The Holy Spirit—is it a power? A force? Is it an “it” or a He? Is He God? Is He visible?
Perhaps the most misunderstood and least mentioned person of the Godhead is the Holy Spirit/Holy Ghost. A lack of understanding of who He is and what He does lead to many misconceptions about Him.
1 Corinthians 2:14 – “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”
Since the natural man finds the “Supernatural / Spiritual Matters” unnatural, one must be born-again (John 3) through the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ so that they can receive the indwelling sealing of the Holy Ghost. Without being born-again, people will rely on their 5 senses, perspectives and ideas and misinterpret these as power of the Holy Ghost.
Understanding the biblical role of the Holy Spirit is the most challenging part of the re-learning curve for former Charismatics who were exposed to extremely unhealthy and heretical understanding of the Holy Spirit. Christians have to be aware of how Charismatics view and define common terminologies differently. For example, praying in the Spirit (1 Corinthians 14:15, Ephesians 6:18, Jude 20) means praying by the leading of the Holy Spirit according to God’s will in the Bible, but a Charismatic tend to understand it as through speaking in tongues, soaking in the presence, slaying in the spirit, shaking, convulsing and other similarly experiential factors.
By soundly studying the Scriptures through faith, believers can understand the perfect will of God (2 Timothy 2:15, Romans 12:2).
Who is the Holy Spirit?
He is the third Person of the triune Godhead, also known as the Holy Ghost. The first mention of the Holy Spirit can be found in Genesis 1:2. He, as part of the triune Godhead, was present and involved in the creation of heaven and the earth (Genesis 1), and ultimately in mankind. The Holy Spirit is called many names in Scripture, including: Holy Ghost (eg. Acts 2:38), Spirit of God (eg. Genesis 1:2), Spirit of the Father (eg. Matthew 10:20), Spirit of Christ (eg. Romans 8:9), Comforter (eg. John 14:26). He is not a force or feeling. He can be grieved (Ephesians 4:30). He cannot be seen by our natural eyes. He has all the attributes of God—omniscient (all-knowing), omnipresent (all-present) and omnipotent (all-powerful). He is not an “it,” but is God.
1 John 5:7 (KJV) – For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. (NOTE: Unlike the KJV, many of the modern bible versions which are based on the corrupt Westcott and Hort manuscripts have omitted “the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one”)
No one can adequately explain how God can be 3 Persons in One without the Scriptures, which is the basis of Faith (Romans 10:17). All we can do is believe in it. In Genesis 1:26 and 11:3-7, God referred to Himself as “we,” “us,” and “our.” Matthew 3:16 tells us of the Holy Spirit descending “like a dove” upon Jesus before He began His earthly ministry. We shall see in the following, the evident power of the Holy Spirit through His works.
The work of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament (OT)
In the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit could be upon people, and He could depart from them as He willed. Some examples:
- Before the flood (Genesis 6:3)
- Gideon (Judges 6:34)
- King Saul (1 Sam 10:10, 11:6, 16:14)
- David’s plea for God’s forgiveness after his adultery with Bathsheba (Psalm 51:11-12)
The Holy Spirit selected people in service for God by performing miracles through them. Some examples:
- Bezalel was used to create the artwork of the Tabernacle in accordance to God’s guidelines for the Tabernacle (Exodus 31:1-5)
- Transfer of the Holy Spirit from Moses to the 70 elders (Numbers 11:25)
- Joshua as the next leader of Israel after Moses to overcome the Canaanites (Numbers 27:18)
- Judges were raised to rebuke and deliver Israel out of their enemies (Judges 3:9-10 and the entire book of Judges)
- Azariah , king of Judah to destroy the idols in Israel (2 Chronicles 15)
The work of the Holy Spirit
(before & after the resurrection of Christ)
- He convicts the world of sin, righteousness and judgement
John 16:7-14 – Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: Of sin, because they believe not on me; Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged. I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.
The Holy Spirit is the one who convinced you how terrible your sin was and how lost you were. He convicted you to get saved “now.” After you became saved, the Holy Spirit continues to convict you of areas in your life where known sin surfaced. He is the HOLY Spirit and despises sin. He wants to use a clean vessel, so He points out the dirt in our lives so that we can remain humble and seek God’s help to change our lives.
- He sets us free from the law of sin and death
Romans 8:2 – For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.
2 Corinthians 3:3-18 – Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart. And such trust have we through Christ to God-ward: Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God; Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life. But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away: How shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious? For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory. For even that which was made glorious had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth. For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious. Seeing then that we have such hope, we use great plainness of speech: And not as Moses, which put a veil over his face, that the children of Israel could not stedfastly look to the end of that which is abolished: But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ. But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart. Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away. Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.
- He seals, baptizes and permanently dwells in every believer as a sign that they are saved
Acts 2:38 – Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
Luke 11:13 – If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?
