Christian Biblical Counsel: HOLY SPIRIT, THE

Background

 

The Holy Spirit is one of the three persons of the Trinity. He is equal to the other two in position and power, possessing all the essential aspects of deity. He shares all the attributes of the Godhead: He is eternal, having neither beginning nor end (Hebrews 9:14); omnipotent, having all power (Luke 1:35); omnipresent, being everywhere present at the same time (Psalm 139:7); and omniscient, or all knowing (1 Corinthians 2:10–11).

 

The Holy Spirit possesses all the characteristics of personality. He is not an “it” (Romans 8:16, 26, NIV).

 

The Holy Spirit has intellect, emotions, and will. He speaks (Acts 13:2); intercedes (Romans 8:26); testifies (John 15:26); guides (John 16:13); commands (Acts 16:6–7); appoints (Acts 20:28); leads (Romans 8:14); and reproves and convicts of sin (John 16:8). He can be lied to and tested (Acts

5:3–4, 9); resisted (Acts 7:51); grieved (Ephesians 4:30); and blasphemed (Matthew 12:31).

 

Each Christian must understand his or her own relationship with the Holy Spirit:

 

That which has been realized:

• We are born of the Holy Spirit (John 3:6, 8).

• God has given us the Holy Spirit (John 14:16; 16:7).

• We are baptized by the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:13).

• We are the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19–20).

• We are sealed by the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13).

 

That which is potential reality:

Each Christian has the Holy Spirit, but not every Christian is filled with the Holy Spirit. We ought to desire this fullness because God commands it: “Be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18).

 

Helping Strategy

 

1. If a question is asked about the Holy Spirit, try to answer it from material in the “Background.”

 

2. If a question is asked or desire expressed about the fullness of the Holy Spirit, share the following points:

 

A. God has given Christians His Holy Spirit and He dwells within us. See Scriptures in the “Background.”

 

B. God commands us to be filled with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18).

 

C. Before we can receive the fullness of the Spirit, we must deal honestly with every known sin in our life. This involves repentance and confession to God.

 

D. We must clearly and completely turn over the control of our life to the Lord in a definite act of commitment. We must renounce our own way and seek above all else to continuously submit to Christ as Lord, being ruled by Him in every area of life. This obedience demands a daily yielding of ourselves to God so that we may learn the secrets of walking in faith. When we are yielded to God and His will, we are filled with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit controls and dominates us. Now we are to act on this truth, and walk or live with full assurance that God has already filled us and that we are under His control.

 

3. Pray with the inquirer about the application of these truths to his or her life, and pray that he or she may be filled with the Spirit.

 

Scripture

 

“And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you” (John 14:16–17).

 

“Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in Me; of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged” (John 16:7–11).

 

“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

 

Other suggested Scriptures:

 

John 3:6–8

John 16:13–14

Romans 8:14–16

1 Corinthians 6:19–20

1 Corinthians 12:13

Ephesians 1:13

 

See also Fruit of and Gifts of Holy Spirit

The Billy Graham Christian Worker’s Handbook; World Wide Publications, 1984, 1996

The Holy Spirit

Living Free in the Power and Peace of the Spirit

by June Hunt

Just mention the word control and people dart for the door! For many, the concept of control is negative. A marriage is damaged if a mate exerts heavy-handed control. Cults are rampant with “mind control”—even to the point of inciting mass suicide. Mind-altering drugs and alcohol can lead people to think they are in control when they are not—when, in fact, the substance is. While many people spend their lives in a quest for control, others have an unhealthy fear of losing control. This human dilemma finds an answer only in God. He wants you to give Him control! By choosing to submit your will to the leading of God’s Holy Spirit, you will have His supernatural peace.

“The mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace.”

(Romans 8:6)

I.     Definitions

In the Old Testament, God’s presence was revealed to the nation of Israel in a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. When the tabernacle, and later the temple, was completed, God’s presence resided in the exclusive area called the Holy of Holies. With the coming of Jesus, however, and the instituting of the New Covenant, the New Testament relates how God fulfilled the promise made to His people long beforehand. Instead of manifesting Himself to the masses, God took up residence within each believer, Jew or Gentile. And today, He is at home in the heart of each Christian. God accomplishes this by means of His Holy Spirit—if you are a believer, you are the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit!

“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?”

(1 Corinthians 6:19)

A. Who Is the Holy Spirit?

•     The Holy Spirit is the Third Person of the Trinity—the triune God. God the Spirit is coequal in power and glory with God the Father and God the Son. In several books of the Bible, all three members of the Trinity are mentioned together.

“May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” (2 Corinthians 13:14)

•     The Holy Spirit is the active presence and power of God in the life of an individual.

“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being.” (Ephesians 3:16)

•     The word translated as “holy” comes from the Greek word hagios, which means “set apart to or by God.” The words holy, hallow, saint, and sanctify are all derived from this same root word.

—  The Holy Spirit is set apart from all other spirits.… He is like no human spirit or demonic spirit.

“We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us.” (1 Corinthians 2:12)

—  The heavenly Father is referred to as hallowed, set apart … like no other father.

“This, then, is how you should pray: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.’ ” (Matthew 6:9)

—  All authentic Christians are, according to the Bible, saints, indicating that they are set apart from sin and set apart for God. Especially in times of weakness, the Holy Spirit intercedes on behalf of believers to help them do the will of God.

“The Spirit helps us in our weakness.… The Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.” (Romans 8:26–27)

—  All authentic Christians are in the process of being sanctified. The Spirit of God provides the power for believers to be set apart for His primary purpose and works in them to conform them to the very character of Christ. Sanctification is not a onetime act but is rather the process of changing the believer over a period of time.

“From the beginning God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth.” (2 Thessalonians 2:13)

•     The English word translated as “spirit” comes from the Greek word pneuma, which means “wind or breath.”

