Often in ministry, pastors in counseling situations end up dealing with the felt needs of individuals. But underlying those felt needs are the actual needs. The real needs are usually related to incorrect actions that stem from aberrant thinking, i.e., biblical ignorance or poor theology. For as he thinks in his heart, so is he, states Proverbs 23:7 (NKJV).
Accordingly, and to shape proper thinking, a person must be guided by God’s Word. But to manifest right actions, God’s Word must be overwhelmingly powerful and convincing in the conscience of the individual—in his or her thinking. Our conscience is no better than what we are conscientious about.
This is where studying the great doctrines of the faith comes into play. When a person grasps and understands all that Scripture has to say about a particular subject, it will often be persuasive to the conscience—and guide the person into right actions.
With that introduction in view, I would like to study the great Bible doctrine of the Holy Spirit with you. May the profound truths about the Third Person of the Trinity help to further mature you in the faith and strengthen your thinking, conscience, and ensuing actions.
Jesus said to the disciples and ostensibly to believers today, I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever ( John 14:16). Jesus’ ministry with His disciples was limited by time as He would soon ascend into heaven. That God has empowered all believers with the Third Person of the Trinity is comforting news, known only through studying and applying the truth of the Scripture!
Known also as the Helper in Scripture, the Holy Spirit is God; the Bible identifies Him as one of three Persons existing as one God: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. As the third member of the Godhead, He is tasked with the ministries of helping and empowering. Via His enabling, every public servant who is a follower of Christ can do what is right in his personal and vocational life. In the study that follows, “Do You Grieve or Quench the Holy Spirit?” we will learn more about who the Holy Spirit is, His presence and ministry, and His enabling, helping abilities in the believer’s life. It follows that, given His multifaceted positive functions, we would not want to grieve or quench Him.
II. THE HOLY SPIRIT IS A PERSON
A. RECOGNIZED AS A PERSON
Personal pronouns like “He” or “Him” are used to refer to the Holy Spirit rather than “it.” Note that “He” or “Him” is used four times in John 14:17 to refer to the Holy Spirit:
That is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.
B. ATTRIBUTES OF PERSONALITY
Personality is defined by the presence of intellect, emotion, and volition. Notice each of these capacities is a part of the Holy Spirit as revealed in the following respective passages.
Romans 8:26 and 27 reveal that the Holy Spirit has intellectual capacity. He possesses the ability to know and understand reality:
In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words…He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
What a comforting passage! As we often fumble around in our prayers, the Holy Spirit has the intellectual capacity to cut to the chase and read the desire of our hearts—effectuating our prayers to God the Father! He helps us to pray. (This passage has led me to conclude that quantity is more important than quality when it comes to praying.)
Furthermore, relative to intellect, in 1 Corinthians 2:10–11 notice that the Holy Spirit has the ability to search and comprehend:
For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God.
The Holy Spirit aids in our understanding of both God and self. All of the above to say, the Holy Spirit is not some kind of ghost, nor is He esoteric in terms of our understanding of Him; He is a person as revealed by His intellectual capacity. Accordingly,
He who dwells in the believer is both personal and intelligent. It follows that we should strive to have a personal, intellectual relationship with Him!
The Holy Spirit possesses the ability to experience emotion. One passage, Ephesians 4:29–30, reveals that He grieves when we use the temple in which He dwells (our physical body, cf. 1 Corinthians 3:16) in ways uncharacteristic of Him. As an ambassador of Christ, you regularly and in multifarious ways mischaracterize the very nature of Him whom you actually carry around inside of you:
Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
The Holy Spirit possesses the ability to determine and/or act decisively. This capability also reveals His personal nature as evidenced in 1 Corinthians 12:7, 11. Herein the Apostle Paul reveals that the Holy Spirit oversees determining and distributing spiritual gifts to believers:
But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good…But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.
The following two Scriptures also serve to reveal the volitional aspect of the Holy Spirit:
While they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them” (Acts 13:2).
For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay upon you no greater burden than these essentials (Acts 15:28).