Ephesians 1:12-14 – That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.
Ephesians 2:18 – For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.
Ephesians 4:30 – And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.
Titus 3:5 – Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;
Romans 1:16 – The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:
The Holy Spirit began living inside you the moment you were saved. Your body is His place. That is why it concerns the Holy Spirit what substances you put into your body, how you dress, and what activities you engage in. Your body is no longer yours to do as you please but is used to glorify God when we subject ourselves to the Spirit and not to the flesh. It is the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:15-20). Unlike in the OT, the Holy Spirit will NEVER depart from the believer (Romans 8:9, Hebrews 13:5, John 10:28).
- He assures the believers of their salvation
Romans 8:15-16 – For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.
John 6:37 – All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.
John 5:24 – Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.
2 Corinthians 1:21-22 – Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.
Philippians 1:6 – Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:
Galatians 4:6 – And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father
The Holy Spirit bears witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God. It is depressing for a Christian to feel uncertainty of his/her salvation from time to time. If you had such doubts since becoming a Christian, the Holy Spirit reassures us that we have been saved through the comfort of what is written in Scriptures, which is the official authentic record that one is truly saved, and not our feelings.
- He gave us the Scriptures
2 Peter 1:21 – For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
1 Corinthians 2:9-10 – But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.
The Holy Spirit moved or carried holy men to write, word for word – the Bible.
- He calls the believer to service
Matthew 9:37-38 – Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.
Acts 13:2-4 – As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away. So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed unto Seleucia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus.
The Holy Spirit is the One who calls us to become teachers, pastors, evangelists, missionaries, helpers, etc. He does it by giving us a burning desire for a particular area of service (Ephesians 4:11-12, 1 Timothy 3:1).
- He comforts, strengthens and gives peace to the believer, reminding us of God’s love for us
John 16:7 – Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:
1 John 4:4 – Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world.
1 John 4:16 – And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.
Romans 5:5 – And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.
Romans 15:13 – Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.
Romans 5:1-5 – Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.
2 Timothy 1:7 – For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
Ephesians 3:14-21 – For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.
The word “comforter” in the Greek is “paraclete,” which means, “along side of.” That is exactly what the Holy Spirit does. He walks along side with us in difficult times, sickness, a death, pain, broken heart, etc. What a wonderful thought that a Christian never goes through tragedy alone!
- He helps us to pray
Romans 8:26-27 – Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
- He uplifts Christ and affirms that Christ came in the flesh
John 16:13-14 – Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.
1 John 4:1-3 – Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.
- He speaks to us
Acts 8:29 – Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot.
Acts 13:2 – As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.
Ephesians 3:5-6 – Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel
The Holy Spirit speaks to Christians by the Word of God and by impression. He brings remembrance of Bible verses to us when we encounter many kinds of situations. Have you ever felt like the Holy Spirit was impressing you to witness to someone? His still, small voice is heard by those still enough to listen.
- He teaches and reminds us of God’s Word and shows us the truth
1 Corinthians 2:13-15 – Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.
John 14:26 – But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
John 15:26 – But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:
1 Timothy 4:1-5 – Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.
John 6:63 – It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.
Romans 8:14 – For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
Only a saved person can truly understand the Word of God because the Author is living inside each believer.
- He washes, sanctifies and bears fruit in the believer
Titus 3:1-7 – Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work, To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men. For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
Galatians 5:16-26 – This I say then, walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.
Romans 8:1-16 – There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:
1 Corinthians 6:11 – And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.
The Holy Spirit earnestly desires the character of Christ to be exemplified in our lives.
- He gives us strength and/or a way of escape in the face of temptations and resist the Devil
1 Corinthians 10:13 – There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.
Ephesians 6:11-18 – Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints
Matthew 4:1-11 – Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred. And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, and saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.
James 4:7 – Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
James 1:12-13 – Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him. Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:
- He unifies the body of Christ in love
Ephesians 4:1-6 – I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
- He leads us to love and help one another
Galatians 5:25-26 – If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.
1 John 4:7-21 – Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us. Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world. Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God. And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. We love him, because he first loved us. If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.
1 Corinthians 12:20-27 – But now are they many members, yet but one body. And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness. For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked. That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it. Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.
- He gives us spiritual gifts to serve Him and others
1 Corinthians 12:7-14 – But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as He will. For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many.
Peter 4:10-11 – As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
The Holy Spirit gave you a spiritual gift to use in God’s service to the Church, which is the Body of Christ, made of born-again believers wherever they are. No gift* is more important than another. All are important. All are necessary for the Body of Christ to function effectively. 1 Corinthians 13 shows us that the greatest gift of all is Charity.
