Archive for the ‘Holy Spirit’ Category
Was reading a bit today from a Wesleyan scholar and he noted three ways we see prevenient grace in the world today. They are:
- Anthropology – We are created in the image of God and thus He laws and His existent are written upon every human heart (Genesis 1:26-27; Romans 1:18; 2:15). Because of sin, we oppress this truth of God’s grace.
- Cosmological – We see in God’s creation His mercy and His grace but again, because of sin, we reject His rule over us (Romans 1:20).
- Pneumatology – The Holy Spirit is at work in the earth today to open the hearts of sinners to the gospel, to convict of sin, and to regenerate those who repent (John 16:8-11; Titus 3:5-7).
By these three means, the Lord is working to draw sinners to Himself. The gospel, however, must be preached for sinners to be saved (Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:15-16; Luke 24:47; John 20:21; Acts 1:8; Romans 10:14-17; 1 Corinthians 1:21). The Holy Spirit uses the above to draw sinners but the gospel must be preached. This is the means by which God has ordained to save sinners, through the gospel (Romans 1:16-17).
I promise this to be the last post on the issue of the Pentecostal-Charismatic movement and the Holy Spirit. This blog is not a blog that focuses on these issues and even we Arminians don’t fully agree on these issues. Some Arminians are Pentecostals while many are not. I myself was raised in the Assemblies of God (Royal Rangers and all!) and was saved in an A/G church in 1992. I even was in full-time ministry for about 10 years in the Assemblies of God so I know much about being a Pentecostal.
The following are books that I have read from a Pentecostal-Charismatic perspective on the person and work of the Holy Spirit. I found it ironic that Dr. John MacArthur stated at The Strange Fire Conference that charismatics have not offered any theological works to the Church. I would disagree. The following books would show that if they are read and studied. These books are not placed in any given order.
1. What the Bible Says About the Holy Spirit by Stanley Horton. A classic A/G book on the Spirit that once was required reading for all A/G students. Dr. Horton remains one the greatest Pentecostal scholars in history.
2. The Holy Spirit: A Pentecostal Perspective by Anthony Palma. A great book that focuses on the doctrine of the Spirit. Palma’s chapters on the baptism in the Spirit and on his comparison of Ezekiel 36:25-27 with Joel 2:28-32 is worth reading.
3. Surprised by the Power of the Spirit by Jack Deere. Deere, a former Dallas Theological Seminary professor, writes a defense for the sign gifts in this book. One of the best books I have ever read that deals with cessationism.
4. The Gift of Prophecy by Wayne Grudem. One of the most attacked books by cessationists. This book focuses on what the Bible teaches about prophecy and how God can use it today. A well written book.
5. What Meaneth This by Carl Brumback. Brother Brumback is best remembered for his book on the Trinity against the Oneness Pentecostals but this book focuses on the issue of speaking in tongues. Brumback argues not just for the gift of tongues but also the initial, physical evidence of the baptism in the Spirit.
6. Are Miraculous Gifts for Today? 4 Views edited by Wayne Grudem. This book allows four major views on the gifts of the Spirit. Dr. Sam Storms writes for the charismatics and Dr. Douglas Oss for the Pentecostals. A very good book that I have read three times already.
7. The Holy Spirit: A Pentecostal Interpretation by L. Thomas Holdcroft. This book is an excellent introduction to the Pentecostal teaching on the Spirit. While very much evangelical (except the chapter on Spirit-Baptism), the book is well written.
8. Spiritual Gifts: A Fresh Look by David Lim. The commentary on the gifts of the Spirit is standard Pentecostal but what makes this book worth reading is Dr. Lim’s exegesis on 1 Corinthians 12-14. His commentary on 1 Corinthians 14 is very well done.
9. The Speaking in Tongues Controversy by Rick Walston. A well written and thought out book on the issue of speaking in tongues in regard to the baptism in the Spirit. Dr. Walston’s book will challenge you if you hold to speaking in tongues as the initial, physical evidence.
British blogger Adrian Warnock has written an excellent reply to the Strange Fire Conference and John MacArthur. You can find the article here.
My thoughts are the conference are:
- Grateful that the conference has caused people to once again study the person and work of the Holy Spirit. So often we easily understand the Father and we understand the Son but we have a tough time understanding the Holy Spirit. We tend to think of Him in terms such as “ghost” who flies around doing things for God. We need to teach biblical His person and His work among us.
