Monday, April 21, 2014
The Holy Spirit, Part 11
Moving along, we enter the book of Psalms. We come to the writing of David and find this passage. “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit in me. Do not cast me away from Your presence, and do not take your Holy Spirit from me,” Psalm 51:10-11. This is the first mention of the Holy Spirit by the name we know Him from the New Testament. In what context is it used? David is pleading regarding his double sin of adultery and murder. He asks God to create a clean heart and renew a steadfast spirit in him. He wants the guilt of his sin cleansed, and to walk in a steadfast faith once more, obeying the voice of his Lord. He had seen in his youth what had come of Saul, the king he succeeded.
God removed Saul from the throne and stripped him of his very life. Before that, however, He had removed the Holy Spirit from Saul and vexed Israel’s first king with an evil spirit, or a demon. David pled with God that the same fate did not befall him. This verse is further evidence that Old Testament saints could have the Holy Spirit leave them, and that He did not come upon them or enter them in any permanent/indwelling relationship. This is clearly intimated in Hebrews 11:39-40 when the writer tells us that God waited until the consummation of Christ’s sacrifice for something better for us. Part of that “better” was the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. We know that God heeded David’s fervent prayer here, for it is written “and the Spirit of the Lord came upon David (at his coronation) from that day forward,” 1st Samuel 16:13.
In this same Psalm we find David imploring God to restore unto him the joy of his salvation, Psalm 51:12. Note that David does not ask for his salvation itself to be restored, but that he could enter back into the joy of its possession. His sin of adultery and murder had separated him from God, and though he was still saved by his faith in God and the promises of his God, his sin drove a wedge between them that prevented David from having any genuine joy, until that “earth-borne cloud” had been removed. David’s salvation was never in question, whether or not the Holy Spirit stayed or left; just as Saul’s salvation was never in question, despite how disobedient Israel’s first king was. Finally, David says, “uphold me by Your generous Spirit,” verse 12. The KJV renders “generous” as “free.” The Hebrew can be translated “voluntary or magnanimous.” Magnanimous means generous, which is how the NKJV translators went; but the KJV used the word “free,” denoting the voluntary giving of the Spirit to whom God wills. Either translation aptly describes the nature of the Holy Spirit and His reception among men.
In Psalm 104:29-30 we read “You hide Your face, they are troubled; You take away their breath, they die and return to their dust. You send forth Your Spirit, they are created; and You renew the face of the earth.” The contrast here is between death and creation. God sends forth His Spirit to create life, and the face of the earth is renewed, rebuilt, re-filled. It is from the hand of the Father, through the agency of the Holy Spirit, by the Son. We know without doubt that the Holy Spirit can grant life, John 6:63; Romans 1:4.
This passage is reminiscent of the Genesis account, especially regarding man’s creation. We read in Genesis: “and God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being,” Genesis 2:7. The apostle agrees when he writes “the body without the spirit is dead,” James 2:26. Adam’s flesh was only that until God breathed into him a consciousness that made him a living being. It was more than respiration and a pulse; it was the very heart of the notion that mankind especially, above the animals, was made in God’s image, Genesis 1:27. As God breathed into man to grant our race life, so too did our Lord breathe into His apostles to grant them spiritual life: “Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost,” John 20:21-22. Since Adam was not born of a woman and inheritor of the curse of sin that plagues us, but created in sinless innocence, he immediately had spiritual life when he “became a living soul.” For us on this side of the cross we are born of a woman and inheritor of the sin curse; though we are “born of water” (that is, out of the womb, John 3:5) we do not have spiritual life. We are by nature dead in sins and trespasses, children of wrath, sons of disobedience, and without hope or God in this world, Ephesians 2:1-3, 12. We must be born again by God’s Holy Spirit if we wish to enter God’s kingdom, John 3:5-7. Our first birth, our natural birth is of water; the second birth is of the Spirit and those who are touched by Him they are born children of God not by inheritance, effort or merit, but by God’s sovereign providence, John 1:12-13.