Transformative Role of the Spirit in Moral Ethics as Presented by Luke and Paul
Definition of Ethics
Christian ethics as a branch of philosophy dealing with values relating to human conduct,
with respect to the rightness and wrongness of certain actions and to the goodness and
badness of the motives and ends of such actions, has been examined extensively with an
overabundance of literature being produced regarding it. Furnish, however, provides a
worthwhile caution regarding Pauline ethics, but is just as apropos for all the New
Testament writers, that though Paul does instruct and advise his readers, it is almost always
done on an as needed basis for each specific situation. Furnish says that ‘no single practical
ethical pattern or “Christian code of conduct” is ever promulgated.’1 The warning is to
prevent attempts to collect the specific exhortations of the New Testament and gather them
together into a comprehensive rule book for the Christian life.
For the purposes of this paper we will not attempt to compile and provide commentary on
all of Luke and Paul’s admonitions, but rather to explore ethics in connection with what
Luke and Paul think about the Spirit’s function in the believer and how His work affects the
Christian’s morality and way of life.
Spirit’s Prior Work
As we compare and contrast Luke and Paul’s writings and what it says implicitly about the
Sprit’s work in relation to moral ethics, some presumed groundwork needs to be understood
as recounted for us by Luke in his second book. Luke provides us the narrati ve of the Spirit’s
work amongst the people who were converted and initiated into the new covenant life. Luke
does not clearly articulate2 an understanding that Paul seems to have regarding the Spirit’s
life-giving role.3 But all of Paul’s letters are addressed to those who have encountered God,
received the Holy Spirit, and were a part of the new covenant life, and as such we shall...