Holy Spirit – Power Source for the Christian Life!
The Holy Spirit is a very important yet controversial topic. Opinions vary widely about the role of the Spirit, from traditional orthodox to charismatic beliefs. However, in all groups there is often a general lack of knowledge of what scripture teaches.
Let’s look at what the Bible itself says about the Spirit to better shape our thinking, based on the true word of God.
Here’s a general break down of scripture’s teaching about the Spirit for the New Testament church, into three basic areas:
- The Spirit’s work in salvation
- The Spirit’s role in our Christian walk
- The Christian’s duties to the Spirit
Spirit’s role in salvation: Indeed, the Spirit in salvation is key. He performs the following vital functions:
- Convicts the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:8) – This role is vital because left to our own resources, as fallen man both physically and mentally, we would not come to faith and salvation by our own efforts (Romans 3:10-12). Therefore, the Spirit helps unbelievers recognize their faults, coming judgment and God’s demand for righteousness.
- Baptizes (Romans 6:2-9; Ephesians 2:4-7; Colossians 2:12-13) – In the epistles the word ‘baptism’ signifies spiritual baptism which occurs at our salvation by the Spirit. The actual meaning of the word baptism (βαπτιζω, baptizoo) is ‘to identify with’. Therefore, the Spirit baptizes us (Titus 3:5) by identifying us with Christ’s death and resurrection. The Spirit accomplishes this by putting to death our old person and resurrecting us to a new living person. ‘Regeneration’ and ‘born again’ are other concepts in Scripture signifying this important event (Titus 3:5; John 3:3). These wonderful verses demonstrate to us the profound importance of the resurrection because there is no eternal life without the resurrection and regeneration (1 Corinthians 15:13-19).The incredible fact of spiritual baptism (which water baptism may symbolize) gives us surety for our great salvation. As a new creature we cannot be slain and re-created into our old dead self.
- Seals to redemption (2 Corinthians 1:20; 2 Corinthians 5:5; Ephesians 1:13-14) – This great promise indicates that each believer has the Holy Spirit from time of belief in salvation until death and going to be with God. Indeed, one of the definitions of a Christian is one who has the Holy Spirit for if it, a person is not yet a believer (Romans 8: 9).
- Places believers into the church (1 Corinthians 12:13) – The Spirit graciously places believers, at salvation, into the universal church of Christ of which Christ is the head (1 Corinthians 12:13).
As you can see, the Spirit is integral in bringing believers to salvation, completing salvation and beyond to eternal life. What a fantastic blessing that believers have such a gift from God as the Holy Spirit!
The Spirit’s vital role in the believer’s life
Scripture states that the Spirit plays a vital and active role in believers’ lives, divided into two basic types:
Constant roles – The Spirit has several continual roles not dependent on believers:
- Points to Christ – The Spirit glorifies Christ, and gives and teaches information our Savior has given to Him (John 16:13-14; 1 John 2:20,27).
- Indwells – As mentioned above, the Spirit lives in believers always until the day of redemption. Therefore, believers have full access to His power and help.
- Prays for believers (Romans 8:26) – This great truth indicates the Spirit prays on behalf of believers to God. What better source of prayer could one have?
Believer dependent roles – Importantly there are roles for which the Spirit assists believers which are variable and depend upon obedience (Romans 8:1-8). Two passages are critical to understand the Spirit’s help, Romans 8:13-16, 26 and Ephesians 6:10-17:
- Stops sin (V.13) – As believers are obedient the Spirit helps put to death the deeds of the flesh.
- Leads us (V.14) – Christians commonly believe this biblical concept but may not understand how He leads. In short, the Spirit use God’s word (please see below passage in Ephesians 6) to guide. Indeed, the Bible often tells believers to be people of knowledge and understanding, for example in Paul’s prayers for others (Ephesians 1:17, Colossians 1:9).
- Comforts believers that they are God’s children (V.16) – The Spirit encourages Christians that they belong to God and should not be anxious about eternal security.
