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In this blog, there will be a variety of material: thoughts on Bible books, book reviews, historical characters, aspects of Scottish church history and other things.

Monday, 5 September 2016

The Holy Spirit and spiritual gifts

Paul says a great deal about spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians 12-14. Perhaps the most surprising comment is when he says that they can be exercised without love (1 Cor. 13:1-3). Since love is an essential aspect of the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22), it means that sadly it is possible to use spiritual gifts and not make progress in the work of sanctification. 

We can easily see how a preacher could deliver great sermons, a role for which he has been gifted, but do so without having the fruit of the Spirit. Of course, the misuse of gifts is not confined to preachers. Someone may have been given the more practical gift of showing hospitality - Paul mentions it in his list of gifts in Romans 12, but end up doing it reluctantly or for praise from others, neither of which would be an expression of love.

So we can see that the fruit of the Spirit is essential for an authentic Christian life. This does not mean that we should undervalue spiritual gifts. In Romans 12:3-8, Paul explains part of what it means for Christians to serve God as living sacrifices - they have to discover what their gifts are and use them for the benefit of their congregation. Since he says that all of them can discover what their gifts are, it means that it should not be difficult for them to find out. They will be burdened by God to practise it and others will observe that they are competent in using it.

It is important to see that the possession of a spiritual gift is evidence of the grace of God. He provides them for the overall benefit of other believers. So when a Christian opts out of using his gifts, he is refusing to engage in the role that God designed him to fulfil. Such a response is grieving the Spirit because he is remaking that person as a servant of God, and that person is resisting the work of the Spirit.

So it can be said that believers walk a path of service that faces two dangers: participate without love or refuse to serve (live lazily). But if we are led by the Spirit, he will lead us to use the gifts he has given us for the benefit of his church.

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