- He gives us authority, power and boldness in our witnessing for the Gospel
Acts 1:8 – But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
Romans 15:18-19 – For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ hath not wrought by me, to make the Gentiles obedient, by word and deed, through mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God; so that from Jerusalem, and round about unto Illyricum, I have fully preached the gospel of Christ.
Ephesians 5:17-21 – Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.
1 Thessalonians 1:5 – For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake.
Romans 1:16-17 – For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.
It is by the power of the Holy Spirit which Jesus had that amazed the Pharisees that He had such authority. It is the same power sinners could not resist when Stephen spoke in Acts 7 as the words cut them to their hearts. It is the power Jesus promised the disciples in Acts 1:8 that will happen in the day of Pentecost in Acts 2. It is the power the moment a person gets saved, passing from death to eternal life. The power of the Holy Spirit is also evident when He transforms your life by giving you the power to overcome your sins, your fleshly desires, and renew your mind and life to become more Christ-like. His grace is sufficient when you go through trials, tribulations and persecutions.
Romans 7:5-6 – For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death. But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.
Romans 12:1-3 – I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.
2 Corinthians 12:6-11 – For though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool; for I will say the truth: but now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me to be, or that he heareth of me. And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong. I am become a fool in glorying; ye have compelled me: for I ought to have been commended of you: for in nothing am I behind the very chiefest apostles, though I be nothing.
1 John 4:4 – Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world.
- He will transform our earthly bodies into glorified bodies at the rapture, and will raise up the dead in Christ in the last days
1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 – For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
Romans 8:11 – But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.
1 Corinthians 15:49-54 – And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.
Being filled with the Holy Spirit
Being filled with the Holy Spirit should not be confused with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit whom every believer receives the moment he or she is saved. Being filled means to be led and controlled by and yielded to the Holy Spirit (just as a hand fills the glove), letting Him occupy and guide every part of our lives – our thoughts, words, and deeds (Colossians 3:17, Galatians 5:16-26, Romans 8:1-16), making us fruitful to God for His work in us and ministering those around us. We see examples of the mentioning of being filled with the Holy Spirit:
Luke 1:13-17 – But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John. And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth. For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb. And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.
Luke 1:67-69 – And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Ghost, and prophesied, saying, Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people, and hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David
Ephesians 5:18 – And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;
Acts 2:4 – And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
Acts 4:31 – And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.
Acts 7:54-60 – When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth. But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, and said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, and cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul. And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.
Acts 9:17 – And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.
Acts 13:48-52 – And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed. And the word of the Lord was published throughout all the region. But the Jews stirred up the devout and honourable women, and the chief men of the city, and raised persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them out of their coasts. But they shook off the dust of their feet against them, and came unto Iconium. And the disciples were filled with joy, and with the Holy Ghost.
One of the common misunderstandings by Charismatics is that being filled with the Holy Ghost is a matter of feeling an emotional high or being “charged up”, or having many outward forms of performing miracles and sign gifts. The Bible does not say that born-again believers have different degrees of indwelling (partially, half-full etc.) of the Holy Spirit in them, neither can a believer “impart or fill” another fellow believer with the Holy Spirit through laying of hands, speaking over them etc. The Holy Spirit is not a feeling. We are all given the same Spirit in His entirety the moment we got saved (1 Corinthians 12:13), and we are bestowed different gifts for service (1 Corinthians 12). As we see in the above points, many of them point to the believer being filled with the Holy Spirit. Being filled with the Holy Spirit is NEVER for self-glorification or to show-off, but it is always used for the service of God for His glory and for ministering to others (Ephesians 4:11-16, Luke 1:41-15). We read in the books of Acts and 1 Corinthians, not everyone had the same gifts and not everyone had the miraculous sign gifts. We cannot judge a fellow believer on how much they are filled with the Holy Spirit based on the gifts he or she has, or by outward religious appearances or status (1 Samuel 16:7, Proverbs 21:2).
Even though a believer has the Holy Spirit, there are times we do not submit to His will and we disobey him, hence Christians can quench or grieve Him, and this can affect our witness, our ministries and our testimonies for Him, hence hindering or affecting the filling of the Holy Spirit in our lives:
1 Thessalonians 5:14-24 – “Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men. See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men. Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. Quench not the Spirit. Despise not prophesyings. Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil. And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.”
Ephesians 4:21-32 – “But ye have not so learned Christ; If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus:That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another. Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: Neither give place to the devil. Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth. Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”
We see in Acts 5, how the Holy Spirit killed Ananias and Sapphira for lying to Him in regards to their possessions:
Acts 5:1-11 – But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession, and kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles’ feet. But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land? Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God. And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things. And the young men arose, wound him up, and carried him out, and buried him. And it was about the space of three hours after, when his wife, not knowing what was done, came in. And Peter answered unto her, Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much? And she said, Yea, for so much. Then Peter said unto her, How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door, and shall carry thee out. Then fell she down straightway at his feet, and yielded up the ghost: and the young men came in, and found her dead, and, carrying her forth, buried her by her husband. And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things.
