Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as [a]by the Spirit of the Lord. (2 Corinthians 3:17-18)
Paul’s letters make it clear that Jesus comes to us through the Holy Spirit. Paul is not confusing the Holy Spirit with Jesus, rather he is explaining that we know the presence of Jesus through a vital living relationship with the Spirit.
Everything Jesus says to us or does through us is accomplished by the Spirit —because Jesus is present by the Spirit. This means that we will commit ourselves to developing and maintaining a relationship with the Spirit if we are serious about knowing Jesus better.
The most basic ministry of the Spirit is to mediate Christ’s presence to us. He provides us with the knowledge of Jesus’ presence in many different ways.
The fellowship of his presence
Jesus’ first followers walked and talked with Jesus. They listened to his voice, learnt from his words and actions, felt his love, and lived in close fellowship with him.
This intimate fellowship with Jesus continues today as we experience his presence through the Holy Spirit. When we listen to the Spirit, we hear the words and voice of Jesus—reminding us of his love and guiding our thoughts and actions.
Of course, most believers don’t hear Jesus audibly. But the Spirit speaks to us through God’s Word, other believers, God’s creation, spiritual gifts and our own inner spirit.
The transformation of his presence
We all recognise that men and women are influenced by the people with whom they spend a great deal of time. It is the same with Jesus. The more time we spend in his presence, in the Spirit, the more we become like him. The longer we listen to his words, the more they control our thoughts.
When we saturate ourselves in the Gospels, gazing at Jesus to grasp his attitudes and motives, we can begin to appreciate how we should think and behave. But we will not begin to be transformed until we are actually in the presence of Jesus, moulding our motives and energising our will.
In the Spirit, we live with the ideal human being and he lives with us. By the Spirit, the Son of Man shows us that he really does understand our weaknesses—but still accepts us and urges us to go on following him more nearly.
By the Spirit, the living God fellowships with us. How can we be in the presence of Jesus in this way and remain unchanged?