The Spirit’s Witness
So many of us assume that the witness of the Spirit will be perceived by our physical senses, thus we begin to look for signs. But as noted above, spiritual matters are not examined by the physical senses. When we look for signs, we are returning to the flesh – the physical man.
Jesus wants his followers to operate on the faith level, instead of the physical level where signs and indications are required. He understood that the Jews of his day were a fleshly physical minded people who needed signs to prove spiritual matters.
We can look to the occasion when Jesus fed 5,000 people with 5 barley loaves and 2 small fish. (John 6:1-13) One would think that after performing such a miracle, the people surely would know he was sent from God. And at first, it appeared they did:
“After the people saw the sign Jesus performed, they began to say, “Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.”
– John 6:14
But the very next day, the same crowd viciously rejected him because they could not put up with, nor understand, his teachings. (John 6:28-71) Jesus knew that the performing of miracles would not have the effect of making true disciples; only listening to and accepting his teachings would. He earlier said:
“Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.”
– John 6:26-27
This also explains why Jesus often told those he healed not to tell anyone. (Matthew 8:2-4; Mark 7:31-37; Mark 8:22-26) Signs and miracles rarely make real disciples.
Having said that, we do acknowledge that the realization that one is a son of God may bring with it a profound emotional reaction or experience. Recognizing that we are a child of the ineffable Father of the universe can be an overwhelming joy. But that experience is a human reaction, not a manifestation of the Spirit.
Neither make the mistake of expecting to become strongly intellectually conscious of the outpoured Spirit of Truth. The Spirit never creates a consciousness of himself, only a consciousness of the Christ. From the beginning Jesus taught that the Spirit would not bring attention to itself.
“I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you.”
– John 16:12-14
The witness of the Spirit, therefore, is not to be found in your consciousness of the Spirit but rather in your experience of enhanced fellowship with the Christ and in your exhibiting the fruits of the spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) which are a natural consequence of your spirit adoption. If we today are looking for signs from the Spirit confirming our sonship, we are going about it the wrong way. It is not the signs that prove our sonship, it is our faith.
So when we are feeling insecure about our sonship, we need only turn on the light of faith by openly declaring our sonship with God “unswervingly” (Hebrews 10:23), and all doubt dissipates. Then the Spirit of Truth will bear witness by guiding us into all truth, especially truth about ourselves. We can also bolster our faith by putting on the complete suit of armor:
“Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”
– Ephesians 6:14-18