In summary of this first insight regarding the nature of the Holy Spirit, throughout Scripture God the Holy Spirit illustratively possesses intellect, emotion, and volition, which, when examined together, underscore that He is not a thing or a ghost, but rather can be likened to a person. This theological knowledge manifests in the practice of a very personal way of living with Him! As a believer, you can know Him Who lives in your heart! In fact, God the Holy Spirit desires to have an ever-increasing personal relationship! So, learn to talk to Him through prayer; consult with Him, and enjoy His ever-present company! He is there to help you, encourage you, guide you, and correct you! Memorize and meditate often on the opening passage of this study, John 14:16, in regard to the purpose and role of the Third Member of the Trinity. Again, Jesus states regarding His eventual departure from His disciples:
I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever.
III. THE HOLY SPIRIT IS GOD
The Scripture expressly declares that the Holy Spirit has the same attributes as God does. Note these common characteristics in the following chart:
Scripture, which also expressly states that the Holy Spirit is obviously a different personage, harmonizes with the classic, tightest definition of the Trinity: “Three different personages of the same numerical essence.” If the Holy Spirit is omniscient, omnipresent, eternal, and infallible (“incapable of being untruthful”), it stands to reason that He, too, is God. Note the following in this regard:
Pseudo-Christian cults all have something in common—a faulty definition of the Trinity, erring at some biblically explicit point of definition.
B. STATEMENTS OF DEITY
In further support of the fact that the Holy Spirit is God, in 2 Corinthians 3:17 the Apostle Paul states explicitly the deity of the Holy Spirit:
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.
In Acts 5:3–4, Peter references an aforementioned point in this study, the personal nature of the Holy Spirit as illustrated by the fact that Ananias lied to Him. But notice further that Peter associates lying to the Holy Spirit as synonymous with lying to God:
But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back some of the price of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not under your control? Why is it that you have conceived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.”
These passages and many others underscore the historic scriptural underpinnings for the doctrine of the Trinity and specifically herein, that the Holy Spirit is a member of it.
IV. THE WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
As a personal member of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit has certain responsibilities, and what follows is an assortment of those. For instance, according to Psalm 104:30, the Holy Spirit is active in creation and its continual renewal:
You send forth Your Spirit, they are created; And You renew the face of the ground.
In a world cursed with sin, one of the ministries of the Holy Spirit is to sustain and maintain our fallen earth and its ecosystem prior to the coming of a new heaven and new earth as described in Revelation 21:1 and 22:1–3.1
Last, in terms of a quick survey, note yet another important responsibility of the Holy Spirit:
V. THE MINISTRY OF THE HOLY SPIRIT IN SALVATION
One of the most important areas of the Spirit’s work is regarding God’s plan of salvation. Yet another connotation of the Holy Spirit’s being our Helper is related to an individual’s salvation. Jesus states in this regard ( John 16:7–8):
But 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 go, I will send Him to you. And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment.
By the Holy Spirit, sinners are convicted of their sin and born into God’s kingdom, John 3:5–8:
Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
As it specifically relates to the role of the Holy Spirit in salvation, note what He does in this regard per Titus 3:5–7:
He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
Lastly, in terms of the ministry of the Holy Spirit in salvation, according to Ephesians 1:13–14, the Holy Spirit seals and guarantees the believer’s salvation:
In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.
An explanation about the sealing with the Holy Spirit is in order. A seal was usually a signet ring or a cylinder engraved with the owner’s name or a particular design. This ancient emblem was used to seal goods, to demonstrate ownership, to attest to a document’s authenticity, or to physically impress upon something an early form of a trademark. To the point, the idea of an ancient seal indicated ownership and security. Here in Ephesians, Paul picks up on this cultural understanding to represent and communicate the believer’s guarantee of future blessings.
God states that the personal presence of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer is the promise of our inheritance in the future!
What a wonderful assurance of salvation! When saved by the Holy Spirit, a believer is simultaneously sealed by the Holy Spirit for all eternity per this magnificent passage (and many others)!
VI. THE MINISTRY OF THE HOLY SPIRIT IN THE BELIEVER’S LIFE A. HE INDWELLS EVERY BELIEVER
The setting of the book of Romans records the Apostle Paul’s speaking to saved individuals; it is one of the primary books of the New Testament regarding the doctrine of salvation. In chapter 8, verse 9, notice how the Holy Spirit relates to those who are redeemed:
However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.