—  The wind is invisible, but you can see the effects of the wind.

—  The wind is powerful because it causes movement and change.

—  The Spirit of God, with invisible power, moves a sinner toward the Savior and a believer to be more like the Savior.

“The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” (John 3:8)

Question: “What is the difference between the Holy Spirit and the Holy Ghost?”

Answer: There is no difference. Both “spirit” and “ghost” are translations of the same Greek word pneuma.

Today the term Holy Ghost can be confusing. The English word ghost carries the connotation of being a spook, goblin, or disembodied spirit of a deceased person wandering the earth … something to be feared. However, when the King James Version of the Bible was translated in 1611, the word ghost simply meant the invisible part of a person. For example, when facing death, Jesus cried,

“Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and … he gave up the ghost.” (Luke 23:46 KJV)

To avoid confusion, most modern translators choose to translate pneuma as “spirit” instead of “ghost.” Translating the Greek word as “ghost” has this disadvantage as well: In order for the meaning of the text to be understood, the word ghost would need to be preceded by the word holy, whereas using the word spirit requires only an uppercase “S” to show a clear reference to the Holy Spirit.

B. How Does the Bible Describe the Holy Spirit?

Are you confused or unsure about who or what the Holy Spirit is? New Testament word pictures reveal Him to be gentle as a dove and mighty as the wind. The Holy Spirit, however, is not merely a supernatural power or an invisible force. He is a person, One whose name is presented in more than 35 different ways in Scripture. These names serve to define His position, His character, and His work.

•     His Position

—  He is the Spirit of God the Father.

“For it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.” (Matthew 10:20)

—  He is the Spirit of Jesus the Son.

“You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.” (Romans 8:9)

—  He is the Third Person of the Trinity.

God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact. Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear.” (Acts 2:32–33)

•     His Character

—  He is the Spirit of Holiness.

“[The] Son … through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 1:3–4)

—  He is the Spirit of Grace.

“How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?” (Hebrews 10:29)

—  He is the Spirit of Truth.

“The Spirit of truth.… lives with you and will be in you.” (John 14:17)

•     His Work

—  He adopts you into God’s family.

“You did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’ ” (Romans 8:15)

—  He teaches you all things.

“The Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” (John 14:26)

—  He guides you into all truth.

“When he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.” (John 16:13)

Question: “Does the Holy Spirit have the same authority as Jesus?”

Answer: Yes. The Holy Spirit is a coequal member of the Trinity, composed of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. However, all three have different roles. In the Garden of Gethsemane, for example, when Jesus obeyed the will of the Father concerning His Crucifixion, God the Son placed Himself under God the Father. “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42). In like manner, the Holy Spirit’s role, in part, is to exalt Jesus Christ … to bring glory to the Son.

Jesus said to His disciples, “He [Spirit of Truth] will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you” (John 16:14).

(Refer to “Self-centered or Spirit-controlled?” at the end of the lesson for details of the coequal persons of the Holy Trinity.)

C. What Was the Holy Spirit’s Role before Pentecost?

Pentecost, from a Greek word that means “fifty,” is a Jewish festival that occurs fifty days after Passover (Leviticus 23:16). On the first Pentecost after Jesus’ resurrection, the Holy Spirit came upon and “filled” 3,000 believers and “the church” was born (Acts 2:1–4). Many people erroneously think the Holy Spirit’s ministry began at Pentecost, but the Bible presents Him as an active member of the Trinity, beginning with the Creation.

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.”

(Genesis 1:1–2)

•     Old Testament Activity

The Holy Spirit came upon certain people for certain tasks and for certain periods of time to impart supernatural wisdom and strength. He was even said to be “in” certain people.

—  He imparted wisdom to Joseph to interpret Pharaoh’s dream and to present a plan for the coming famine.

“Pharaoh asked them, ‘Can we find anyone like this man, one in whom is the spirit of God?’ Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘Since God has made all this known to you, there is no one so discerning and wise as you.’ ” (Genesis 41:38–39)

—  He anointed Joshua with the needed strength to be the successor to Moses. The Holy Spirit was also said to have been “in” Joshua.

“The Lord said to Moses, ‘Take Joshua son of Nun, a man in whom is the Spirit, and lay your hand on him.’ ” (Numbers 27:18)

—  He left King Saul because of his deliberate disobedience.

“The Spirit of the Lord had departed from Saul.” (1 Samuel 16:14)

—  He spoke of future events through the prophets.

“The Spirit of the Lord spoke through me; his word was on my tongue.” (2 Samuel 23:2)

—  He was the inspiration behind the writers of Scripture.

“Prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Peter 1:21)

•     New Testament Activity before Pentecost

In the Gospels, as well as in the Old Testament, the Spirit of God supernaturally empowered people.

—  He miraculously brought about the conception of Jesus in the virgin Mary’s womb.

“The angel answered, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.’ ” (Luke 1:35)

—  He indwelt and empowered John the Baptist.

“He will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth.” (Luke 1:15)

—  He gave Simeon knowledge of a future encounter with Jesus.

“It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.” (Luke 2:26)

—  He anointed Jesus with supernatural power for public ministry. At the synagogue in Nazareth, Jesus read part of the passage from Isaiah 61:1 and interpreted it in reference to Himself.

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4:18–19)

—  He was promised by Jesus to the disciples as the coming Counselor who would be with them forever.

“I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever.” (John 14:16)

D. What Is the Holy Spirit’s Role in the Believer’s Life Today?

If you are a Christian, the Holy Spirit abides within your human spirit to bring about God’s purposes in your life. Envision the battery of a flashlight and the power and light it produces. How much more the power, light, and direction that come from God through His Holy Spirit!

