Zechariah 12:10: “And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace.”
Why is living by the Spirit the same as living by grace? Living by grace and walking in the Spirit are two perspectives of the same reality. Both perspectives describe living or walking in absolute dependence on God. Grace is given by God to help us in our times of need (Hebrews 4:16). And the Spirit is given to us to be our Helper (John 14:26; 15:26). And so, the Bible refers to the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of grace. The connection between living by the Spirit and living by the grace of God is well documented in the Scriptures in both the Old Testament and the New Testament.
We read in Zechariah 4:6-7: “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: 'Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,' says the Lord of hosts. ‘Who are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain! And he shall bring forth the capstone with shouts of “Grace, grace to it!”’”
God was declaring through Zechariah that Zerubbabel would accomplish the task of rebuilding the Temple from start to finish by the Spirit of God. Zerubbabel would rebuild the Temple in absolute dependence on the Spirit of God and not on human resources. The accomplished task would be a clear demonstration of the grace of God. Thus the task would be accomplished by the Spirit through grace. Thus it would be a work of the Spirit of grace.
When we depend on the Holy Spirit we are depending on the grace of God. When we depend on the grace of God we are depending on the Spirit. In the New Testament this is brought out clearly in the work of grace and of the Spirit in producing in us God’s righteousness, which we could not produce on our own.
We read in Romans 8:2-4: “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” Here the Bible is telling us that the Spirit produces in us God’s righteousness which the Law could not do. The Bible also tells us that righteousness comes to us not by the Law but by the grace of God. “I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain” (Galatians 2:21).
Thus, God’s operation in us under the New Covenant is accomplished by the Spirit through grace. Hence, to despise the New Covenant is to despise the Spirit of grace. According to Hebrews 10:29, “Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace?”
God wants us to serve Him by the Spirit and by grace. God does not want us to serve Him by our might and power but by His Spirit, as Zechariah told Zerubbabel. To serve God in absolute dependence on the Spirit and not our own might and power also implies the same as serving God by grace and not by our works. This fits perfectly with our classical definition of grace in Romans 11:6: “And if by grace, then it is no longer of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace. But if it is of works, it is no longer grace; otherwise work is no longer work.”
The early Church experienced the connected work of the Spirit and grace among them. We read in Acts 4:31, 33: “And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness … And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all.”
Therefore, to live and walk in the Spirit is to live and walk by the grace of God. Both are ways of describing our walk in absolute dependence on God. And so, just as we can come to God in our times of need to find grace to help us, so we can expect the Holy Spirit to help us in our infirmities. Neither the grace of God nor the Holy Spirit is given to us because we are worthy or strong, but to make us worthy and strong in the Lord. Let us not despise the role of the Spirit of grace in our Christian walk.