- While I didn’t like John MacArthur’s words toward charismatics, most of the speakers were gracious and seemed to just want to teach on the Holy Spirit while addressing the other issues at they went. The tone was good overall and I appreciate the acknowledgement some gave toward charismatics being Christians.
- Had the conference been named with an emphasis on the biblical doctrine of the Spirit, most charismatics (including myself) would have just written it off as another conference on the Spirit. But the emphasis upon the charismatics made it a conference that took cheap shots at the movement such as making TBN and TV preachers as the spokespeople for the movement or by saying that nothing good comes out of the movement. I have no problem with cessationists wanting to address the Holy Spirit and give their reasons why the disagree with charismatics but do so with grace and love and not with anger or by claiming that all charismatics are blaspheming the Spirit.
- My favorite part was the story that came out about Mark Driscoll and James MacDonald crashing the party by coming to the conference and offering free books in the parking lot. Various reports have said that GCC asked Driscoll to leave while some say that they were nice toward him. I do find it ironic that on the Internet, non-charismatic Reformed guys were pounding charismatic Reformed guys over the issue, trying to make Driscoll look evil (especially since he is opposed to JM over the issue of cessationism). While sad, it shows me how divided even the Reformed believers are. We are so far from unity (John 17:22-23; Ephesians 4:1-6).
- I would love to see the charismatic movement counter this with a conference on the Holy Spirit. I would love to see men such as Wayne Grudem, Jack Deere, Adrian Warnock, John Piper, and Michael Brown all coming together to teach on why they believe the Spirit continues to give us the revelatory or sign gifts. Make sure a book is coming out near the conference too!
- Phil Johnson has agreed to appear on Dr. Michael Brown’s podcast, The Line of Fire. I plan on listening and I pray that Dr. Brown and Mr. Johnson can show how to truly talk about these issues. We can disagree but do so with a spirit of grace and love all while accepting each other as brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus. God doesn’t save charismatics or Arminians or Calvinists. He only saves sinners (Luke 19:10; 1 Timothy 1:15).
- Finally, I hope a day will come when we can talk about our differences over the gifts of the Spirit without trying to use quotes from Kenneth Copeland to prove the charismatic position wrong (or any other Word-Faith teachers). Let us wrestle with Scripture instead of propping up various teachers (who are mere flesh) as the example of why or why not you believe in cessationism. Why does every debate over spiritual gifts have to turn into using TBN as a reason why you reject certain gifts? Why not instead turn to Scripture?
As I write this, The Strange Fire Conference headed by Dr. John MacArthur is winding down. The conference will be viewed as a success by many evangelicals who see the charismatic movement as dangerous to true Christianity. This would include some Calvinists and Arminians alike. Some will cheer as Dr. MacArthur and his other speakers preach against the charismatics and against their theology. Some will be very sad. But honestly, most charismatics simply will not listen.
Back in 1992 when I first was saved at a Pentecostal church (that I had attended before my conversion), the book Charismatic Chaos, was making the rounds. While everyone in our church wanted me to attend our denominational Bible college in Florida, I chose instead to attend a local evangelical college. I had heard of Charismatic Chaos but had not read it. I begin work for a Christian bookstore which allowed me to borrow any books I desired. I soon borrowed (and later bought) Charismatic Chaos. I read the book and totally agreed with Dr. MacArthur, that the Word-Faith movement was heretical and wrong but I didn’t agree with him that all Pentecostals were the same. In his book, Dr. MacArthur seemed to want to lump all charismatics the same. Having been raised in a Pentecostal home and saved in a Pentecostal church, I knew this was not true. I knew that our church preached against the so-called “health and wealth” gospel. I knew that the Assemblies of God had put out statements against the “name it, claim it” movement. I also knew that Pentecostals differed with charismatics over the issue of the baptism in the Holy Spirit as subsequent to salvation and over the issue of whether speaking in tongues was the initial, physical evidence. While Pentecostals and charismatics agreed over the issues regarding spiritual gifts and whether we should seek God for revelatory gifts, I knew that there were serious theological disagreements. To paint all Pentecostals and charismatics as the same was not only untrue but unfair.
