But “when the kindness of God our Savior and his love for mankind appeared, he saved us not by works of righteousness that we have done but on the basis of his mercy, through the washing of the new birth and the renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us in full measure through Jesus Christ our Savior.” – Titus 3:4-6 ESV
How much Holy Spirit did you receive at salvation? According to Paul, you received a full measure of the Spirit of God. No partial fillings. No half-full Christians. No second filling to come. Why is this such an important distinction? Because God’s salvation is full and complete, not partial. He sent His Son to die so that we might live. He sent His Spirit to live within us so that we might be made new. Jesus didn’t undergo a partial death. He gave everything He had to give. And we don’t receive just a little bit of the Holy Spirit. We get all of Him – all at one time. So if we have a full measure of the Holy Spirit, why don’t some of us experience a full measure of His power in our lives? Lewis Sperry Chafer, in his book, He That Is Spiritual, writes, “To be filled with the Spirit is to have the Spirit fulfilling in us all that God intended Him to do when He placed Him there. To be filled is not the problem of getting more of the Spirit, it is rather the problem of the Spirit getting more of us.
The filling of the Spirit has nothing to do with the quantity of the Spirit we possess, but it has everything to do with the degree to which the Spirit possesses us. It is all about control. That is why Paul told Titus to remind the believers under his care to live their lives in such a way that it would be clear that they not only possessed the Holy Spirit, but that He possessed them. His control of them would show up in their behavior. They would willing subject themselves to rulers and authorities. They would model obedience, and be ready to do good works. They would refrain from negative behavior like slander, instead living in peace with others, extending courtesy and exhibiting a gentle spirit to all people. Before Christ they had been known for being foolish, disobedient, misled, slaves to their own lusts and pleasures. Their lives were full of evil and envy, and marked by a mutual hatred for one another. Not a pretty picture. But then Jesus came and changed all that. He offered them salvation, based not on works of righteousness they had done, but based on the mercy of God as exhibited in the death of His own Son.
And after His ascension, Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to provide regeneration and renewal. Regeneration refers to our new birth in Christ. We were once spiritually dead because of sin, and the Spirit, the Spirit of Life, brought us to life again. Jesus told Nicodemus, “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life” (John 3:4-5 NLT). Paul writes in Romans, “And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives” (Romans 6:4 NLT). Later on, in the same letter, Paul writes, “The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you” (Romans 8:11 NLT). We experience the new birth through the power of the indwelling Spirit. But we also experience renewal. Paul tells us, “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” (2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT). We have experienced a new birth and we are able to live a new life – all because of the Spirit who lives within us. It takes a full measure of the Spirit to get the full effect of what God intended at our salvation.
And because we have the full measure of the Spirit of God living within us, we have all we need to live radically different lives. Not only do we have the hope of eternal life somewhere out there in the future. We have the power to live godly lives in the here and now. Paul tells Titus that believers should devote themselves to doing good, but not in their own strength – in the power of the Holy Spirit. God, in His mercy, saved us. God, in His mercy, is transforming us. It is not something we accomplish in our own strength. It is the full measure of the fully present Holy Spirit that fully transforms us into the likeness of Christ. God saved us. God is sanctifying us. And God will one day glorify us. All according to His grace, love and mercy. You and I have all the Spirit we need to do all that God has called us to do. We don’t need more of Him. We simply need to give Him all of us.