The Holy Spirit: Just a Ball and Chain?

One of the most fulfilling elements of my life is my education. After four and a half years, (Katrina sabotaged my 3 year plan) I must be close to achieving my Bachelors in Christian Ministry. My “BaCMin” as it’s referred to around Leavell College. Leavell College is the undergraduate program on the campus of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. I have learned biblical history and ancient languages. I have learned about Postmodernism and contemporary Christian counseling. I have greatly expanded my knowledge, understanding, and application of God’s Word and His promises. I have had the pleasure of studying under some of the best theological professors anywhere. I have been richly blessed.

(Here it comes) But! One of my favorite professors trampled on a primary pet peeve of mine. “We are all just sinners saved by grace”- spoken with that defeated drone so common to the ball and chain dragging Christians I know. They talk a lot about how hard the walk is, and frequently moan over the challenges we all have in this life. They drag the Holy Spirit around like a ball and chain, hoping their Heavenly Father will throw them a happy bone once in a while. Usually what they are looking for is a financial blessing for all the burdensome toil and hard earned tithe they have agonizingly laid at the altar. A common thread among these melancholy brothers and sisters is the tendency to measure God’s acceptance of them by their circumstances.

It’s no wonder some of God’s children fall into this joy smothering abyss, preachers preach it, bands sing about it, and twelve step programs rely on it. The simple truth is that our humanness is too fragile to sustain the hope of glory, which is Christ in you. When we finally acknowledge our great need for the Savior we must be reborn in order to obtain this divine capacity to love.

To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. (Colossians 1:27 ESV)

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, (1 Peter 1:3 ESV)

The Bible is overflowing with teaching on grace and mercy and abundance. God’s Word also cautions us not to fall back on our own inadequate abilities. The Scriptures never model a life still lived as an improved sinner. Paul clarifies the antithesis of such belief.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. (2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV)

We may experience failures, of our own doing, in our walk with the Lord. Those stumbles don’t make us sinners. We have the Holy Spirit to pick us up, dust us off, and put us back on the path of a saint. Paul encourages us not to even keep track of our offenses.

But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. (1 Corinthians 4:3,4 ESV)

It is heartbreaking to see how many miss out on the abundant life (John 10:10) because of this common teaching.

I have been richly blessed to be called to the Lord’s ministry with the charge to represent a radical life changing relationship. Jesus is the kind of friend you just can’t wait to introduce to everyone you know. He laid down his life for a friend (John 15:3) and that friend is you. Jesus didn’t die so you could be a new and improved sinner, who drags the Holy Spirit around like a ball and chain. He died for the forgiveness of your sins and rose to give you abundant life.

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1 ESV)

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. (Romans 15:13 ESV)