Sadly, I believe this is the case again with the Strange Fire conference. While I don’t believe that Pentecostals and charismatics are beyond correction, they simply will ignore such a conference because of the polemic nature. For example, had Dr. MacArthur and his group welcomed Pentecostal and charismatic scholars to a discussion over the Holy Spirit, His work, His gifts, etc., most would have looked on and perhaps tuned in. Because the conference was bent on lumping all charismatics together as one and the same, most will choose to ignore the conference altogether and the book to follow. While Reformed cessationists will find another book to add to their library on the Holy Spirit, Pentecostals will once again shut the door to the criticisms that Dr. MacArthur will offer in his book. While I know that Dr. MacArthur has made appeals to godly charismatics to essentially “come out from among them”, his words nor his book will affect the charismatic movement as a whole. It will simply do what Charismatic Chaos did in the early 1990′s and will be ignored and written off as hatred.
For non-charismatics I believe that several truths need to be seen about charismatics to understand why they will not listen.
1. The Charismatic Movement is not Cohesive.
Again, Assemblies of God theologians differ with Vineyard theologians and Reformed charismatics differ with Pentecostal Holiness theologians. You cannot lump a Benny Hinn with a Stanley Horton and expect Pentecostals to listen. You cannot lump a Todd Bentley with a Loran Livingston. They are not one and the same. No one person or church speaks for the Pentecostal/Charismatic community anymore than John MacArthur speaks for all Calvinists. To try to attack the movement while putting them all under the same banner is not fair.
The Pentecostal movement is largely like the Baptist in that they have many splits in their 100 year history. Almost all of the splits was over theology. The Assemblies of God split away from the Wesleyan Pentecostals (Church of God, Pentecostal Holiness, Church of God in Christ) in 1914. The “finished work” sermons of William Durham helped convince many early Pentecostals that the so-called “entire sanctification” application after salvation was wrong. Durham taught that we are saved and at that moment are sanctified in Christ. After this we receive the baptism in the Spirit for empowerment for world evangelism (Acts 1:8). In other words, Durham preached two works of grace instead of three as in the early stages of the Pentecostal revival. Durham was outcasted by early Pentecostal pastors for his views but adopted by the Assemblies of God with their founding in 1914. To this day, A/G churches preach only two works of grace instead of three as in the Church of God. I point this out simply to show that Pentecostal don’t all agree. They are not one movement that agrees on all points.
2. The Charismatic Movement Offers Experiences Where They Have Been None.
Frankly, I have been in many Reformed churches that were full of theology but dead as doornails. There was no passion for prayer, for worship, no joy in the Holy Spirit, no mention of the presence of God. Yet in a Pentecostal church I have seen the opposite with little regard for theology but much regard for experience. This is not true, of course, for all Pentecostal churches or people but for me only. What Pentecostals need is balance and sometimes we have not had that. But neither have evangelicals. Some evangelicals were so scared to even lift a hand in singing praises to God. I once visited a large Baptist church that was not charismatic one bit. During the singing, I was so touched by the song that on the front row I stood up (while no one else was standing but the choir) and I lifted my hands to God. I could feel the fire from behind me for my “emotionalism” but I did not care as I was hungry for Jesus and His presence in my life. After the service, a lady came up to me and with tears said thank you for doing that, for breaking out of my comfort zone and worshiping the Lord. She said that she was longing to see someone worship God in that church.
Sadly, many people enter charismatic churches because of the longing for God’s presence. They are tired of hearing about God and about miracles and they want to experience God. Right or wrong, they are seeking God for this in charismatic churches. Because people have “experienced” God in their church, they often will not listen to you rebuke them for “unbiblical” practices. They have “felt” God in that church and they will not go back to dead churches is their motto.
Isn’t it ironic that the prayer movements come from charismatic churches. The healing emphasis comes from charismatic churches. The worship music that so many of us love come from charismatic churches. Most books on the Holy Spirit (right or wrong) come from charismatic churches. While I am not defending charismatic theology here, I simply point out that charismatics offer what many evangelical churches do not and that is an experience with the living God. That is powerful and cannot be underestimated.
