What does the Holy Spirit have to do with righteousness, peace, and joy? The context for this verse is Paul’s discussion regarding how we should use our freedom from legalism. Do we indulge our freedom by doing something we are free to do but which might cause a Christian brother or sister to violate their own sense of right and wrong? Or do we lay down our freedom to protect a brother or sister from violating his or her own conscience? Watch Video here
As interesting as this question is, it is not what I want to focus on today. Today I want to focus on Paul’s explanation of righteousness, peace and joy as being works of the Holy Spirit. There are two ways to interpret the phrase “righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” 1. “… but of righteousness (Godly behavior and obedience) which when achieved, brings peace with God, which then brings the subjective experience of joy through the Holy Spirit’s activity in our emotions. The point in this interpretation is that our righteous behavior qualifies us for God’s peace and joy, through the Holy Spirit’s work. 2. “…but of righteousness (knowing you are rightly related to God as a matter of identity and relationship), peace (the state of rest and wellbeing with God) and joy (the emotional result of the first two). The point in this interpretation is that all three of these are brought about by the Holy Spirit working within you. The first is true part of the time, when you are on your best behavior. The second is true all the time because it is the Holy Spirit accomplishing all three. The question is how does He do it? What does the phrase “in the Holy Spirit” mean? What does it mean to “be in the Holy Spirit?” It all comes down to what the word “in” means. Seriously! Here are the three definitions that best describe an activity or experience happening “in” the Holy Spirit. If we put all these definitions together, we get this definition of the phrase “in the Holy Spirit”: “a state or condition of close personal association or union or joining with the Holy Spirit by which another state or condition, event, or activity, is made possible.” In our verse the Holy Spirit is accomplishing three things. 1. Righteousness – He provides the evidence of our right relationship with the Father. “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children” Rom.