Thumbing through my copy of John Stott’s classic book Basic Christianity after recommending it to someone today I found this passage I had highlighted when I last read it. I thank God for the work of the Holy Spirit in me.
It is by the Spirit of Christ that we can be transformed into the image of Christ, as we keep looking steadfastly towards him. We thus have our part to play, in repentance, faith and discipline, but essentially holiness is the work of the Holy Spirit.
William Temple used to illustrate the point in this way. It is no good giving me a play like Hamlet or King Lear, and telling me to write a play like that. Shakespeare could do it; I can’t. And it is no good showing me a life like the life of Jesus and telling me to live a life like that. Jesus could do it; I can’t. But if the genius of Shakespeare could come and live in me, then I could write plays like that. And if the Spirit of Jesus could come and live in me, then I could live a life like that. This is the secret of Christian sanctity. It is not that we should strive to live like Jesus, but that he by his Spirit should come and live in us. To have him as our example is not enough; we need him as our Saviour.
This is one of a couple of books I’d put on my list of must reads about once a year.