Francis Chan wrote a book called Forgotten God. He warns us not to forget or overlook the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives as the Spirit fills us and empowers us for service. But what about His saving work in regeneration? I like to compare His cleansing to the clay vessels that look so shiny and polished on the outside, but need a thorough scrubbing on the inside. The Holy Spirit cleans us from the inside out.
Let’s look at the beginning verses of John’s first epistle, chapter 5:
1Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Messiah has been born from God, and everyone who loves the parent also loves the child. 2This is how we know that we love God’s children: we love God and keep his commandments. 3For this demonstrates our love for God: We keep his commandments, and his commandments are not difficult, 4because everyone who is born from God has overcome the world. Our faith is the victory that overcomes the world. 5Who overcomes the world? Is it not the person who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
6This man, Jesus the Messiah, is the one who came by water and blood—not with water only, but with water and with blood. The Spirit is the one who verifies this, because the Spirit is the truth. 7For there are three witnesses — 8the Spirit, the water, and the blood—and these three are one. (1 John 5:1–8, ISV)
The Holy Bible: International Standard Version® Release 2.1
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Faith, love, obedience: they are all obviously tied together here. We like to compartmentalize. We create categories unnecessarily. John does not use that approach here. Faith, love, obedience—these words should unify, not divide. He also groups three more words together: the Spirit, the water, and the blood. 1 Peter 1:2 tells of the “sanctifying” work of the Spirit. Also, Paul in 1 Corinthians 6:11 writes about the sanctifying work of the Spirit. Titus 3:5 shows the obvious water and Spirit connection in salvation. We know the blood of Jesus is essential from reading verses like Romans 3:24–25, Colossians 1:20, and Hebrews 13:12.
A short but very informational summary of the sanctifying work of the Spirit can be found here: http://www.bible.ca/ef/expository-1-peter-1-1-2.htm