This passage unequivocally indicates that it is impossible to be a Christian and not be indwelled by the Holy Spirit. There should be no question in your mind that if you have come to faith in Christ, you are also indwelled by the Spirit of God.
B. HE GUIDED THE AUTHORSHIP OF SCRIPTURE
Another ministry of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer can be identified in 1 Corinthians 2:12–13 (the “we” that follows is a reference to Paul and the other apostles):
Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.
In other words, the Holy Spirit inspired the authors of Scripture—what they wrote came from Him; He guided the penning of Scripture that so blesses every believer to this day!
Second Peter 1:21 serves to further underscore this inspiration. (I like how the Jerusalem Bible translation states the original Greek text here):
For no prophecy ever came from man’s initiative. When men spoke for God it was the Holy Spirit that moved them.
C. THE BELIEVER HAS RESPONSIBILITIES IN RELATION TO HIM
Again, given the significant and profound benefits that inure to the life of the believer, no follower of Christ in his right mind would ever want to short-circuit the Holy Spirit’s empowerment in any way. Yet the Bible says that condition is possible—so beware!
1. Do Not Grieve Him
As mentioned earlier in the study, in Ephesians 4:30 Paul instructs the believers at the Church in Ephesus not to grieve the personally indwelling Holy Spirit. This is worth stating again: God is grieved when believers fail to live in accordance with their new life in Christ. You have been bought with a price, and you carry around inside of you the Holy Spirit. Represent Him well! Don’t make His inhabitance a difficult daily chore—one to which He does not look forward!
2. Do Not Quench Him
In 1 Thessalonians 5:19 Paul states imperatively,
Do not quench the Spirit.
If it is normative for the Holy Spirit who dwells in you to continually create a fire in your bosom to live righteously, then sinning carries the idea of dousing or quenching that fire. Do not douse all His power that would otherwise consistently and continually dwell within you!
3. Be Continually Filled with Him
Continuing along the lines of His personal empowerment to enable you to live righteously, take careful note of Ephesians 5:18:
And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit.
Herein Paul is not so much contrasting two different kinds of lifestyles as he is comparing two lives that are controlled by outer forces. This passage indicates that for the indwelled believer to be totally controlled by an outer force is normative and desirable—in this case, not wine but the power of the Holy Spirit. He should permeate every area of your being, which, in the case of a public servant, should include policymaking! There must be no compartmentalization as to what portion of a believer’s life is filled or controlled by the Holy Spirit. To oppose His filling in any area is in essence to quench Him.
In a cursory study of the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer, the following point should also be well understood:
We are baptized in the Holy Spirit when we are saved, but there are many subsequent fillings of the Holy Spirit.2
Whereas the baptism of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer occurs in a positional sense at the time of salvation, in a practical, ongoing sense, there are many fillings of the Holy Spirit. These fillings occur whenever the believer exhales sin (confesses and repents) and then inhales, so to speak, i.e., asks God to reappropriate the fullness and control of the Holy Spirit in and over the throne of his life. To illustrate and underscore this important truth regarding the Holy Spirit, note that in the book of Acts, only one time are believers baptized by the Holy Spirit—at the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2. However, this historical narrative tells of numerous times when the believers are filled with the Holy Spirit. Importantly, deal with sin in your life to remain filled and empowered by the Holy Spirit on a daily basis.
4. A Further, Critical Understanding Relative to Being Filled
Colossians 3:16 provides a keen insight regarding further understanding of this vitally important truth:
Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
The same attributes listed at the end of Ephesians 5:18 appear in Colossians 3:16 also—only the cause is different in each passage. Letting the word of Christ dwell in you richly and being filled with the Spirit in a deductive sense are the same, i.e., being filled with the Spirit is commensurate with the degree to which the Word of Christ dwells in you! This is a huge insight: the Word is your charging station that allows your vehicle to remain energized and operate effectively for His glory and purpose: no Word = no power.
5. Keep from Sin
Galatians 5:16 states:
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.
Building further on this concept, the key to living a victorious Christian life is the lifelong fundamental habit of Bible study, which will keep you filled with the Spirit; this is synonymous with walking in the Spirit, which is the deterrent to carrying out the desires of the flesh.
