Full Text for Dogmatics 3- Volume 52 - How Does the Holy Spirit Produce Good Works in the Christian? (Video)

No. 52 If we say that the Holy Spirit threatens and coerces the flesh to do what is God-pleasing, we run the risk of crawling back under the law, do we not? Moreover, if we speak of the Holy Spirit empowering the Christian to do willingly what God commands, we are knee deep in Catholicism? So what is it that the Spirit does? We are not inanimate violins that God plays; rather we are thinking humans in whom dwells the Christ, as Paul says in Galatians 2. So by what process does the Spirit make holy that which has already been made holy, as the writer describes in Hebrews 10:14? What means does the Holy Spirit use to produce in Christians�all of whom are not only saints but also sinners in this life�what is pleasing to God? >>DR. LEOPALDO SANCHEZ M.: Dave, a short time ago I spoke of sanctification as the work of the Spirit in and through us. And we went as far as saying that sanctification is all about God's work. And that's good. At the same time it is still possible to speak of sanctification as our responsibility. We are called to shun evil and to do good. We are called not only to listen to God's will for our lives. But also to live in accordance with it. God tells us what to do and not to do. God gives us a guide in his law as to what is pleasing to him and what is not. Too often we think of God's law in its Evangelical sense. That is to say as the mirror that shows us our sins and our need for the Gospel. Here the law is seen somewhat negatively because its main function is to tell us how we cannot fulfill God's law. How we fall short of God's will for our lives. We get the sense that the law is always bad and the Gospel is always good. But we forget that the law is also a good thing. It is God's will for our lives. Indeed no one can fulfill the law to perfection. And more important, no one can fulfill the law to be saved. For that our Lord has given us the Gospel. This we all agree. But to some degree, we fulfill the law. If we follow God's law, even if not perfectly, things seem to go pretty well. Think of it this way: If I fulfill my responsibilities towards my neighbor who is depending on me, I get along much better with my wife, my students, my boss, my colleagues and my next-door neighbor. However, if I drop the ball on one who depends on me, my relationships suffer and bring stress to my life. So it is also important to speak of sanctification as our responsibility. Because we sinners could often use conveniently the truth that God does it all through us to our advantage. We may wait for God to do his work in us while the neighbor suffers before our very eyes. The truth of the matter is that I might not always feel motivated by the Gospel to serve my neighbors. Does that mean that I should stop serving them? Of course not. If I don't feel that I love my wife after an argument, does that mean I should divorce her? Of course not. We are called to fulfill the law, whether we feel like it or not. Although the question of being motivated by the Gospel is still a true thing and the Spirit does use above all the Gospel to bring us to do his good works we also recognize that as the sinners that we are, we don't always want to be motivated by the Gospel. So for Christians, there is a place for the law to function both as the curb that restrains the flesh in us from committing gross sins against the neighbor and also there's a place of the law to function as the guide that teaches the new creature in us to do the works that are commanded by God and therefore pleasing to him. It is really not a contradiction to say that sanctification is both fully God's work in and through us and at the same time to say that it is the responsibility of every Christian. The greater reality in all of this says the Holy Spirit in the end is the one who works in believers so that they may both take seriously their responsibility to do God's will and recognize that God has also all along created them to do those very good works which he has prepared for them in advance.