Most dictionaries agree, a “tug” is “a quick and usually strong pull,” a yank… like the jerk on a dog’s leash–although your dog might think you are the jerk on his leash for doing so!
Yesterday Pastor Steve likened the “tug” of the Holy Spirit to the tug of a fish on a fishing line, another good illustration. But the Holy Spirit is neither a fish nor a man. Scripture likens Him to a dove, a gentle bird, pure like snow and easily provoked away. Jesus said He was like the wind (John 3:8), unpredictable, at times gentle, entreating, at other times powerful, with gale force capable of destroying any man-made edifice.
On the Day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit empowered the apostles Peter arose and boldly preached the gospel. “When the people heard this,” Luke documents, “they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, ‘Brothers, what shall we do?’” (Acts 2:37,38)
Perhaps you’ve experienced this pull of conviction. Perhaps you are fighting it now? It is the Holy Spirit who brings this unrest to the heart of a lost soul. When that soul surrenders to Christ, peace comes, the dove alights and resides — a seal of ownership by none other than Christ Himself and God the Father. Then that same Spirit works from within, gently urging, nudging, shaking, transforming the new believer into the likeness of Christ. This is regeneration. None of us are done the process yet!
Tug boats succeed in pulling large loads for a number of reasons. First, it’s not as difficult to pull something on water as it is to pull it on land, but more importantly perhaps is that tug boats are essentially all engine— all power. The aim of the tug boat is not speed, but slow-moving intense power which eventually builds in momentum. Tug boats are like freight trains: one or two small engines pulling over a hundred loaded freight cars. Once either of these gets going they don’t stop quickly and they’ll pack a powerful punch if anything happens to get in the way! Be patient; the Holy Spirit will do a similar work in you.
We also wrestle with opposing “tugs”–“tugs-of-war” you might say. There are tugs from the flesh. Paul wrote: “the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other…” (Gal.5:17).
There are also “tugs” from the world– and the prince of it, the devil. Again, Paul: “…our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Read the verses around these passages to learn how to combat these tugs.)
Our job is to work with the Holy Spirit… to “feed the right dog” as some say. Do you want to be transformed? Do you want to be generated anew? This is why Nicodemus came to Jesus (John 3:1-21). You can come to Him too!