The Twofold Work of the Spirit

Psalm 84:7

The ceaseless activity of love as expressed in the life of Jesus is the distinctive element in the Christian experience of holiness. Therefore Christlikeness is holiness. Where Christ is enthroned, there is holiness. Christian holiness will spring from the inward possession of that same Holy Spirit who was in Jesus and by whose power He wrought and taught.

So the blessing of holiness is never an “it.” No one should say: “I’ve got it!” for the experience is personal and the source of the experience is personal. Things and places can never be holy because of any intrinsic virtue which they may be held to possess.

The work of the Spirit was perfectly exemplified in Jesus. He can make us like Him, not through any outward conformity but by the workings of inward grace.

Finally, if it be asked whether this experience is the work of a moment or a matter of years, the answer is—both. For example, I was commissioned as an officer of The Salvation Army on May 3, 1920. But I have been learning ever since how better to do my work as an officer, and that task is never-ending. There will always be some fresh truth to be discovered. Perfection in any full and final sense will never come my way.

I can yield my forgiven life to God that He may bestow upon me as much of His Spirit as I am able at that moment to receive. That may take place at a moment of time. But the work of the Holy Spirit in my life will never be ended, for it is the greatest of the saints who have been the most conscious of their imperfections. Those who live closest to Jesus are most aware of how far they fall short of His glory. Their sense of their shortcomings is not due to His absence but to His presence.

Here then is the twofold work of the Spirit. He can purify, but He will reveal what more remains to be purified. He can provoke us to that disinterested service for God and man which is love in action, but He will make us long to serve more selflessly still. His work will never be done though His first coming may have been at a recognizable moment.

Though the presence of the Holy Spirit does not guarantee immunity from temptation or exemption from failure, He will give us grace to grow.

Frederick Coutts, Essentials of Christian Experience

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