We may learn a lot from history, or nothing at all – it all depends on what we respect. We may pay too much credence to modern teaching, when the teaching of the ancients like the Early Church Fathers might have stood a better test of time. It’s good to be influenced by and to leverage off those who have long since been taken to heaven.
John Charles Ryle (1816-1900), first Anglican Archbishop of Liverpool, suggests there are 10 signs of the Spirit in the heart of the believer. These are outlined below, along with my commentary:
1. The Spirit awakens a person’s heart.
New to belief in Jesus Christ, the scales fall from our eyes, and we begin to see the truths and loves of God. Once our hearts have been awakened we are able to think mindfully about all sorts of things in and of the kingdom of God. Only the Spirit can open a person’s heart.
2. The Spirit teaches a person’s mind.
Now that the heart is no longer a barrier to belief, the Spirit teaches the person’s mind. The concepts of truth and love are both foreseeable and alluring. Only the Spirit can enliven a passion for truth and love.
3. The Spirit leads to the Word.
There is a particular type of passion that has emerged in the believer to read their Bible. It is a very real source of life to them, and they may quickly struggle without it. Only the Spirit can incline us to the Word and make that Word come alive as we ruminate over it and digest its goodness. Its truth awakens the heart and mind as a unit.
4. The Spirit convinces of sin.
The acquisition of knowledge about one’s sinfulness is a strange but no less pivotal sign of the Spirit’s sanctifying work in us. This is where we begin to acknowledge the vastness of the chasm of holiness that exists between God and humanity. Our sin does not condemn us any longer, however. Indeed, it polarises the power of grace all the more. Only by the Spirit are we convicted of our sin and convinced of the power in grace to overcome our guilt and more thoroughly thank our Father for Christ.
5. The Spirit draws to Christ.
As the unity in the Godhead could never be more unified, we too are drawn by the Spirit into Christ. Conversion therefore means full devotion. We have no other gods before us. This is enough to make us ponder; have we acquired same? Only the Spirit can free us of the bonds we have made for ourselves by our sinful natures.
6. The Spirit sanctifies.
Only the Spirit can make us holy at accord with our deeds, even though we are made holy through our plain belief in the Lord Jesus. Without the Spirit’s help, though we may do impressive works, we do not grow one iota.
7. The Spirit makes a person spiritually minded.
In the transformation of the believer there is the letting go of the material world. They would much rather let go of the pathetic grip for acquiring and accede to God in the surrendering. The mindset is turned toward the things of the Spirit and away from the world. Ambition is gone. Only the Spirit can convert us from materialism to spiritualism.
8. The Spirit produces inward conflict.
Living the authentic Christian life is no bed of roses. There is much inward conflict as the Spirit wrangles with us toward repentance. But the believer will know that the Christian life is a true life that is destined, and necessary, for every human being. Only the Spirit can inspire this truth in us.
9. The Spirit makes a person love the brethren.
A very salient proof: that we love our neighbour as ourselves, routinely and consistently, though not perfectly. We take very seriously what Jesus commanded us to do. It is the second most important commandment within the New Covenant. Only the Spirit can humble us and deal with our pride when we would struggle otherwise to forgive.
10. The Spirit teaches a person to pray.
Transcending all the legalistic rules of prayer, the Spirit teaches a believer to pray in the faith, knowing God’s Presence is immediately at hand. Prayers transcend words, just as prayers can be felt. Only the Spirit can teach us how to pray.
© 2014 S. J. Wickham.