In the previous lesson learned about the Holy Spirit who is the 3rd person in the Godhead, and learned of Deity, personality and revelation in the Scriptures. Now we will learn further about the Holy Spirit and His work in the context of our lives as individual Christians.
The Old Testament foretold His pouring
In the Old Testament The Holy Spirit came on individuals temporarily, generally for a particular task and for a period of time, as it was in the case of Saul, (1 Samuel 16:14) and Samson (Judges 16:20).
Throughout its pages the writers of the Old Testament expressed a longing for help, God’s power, and an ultimate relationship with Him. The psalmists and the prophets poured out their hearts over and over and God responded unerringly. God’s interventions were attributed to the Spirit of the Lord, God’s Spirit, the Spirit of God, or simply, the Spirit. Only three times is the “Holy Spirit” used in the Old Testament (Psalm 51:11; Isaiah 63:10). The New Testament uses “Holy Spirit” over 250 times when referring to God’s Spirit. 1
Just as the truth of the Trinity is hinted at in the Old Testament but awaits its fullest expression in the New, so with truth about the Holy Spirit. His personality and deity are evident in the Old Testament, but the full expression of His activity is given only in the New Testament. The New Testament completes this picture.
The Spirit’s work in the Old Testament was foretelling the sublime fulfillment of God’s covenant promised to Israel and poured out on “all people.” 2
Arrival of the Promised Gift
Following His death and resurrection, Jesus gave His disciples His last instructions: “Wait for the gift my Father promised…you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 1:4-5)3
Acts 2:4 (Joel 2:28-32)
Acts 2: 36
The Ministry of the Holy Spirit
A. Among non-believers
You may be surprised to know that the Spirit is involved in the unsaved world. He works among the unsaved at all times. As a matter of fact, in one of the letters to the Thessalonians, we read that He is actively involved in restraining sin (2 Thessalonians 2:7) Do you have any idea how much evil would be on this earth if the Spirit of God were suddenly removed? His omnipresence is like a worldwide envelope of righteousness, a bubble of invisible restraint. He holds a great deal of evil in check. But when He is removed, literally all hell will break loose on this globe!4
But the Holy Spirit’s work does not merely stop with restraining all wickedness in the world, John 16:8-13 gives Jesus’ outline of the Spirit work so far as humanity is concerned:
The Holy Spirit convicts of guilt in regard to sin (John 16.8-9). Without the unveiling of the Holy Spirit we would not believe we are really sinning. Why should the sight of a man crucified 2,000 years ago tear at the heart of people centuries later? This is the work of the Holy Spirit or else we would not know of our need of a Savior.
The Holy Spirit is the one who brings conviction of sin to an individual (John 16:8; Acts 2:37). Whenever a person comes to a sense of his own sinfulness, whether by the preached, written, or personally spoken word the Spirit of God has been at work.
The Holy Spirit convicts of righteousness (John 16:11). The meaning of this is only clear when we see the righteousness of Jesus Christ, who gave His life for the world. The sting of sin and the imperative of righteousness for all of us is found on the cross. The Spirit’s work is to reveal what the holiness of God desires for us The Spirit’s work is to reveal what the holiness of God desires for us. Through Christ’s death He gives to us His righteousness; He makes us sensitive to any antithesis (the direct opposite of something, Webster) of God’s revealed righteousness.5
The Holy Spirit convicts of judgment to come (John 16:12). Only through the work of the Spirit in our lives can we understand the imperative of judgment. In the moral world, the prospect of judgment is certain and brought Jesus Christ to take our judgment upon Himself on the cross. Through the Spirit, we are thus awakened to faith in Jesus. Through the Spirit, we recognize the crucified Jesus as the risen and ascended Lord. Through the Spirit, we say “Yes” to Jesus from the depths of our hearts.6
B. Among Believers
One of the most important areas of the Spirit’s work is with respect to God’s plan of salvation, which is unveiled in John 16:7-8, by whom sinners are born into God’s kingdom (John 3:5-8).
The conviction by the Holy Spirit is His work of regeneration, the new birth: “So it is with everyone born of the Spirit” (John 3:8). He indwells everyone who is in the church of Jesus Christ by the new birth. It is empathically true that if anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to Christ” (Romans 8:9). Equally true is that every Christian has the Holy Spirit with His counseling, help and conviction, beginning from the time of belief and commitment.7
Regeneration is something that God does through the power of the Holy Spirit, (Titus 3:5-6), the power that enables us to be “born again” or “born from above,” as is Jesus’ discourse with Nicodemus (John 3). Being regenerated does not mean that we are no longer tempted to sin; the tendency to sin lives on. The apostle Paul wrote, “ I do not do what I ant, but I do the very thing I hate” (Romans 7:15). Being regenerated means that we are no longer controlled by sin or are “slaves” to sin. (Romans 6:20-23).8
2. The Sealing of the Holy Spirit
A seal was an ancient device, usually a signet ring or cylinder seal engraved with the owner’s name or with a particular design used to seal goods, demonstrate ownership, attest a document’s authenticity, or impress an early form of a trademark.
The seal indicated ownership and security. It is the guarantee of future blessings. The presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives is God’s promise of our inheritance I the future! 9
The Bible also tells us also that we are baptized with the Holy Spirit upon the moment of our conversion upon which we are also sealed until the arrival of our ultimate redemption in the End of the Age. (Ephesians 1:13-14; 1Corinthians 12:13).
3. The Indwelling of the Holy Spirit
1. Romans 8:9 - The Bible also tells us that there is a special relationship between the individual Christian and the Holy Spirit which can be summed up in the theological term which is called sanctification, which comes from the word sanctify, which means “to make holy.” It refers to the Holy Spirit’s continuing work that enables believers to grow in purity. As with regeneration, sanctification does not mean that one no longer sins. The battles in the flesh continue, but through the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit the Christian grows in obedience to God and in righteousness and in holiness. Thus it is completely impossible for a person to be a Christian and not be indwelled by the Holy Spirit. 1 Corinthians 2:12-14
IV. Our response – to be filed with the Holy Spirit
1 Thessalonians 5:19
To be filled with the Spirit is to be “under His total domination and control.”
“To be filled with the Spirit involves confession of sin, surrender of will, intellect, body, time, talent, possessions and desires. It requires the death to selfishness and the slaying of self-will.”
“To be filled with God’s Spirit is to be filled with His Word. And as we are filled with God’s Word, it controls our thinking and action.”10
When the Holy Spirit does His work of producing His fruit in us, we find that all the fruits in Galatians 5:22-23 are ours as we submit to the mind of Christ, the example of His life, and the internal guidance of the Spirit.
Every Christian is indwelt by the Holy Spirit, and He is a constant guide to the individual Christian: “Those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God” (Romans 8:14). We are instructed to “live by the Spirit” (Galatians 5:16). His leadership is one of the signs that an individual is really a child of God: He leads us today as He led and guided the early Christians in the Book of Acts. 11
Application - 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
1 Little, Paul – Know What You Believe p. 84
4 Swindoll, Charles – Growing Deep in the Christian Faith p.184
6 Myers, Benjamin - http://faith-theology.blogspot.com/2006/09/theology-for-beginners-16-spirit.html
8 Schwarz, John – Handbook of the Christian Faith p. 199
9 McArthur, John – Fundamentals of the Faith p.50
10 McArthur, John