•     He convinces us that we are sinners.        the act of convicting

“When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment.” (John 16:8)

•     He converts us from sinners to saints.      the act of regenerating

“He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.” (Titus 3:5)

•     He cleanses us and places (baptizes) us into the body of Christ. the act of baptizing

“We were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.” (1 Corinthians 12:13)

•     He comes to live within us.          the act of indwelling

“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?” (1 Corinthians 6:19)

•     He counsels us in the way we should go. the act of teaching

“The Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” (John 14:26)

•     He causes us to obey God’s will. the act of empowering

“I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.” (Ezekiel 36:27)

•     He controls our behavior. the act of filling

“The disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 13:52)

•     He communicates our unspoken prayers. the act of interceding

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.” (Romans 8:26)

•     He confirms our destiny in heaven.          the act of sealing

“[He] set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.” (2 Corinthians 1:22)

Question: “Are the spirit and the soul of a person the same thing?”

Answer: In certain passages, the Bible refers to the “spirit, soul, and body” to indicate the whole person, while in other places the words body and spirit are used. However, in 1 Thessalonians 5:23, all three terms spirit, soul, and body are used together, indicating a clear distinction between soul and spirit. The writer of the Book of Hebrews also states this division of soul and spirit. Because the words soul and spirit are presented in different ways, the context determines the way to interpret the makeup of a person.

“The word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit.” (Hebrews 4:12)

The Makeup of a Person

•     The Body (soma in Greek) is the material part of a person that constitutes the physical anatomy (flesh, bones, and blood).

•     The Soul (psuche in Greek) is the immaterial, rational part of a person that produces behavior through the mind, will, and emotions.

—  mind (thinking)           Acts 15:24

—  will (desires)    Ephesians 6:6

—  emotions (feelings, affections)            1 Peter 1:22

•     The Spirit (pneuma in Greek) refers to the immaterial, innermost part of a person. The human spirit …

—  needs to be made alive to God           Ephesians 2:4–5

—  communes with God   John 4:23–24

—  can live together with Jesus forever    1 Thessalonians 5:10

 

II.    Characteristics of the Holy Spirit

A. What Is the Fruit of the Spirit?

Jesus paints a word picture from nature in order to emphasize the believer’s responsibility to abide in Him. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).

Catch the imagery. The sap inside the vine carries life-giving nutrients to the branches, enabling them to bear grapes. In a similar way, the Holy Spirit inside a Christian is a life-giving source that enables a believer to bear spiritual fruit … qualities that are evidenced both inwardly and outwardly.

“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”

(Galatians 5:22–23)

What Is The Evidence of Being Filled with the Spirit?

Love                      Am I seeking the highest and best for others or seeking to serve my own needs?

Joy                        Am I living with gladness over what I have or fretting over what I don’t have?

Peace                    Am I resting in the strength and security of God or worrying about my circumstances?

Patience                Am I enduring difficult trials calmly or complaining and becoming bitter?

Kindness               Am I exhibiting a benevolent heart by helping others or resenting having to meet the needs of others?

Goodness              Am I displaying godly character with purity of heart or adopting the world’s standards of morality?

Faithfulness          Am I trusting God in the midst of suffering and sorrow or doubting His perfect and persistent love?

Gentleness            Am I treating others with tenderness and respect or being harsh and short-tempered?

Self-control           Am I rising to God’s call to do what is right in His sight or giving in to my feelings and selfish desires?

“The wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.”

(James 3:17)

B. What are the Gifts of the Spirit?

An apple tree grows apples for the benefit of others. In the same way, when you grow in Christ, you will bring blessings to those around you. Understanding your spiritual gifts and using them to benefit the body of Christ are vital for spiritual growth and maturity.

Question: “What are spiritual gifts?”

Answer: Spiritual gifts are …

—  Supernatural abilities that the Holy Spirit bestows upon each believer at the time of salvation for the purpose of strengthening the church (the “body of Christ”)

—  Unearned, undeserved empowerment from the Spirit of God

—  An opportunity for the Lord to accomplish His personalized plan and purpose for your life

—  A means through which you express God’s love to others

“There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men.” (1 Corinthians 12:4–6)

Question: “What if I don’t have a spiritual gift?”

Answer: A spiritual gift is given to every believer. If you are an authentic Christian, you have been given at least one spiritual gift, even if you don’t know what that gift is.

“To each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.” (1 Corinthians 12:7)

Question: “Does everyone have the same gift?”

Answer: God doesn’t give everyone the same gift.

“To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues.” (1 Corinthians 12:8–10)

Question: “What are the different spiritual gifts?”

Answer: There are different ways to categorize the gifts of the Spirit. The following are two of the passages that list spiritual gifts and how to use them.

Romans 12:6–8

—  Prophecy

 

a supernatural   ability to proclaim or reveal God’s truth

 

—  Serving (ministry)

 

a supernatural   ability to recognize and meet the needs of others

 

—  Teaching

 

a supernatural   ability to communicate and clarify truth

 

—  Encouragement (exhorting)

 

a supernatural   ability to inspire and stimulate the faith of others

 

—  Giving

 

a supernatural   ability to entrust assets where they are most needed

 

—  Leadership

 

a supernatural   ability to administrate, organize, and coordinate efforts

 

—  Mercy

 

a supernatural   ability to reach out with active compassion to comfort others

 

“We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.” (Romans 12:6–8)

1 Corinthians 12:7–11

—  Wisdom

 

a supernatural   application of knowledge

 

—  Knowledge

 

a supernatural   revelation

 

—  Faith

 

a supernatural   ability to believe that God will provide

 

—  Healing

 

a supernatural   ability to believe that God will cure human illness

 

—  Miraculous powers

 

a supernatural   ability to perform feats outside the laws of nature

 

—  Prophecy

 

a supernatural   ability to proclaim or reveal what is hidden

 

—  Discernment

 

a supernatural   ability to distinguish between truth and error, as well as good and evil   spirits

 

—  Tongues

 

a supernatural   ability to speak in a language that the speaker has never learned

 

—  Interpretation of tongues

 

a supernatural   ability to understand and interpret messages in tongues

 

“Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines. (1 Corinthians 12:7–11)

Question: “Can I choose a spiritual gift?”