3. Like It Or Not, Pentecostals Typically Listen Only to Pentecostals.
When I first read Charismatic Chaos, I asked a theological question that John MacArthur had raised in the book to a Pentecostal pastor. He responded, “MacArthur is like a blind man describing a sunset to blind people.” His point was that MacArthur had never been a Pentecostal and was trying to write on the movement but he only was viewing in from the outside in. He had never been in a healing meeting or a meeting where people “prayed through” for someone to be saved or filled with the Spirit. MacArthur admitted that he had never spoken in tongues or prophesied nor been involved with churches that did. In the minds of Pentecostals, MacArthur was ignorant of the movement and was attacking the same people they were while trying to lump all Pentecostals together with the Word-Faith movement. They simply refused to listen.
I remember at that time also reading a scholarly review of Charismatic Chaos in a Pentecostal theological journal that I was receiving then. The journal stated that they agreed with MacArthur that the Word-Faith movement must be addressed and corrected and pointed out that the Assemblies of God was doing just that with tracts and with Bible teaching on their own. However, they felt then that MacArthur undermined his voice by placing all Pentecostals and charismatics on the same level. To say that because a few charismatics were into this or that does not mean that all of them are or that they are endorsed by the Assemblies of God or the Vineyard.
Pentecostals and charismatics will listen to rebuke but they typically come from the inside. The late David Wilkerson could powerfully preach to Pentecostals and he often did. Wilkerson rebuked many “revival” movements and his voice was heard. In the Assemblies of God, what Dr. George Wood teaches and says is often heard and his rebuke would be welcomed. Dr. Wood’s teaching on the Word-Faith movement is one of the most downloaded sermons he has produced. While I do fear that Pentecostals and charismatics are falling into the pragmatism of the modern evangelical church, most of them will still only take rebukes from their fellow people. You can call this pride if you want but I think you’ll find it true for nearly all theological movements.
I enjoy Dr. MacArthur. I have enjoyed his verse by verse teaching for years. I have not always agreed with him (his Calvinism for example) but I do enjoy him. But that said, his voice will not be heard. He will be cheered by those who love him, agree with him, and like him want to rebuke the charismatic movement. The charismatic movement is the largest movement in Christianity on earth. It ranges from classical Pentecostals to even Catholics who claim to be charismatics. I don’t agree with all aspects of charismatic teachings. I am bothered by many issues in the charismatic movement but the movement will not be corrected by Dr. MacArthur. His voice will go unheard. That is sad to me. We are not beyond correction no matter who we are. We all are humans. We all need correction from time to time. How often have I been Apollos who need godly correction (Acts 18:24-28). I pray that my pride is not too much that I would not heed correction from a godly saint no matter what they may be. I need godly charismatics in my life as well as godly cessationists. I need godly Calvinists as well as godly Arminians in my life. I need the children of God to help me be a man of God.
So while I am grateful for Dr. MacArthur and his voice, he will not be heard by my charismatic brethren and his cry will fall on deaf ears. Perhaps I am wrong and I pray that I am. We all need to be corrected and to stay true to the Word of God. None of us are beyond correcting. We all need to hear Dr. MacArthur’s voice and make sure what we believe and teach about the Holy Spirit is based on the Word and not upon our own subjective experiences.
Dr. John MacArthur is not stranger to theological debates. I first heard of Dr. MacArthur when I was a young believer over the issue of Lordship salvation. At that time his book, The Gospel According to Jesus, was influencing many people to preach against “easy believeism” and was causing a stir. His other books that have hit a nerve in terms of debates have been, Charismatic Chaos and Ashamed of the Gospel. I read the book, Charismatic Chaos, while being fully involved with a Pentecostal church. I thought the book was a book that Pentecostals and Charismatics needed to read and interact with. I hoped the book would promote a new look especially into the faulty theology of the Word- Faith movement.
Now Dr. MacArthur is taking up the charismatic movement again with his new book, Strange Fire. I have not read the book but do plan to and will offer a review in time. This week Dr. MacArthur is hosting a conference at his church in Los Angeles called, The Strange Fire Conference, in which he plans to address the issues of the charismatic movement and teach correctly what the Bible says about the person and work of the Holy Spirit. I do hope to watch some of the conference online as time permits. I know that the conference will produce countless of other blog posts and articles on the charismatic issue. This is good in my estimation. We need a good biblical discussion about the Holy Spirit and His work.
