of selfishness, hatred and jealousy. Our lives were centered around us, but now our lives are Christ centered. We never had the ability to love unconditionally, however, the Holy Spirit pours His love into our hearts, so that we may love one another, even those who hurt us.
Joy: When the Holy Spirit lives in you, you cannot help smiling! The realization that the Creator King has chosen you as His 'beloved' makes you want to smile. The English language considers joy and happiness as synonyms, however, there is a difference between the two. What's the difference? Happiness is an emotional outburst; a feeling of elation, but joy is something deeper. Joy is not just a feeling; it's a greater understanding, a realization of who God is and that He is in control. What this means is; you may feel happy when something exciting happens in your life. You're on the ninth cloud because you got a promotion and are all exuberant. But, joy is knowing God is Sovereign and in control even when you have lost your job. It is not getting worried or anxious about the future, but clinging onto Christ in the midst of a storm. It is being at peace even when circumstances are against you. Happiness is just an emotion that will fade away when situations change. On the contrary, joy is the fruit of the Spirit that stands strong irrespective of the times.
Peace: John 14:27, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." What an amazing assurance! Jesus Christ gives us His peace. In Him we need not be anxious about anything! The enemy is always trying to rob Christians of their peace. John 16:13, "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." We have a God who is above all powers, and if He has told us not to be troubled, what else do we need! We who have the Holy Spirit in us have God's everlasting perfect peace. Therefore, even if life takes a sharp turn, we have the peace of Holy Spirit in us. Peace in the midst of pain!
Patience: When we testify to people about the Lord with no response from their side, we are to be patient with them. Don't get discouraged or downcast. Continue to love them, pray for them and witness to them in patience. Our Lord Jesus did it and we, His sheep, follow our Shepherd's footsteps. He was patient with his disciples, always teaching them and correcting them. We will notice that earlier we snapped at everybody and everything! But as the Holy Spirit works in our lives, He fills us with His patience in order to respond to the weaknesses of our brothers and sisters with patience.
Kindness: Jesus summed up the ten commandments in two commands: Luke 10:27, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself." A person cannot serve two masters. He can either serve God or Satan. John 14:15, "If you love me, you will obey what I command." The Lord commands us to love our neighbor as ourselves. Which means, if we truly love our neighbor, will we be unkind to them? The love that God has poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit will reflect in the way we interact with people. Helping people in their times of need, stepping out of the comfort zone and working to make someone happy and other kind gestures are the result of the Spirit's dwelling in us.
Goodness: People today are skeptical of everybody around them. This is because of the lack of trust. They fear being manipulated by someone for personal gains. This is sad but true! The carnal self dominates in the world, which is selfish, envious and grabbing. However, God is good! The realization that God loved us while we were yet sinners is overwhelming! Can we love those who don't reciprocate the love? Can we be good to those who have manipulated us? Romans 12:21, "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." The Holy Spirit's goodness makes us respond in goodness to those around. We may be the only Bible people may ever read in life. God has chosen us as His vessel to reach out to His lost sheep. This quality of goodness can draw people towards God.
Faithfulness: 2 Timothy 2:11-13, "Here is a trustworthy saying: If we died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him. If we disown him, he will also disown us; if we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself." This is how faithful God is! Has it crossed our mind to be faithful to those who have been unfaithful to us. The Holy Spirit's fruit gives us the ability to overcome and remain faithful to those who have hurt our trust. In our own strength, it is not possible. However, in Christ we can do all things!
Gentleness: Jesus dealt gently with the pharisees and hypocrites who came with the intention to trap him. Do we find ourselves in similar situations? Do we come across people who keep spearheading arguments? 1 Peter 3:15, "Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect". The Bible instructs us and guides us, and here the Word tells us to be gentle with those who try to pick on an argument. This does not mean we should not share the truth. Share the truth, but in gentleness and respect.
Self Control: Jeremiah 17:9, "The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?". We all are tempted and have succumbed to sin many times in our lives. There is only one: Jesus Christ who has been tempted, yet did not succumb to it and was without sin. We find ourselves in various temptations: bribing, cheating in exams, lust, stealing, lying, etc. Nobody in his own strength can overcome temptation. If he has cheated in the past, he finds it difficult to stop. He will even say, 'I know what I am doing is wrong, but I can't help it'. But those of us born of Christ are empowered by the Holy Spirit, who enables us to overcome temptation. And as we overcome one sin at a time, we are moving closer to the image and likeness of the Holy God we serve.
Matthew 7:17-20, "Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them." A healthy oak tree will produce healthy oaks and an unhealthy, sick and dying oak tree will produce unhealthy oaks. Therefore, when we come across a healthy oak, we know the oak tree is healthy. Just as a tree is known by its fruit, so also are we known by our fruit. These qualities do not appear overnight, but will blossom as we continue to live each day in obedience and faith, separating ourselves from sin and moving towards our Lord. God bless!