Ephesians 6:10-17 – The magnificent armor of God passage is critical to understanding the Christian lifestyle because it instructs about how to access God’s power by describing a Greek hoplite soldier and his armament. Often Christians wonder how they can know the power of God. These great verses describe it! However, it is also important in showing the role of the Spirit because His mighty actions are linked to each piece of armor in other scripture.
- Truth (our belt to prepare us v.14) – Living in truth is a fruit of the Spirit (Ephesians 5:9) and provides mental preparation for making proper decisions and actions.
- Righteousness (our breastplate v.14) – A fruit of the Spirit is a holy heart that is set apart to serve God and perceives and rejects sin (Ephesians 5:9).
- Share the gospel (the shoes to carry us to battle v.15) – By telling others the message of salvation Christians see the power of God to change others and positively affect society, which is assisted by the Spirit (Romans 1:16-17; 2 Timothy 1:7; John 16:8-11).
- Faith (our shield v.16) – A fruit of the Spirit also is faith in which believers make all decisions and God desires (Galatians 5:22,23; Romans 14:23).
- Eternal security (our helmet v.17) – The sound knowledge of security of salvation protects a believer’s head in the face of trouble in this world; its function is from the Spirit (Romans 15:13).
- The Bible (our sword v.17) – The power of God in the Christian walk is through the action of the Spirit in accordance to the Bible. Wow what great truths! These passages tell us how the Spirit acts in believers lives to cause them to please God and experience His power.
Believer’s responsibilities to the Spirit
Christian’s actions towards the Spirit are nicely divided into two subcategories, what to do and what not to do. According to scripture, the Spirit dwells in believers permanently from the time of belief unto the day of redemption (Ephesians 1:13-14); the full use of the Spirit’s power is available throughout life.
- What not to do!
- Grieve the Spirit (Ephesians 4:30)
- Suppress the Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:19)
These verses do not explain how to avoid grieving or suppressing the Spirit. However, we suspect it’s sin that would make the Spirit sad, or suppress His actions in a person’s life because they are seeking their own desires.
- What to do!
- Walk in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16,25) – The word ‘walk’ (peripateoo, περιπατεω) indicates our manner of life, or lifestyle, especially in the moral realm.
- Be mature in the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18) – The illustration in this great verse is not to be drunk. Alcohol literally can control brain cells by its chemical effect. In contrast, for mature Christians, their old actions are no longer possible as they have been changed by the Spirit, thus in contrast with being drunk where actions are controlled by alcohol, a believer should be unable to resist the Spirit, or instead be “controlled” by Him.
- Be zealous towards the Spirit (Romans 12:10).
- Put to death the deeds of the flesh (Romans 8:13) – The Spirit helps a believer defeat sin, but this verse indicates it is by obedience that a person facilitates the Spirit’s gracious help.
How does a Christian accomplish the four actions above? Scripture is not specific, but based on the Epistles as a whole, these commands seem to indicate it is by actively seeking and knowing God’s word and being obedient to it.
By this process the Spirit can change a believer’s mindset as they see God’s working, the truth of His word, His answered prayer, His power and His changing lives to a mature person (2 Corinthians 3:18).
Note: Unforgivable sin – Christ mentions not commit the unforgivable sin by blaspheming the Spirit (Matthew 12:31-32). How dies it apply to Christians?
Importantly, this verse often is taken out of context. In this passage Christ is directing His wrath towards the Jewish Pharisees. At Christ’s baptism, at the initiation of his ministry, the Pharisees had rejected the witness given by the Holy Spirit when He came down from heaven on our Savior.
Therefore, to blaspheme the physical manifestation of Christ on earth is forgivable but to reject God’s approval (signified by the Spirit) of his spiritual mission to bring salvation to man is unforgivable, in other words by rejecting the salvation message.
Importantly, Christians are not in view in this passage as they have the Spirit’s sealing until the day of redemption, having accepted Christ as Savior (Ephesians 1:13,14 and 4:30).