Answer: No. Each person’s gift is chosen by the Spirit of God.

“He gives them to each one, just as he determines.” (1 Corinthians 12:11)

Question: “Can my spiritual gift change?”

Answer: No. God is the One who put you in a specific place of service in the body of Christ. God uses the analogy of the physical body to explain how spiritual gifts function, and He makes it clear that if He made you a “hand” in the body of Christ, you should not try to be a “foot.” In the same way that a hand remains a hand in the physical body, so spiritual gifts do not change.

“But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.” (1 Corinthians 12:18)

Question: “Can I become ineffective in the exercise of my spiritual gifts?”

Answer: Yes. Gifts mean nothing if they are not administered with a heart of love.

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:1–3)

Question: “Is one gift more important than another?”

Answer: No. Each plays a vital role in the body of Christ. Gifts that may seem less honorable are indispensable.

“The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you!’ And the head cannot say to the feet, ‘I don’t need you!’ On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor.” (1 Corinthians 12:21–23)

Question: “Why should I try to know my spiritual gifts?”

—  To establish God-given priorities in your life. The place where you serve must be in line with your spiritual gifts and God’s truth.

“Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.” (1 Peter 4:10)

—  To experience the joy of being used by God.

“The disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 13:52)

—  To build up the church.

“To prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up.” (Ephesians 4:12)

How do You Discern Your Spiritual Gifts?

“The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge; the ears of the wise seek it out.”

(Proverbs 18:15)

•     Make sure you have come into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ.

•     Pray for the Holy Spirit to lead you to the truth about your personal spiritual gift(s).

•     With a humble heart, desire only the gift(s) that the Spirit has given you to serve others. Don’t covet the gift of another.

•     Make a list of all the gifts and mark off those that you do not enjoy.

•     Think about the times when you as a Christian knew that God successfully used you to help others. Evaluate those successes in light of spiritual gifts.

•     Be aware of God’s confirmation through your own joy and fulfillment when helping others.

•     Ask one or more mature Christians who know you well for their observations regarding your spiritual strengths and giftedness.

“Listen to advice and accept instruction, and in the end you will be wise.”

(Proverbs 19:20)

 

III.   Causes for Hindering the Work of the Holy Spirit

One of the symbols used in the Bible to represent the unseen power of the Holy Spirit is the wind. No one is more aware of the force of the wind than those who pilot aircraft. Everyone grieves the tragedy of an airplane crash. What needless loss of life!

A seasoned pilot always heeds weather reports. Wind information is especially important. It vitally affects safety at takeoff and landing … and accurate navigation en route. Novice pilots would do well to do the same to assure a safe flight. Every person who is trained and licensed to fly knows the regulations governing every aspect of flight. Pilots ignore them at their own peril.

The Holy Spirit gives us direction much like weather reports guide a pilot. However, some people ignore the Spirit’s call and His cautions. Though the Holy Spirit (the Wind) “speaks,” they resist Him and refuse to obey. When they resist, they may very well find themselves in a spiritual “crash.”

“The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

(John 3:8)

A. Are You Rejecting God’s Flight Reports?

Are You … Resisting The Holy Spirit?

Unbelievers demonstrate their resistance to the Holy Spirit …

—  by ignoring their God-given conscience

“Since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” (Romans 1:20)

—  by rejecting the claims of the Lord Jesus Christ

“Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’ ” (John 14:6)

—  by holding to a form of religion without having a relationship with Christ

“Having a form of godliness but denying its power.” (2 Timothy 3:5)

“You stiff-necked people.… You always resist the Holy Spirit!”

(Acts 7:51)

Are You … Quenching The Holy Spirit?

In Scripture, another symbol for the Holy Spirit is fire … representing His judgment and purifying presence. Believers hinder the work of the Spirit in their lives …

—  by refusing to act or speak as the Holy Spirit leads

—  by resenting circumstances that God allows to come into their lives

“Do not put out the Spirit’s fire.”

(1 Thessalonians 5:19)

Are You … Grieving the Holy Spirit?

Another symbol in Scripture for the Holy Spirit is a seal like the official ones used by kings … indicating ownership, security, and a completed action. Believers bring sorrow to the heart of the Holy Spirit …

—  by doubting and distrusting God’s love and promises

—  by refusing to submit completely to God

—  by neglecting personal time with God through His Word

“Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”

(Ephesians 4:30)

Are You … Ignoring the Holy Spirit?

Have you been trying to overcome a habit—but now realize that you have no power to do it? Have you looked at your life and thought, In my heart, I know something’s missing! Could what’s missing be the Holy Spirit? He is the One who has supernatural power. And when He resides within you, He gives you His supernatural power of self-control over any habit.

Many well-meaning people assume that they are Christians when, in fact, they are not.… Therefore, they have never received the Spirit of God into their lives. Interestingly, one of the roles of the Holy Spirit is to draw us to Christ by convincing us of our need for Him. If you are feeling drawn right now, there are four points you need to know.

Four Points of God’s Plan

#1  God’s Purpose for You … is Salvation.

—  What was God’s motive in sending Christ to earth? To condemn you? No … to express His love for you by saving you!

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” (John 3:16–17)

—  What was Jesus’ purpose in coming to earth? To make everything perfect and to remove all sin? No … to forgive your sin, empower you to have victory over sin, and enable you to live a fulfilled life!

“I [Jesus] have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10)

#2  Your Problem … is Sin.

