Justification by Faith and the Work of the Holy Spirit
Understanding the person and work of the Holy Spirit is very important if we are to avoid the various heresies that have manifested themselves throughout the history of the Christian church generally.
Many have confused the Holy Spirit with the breath of life that is in all living beings. This leads to the pantheism heresy. A form of pantheism heresy is still among those who believe that all men and women have inherently received eternal life and the Holy Spirit because these teachers misunderstand the Pauline term in Romans that "our Lord died for all". Thus, to these false teachers, all are born "saved" and are only "lost" if they do not believe they are saved. This confuses the universal atonement of Christ with the individual's acceptance of the atonement at justification. This also confuses prevenient grace with saving grace unto justification and sanctification.
The wooing or "calling" of all sinners to repentance and faith by the Holy Spirit must not be confused with the "infilling" of the Holy Spirit which only repentant believing Christians receive. The term "prevenient grace" is the term which is used to describe the work of the Holy Spirit who brings conviction of sin and calls the entire human family to repent of sin and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.
John 16:7-11 "Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. 8 "And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: 9 "of sin, because they do not believe in Me; 10 "of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; 11 "of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.
The calling of the Holy Spirit draws and woos us to call out to the Lord for mercy and grace.
Romans 10:13 13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
As the atoning death of our Lord on the cross is proclaimed the Spirit brings conviction of sin and points us to the cross of Christ where He bore the penalty for our sins.
John 12:32 And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.
The Holy Spirit enables the sinner to accept Christ and acknowledge Him as Savior and Lord and be baptized by immersion for the remission of his sins. The Holy Spirit infills the believer or "seals" him and begins to make His abode in the heart of the believer to keep him in faith, repentance, sanctification, and continual justification by faith in the doing and dying of Christ until the end.
Ephesians 1:13-14 13 And now you also have heard the truth, the Good News that God saves you. And when you believed in Christ, he identified you as his own by giving you the Holy Spirit, whom he promised long ago. 14 The Spirit is God's guarantee that he will give us everything he promised and that he has purchased us to be his own people.
John 14:23-26 23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. 24 He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me. 25 These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you. 26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
The work of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of believers is NEVER meritorious and never the BASIS of our acceptance with God. The infinite personal righteousness of Jesus Christ that is imputed to the believer's account is the only basis of our acceptance with God. God could give all believers instant total sanctification, victory over all sin, and personal sinlessness, but God leaves the sinful nature in believers in order to cause them to continually learn to always trust only in the imputed merit of the Sinless One for their acceptance and justification before God. In this life, all, even justified believers in Christ, continually fall short of the glory of God. Only on the last day will we become incorruptible and free of the sinful nature and be without sin. Then throughout eternity the Holy Spirit will fully indwell the redeemed, but they will always realize that they are mere faint reflections of the infinite righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, the visible revelation of the invisible God.
Lucifer's original sin began with a failure to understand the work of the Holy Spirit in his heart. He refused to acknowledge that his "glory" was borrowed from the True Glory. Lucifer's wisdom and beauty were borrowed qualities by virtue of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, but he thought that he had glory, righteousness, wisdom, and even life itself by virtue of his own innate being. Rather than acknowledge that he was a "reflector" of Christ's glory, he claimed that his glory was inherent and underived. Thus he was the first Anti-Christ or "in place of Christ". Self-glorying, self-righteousness, self-will, and pride first began with the angel Lucifer and he became Satan, the Adversary and the Destroyer. He took to himself the prerogatives and attributes belonging only to God.
Thus God's entire plan of salvation is to reconcile the entire world through the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. At the cross all the lies of Satan have been unmasked. The terrible history of sin has been allowed to take place so that Lucifer's misconceptions about the person and work of the Holy Spirit and our Lord Jesus Christ might be shown to be wrong. After all of the redeemed are saved, and the Dragon, the Beast, and the False Prophet are destroyed, all heaven will give glory and honor and praise to the Eternal Lamb of God who sits upon the throne of God, the only eternally Righteous One, the only eternally Immortal One, who alone has Life and Righteousness, and Wisdom and Goodness and Immortality, unborrowed and underived.
The Holy Spirit and God's word, the Bible are always in total agreement and harmony. Whenever the word of God is proclaimed the Holy Spirit is present to declare all that God has revealed about Himself to the world. God uses His word to bring light to all who sit in darkness and sin and rebellion.
God's word is like a two edged sword which the Holy Spirit uses to save lost humanity. With the one edge He reveals His absolute holiness and hatred of sin by proclaiming His holy and righteous Law to all the world. With the other edge of His sword He declares the Good News that in and through the Lord Jesus Christ He has fulfilled all of the righteous demands of His Law and offers the forgiveness of sin and eternal life to all who will repent and trust in Christ as their personal Savior and Lord. The apostle Paul declared the Good News to his hearers:
Acts 20:20-21 20 You know that I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you but have taught you publicly and from house to house. 21 I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus.
To those who do not resist the invitation of the Holy Spirit to believe the gospel, God reckons them to be His children with all the privileges of His promises. He infills them with the Holy Spirit to begin the lifelong battle with sin and enables them begin to walk in holiness and sanctification. He continually forgives them of their sins as they continually seek His daily forgiveness and the strength to live sanctified lives as children of God. They look forward to the Final Day when Christ shall come to raise to eternal life all who since the fall of Adam have called upon the name of the Lord for mercy and forgiveness and grace.
On the other hand those who resist the call of the Holy Spirit and refuse to repent and believe in God's word will share in the fate of Satan and his angels who rejected the word of God and chose rebellion and disobedience.
2 Thessalonians 1:7-10 when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, 8 In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: 9 Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; 10 When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day.
2 Peter 3:9-10 9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.