We are able to be healed of more of our sinful natures by the works of the Holy Spirit than we can improve ourselves by our own efforts. This does not mean that we cannot do better in expressing the temperaments we have been given by exercising our self-control. What it does mean is that we can only go so far on our own.
Recently I read of an encounter between Charles Spurgeon, a famous English preacher, and a man who claimed to have achieved perfection. Spurgeon then stepped on the man’s toe and found that his perfection was incomplete.
What healing of our human natures we produce on our own will always be precarious. What we need is healing by the Holy Spirit that not only removes the wrong behaviors but eliminates our wrong desires. Our need is particularly strong in the area of addictions.
Addiction may be defined as a desire that overcomes our ability to control it. Addictions come in many varieties and in the degree of dysfunction they produce in us. While we may be able to achieve some control over the addiction by daily struggle, this is not living in the freedom promised believers by Jesus Christ.
To be freed from addiction we need the deeper healing of the Holy Spirit which sanctifies our natures and changes them in a process that brings us freedom from those aspects of our being that are contrary to the nature of our Lord and Savior.
For some of us freedom from addiction has been an actual matter of life and death. I think it takes a serious transaction between us and God the Father to bring us the freedom we desire from whatever is spoiling our life of faith. I know of no formula for this covenant between God and us. It is a matter, I think, of the desperate appeal of our spirit to God for the Holy Spirit to do what we can never do on our own.
All the gifts of the Holy Spirit are given to us for God’s purposes. They are supernatural and given to us by a work of the Holy Spirit—not as the result of any merit of ours. Thus it is, I believe, they should be sought and received by us with a sense of our own unworthiness and a great deal of humility.
There is great controversy among Christians concerning these gifts. Some Christians believe these gifts ended with the close of the apostolic age and the closing of the canon. Others believe that these gifts should be the focus of Christian worship in our own time.
My own belief is that the additional gifts, including healing, are a difficultly for both sides of the dogmatic divide. My own experiences have shown me that the Holy Spirit has worked in my life and in the lives of others I know in ways that do not fit the ideas of either side of the controversy. It is clear to me that the Holy Spirit is with us, working in us and still doing remarkable works in individual’s lives.
This is only a small start on what might be written about the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
The following paragraph is my comment on a post by a person who blogs as The Dancing Professor.
I have thought about how I might help you in your search for the reasons early Christianity endured while other religions did not. These thoughts are not in any particular order since I have no idea how to weight them. They are: mutual sharing of resources, emphasis on the psychological and physical healing of individuals, a realistic view of the human condition, an ethics based on love of God and love of individual people, encouragement of fellow Christians to live up to the ethical standards of Christianity and display a high standard of behavior, support for individuals when they were facing mortal risk, an objective view of physical and cultural reality so as to understand them as neither ultimate or eternal, a hunger for wisdom that led many Christians into a search for truth, and an idea that there was at some level a unity of all Christians. I have not put forth any supernatural reasons for the continuance of Christianity although, of course, most Christians see the whole thing as an outpouring of the purposes of God mediated by the risen Christ and the Holy Spirit. Please let me know if this is helpful.
Frankly, I liked what I wrote and the religion it described. So I thought I would share it with the people who visit my blog.