—  What exactly is sin? Sin is living independently of God’s standard—knowing what is right, but choosing wrong.

“Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.” (James 4:17)

—  What is the major consequence of sin? Spiritual death, spiritual separation from God.

“The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)

#3  God’s Provision for You … is the Savior.

—  Can anything remove the penalty for sin? Yes. Jesus died on the cross to personally pay the penalty for your sins.

“God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

—  What is the solution to not being separated from God? Acknowledging and believing in Jesus Christ as the only way to God the Father.

“Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’ ” (John 14:6)

#4  Your Part … is Surrender.

—  Place your faith in (rely on) Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior and reject your “good works” as a means of gaining God’s approval.

“It is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8–9)

—  Give Christ control of your life, entrusting yourself to Him.

“Jesus said to his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?’ ” (Matthew 16:24–26)

The moment you choose to believe in Him—entrusting your life to Christ—He gives you His Spirit to live inside you. Then the Spirit of Christ gives you His power to live the fulfilled life God has planned for you. If you want to be fully forgiven by God and become the person God created you to be, you can tell Him in a simple, heartfelt prayer like this:

Prayer of Salvation

“God,   I want a real relationship with You. I admit that many times I’ve chosen to   go my own way instead of Your way. Please forgive me for my sins. Jesus,   thank You for dying on the cross to pay the penalty for my sins. Come into my   life to be my Lord and my Savior. Through the power of Your Spirit, make me   the person You created me to be. In Your holy name I pray. Amen.”

 

What Can You Expect Now?

If you sincerely prayed this prayer, look at what God says He has just done for you!

“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.”

(Ezekiel 36:26–27)

B. Are You Refusing God’s Provision?

When you enter into a personal relationship with Christ, God places His Holy Spirit within your human spirit. Through the presence of His Spirit in you, God will meet your inner needs. He may do this in many ways. For instance, God may use other people, directed by the Spirit, to meet your needs. By refusing to rely on God’s provision of the Holy Spirit, you are choosing to rely on your own resources to meet your God-given needs for the following:

•     Unconditional love

“Hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” (Romans 5:5)

•     Significance

“The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.” (Romans 8:16)

•     Security

“It is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.” (2 Corinthians 1:21–22)

C. Are You Remaining in Control?—The Root Cause of Not Being Spirit-filled

Wrong Belief: “It is only natural for me to be in control of my life and depend on my own efforts to achieve all that I can.”

•     The Unbeliever:

“The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Corinthians 2:14)

•     The Believer:

“Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?” (Galatians 3:3)

Right Belief: “Life is not to be lived in my own strength but in submission to the Holy Spirit, giving Him complete control.”

“ ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty.” (Zechariah 4:6)

 

IV.  Steps to Solution

From the nursery to the nursing home, we try to control our own world. We think that freedom to indulge our natural desires will bring ultimate fulfillment. Yet God’s ways are not our ways.… He has so designed us that true fulfillment and true satisfaction can come only as we submit to His loving, gracious, and wise ways. Only then are we free to function as we were designed to function. When we indulge selfish desires, we close the door on freedom and come under bondage to sin. Instead, you and I can make these choices …

Live by the Spirit

Turn loose of control

Conquer the conflict

Let Christ rule your soul!

“So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.”

(Galatians 5:16)

A. Key Verse to Memorize

“The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace.”

(Romans 8:6)

B. Key Passage to Read and Reread

“You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. The entire law is summed up in a single command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other. So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law. The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”

(Galatians 5:13–25)

Self-centered People …

 

Spirit-controlled People …

 

•     misuse their freedom

 

•     are called to freedom

 

•     are self-indulgent

 

•     are self-sacrificing

 

•     destroy one another

 

•     love one another

 

•     live by sinful desires

 

•     live by the Spirit

 

•     desire what is sinful

 

•     desire what is spiritual

 

•     display the acts of sin

 

•     display the fruit of the Spirit

 

—  sexual immorality

 

—  love

 

—  impurity

 

—  joy

 

—  debauchery

 

—  peace

 

—  idolatry and witchcraft

 

—  patience

 

—  hatred

 

—  kindness

 

—  discord

 

—  goodness

 

—  jealousy

 

—  faithfulness

 

—  fits of rage

 

—  gentleness

 

—  selfish ambition

 

—  self-control

 

—  dissensions

 

 

 

—  factions

 

 

 

—  envy

 

 

 

—  drunkenness, orgies, and similar sins

 

 

 

“Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”

(Galatians 5:24–25)

C. Common Questions Regarding the Holy Spirit

Question: “When does a person receive the Holy Spirit?”

Answer: At the moment of salvation, every true believer receives the Holy Spirit.

“You also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit.” (Ephesians 1:13)

Question: “If I sin after receiving the Holy Spirit, will I lose my salvation?”

Answer: No, the Bible says that at the time of salvation every authentic Christian is sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is a guarantee, a promise from God that we will be physically redeemed in heaven.

“He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.” (2 Corinthians 1:21–22)

Question: “Can I be an authentic Christian and not have the Holy Spirit?”

Answer: No. You cannot have Christ without having the Spirit of Christ.

“If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.” (Romans 8:9)

Question: “When I placed my faith in the Lord Jesus Christ alone, did I receive Christ or the Holy Spirit to live in me?”

Answer: The Scripture explains that those who are Christians have all three persons of the Trinity living within them.

“You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.” (Romans 8:9–11)

Question: “Does the phrase ‘baptism of the Holy Spirit’ apply only to those who speak in tongues?”

