"What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?" - Jesus Christ
The Work of the Holy Spirit
What was the Holy Spirit doing in the past?
What did the Holy Spirit do in connection with the start of the New Testament age?
- He was involved in creation (Genesis 1:2).
- He strove with the ante-diluvians (Genesis 6:3)
- He strengthened people, such as Samson and Saul
- He made people skilled, such as David
- He guided people.
What does the Holy Spirit do today in the world at large?
- He was involved in the conception of Jesus in Mary's womb (Luke 1:35)
- He was present at the immersion of the Lord Jesus in the Jordan, and then His temptation, ministry, death and resurrection.
- He was present at Pentecost, guiding the Apostles.
- Christ told the disciples that the Holy Spirit would bring them to remembrance of things that Christ taught them, which would apply to the church age - this was future when he mentioned it (John 14:26). Thus we have the gospels written by the apostles under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
- He would testify of the Lord Jesus - He will teach them things about Jesus that they couldn't know then - the Acts and the Epistles.
- He would reveal things to come - God's overall plan for time (Revelation).
What does He do in the life of a believer?
- He exercises a control over evil (2 Thessalonians 2:7 - in old English, "letteth" actually means "prevents")
- He convicts unbelievers: "And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment" - Jn 16:8. When the gospel is preached, the Holy Spirit works in the hearts of the hearers, convicting them and enabling them to respond to the word which is preached. Many times unbelievers lie, resist, insult him with regard to Christ's sacrifice, and blaspheme him.
How do we let the Holy Spirit do His work effectively in our lives?
- He helps comforts and strengthens our inner man.
- He's also engaged in a battle: the flesh v/s the spirit.
- He enables us to overcome the external influences that are in the world.
- He gives specific gifts (1 Cointhians 12:8)
- The Holy Spirit is involved in our resurrection
- He produces fruit (Galatians 5:22).
- He helps us pray (Romans 8:26)
- He helps us witness when we're pulled up by authorities (Luke 12:11,12)
- First of all, we should avoid the error of the Galatians. They were tricked into living like the Jews, who thought spirituality was all about keeping the right dates and diets. This is centered on human effort. We need to realize that successful Christian living is not a set of rules and rituals kept to perfection, but Christ, and His Spirit, living through us. To live a good Christian life, you don't make lists of rules. You spend time with God and have Him make you more like Him.
- We perform our part - to feed our spirit and starve our flesh. If you're a young man and (like most men) you have a problem avoiding lusting after women, the Holy Spirit will help you control your thoughts. This does not mean that you watch Desperate Housewives - your job is to avoid sources of temptation and spend time with God. There are some temptations that cannot be avoided, like a provocative newspaper ad or the immodestly dressed client who visits your office; it's His job to help you with these. The Holy Spirit does not force Himself on anyone. So He will not work in our lives unless we demonstrate a desire for Him. A W Tozer put it this way: "A Christian is only as filled with the Holy Spirit as he wants to be". A wonderful analogy exists in 2 Kings 4. A widow in need came to Elisha. He instructed her to pour oil from a pot into other pots. So she made her son gather as many vessels and did so. "And it came to pass, when the vessels were full, that she said unto her son, Bring me yet a vessel. And he said unto her, [There is] not a vessel more. And the oil stayed." (2 Kings 4:6). Heaven did not run out of oil; earth ran out of vessels!! We're the only limitation to what God can do in and through us!
- We should not quench the Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:19). Laziness or complacency on our part can stifle or suppress His work. For instance, you have an appointment with an unbeliever who is interested in the gospel. If you spend the time prior to it trivially or wastefully, or if you let yourself develop a hesitation and change the subject of your conversation with the seeker whenever he mentions spiritual things, you're quenching the Spirit.
- We should not grieve the Holy Spirit. If you sin, you're grieving the Holy Spirit. Anything kept at home that dishonors God will grieve the Holy Spirit.