One of the dangers of the Pentecostal/Charismatic emphasis on the work of the Holy Spirit is that it overshadows the work of Christ. Better yet, it puts asunder two things that God has joined together. If one read the New Testament carefully, he will see that the work of the Holy Spirit is never presented on isolation. It is always tied to Christ’s work. Moreover, the Spirit’s work IN us is never made to outweigh the Son’s work OUTSIDE of us. This cannot be overemphasized.
In his book, The Doctrine of the Holy Spirit, George Smeaton (1814-1889) deals with this very thing. He points out that one of two possible types of theological error always arises when, “THE SPIRIT’S WORK WITHIN is made to eclipse or overshadow THE REDEEMER’S WORK WITHOUT.”
The first type of unsound doctrine is defective views of Christ’s imputed righteousness. The Wesleyan and Holiness Pentecostal forms of perfectionism are good examples of this. The adherents of this view always downplay imputation and speak of righteousness that is infused. Instead of preaching the surety-righteousness of Christ, they exaggerate their own sanctification and deprecate imputed righteousness. They ignore the law-magnifying obedience of Christ as “the Lord our righteousness,” and place all their attention on attainments in personal piety.
The second error is a misapprehension of the double being of a Christian. A Christian consists of flesh and spirit warring against each other during this lifetime. Emphasizing one side at the expense of the other, leads to terrible confusion of thought. All the screwy dualistic Gnostic heresies of the early Patristic age testify to the truth of this assertion.
In a previous post, I wrote about Paul’s doctrine of the Spirit. I mentioned repeatedly his constant habit of tying the Spirit’s work to the mediatorial work of Christ. It is important to remember that the good news of the Gospel is not about what God has done inside me; it is about Christ has done outside of me. The Spirit applies Christ’s finished work to the believer and everything Christ did was external. It is vital that we don’t separate these two things which God has put together.