Answer: No. At the moment of salvation, you receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

The Greek word baptisma was used to mean the immersing of a person or thing into a new environment or into a union with something in order to alter its condition. For example, if you dye a white cloth red, you “baptize” the cloth, resulting in a changed identity for the cloth. When you are saved, you are baptized into a life-changing union with the Lord Jesus Christ … taken out of your old condition and placed into a new condition. Your identity is changed from being a lost sinner with a sin nature to being a justified saint with a divine nature. Every believer is spiritually baptized (placed) into the body of Christ by the Holy Spirit. He buries your former life, washes your sins away, and raises you to walk in a new life. (Later, water baptism follows as a symbolic picture and testimony to others that your sins have been washed away.)

Speaking in tongues is only one of the many gifts given by the Holy Spirit. Not all Christians receive the gift of tongues (read 1 Corinthians 12:8–11), but all Christians receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

We were all baptized by one Spirit into one body.” (1 Corinthians 12:13)

Question: “What does the filling of the Holy Spirit mean?”

Answer: The apostle Paul uses the word filling to mean “under the influence of” (in a positive sense), much as you would speak about someone who is intoxicated as being “under the influence of” alcohol. If you were under the influence of wine, your walk … your talk … your thoughts would be affected. In the same way, to be “filled with the Spirit” is to yield every part of your life to the leading of the Holy Spirit with the result that your walk, your talk, and your thoughts are different. The term be filled is a continuous action verb, literally meaning “being filled.

“Do not get drunk on wine.… Instead, be filled with the Spirit.” (Ephesians 5:18)

Question: “Can I have the Holy Spirit living in me without being ‘filled’ with the Holy Spirit?”

Answer: Yes. Upon salvation you are sealed with the Holy Spirit as seen in Ephesians 1:13: “Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit.” When you deliberately sin, the state of being “filled” is lost; however, the Holy Spirit is not lost. Consider a flower in full bloom during the daylight. The darkness causes the flower to fold. Although the flower is not gone, its full blossom is temporarily gone. Similarly, upon salvation, you receive the filling of the Holy Spirit. When you choose the darkness of sin, you lose the “filling” because you are not giving the Spirit room to work in your life. However, as an authentic Christian, you do not lose the Holy Spirit, who lives in you forever.

“I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever.” (John 14:16)

Question: “What is blaspheming the Holy Spirit?”

Answer: Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit—the only unpardonable sin—is a complete and total hardening of the heart, resulting in an unwillingness to yield to the convicting work of the Holy Spirit. One of the major roles of the Holy Spirit is to convict unbelievers of their sins and their need for the Savior. A picture of such hardened hearts is found in the third chapter of Mark, where the teachers of the law refused to believe that the miracles of Jesus were from God and instead attributed them to Satan. God certainly has the power to forgive this sin, but these unbelievers completely and repeatedly rejected their need for forgiveness and reconciliation to God.

“Whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; he is guilty of an eternal sin.” (Mark 3:29)

D. How to Be Filled with the Spirit

Who hasn’t stumbled for a flashlight when the lights go out, only to find that the batteries are dead? How useless—a flashlight that doesn’t function. Just as useless is a person who stumbles through life trying to function without power … supernatural power from God. God originally designed His Spirit to live in our human spirits, but once Adam and Eve declared their independence from God, sin came in and the Spirit went out. Adam and Eve became like flashlights with no batteries; there was no power on the inside to produce light on the outside. Although each of us is born into spiritual darkness, God’s desire is that we would come into a relationship with Him and be filled with His Spirit. His filling provides the power to light your way through life.

“For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light … and find out what pleases the Lord.… Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.”

(Ephesians 5:8, 10, 17–18)

S—Submit to the authority of Jesus Christ.

•     Recognize God’s claim on your life.

•     Realize that God’s plan is to conform you to the image of Christ.

•     Relinquish your right to be in control of your life.

“Jesus said to his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.’ ” (Matthew 16:24)

P—Pray for conviction of sin.

•     Acknowledge your natural inclination to sin.

•     Ask the Holy Spirit to make you aware of your specific sins.

•     Agree with God about your need to change.

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me.” (Psalm 139:23–24)

I—Identify with Christ’s death on the cross.

•     See yourself as dead to the ruling power of sin.

•     See yourself as alive to God because of the resurrection life of Christ within you.

•     See the Holy Spirit as your power to overcome sin.

“Count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 6:11)

R—Recognize the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit to teach you and to guide you.

•     Listen with your heart to the One sent by the Father.

•     Listen to the gentle promptings of the Holy Spirit.

•     Listen to His reminders of the truth as spoken by Jesus.

“The Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” (John 14:26)

I—Initiate immediate obedience to the prompting of the Holy Spirit.

•     Choose to acknowledge the presence of the Holy Spirit.

•     Choose to submit your will to His will. (Don’t mentally argue.)

•     Choose to act on His promptings.

“Live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.” (Galatians 5:16)

T—Trust in the Holy Spirit to be your supernatural power for living a holy life.

•     You have been called to be holy.

•     You cannot be holy by your own efforts.

•     You must rely on the Holy Spirit, who enables us to live a holy life.

“His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” (2 Peter 1:3)

F—Fellowship on a regular basis with other believers.

•     Belong to a Bible-based church.

•     Become involved in your church.

•     Be supportive of others.

“Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another.” (Hebrews 10:25)

I—Implant God’s Word in your heart.

•     Line up your thinking with God’s thinking.

•     Learn one verse a day from the Book of Proverbs.

•     Listen to teaching tapes on God’s Word.

“I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” (Psalm 119:11)

L—Learn to have a thankful heart.

•     Thank God for His unconditional love.

•     Thank God for His faithfulness to orchestrate events in your life.

•     Thank God in all circumstances, both good and bad.

“Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

L—Live with an attitude of prayer.

•     Keep your mind focused on Christ.

•     Keep your heart alert to the Holy Spirit.

•     Keep praying through all circumstances.

“Pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.” (Ephesians 6:18)

E—Expect victory!

•     Know that your strength is in Christ.

