Who Is The Holy Spirit?
The Holy Spirit is God. He is the third person of the Trinity—God the Father, God the Son (Jesus) and God the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is eternal and the source of all knowledge, wisdom and power. He is equal with the Father and the Son, sharing all the same attributes and substance. He has an intellect and will, but follows the Father’s lead. He will dwell with believers forever. And He can be grieved by your actions, frailties and sinfulness.
Coming Of The Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit was active in the Old Testament (OT). He can be seen in the rise of ancient Israel and the lives of the prophets, kings, priests and the people.
But the Holy Spirit interacted with people in a new and much more dynamic way as He permeated the lives of believers following the Resurrection. As described in the New Testament (NT) Book of Acts, the Holy Spirit swept into the lives of Jesus’ followers seven weeks after Jesus rose from the grave. This event is called Pentecost because it happened on the Jewish Feast of Pentecost, a festive time thanking God for the harvest. The Spirit descended and entered the upper room, where Jesus’ followers gathered. The Church was born as the Holy Spirit rocked the disciples and motivated believers as they evangelized Jerusalem in the following days.
Role of the Holy Spirit
The Book of Acts records the Holy Spirit’s actions in shaping and teaching the early Christians during the post-Resurrection years. Today, we see the same role for the Holy Spirit. He guides, instructs, protects, empowers, unites, warns and disciplines believers.
Jesus is clear in John 16:7–15 about the role of the Holy Spirit. He says the Holy Spirit is sent to:
- Teach you all things and remind you of everything Jesus said.
- Make everyone in the world aware of sin, righteousness and judgment.
- Guide you into all truth.
- Tell you what is to come.
The Presence of Holy Spirit
One of the great gifts God bestows on you as a believer in Jesus Christ is the presence of the Holy Spirit. God “seals” you with the Spirit as God’s guarantee that He will complete the work that He has begun in you. As you grow in faith, the Holy Spirit helps you produce positive fruit in your character, such as love, peace, patience and self-control. As you go deeper in your walk, the Spirit also reveals specific gifts in you that will bless you and the church community. Read about the ways the Holy Spirit works in you on page 72.
Fruit of the Holy Spirit
The apostle Paul outlined a stark contrast between the works of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit. He made a list of each in Galatians 5:16–25. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. These characteristics mark a believer.
Notice Paul’s wonderful imagery of works versus fruit in the Galatians passage. People must choose to do evil, the works of the flesh. In contrast, the fruit of the Spirit refers to Jesus’ story of the vine and the branches. Jesus tells you to abide in Him and let His words abide in you. Abide means “remain” or “continue.” We need to stay connected to Christ as a branch stays connected to a vine.
What happens when you “abide”? John 15:5 states that you produce much fruit. This fruit is fruit of the Holy Spirit, good works and a Christ-like character. A branch doesn’t have to work to grow fruit. It doesn’t have to think or focus on producing fruit. It just has to stay connected. It is that simple. If we stay connected to Christ, then we produce fruit.
Drawing Close to the Holy Spirit
Faithful believers stick as close as they can to the Holy Spirit. Look for His guidance as your Divine Partner, and the Spirit will help you each day.
Christians describe this closeness as walking in the Spirit, which means “to conduct or regulate your actions—alone, with a friend or in a crowd—in concert with the Spirit’s teachings and promptings.” Look to the Holy Spirit for help to understand all Jesus taught, and the Spirit will gently confront you about errors in thought, deed or attitudes.
Keeping in step with the Spirit suggests an orderly march. The Holy Spirit sets the path and the pace. As you walk together, you will marvel at how the Holy Spirit cultivates fruit in your life.
Beware of the pitfalls. Many believers grow tired and embrace the attitude that good works balance the scales. Ignoring God, they try to live as good Christians without a total commitment. Many foolishly give themselves a pass on a secret sin, deceived that they balance the bad by acting good. But by relying on their own power to be righteous, they become guilty, frustrated and defeated.
Adoption into God’s family is not based on goodness or efforts. It is by God’s grace. In the language of the NT, you are so close to God that you have “put on Christ” (Galatians 3:27. Also see Colossians 3:1–12).
Only Christ’s righteousness can save you. Only through Christ can you experience true freedom. “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery” Galatians 5:1 ESV. And, “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit” Galatians 5:25 NKJV.
Learning to Walk in the Spirit
Believers throughout history have kept in step with the Holy Spirit. There is no formula, but we can learn from others. Here’s how:
- Scripture insists we must renew our minds. Scripture is the best and perhaps only tool for this task. Reading, memorizing, studying, hearing and meditating on the Word of God changes how you see God, the world, yourself and sin (Romans 1:28, 8:5–7, 12:2; 1 Corinthians 2:16; Ephesians 4:22–23).
- Spiritual disciplines make walking with the Holy Spirit practical. They include praying, fasting, solitude, service, simplicity, confession, worship, and studying, memorizing and meditating on Scripture. Two books can guide you: Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life by Donald S. Whitney and Celebration of Discipline by Richard J. Foster.
- We need connections with other Christians in a local church, fellowship or small group. Spending time with other believers sharpens you as a Christian. “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another” Proverbs 27:17 NIV.
- We need to increase our awareness of the Holy Spirit’s presence in our lives. Use two simple routines:
- Create bookends to your day. In the morning, ask the Spirit to dwell in you richly and to direct your day. In the evening, think through the day, confess any sin and ask the Holy Spirit to renew you.
- Confess sin immediately. Sometimes, we all sin and have unholy thoughts or attitudes. As you become aware of them, confess to God. Submit control of your life, will and actions to the Holy Spirit and ask His guidance and direction.
Gifts of the Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit determines and gives gifts and abilities to believers. Each of us receives one or more gifts (1 Corinthians 12:11). These gifts benefit the common good and the building of the body of Christ. See 1 Corinthians 12, Romans 12 and Ephesians 4 for lists of gifts.
Benefiting the entire body of Christ, gifts are generally divided into sign gifts and equipping gifts. Sign gifts enhance the proclamation of the Gospel; equipping gifts build and bring a body of believers to maturity (Ephesians 4:11–14, 2 Timothy 3:16, Ephesians 2:8–10). Gifts are intended to unite the body of Christ, not divide or create a pecking order of spiritual status or “holiness” (1 Corinthians 12:12–14).
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