The degree to which you are filled with the Word is the degree to which you will become powerful in the Spirit and resist the temptation to be fleshly.
D. EVIDENCE OF THE BELIEVER’S BEING FILLED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT
When a believer is filled with the Holy Spirit, he will exhibit the fruit of the Spirit. Examine Galatians 5:22–25 with this in mind:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.
The nine characteristics of being filled with the Holy Spirit in this passage are not characteristics you are supposed to conjure up and discipline yourself to do as much as they are evidence or indicators of the believer who is filled with the Holy Spirit: He comes out of your pores when you let Him! Do these attributes of His indwelling, filling, and empowering presence characterize you? Are you exhibiting these qualities in your own life? What unconfessed sin(s) is/are preventing Him from permeating and exuding from your life?
Of note here and in any study on the Holy Spirit, being filled with the Spirit is both critical and progressive. That a believer must be filled with the Spirit versus walking in the flesh is of critical importance. But being filled with the Spirit is also progressive: a believer who has walked in the Spirit for many years will evidence more of the fruit of the Spirit than a believer who has walked in the Spirit for only several months.
Observe carefully and meditate on 1 Corinthians 6:19–20:
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.
This passage must have major significance in every believer’s life!
God has bought you out of this world at a tremendous cost to Himself ! At the same time that He purchased you with the blood of Christ, He bought you, my friend! And He indwelled you with His Holy Spirit.
Now He expects you to serve Him and glorify Him as you live out the remainder of your earthly existence! These theological truths regarding the Holy Spirit need to recreate and shape your identity, i.e., how you see yourself in this life! They need to inform every area of your service to Him: through personal devotion of one’s self, personal commitment to family, and personal commitment as a public servant to your nation. Do not grieve or quench Him in any area of your life!
1. Worth noting here is that Psalm 104:30 and other related passages serve to counter the idea that man by himself can destroy his earthly habitat. To think that man can annihilate the earth stems from an ultra-hubristic, secular worldview of the supreme importance of man. In contrast, the Bible states that God remains omniscient, omnipresent and omnipotent in the current affairs of mankind and that He reigns supreme over the environment He created in the first place. It follows that the believer can wholly rely on God’s promises pertaining to His sustainment of the earth’s ecosystem, even with man’s Fall in view. In the book of Genesis, God promises never to flood the earth again (Genesis 9:11), and in the Sermon on the Mount, God promises always to send rain, which specifically includes mention of its falling on the unrighteous (Matthew 5:45). God’s common grace and biological sustainment are ongoing promises in a fallen world (cf. Matthew 6:25–32) and contradict such fad theories as global warming.
2. A historical portion of Evangelicalism believes in what is commonly known and referred to as the “Second Baptism.” Advocates believe that one receives the indwelling Holy Spirit at a future point after receiving Christ. Personally, I adhere to the theological position that the Holy Spirit indwells every believer at the point in time when he or she repents from sin and comes to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, i.e., the believer is indwelled at salvation (cf. Romans 8:9; Acts 11:17). Advocates of the Second Baptism position usually cite the book of Acts. Those who oppose this position believe that Acts is a historical narrative account of the beginning of the Church and is not necessarily normative/exemplary for Christian practice today. In arguing their viewpoint, they cite the doctrinal books of the NT (such as Romans), which inarguably provide normative guidelines for the orthopraxy of the believer today. Embracing the Second Baptism position can lead to an overly subjective and mystical personal faith, in that much emphasis is placed on His internal, personal guidance versus the objective revelation of Scripture that is outside of oneself. But having said that and stating that I hold to that position, the orthopraxy of many non-Second Baptism believers reveals little place for the Helper to impress or guide in their Christian experience; rather, theirs is an overreliance on the objective, outside source of Scripture only for guidance. These Evangelicals are too often characterized by a rigidity and legalistic approach to Scripture with a less-than-personal (or in my humble opinion, attractive) manifestation of Christianity. All this explanation is to illustrate that theology matters today! It is extremely important because one’s orthodoxy (theological understandings) leads to one’s orthopraxy (the outworking practice of one’s faith).