•     Know that your own efforts will fail.

•     Know that victory is the Lord’s.

“ ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty.” (Zechariah 4:6)

D—Depend on the Holy Spirit to develop the character of Christ in your life.

•     To reflect the character of Christ is the Christian’s highest purpose.

•     To the extent that you submit to the Holy Spirit, you will grow in Christ.

•     To reflect Christ accurately will draw others to Him.

“We, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” (2 Corinthians 3:18)

E. Are You Self-Centered or Spirit-Controlled?

“I’ll run and run as fast as I can. You can’t catch me. I’m the Gingerbread Man!”

Simple nursery stories can speak profound messages. Since the Garden of Eden, our natural desire for freedom entices us to “run and run as fast as we can” from the One who fashioned us. Yet God is the answer for each yearning heart. He designed your human spirit to be the home for His Holy Spirit. Adam and Eve were privileged to have this perfect oneness with God. They had spiritual life because their human spirits were alive to God. Warned by God that eating from the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil” would bring death, Adam and Eve disobeyed God and something indeed died.… They lost spiritual oneness with God. Like the Gingerbread Man, Adam and Eve ran and tried to hide from God’s holy presence. You and I are born in the likeness of Adam … dead to God’s Spirit until we stop running from His presence, from His gift of a new life in Christ Jesus.

“Count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.”

(Romans 6:11)

The Three Parts of a Person

“May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless.”

(1 Thessalonians 5:23)

As illustrated by these two gingerbread men, every person is created with a body, a soul, and a spirit—as a tri-part person or a trichotomy. The body is your physical makeup (flesh, bones, and blood). Your soul is your behavioral makeup or personality (mind, will, and emotions). The human spirit is your innermost being (that which needs to be made alive to God, craves gratification of deep inner needs, and, in the believer, houses the Holy Spirit).

Self-Directed Soul

 

Spirit-Directed Soul

 

 

 

 

 

Self in Control of Your Soul

“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world.”

(Romans 12:2)

Our natural instinct for responding to life’s problems is with self in control of the soul. People often say, “I can’t help feeling this way!” Yet, emotions are merely responders to what the mind thinks. Negative thoughts nurture negative emotions, which in turn tend to produce negative actions.

Unjust Circumstance: Someone mistreats you.

•     Human Response of the Soul:

—  Your mind records the injustice and thinks angry thoughts.

—  Your emotions respond with angry feelings.

—  Your will reacts with angry behavior.

•     Physical Response:

—  Your body experiences physical tightness, release of negative chemicals, and other physiological problems.

The Holy Spirit in Control of Your Soul

“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

(Romans 12:2)

God’s perfect will is that as you face problems, you would allow His Spirit to be in control of your soul. Instead of responding in a sinful way, allow the Spirit to be the primary influence over your mind, your will, and your emotions. As you begin to see life from God’s perspective and as you stand on His promises by taking Him at His Word, the Holy Spirit will transform your life.

Unjust Circumstance: Someone mistreats you.

•     Spiritual Response of the Soul:

—  The Spirit teaches your mind how to think about the offense (John 14:26). As your Counselor, He reminds you to “pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44).

—  The Spirit directs your will toward the right choice (John 16:13). As your Conscience, He convicts you to pray, whether you feel like it or not.

—  The Spirit controls your emotions (Romans 5:5). As you pray, the Comforter evokes loving compassion toward the unjust person who is spiritually needy.

•     Phyiscal Response:

—  Your body is peaceful, relaxed, and free of many debilitating physiological side effects of mental stress.

“Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace.”

(Romans 8:5–6)

F.  Know the Truth about the Third Person of the Trinity

Misconceptions abound about the Holy Spirit. Christian Scientists call Him “Divine Science,” Jehovah’s Witnesses say He is “an influence or power exercised by the one God,” and Mormons speak of Him as an “ethereal substance diffused through space.”

None of these major cults teaches that He is the Third Person of the Trinity, the Triune God. However, many non-cult members make the same assumption that the Holy Spirit is merely a force or an influence. Yet, when you know the truth about the person of the Holy Spirit, the Lord can use this truth to set both you and others free.

“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.”

(1 Peter 3:15)

•     Argument:

“The word Trinity does not appear in the Bible. And the Holy Spirit is not a person.… In the Bible no personal name is ascribed to the Spirit.”

Answer:

Although the word Trinity is not used in the Bible, the three persons of the Trinity, each with equal authority, are clearly identified in the Great Commission.

Jesus related the Holy Spirit to the “name” of the persons of the Trinity when He said, “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19). The Father is a person and the Son is a person. The Spirit is also a person. All three bear the name of God.

•     Argument:

“The teaching of the Trinity promotes the worship of three gods—it is really polytheism.”

Answer:

No, the Bible clearly teaches there is only one God.

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.” (Deuteronomy 6:4)

Note that the Hebrew word for God is Elohim.

—  “El” meaning strong and mighty God.

—  “Im” is the plural ending.

Therefore, the God of the Bible is one God consisting of a complex unity seen in …

—  Genesis 1:26: “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness.’ ”

—  Genesis 3:22: “The Lord God said, ‘The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil.’ ”

—  Genesis 11:6–7: “The Lord said.… ‘Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.’ ”

This complex unity is seen in the Hebrew word echad, which means “one.”

—  two persons becoming one (echad) flesh

“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” (Genesis 2:24)

—  one (echad) cluster of grapes

“When they reached the Valley of Eshcol, they cut off a branch bearing a single cluster of grapes. Two of them carried it on a pole between them, along with some pomegranates and figs.” (Numbers 13:23)

How can the complex unity of the Trinity be explained? The Trinity can be illustrated in an elementary way with ordinary light or daylight. Scientifically, light is comprised of the primary colors: red, yellow, and blue. Each color is separate, but when blended together, they make “white light” and function as one. In a similar way, each person of the Trinity is a separate and distinct person, but together they constitute the Trinity and function as one.