Some have taken exception with the conference. Most notably has been Dr. Michael Brown. Dr. Brown has written several articles on the conference for Charisma Magazine. Dr. Brown believes that Dr. MacArthur needs to interact with serious charismatics like himself instead of attacking and lumping together all charismatics to the likes of Todd Bentley or Benny Hinn. Dr. Brown also questions Dr. MacArthur’s use of “blasphemy of the Spirit” in relation to the charismatic movement and he believes that this is dangerous, to say that charismatics are blaspheming the Spirit since this would imply that they are not saved and never can be (Matthew 12:32). Who can make such a claim about a person other than God?
I stand in-between on this debate. In fact, I rarely address the spiritual gifts issue here because it is not my theological passion. I would not even label myself as a charismatic but as a partial cessasionist (as I believe that the Bible is the inerrant and infallible Word of God and the final authority for all things). That said, I agree with Dr. MacArthur that there are excesses in the charismatic movement. However, not all Pentecostals or Charismatics can be lumped together. I don’t think it is fair to lump all charismatics in with the Word-Faith movement. They are not one and the same. I know of many godly Pentecostal men and women who truly love Jesus, love the gospel, preach the truth of the gospel, long for souls to be saved, are educated, love the Word, and are seeking to be holy. I myself was saved in a Pentecostal church and currently attend a Pentecostal church where you would not find excesses nor would you find people chasing their feelings about the Scriptures. I don’t know of any perfect Pentecostals so perhaps if you talked to someone long enough you might find something you disagree with but you would not find wacky, shaking, longing for subjective experience people in our midst that I am aware of. Further, I have known many Pentecostals over the years and none of them have elevated their own experiences above the Word of God. I have met some weird people but I don’t see that coming from their Pentecostal theology as much as just being ignorant of God’s Word period. And to be honest, I have met weird people from all walks of life and from different religions. Pentecostals are not unique in that regard.
I also agree with Dr. Brown that there are many godly men and women around the world serving Jesus and preaching His gospel while disagreeing with Dr. MacArthur over his view of the gifts of the Spirit. MacArthur would acknowledge this as well. I know of one brother who is laboring in Southeast Asia for the kingdom. He is preaching the gospel, discipling the saints of God, and he loves the Word of God. Yet he is charismatic. Is he blaspheming the Spirit? I don’t think so. Why lump him with the likes of a John Crowder? I do appreciate the fact that Dr. MacArthur has stated that he does believe many Pentecostals and charismatics do love Jesus and do preach the gospel yet he believes that the movement, as a whole, is off base.
I do believe that we need to know the truth of the Holy Spirit. His work is vital to the Church and to the growth of the disciple of Jesus. I do believe that all movements need correction from time to time. It is possible to lose focus from the Lord Jesus and begin to focus on the gifts of the Spirit above the gospel of the kingdom. I have seen churches lose focus from the gospel and embraced a social gospel instead of the gospel that sets sinners free by the grace of God. It is possible that some charismatics have glorified the Spirit above the Lord Jesus and this should not be since Jesus said the Spirit would glorify Him (John 15:26). I have seen Calvinists in love with Calvinism above Jesus or KJV only followers in love with the KJV above Jesus. It is easy to lose focus and become unbalanced.
I do welcome The Strange Fire Conference. I believe we need such a conference but I do pray that Dr. MacArthur would interact with godly men such as Dr. Michael Brown or other Pentecostal theologians. This would include him interacting with Reformed charismatics such as Wayne Grudem, John Piper, Matt Chandler, and many others. In reality, Dr. MacArthur is attacking a large part of the body of Christ whom he disagrees with but I also fear using Matthew 12:31-32 for all of these brethren. This is dangerous and I agree with Dr. Brown that we must careful when this assertion. I disagree with many aspects of Reformed theology but I would not dare label their worship as false or worse, as blasphemous to God.
One final note. I too have been troubled by the “revival” movements of the past including the Toronto Blessing and the Brownsville revival. I actually visited the Brownsville revival on three separate occasions. I walked away seeing some good and seeing some bad. While I rejoice that some people did repent, I have no doubt that there was much flesh that I witnessed. I also struggle with “charismatic” television such as TBN or the God Channel. I once visited the TBN station in Atlanta, GA and found it to be full of idolatry and the worship of flesh. I believe those in the Pentecostal and charismatic movement should speak out more against the false teachings and misleading statements that are made by popular charismatic preachers. How I wish that unknown heroes of the faith such as Terry Roberts, pastor of Trinity Assembly of God in Columbia, SC, would be the standard and not a Joel Osteen or a Kenneth Copeland. We need more faithful men of God who love the Word, preach the truth of God’s grace, and are full of the Holy Spirit instead of the likes of a Todd Bentley or a Paula White filling our homes with their teachings.
