If we profess to be a Christian, whether we know it or not, it was the Spirit of God who caused us to see ourselves as we were–people in need of salvation and reconciliation with God. It was he who brought us to faith in Christ and birthed us into the family of God. It is he who instigates the change in the heart and mind of man. No new Christian can be born without his involvement. Without him there would be no Gospel and no Christian faith. But this is just the beginning of his work in the life of the believer.
For the believer, his very spiritual life is brought into existence by the Spirit of God. He gives new life in Christ and is the sustainer of that life. He provides strength and encouragement when needed on the Christian’s spiritual journey. He pours God’s love into our hearts that it might overflow to others (Romans 5:5) and that love produces unity in the Church. The Spirit is also involved in the believer’s prayer life as he grants access to the Father (Ephesians 2:18), and gives direction to prayer (Romans 8:26-27). He implements the will of God on earth through prayer.
However, in spite of what we have already seen, the primary task of God’s Spirit within the believer is to enable him or her to become like Christ. Is that possible you may ask? Yes and No! As followers of Christ we are called Christians which means “Christ ones” indicating that we do attempt to imitate our Master. If we do that in our own strength, as we say, in the flesh, then it is impossible. If, on the other hand, we allow the Holy Spirit to perform his ministry in us, then he provides the grace and strength for us to progress towards bearing the image of Christ. As believers, we are called to reflect the characteristics of Christ in our lives. Only as we allow the Spirit of God to take charge, can that ever be achieved.
How can the life of the Spirit be expressed in our lives as believers? As the Holy Spirit indwells us so the fruit of his presence should be reflected in our life. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22). These are also characteristics of Christ and, as such, can be, and should be, evident in our daily Christian walk. This has to be the standard to which we should aspire. These are the essential qualities needed if we are to be image-bearers of Christ.