•     Argument:

“The Holy Spirit is not a person, but a powerful force that is only figuratively called ‘he.’ ”

Answer:

The Holy Spirit is positively a person. Every person has a personality or soul with a mind, will, and emotions. A force, such as gravity or electricity does not possess these attributes. However, the Bible presents many proofs of the personhood of the Holy Spirit.

—  The Holy Spirit has a mind. First Corinthians 2:11

a.   He knows the thoughts of God. Romans 8:27

b.   He has a mind. (Electricity cannot think. People think.)

—  The Holy Spirit has a will. First Corinthians 12:11

a.   He gives spiritual gifts. First Corinthians 2:13

b.   He teaches spiritual truth. (Gravity cannot give gifts or teach truth.)

—  The Holy Spirit has emotions. Romans 15:30

a.   He loves. Ephesians 4:30

b.   He grieves. (Electricity cannot love. Gravity cannot grieve. People love and grieve.)

•     Argument:

“The Holy Spirit is an ‘it,’ not a person. In the Greek Bible, neuter pronouns (like it) are used in reference to the word spirit, clearly implying that the Holy Spirit is not a person.”

Answer:

Neuter pronouns are appropriate because the Greek word pneuma (spirit) is neuter in gender. However, instead of being a negative, this rule of grammar further supports the personhood of the Holy Spirit because …

—  Contrary to what is expected, many other passages describe the Holy Spirit with the masculine as “His” and “Himself.” Therefore, the Holy Spirit is a “he,” not an “it.” “The Spirit himself intercedes for us” (Romans 8:26).

—  At times the Spirit speaks with the personal pronouns “I” and “Me.” “The Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them’ ” (Acts 13:2).

—  The Bible refers to the Spirit as “who” (a person), rather than “which” (a thing). “You were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance” (Ephesians 1:13–14).

•     Argument:

“ ‘The Holy Spirit’ is just another name for God the Father. For example, a man may be a father, a husband, and a friend, but he is still the same person.”

Answer:

This type of reasoning is called modalism and is heretical teaching because it implies that only one person of the Trinity exists in three roles or modes. Three distinct persons are seen in the baptism of Jesus. Each member of the Trinity is seen as distinctly different.

—  Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist.

—  The Holy Spirit descended like a dove.

—  The heavenly Father spoke from above the clouds.

“As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.’ ” (Matthew 3:16–17)

•     Argument:

“The Holy Spirit is an instrument of God, but not literally God.”

Answer:

The Holy Spirit is definitely divine as demonstrated in both Testaments of the Bible.

—  The Old Testament presents the Holy Spirit as God. In the Psalms, David ascribes to the Holy Spirit divine attributes, such as all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-present, totally unique to God.

“Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.” (Psalm 139:7–10)

—  The New Testament presents the Holy Spirit as God.

The apostle Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit.… You have not lied to men but to God” (Acts 5:3–4).

“Heavenly   Father, thank You for being my Father,   and for giving me Your unconditional love. Jesus, thank You for your amazing gift of grace given on my   behalf when You died for me. Thank You that Your sacrificial love made it   possible for me to be totally forgiven of my sins and to be reconciled to the   Father. Holy Spirit, thank You for   coming into my life and giving me Your peace that passes all understanding   and Your power to overcome all temptation. I sincerely thank You, Father,   Son, and Spirit, and I give You all glory, honor, and praise. Amen.”

 

“May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”

(2 Corinthians 13:14)

SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY

Bright, Bill. The Holy Spirit: The Key to Supernatural Living. San Bernardino, CA: Here’s Life, 1980.

Chafer, Lewis Sperry. He That Is Spiritual: A Classic Study of the Biblical Doctrine of Spirituality. Rev. ed. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1967.

Criswell, W. A. The Holy Spirit in Today’s World. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1966.

Deere, Jack. “Deuteronomy.” In The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures by Dallas Seminary Faculty: Old Testament: Based on the New International Version. Edited by John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck. Wheaton, IL: Victor, 1985.

Discipleship Counseling Services. Discipleship Counseling Training Student Manual. Dallas: Discipleship Counseling Services, n.d.

Hocking, David. The Dynamic Difference. Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 1985.

Hocking, David. The Holy Spirit: Study Guide. La Mirada, CA: Biola University, 1988.

Hunt, June. Counseling Through Your Bible Handbook. Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 2007.

Hunt, June. How to Forgive … When You Don’t Feel Like It. Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 2007.

Hunt, June. How to Handle Your Emotions. Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 2008.

Hunt, June. Seeing Yourself Through God’s Eyes. Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 2008

McGrath, Alister E. Understanding the Trinity. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1988.

Moody, D. L. The Secret of Success in the Christian Life. Life Essentials. Chicago: Moody, 2001.

Packer, J. I. Keep in Step with the Spirit. Old Tappan, NJ: Fleming H. Revell, 1984.

Pritchard, Ray. Names of the Holy Spirit. Chicago: Moody, 1995.

Ryrie, Charles Caldwell. The Holy Spirit. Chicago: Moody, 1965.

Stott, John R. W. Baptism & Fullness: The Work of the Holy Spirit Today. 2nd ed. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1975.

Swindoll, Charles R., and Bryce Klabunde. He Gave Gifts. Rev. ed. Anaheim, CA: Insight for Living, 1998.

Thomas, W. Ian. The Mystery of Godliness. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1964.

Thomas, W. Ian. The Saving Life of Christ. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1961.[1]

 


[1] Hunt, J. (2008). Biblical Counseling Keys on the Holy Spirit: Living Free in the Power and Peace of the Spirit (1–28). Dallas, TX: Hope For The Heart.

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