And those are my thoughts on that issue. I will say no more.
15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.
- Romans 8:15-16
The assurance of salvation is a precious gift from God. Cults base their “salvation” upon their works or the fact that they are in God’s elected group (the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society for example). Roman Catholics base their assurance on the church and the foundation of the Catholic church. Since the Reformation, Protestants have historically based their assurance upon the witness of the Spirit which John Calvin asserted was the witness of the holy Scriptures and the gift of faith given by God to His elect. Calvin writes,
For we must ever hold fast this principle, — that we do not rightly pray to God, unless we are surely persuaded in our hearts, that he is our Father, when we so call him with our lips. To this there is a corresponding part, — that our faith has no true evidence, except we call upon God. It is not then without reason that Paul, bringing us to this test, shows that it then only appears how truly any one believes, when they who have embraced the promise of grace, exercise themselves in prayers.
Since Calvin, most orthodox believers have stood with him and stated that the testimony of God’s Word (1 Corinthians 2:12) and faith are what are our basis for assurance.
However, I fear that we can make too much about knowing facts as our basis for salvation instead of the witness of the Spirit. One cannot read Romans 8 and not notice the contrast by Paul the Apostle between the flesh and the Spirit (Romans 8:1-9, 12-13). It is clear that Paul wants true believers to be led by the Spirit and not follow the flesh. His warning in Romans 8:12-13 is clear:
12 So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.
His warning here is found in other places in the New Testament as well. Notice Galatians 6:7-9:
7 Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. 8 For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. 9 And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.
Or James 5:19-20:
19 My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, 20 let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.
1 John 2:15-17:
15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. 17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.
The warning of Romans 8:12-13 cannot be ignored. When a believer gives in to their flesh and begins to follow the flesh, the results are deadly. We are not to return to a life of sin when we have been redeemed by grace (2 Peter 2:20-22). The believer is under obligation to obey Jesus as Lord since He ransomed them by His own blood (Romans 6:1-23; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Our obligation is holiness (1 Peter 1:15-16).
With this comes the assurance of our salvation. Dr. John MacArthur calls this, in the words of Puritan John Owen, “the mortification of the flesh.” MacArthur writes that the believer is obligated to mortify the flesh. We must not just hate sin. We must seek to kill it. Basing his words from 1 Samuel 15:32-33, we must hack Agag to pieces. Sin must be destroyed.
The hope for the disciple of Jesus is not based on our own self-mortification. We have no power to overcome our sins. Our hope is the gospel. Our hope is Christ who saves us (Matthew 1:21). Jesus gives us the power to conquer sin (John 3:1-7). Jesus delivers His people not just from the penalty of sin but also the power of sin. But victory is not merely based on “reckoning” but in actual realization in our lives. Galatians 5:16-26 is clear on this issue:
16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.
As we walk in the Spirit, we find He helps us slay Agag (our flesh). The mind set on the flesh cannot please God (Romans 8:8) but those in the Spirit can please God (Romans 8:9).
With this comes the assurance of our salvation. One cannot merely hope in facts about Christ and still abide in sin. This will not produce assurance and will only lead to despair and death. The cure is to walk in the light (1 John 1:7). We, in ourselves, cannot defeat sin. We must place our faith in the Spirit of God who is working in us to help us to defeat sin but this mortification is not merely by intellectual acknowledgement of this fact but is actually allowing the Spirit to work in us to defeat sin. Sanctification is not a monergistic work. It is us working with the Spirit to defeat sin in our lives (Philippians 2:12-16).
This produces assurance. Yes we rely on the gospel. Yes our hope is in the Word. Yes we have the direct witness of the Spirit with our spirit. But likewise, our duty before God is to submit ourselves to Him (James 4:7-8). Our duty is to be holy as He is holy and to pursue holiness (Hebrews 12:14). Our duty is to allow the Spirit of God to convict us of sin and discipline us as His children (John 16:8-11; Hebrews 12:3-11). Our duty is to mortify sin by the power of the Holy Spirit and this produces the assurance of our salvation.