Our human tendency is to try to make everything we know about God fit into a box we can understand. We like linear lines that take us from point A to point B in the fastest way possible. We like logical explanations. We trade mysteries for predictability.
But God himself is a mystery. The Pharisees and Sadducees reveal the trouble that comes when we try to regulate God. They were so immersed in the regulations, in adding extra parameters and rules around God’s law, that they failed to recognize when God appeared. He does things we don’t understand, which sometimes makes us uncomfortable.
The Holy Spirit can fall into this unpredictable category of God’s personhood. We regulate him to an annual Pentecost sermon, the Trinity, our eternal deposit, and the early church. I don’t ever want to regulate God’s spirit. For the last thirty-plus years, I have had the Holy Spirit’s influence in my life, and I know God better than I could ever have imagined. I wouldn’t trade the mystery and irregularity for anything.
There is evidence after evidence of God’s spirit, the Holy Spirit, from Genesis to Revelation. In the Old Testament, we see his spirit move and rest on people. In the New Testament, we learn that he lives in those who accept Jesus’ gift of salvation. The Holy Spirit is progressive, personal, truth-centered, and Christ-glorifying.
1. The Holy Spirit comes into us at salvation.
He gives us purpose to be witnesses, over-comers, anointed, and to obey God’s word. He enables us to love our enemies, operate in spiritual works, hear God’s voice, and walk in communion with God. The work that God has for us in this life, and the fruit he wants us to bear, we cannot do apart from the power of the Holy Spirit.
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. – 2 Corinthians 3:17
2. After salvation, we experience Holy Spirit immersion.
This brings us freedom from addiction, sin, and in turn gives us deep peace, unexplainable joy, and renewed passion. It gives us boldness, a decreased appetite for this world, prophecy, and the assurance of sonship.
“For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. – Romans 8:14-17
3. The Holy Spirit is a unique person of the Trinity.
He is separate from God and Jesus and yet is one with them as well. He is co-equal and co-eternal and is an extension of both God and Jesus. It is possible to grieve, quench, or resist him. Tim Challies says this about what it means to grieve the Spirit: “We do well, then, to consider the magnitude of our offences against God that they could move him to such sorrow. Sins that bring disunity to the church also bring grief to the Holy Spirit.”
“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
“And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” – Ephesians 4:30
4. The Holy Spirit is our guarantee of eternity at salvation.
“In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promise of the Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory,” Ephesians 1:13-14.
This is the initial indwelling of the Holy Spirit in our lives, a reminder of the guarantee we have from God of our salvation. No one can take that away from us. The next time you sense the Spirit at work in you, helping you to avoid temptation or bear good fruit, consider it a reminder from God that he will finish the good work he has started in you.
5. The Holy Spirit is active and living inside you.
He gives you the ability to choose to live for the Spirit rather than the flesh. Our dependence on the Holy Spirit is what makes the Spirit so powerful in our lives. As we continue to lean on the Spirit, it becomes easier to stay in step with the Spirit. Are you weary in doing good, growing in patience, joy or self-control? Deepen your dependence on the Holy Spirit, and realize more of God’s power in your life.
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. – Galatians 5:16-17
6. It’s the Holy Spirit who makes God’s Word come alive.
He connects the dots between the Old and New Testaments. He reminds us of Jesus’ teachings, and helps us to worship God in spirit and in truth. It’s where the Holy Spirit reveals God’s truth to our hearts, and where our spirits respond to his. This living word brings a unity between man’s spirit and God’s spirit.
God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” – John 4:24
7. The Holy Spirit breathes new life into us.
He makes us into new creations. In John 3:3-6, Nicodemus wonders at the incredible idea of being born again. Jesus assures Nicodemus that man needs to experience two births: a natural one of the flesh, and the supernatural one of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit regenerates our spirit just as Jesus came to make a way for us back to get back God.
Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” – John 3:3-6
8. The Spirit gives us gifts with which we are to bless God and others.
1 Corinthians 12 explains the gifts that the Spirit gives us. Later in 1 Corinthians 12-14, Paul further explains how those gifts function in the body of Christ. These gifts come from the Holy Spirit for the common good of the body of Christ, and they help us live holy lives and minister to others. This is how the body of Christ is effective in the world.
“Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.” – 1 Corinthians 12:4-11
9. The Holy Spirit guides us into God’s wisdom and gives us direction and peace.
Who doesn’t need guidance? This world feels hard and oftentimes we get stuck. We look to social media, friends, shopping, addictions, success, or our pride for help. But all these, at some point, will crush us. We become desperate. We ache with disappointment. The world cannot give us the wisdom we covet.
“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” – John 14:26-27
10. The Spirit intercedes on our behalf when life is too painful or overwhelming.
There will be times when life renders us speechless. We won’t know what to say or how to pray. Taking our pain out on others becomes an unhealthy outlet. It’s in those speechless moments when we let the Holy Spirit intercede for us. We drop to our knees, allowing the weeping and groaning to begin.
“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
Release your tendency to regulate the things you struggle to understand about God, and trust his Spirit to reveal his heart to you in his time frame. You don’t want to miss him when he appears in your life. Embrace his mystery and unpredictably.
God gives his spirit to you in the form of the gift at salvation. It’s a gift that you can either leave wrapped, or you can open it. When you choose the latter, you know the fullness of life the Holy Spirit brings to your Christian walk. This gift then pours out of you into the world through your words, actions, and life.
But it’s a gift that you must open and use everyday if you want the benefit of the Holy Spirit in your life. It will never expire or run dry. Open it daily and witness how your life becomes richer as you experience the fullness of God.
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