If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you. – Romans 8:11 ESV
If we think of the Holy Spirit at all, we tend to relegate Him to some kind of subservient, assistant-type role. We take the titles associated with Him, like Comforter and Helper, and interpret them to mean that His job is somehow supportive in nature and, therefore, less than substantive. The end result is that we treat the Holy Spirit like some kind of second-string member of the Trinity, relegated to providing us with help when we need it. He’s like a divine water boy, handing out towels and a cool drink to weary believers as we slog out our existence on this earth.
But Paul would have us view the Holy Spirit with much more reverence, awe, and amazement. He is not some kind of glorified equipment manager handing out spiritual gifts and providing words of encouragement to us as we fight the good fight of faith. He is the Spirit of God who dwells in each and every believer (Vs 9). And just so we clearly understand the unbelievable reality of what that means, Paul reminds us that the Holy Spirit who dwells in us is the same Holy Spirit that raised Jesus Christ from the dead. When Paul makes the statement, “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you…”, he is not insinuating that his readers could be lacking the Holy Spirit. He is simply reminding them of exactly what it is that they enjoy and what they can expect as a result. The same Holy Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead lives in them and will one day provide the power to give them resurrected bodies. Paul had just finished telling his readers, “although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness” (Romans 8:10 ESV). In this life, we live in bodies that are still plagued by sin. We are saddled with a sin nature that does daily battle with the Spirit within us. But we have resurrection power at our disposal. The Holy Spirit is not some kind of cheerleader or motivational speaker, providing us with a pep talk along the way. He is the Spirit of God who played a major role in the creation of the world, was instrumental in the conception of Jesus in the womb of Mary, anointed and empowered Jesus for His earthly ministry, and raised Him from the dead. And one day He is going to replace these sinful, earthly bodies with new, resurrected ones. It is that kind of power that lives within us.
One of the things Paul has tried to tell us in this passage is that we are to set our minds on the things of the Spirit. We are to have a Spirit-perspective, not an earthly or flesh-based one. We are to think on the things above. You see, the Holy Spirit is ultimately focused on one thing: the resurrection of our bodies and the consummation of our sanctification. He lives within us and empowers us for daily life, but He always has the end in mind. Over in his letter to the believers in Corinth, Paul writes, “For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee” (2 Corinthians 5:1-5 ESV).
It would seem that some of us view the Holy Spirit as simply a resource for this life. And while the Scriptures make it clear that He is our Helper, Comforter, and Advocate as we live in this world, we are never to forget that His primary purpose is that of providing life – the abundant life that Jesus promised, but also the resurrection life that Jesus died to provide and that should be our ultimate goal. We should live in this life with a longing to put on our heavenly dwelling. Our earthly bodies are a daily reminder that we still live in the “not yet” phase of our salvation. As the old hymn says:
This world is not my home I’m just a-passin’ through
My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue
The angels beckon me from heaven’s open door
And I can’t feel at home in this world anymore
But while we’re here, we must constantly remember that the power within us is resurrection power. It is life-giving, death-defeating, debt-cancelling, sin-forgiving power that will one day provide us with new, resurrected bodies and make possible our final glorification. That part is guaranteed. In the meantime, let’s live like we believe it. Let’s live like that is the focus of our ambitions and expectations. Why would we settle for the good life now, when we have been promised the glorified life to come?