What it feels like to be purified by the Holy Spirit
Followers of Jesus Christ are called to turn away from sin and be purified by His Spirit. One can compare a pure connection with God’s Spirit to the pristine environment of the Alpine mountains, as opposed to the chaotic congestion of a bustling, polluted city. A life that is entirely submitted and devoted to God feels quenched, never rushed, anxious or yearning. It is unfazed, calm, and quietly confident. Many of the restless voices, thoughts, and feelings that used to plague us are gone. Our minds no longer spin. Our chests are no longer heavy. We enjoy a peace that exceeds anything we can humanly understand or replicate.
1 John 3:3-6 ESV And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure. Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him.
Philippians 4:7 ESV And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Our spirits will feel light, joyful and uncluttered or “empty”, not easily agitated, anxious, sad, angry or hateful. We don’t need an external stimulus to feel good. Our rest time is deeply rewarding. These inner conditions don’t change, even if our external circumstances do. We will also begin to see visions from God more often, hear His soft gentle voice more clearly, and sense the constant presence of His warm love. When we ask God any question, we will hear back from Him.
Matthew 5:8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Job 33:4 ESV The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.
We will desire to study God’s Word and make time to be still before Him. We will begin to love people and want to show them the truth of the good news of Jesus Christ. The change in us will be remarkable and evident to those around us.
Too often, we love the world more than God
Many of us find it hard to experience such peace and tranquility because we are still caught up between the demands of this world and following Jesus. The Bible describes this as choosing between two “fathers”; God, our compassionate, loving and good Father in heaven or Satan, the father of lies.
1 John 2:15-17 ESV Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.
John 8:44 ESV You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
The whole world currently lies in the power of the “god of this world” (small “g”) only because so many people have fallen for the devil’s lies and follow his demands. Satan has no real authority, he only masquerades as if he does. Everything that he uses from this world to entice and enslave us with is a counterfeit of God’s true blessings. We can spend lifetimes craving physical pleasures, chasing after things that we see, and being proud of our achievements and possessions – to find that our souls still feel restless and hollow.
2 Corinthians 4:4 ESV In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
1. We can’t connect fully with God
We may even actively serve in different church ministries to fill the void in our hearts – yet deep inside, our souls are never quenched. We may chase after various “meaningful” plans, relationships, and successes but find there is always some underlying anxiety or unmet desire reverberating inside of us. The truth is we are simply “going through the motions.” We sing praise songs enthusiastically but our hearts don’t connect to the Holy Spirit. Instead of inner spiritual vitality, our souls feel unfulfilled and uninspired.
Matthew 15:8-9 NIV “‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain…
2. We don’t hear clearly from God
As our worship continues in an impure state, we notice that we feel cut off from God, unable to hear distinctly from Him. It seems like His gentle voice has been muffled – or worse, blocked off altogether.
Matthew 13:15 NLT For the hearts of these people are hardened, and their ears cannot hear, and they have closed their eyes–so their eyes cannot see, and their ears cannot hear, and their hearts cannot understand, and they cannot turn to me and let me heal them.’
3. We don’t experience God’s peaceful presence and comfort
Rather than enjoy God’s peaceful wisdom, comfort or counsel at all times, we remain constantly anxious, fearful and strife-ridden. Our thoughts are easily distracted and there is no inner peace. We do not experience the Holy Spirit’s healing and restoration of our souls.
John 14:27 ESV Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.
4. We start to doubt God’s goodness towards us personally
We wonder why we don’t experience the pure joy and peace that the Bible talks about. Doubts begin to creep into our hearts; we start to believe that God is good to everyone else except to us. We don’t feel passionate about reading His Word.
James 1:6-8 ESV But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
5. We pray repetitive monologues
Because our prayers are not Spirit-led, they become repetitive and tedious. Our prayers even seem to bounce off the ceiling.
Romans 8:26-27 ESV Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
6. We slowly become lukewarm Christians
Over time, our devotion to God becomes weaker and weaker until our love for Him grows cold. We still call ourselves Christians but become what God calls, lukewarm Christians. Our lukewarm state upsets and grieves God.
Matthew 24:12 ESV … And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold.
Revelation 3:15-16 ESV “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.
Steps in being purified and re-connected with the Holy Spirit
To be fully filled with God’s Holy Spirit, we need to first repent of every one of our sins in Jesus’ name, both past and current, so as to present our bodies as worthy temples for His Holy Spirit to live in. Just like we would clean our homes to welcome honoured guests before they arrive, we should do the same spiritually before we invite God’s Spirit to dwell in us.
2 Timothy 2:21 ESV Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.
1 John 1:9 ESV If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
The Holy Spirit will then give us the wisdom and conviction to stay devoted to God and to turn from away from all forms of worldly temptations and godless living. Such a life takes the ongoing surrender or dying to our earthly identities and putting on new heaven-focused ones that seek to obey and glorify God alone.
Isaiah 11:2 ESV And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
Titus 2:11-12 ESV For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age.
Here are some ways we can make it a practice of submitting to the Holy Spirit so that we honour His presence in our lives,
- Being humble and contrite before God | James 4:6 ESV …“God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
- Surrendering every detail of our lives to Jesus | Galatians 2:20 ESV I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
- Doing some honest soul searching regularly | Psalm 139:23-24 ESV Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!
- Confessing one’s mistakes, grievances and hurts | Proverbs 28:13 ESV Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.
- Repenting of our sins | Acts 3:19-20 ESV Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord…
- Obeying God’s spiritual laws | John 14:15 ESV “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.
- Practicing self-control and discipline over sinful desires | 1 Corinthians 9:25,27 ESV Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable… I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.
The more of ourselves we give up to the Holy Spirit for His purification, layer by layer, the more He will transform us to reflect God’s glorious image, from one degree of glory to another. This is when our souls will be truly satisfied and fulfilled.
2 Corinthians 3:16-18 ESV But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
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