Daniel Fuller wrote these words in his exceptional book, The Unity of the Bible:
“The Holy Spirit’s work is never to do more than cause us to own up to the truth of the knowledge to which we have access. Since the Holy Spirit’s work is simply to make people reasonable, their subsequent acts are done out of the freedom of knowing how well advised they are.”
This is why the Holy Spirit must blow on our hearts in a way that “causes us to own up to the truth” that Jesus is an all satisfying treasure. The Light of the World has judgment upon the hearts of men because “people love the darkness rather than the light because their deeds are evil” (John 3:18-20). The reason why people do not come to the light is because they do not love it. Love for the light is not caused by coming to the light. We come because we love it. Other wise, our coming is no honor to the light. The Spirit worked in the darkness of our hearts so that our coming to the light was done out of a heart of love for the light (“. . . he who does the truth, [that is, love God,] comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God” (vs 21).
It is the Spirit’s work that causes us to be born again (John 3:6-8) and it is the Spirit’s work that continues to “cause” our hearts to delight in God’s truths: “Give me understanding, and I shall keep Your law; Indeed, I shall observe it with my whole heart. Make me walk in the path of Your commandments, For I delight in it. Cause me to long for Your testimonies, and not to covetousness” (Psalm 119:34-36). In other words, we are in constant need and prayer that God’s Spirit would so enlighten our eyes that all of our “subsequent acts are done out of the freedom of knowing how well advised” we are. Before salvation and after salvation, the work of the Holy Spirit on our hearts is an absolute necessity. It is the Spirit that keeps us from works of the flesh, doing moral and religious things for God from our own resources – and it is the Spirit that makes holiness more tasteful than ungodliness.
Since “no one seeks after God” (Romans 3:11) nor wants to submit to God (Romans 8:7-8), we are at the mercy of God’s Spirit. When we pray for the salvation of a sinner, we are asking God to work a miracle in their heart. We don’t ask God to save them if they want to be saved, we ask God to cause them to want to be saved and then save them. We ask God to “grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will” (2 Timothy 2:25-26; Acts 13:48, 16:14).
The Spirit’s work is to overpower the work of Satan, to break the bondage that he has upon the sinner’s heart, and give the sinner a new heart so that he will walk in the Lord’s ways (Ezek. 36:27); in short, the sinner needs a resurrecting work of God if he is to breath again (Ezek. 37:13-14).
John Piper, in his classic “Desiring God”, describes the work of God’s Spirit as a work in our hearts to delight in God:
“Once we had no delight in God, and Christ was just a vague historical figure. What we enjoyed was food and friendships and productivity and investments and vacations and hobbies and games and reading and shopping and sex and sports and art and TV and travel . . . but not God. He was an idea – even a good one – and a topic for discussion; but He was not a treasure of delight.
Then something happened. It was like the opening of the eyes of the blind during the golden dawn. First the stunned silence before the unspeakable beauty of holiness. Then the shock and terror that we had actually loved the darkness. Then the settling stillness of joy that this is the soul’s end. The quest is over. We would give anything if we might be granted to live in the presence of this glory forever and ever. And then, faith – the confidence that Christ has made a way for me, a sinner, to live in His glorious fellowship forever, the confidence that if I come to God through Christ, He will give me the desire of my heart to share His holiness and behold His glory. But before the confidence comes the craving. Before the decision comes the delight. Before trust comes the discovery of Treasure (Matthew 13:44).”
I give thanks to God for giving me “the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God” (1 Corinthians 2:12). It is because of the Spirit that I saw what wonderful things he has given me in his Son. This desire to see the cross as “reasonable” instead of foolishness, is a demonstration not of human ability but the Spirit, and thus my faith is not caused by human perception but by the Spirit’s power (1 Cor. 2:4-5, 10-11). It is my prayer that God would cause our hearts to be more and more satisfied with God and never grieve nor quench the Spirit’s quest to magnify Jesus Christ in our lives.
Be encouraged! If you feel a deep hunger for God, your desperate cry for God’s Spirit to “incline” your heart toward him is itself a work of God’s Spirit, for it is the Spirit of Jesus that cries out of your heart, “Abba, Father” (Galatians 4:6).