Yes, You Have Experienced the Holy Spirit!
So I want you to know that no one speaking by the Spirit of God will curse Jesus, and no one can say Jesus is Lord, except by the Holy Spirit.
1 Corinthians 12:3
When I was Senior Pastor of Irvine Presbyterian Church, a woman I'll call Lucy came to see me because she was worried about her life of faith. She had been a Christian for decades, but had never heard much about the Holy Spirit until recent years. Friends of hers began to speak of powerful experiences of the Spirit. Some had witnessed miraculous healings. Others spoke of being filled with unspeakable joy. Lucy felt left out. Moreover, she began to worry that she had never experienced the Holy Spirit, that she was a kind of second-class Christian.
After I listened to Lucy, I opened my Bible to Romans 8. There we saw that the Holy Spirit lives within every Christian (8:9-11). Next, I turned to 1 Corinthians 12:3, where it says that "no one can say Jesus is Lord, except by the Holy Spirit." I explained to Lucy that, according to this text, every Christian has experienced the power of the Spirit in being able to confess Jesus as Lord (and Savior). Surely, one can mouth the words "Jesus is Lord" without spiritual assistance. But nobody can come to saving faith in Jesus Christ without the working of the Spirit. Lucy's question, "Have I experienced the Spirit?" could be answered confidently, "Yes, you have."
Paul begins his explanation of the work of the Spirit by speaking a word of reassurance to those in Corinth who doubted their spiritual integrity because they had not experienced certain kinds of supernatural manifestations. He unites all the believers in a common experience of the Spirit's power, which enabled all of them to put their trust in Christ.
The fact that we cannot confess Jesus as Lord without the help of the Spirit reassures us about our own spiritual condition. It also helps us when we are seeking to share our faith with others. Our job is to bear faithful witness to the Lord, to share the Gospel of God's love in Christ. We do not have to cajole or pressure people to accept the good news, however. Rather, that is the job of the Spirit, who convicts people of sin and leads them to faith in Christ (see also John 16:7-8).
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: Can you remember when you first confessed Jesus as Lord? Did you sense at that time that the Spirit of God was helping you? As you look back upon your life, can you recall times when the Spirit strengthened your faith?
PRAYER: Gracious God, how thankful I am for the work of your Spirit. Even before I knew it, the Spirit was at work in me, preparing me and helping me to confess Jesus as Lord. Thank you!
In the years since I first made that confession, you have helped me time and again through the Spirit. When I have been mired in doubt, you have freed me from the muck. When I have wondered if the Gospel was true, you have renewed my faith and fired my conviction. Without your help, Lord, I would not believe. Thank you!
Help me to live today in the confidence of your presence with me through the Spirit. May I be open to the Spirit's guidance, inspiration, and power.
All praise be to you, triune God! Amen.