When we sin, we grieve the Holy Spirit. We quench Him when we follow after the flesh (Galatians 5:16-26), bask in self-glory (Luke 9:23-24, 14:26, Galatians 2:20, Matthew 23:12, James 4:6), be distracted by the things of this world (Matthew 13:22, 1 John 2:15-17, 2 Corinthians 6:14-17 , Romans 12:2, Ecclesiastes 6:2, 1 Timothy 6:10, 4:8, 2 Timothy 4:10), disobey Him (Proverbs 1:23-33, Acts 5:29, Luke 6:46-48), stop praying (1 Thessalonians 5:16-17, Ephesians 6:18, Romans 8:26, John 15:17), stop giving thanks (James 1:2-5, 1 Thessalonians 5:18, Ephesians 5:19), stop reading the Bible (2 Timothy 3:16-17, , 1 Timothy 4:5-6, , Matthew 4:4, Hebrews 4:12, , 1 Peter 2:2), tearing down and stop caring for the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:29-32, 1 Corinthians 12:15-26, James 2), or give heed to false doctrines (1 John 4:1). When we are not faithful, He continues to be faithful (Deuteronomy 7:9, 2 Thessalonians 3:3, 1 Corinthians 10:13). We need to hold fast to the Word of God and not grieve the Holy Spirit who lives in us. As we can see in the case of Ananias and Sapphira, the Holy Spirit is God whom we should not mess with and whom we cannot command or lie to or use for our own gain. The idea of “catching” the Holy Ghost (a phrase commonly used by Charismatics) by anyone in a charged up atmosphere of “worship” is simply an unbiblical concept as we see that one can only have the Holy Ghost the moment one gets saved by simply hearing and believing the gospel (Romans 10:8:17, 1 Thessalonians 1:5, Romans 1:16-17, 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, John 3:16) .The Holy Spirit is a gift to the believer (Acts 2:38), not something or someone we have to earn or “practise” in order to receive.
The sin that a believer does to his/her body that grieves the Holy Spirit the most is sexual immorality:
1 Corinthians 6:15-20 – Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid. What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh. But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit. Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body. What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.
We must confess our sins and ask for his forgiveness and help to overcome our sins:
1 John 1:9 – If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
James 4:7 – Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
We must not neglect God’s Word so as to have victory over our flesh and its sins. Meditate on His Word and His promises.
Psalms 119:11 – Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.
1 Peter 5:8-11 – Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you. To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
Philippians 4:8 – Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
Jesus and the Holy Spirit
When Jesus left His heavenly throne to come to earth, He became a man (1 Timothy 3:16, Hebrews 2:9-11), limited by the flesh despite His divinity. Everything Jesus did on earth was done as a man totally yielded to the Holy Spirit:
- The Holy Spirit conceived Jesus in Mary’s womb
Luke 1:34-35 – Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.
- He gave Jesus wisdom, understanding, power and authority during His ministry on earth
Isaiah 11:1-4 – And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord; And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the Lord: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears: But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth: with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.
Acts 10:38 – How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.
Mark 1:22 – And they were astonished at his doctrine: for he taught them as one that had authority, and not as the scribes.
Luke 4:36 – And they were all amazed, and spake among themselves, saying, What a word is this! for with authority and power he commandeth the unclean spirits, and they come out.
- He authenticated Christ as the Son of God
Luke 3:21-22 – Now when all the people were baptized, it came to pass, that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased.
John 10:25 – Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness of me.
- He wrought miracles though Christ
Matthew 12:28 – But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you.
Luke 4:18-19 – The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.
- He empowered Christ to withstand temptation from the Devil
Luke 4:1 – And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness
Hebrews 4:14-15 – Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin (see Matthew 4:1-11).
- He resurrected Christ from the dead
Acts 10:39-40 – And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree: Him God raised up the third day, and shewed him openly
Romans 8:11 – But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.
What is the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit?
It is crediting the works of the Holy Spirit to that of the Devil. It is the denial of His power thereof. Those who are in unbelief will deny the power of Christ, His saving power, His miracles and His resurrection. We see in the book of Mark how the Scribes (who were religious people) did not believe in the miracles of Jesus and attributed them to the works of the Devil instead:
Mark 3:10-30 – For he had healed many; insomuch that they pressed upon him for to touch him, as many as had plagues. And unclean spirits, when they saw him, fell down before him, and cried, saying, Thou art the Son of God. And he straitly charged them that they should not make him known. And he goeth up into a mountain, and calleth unto him whom he would: and they came unto him. And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach, And to have power to heal sicknesses, and to cast out devils: And Simon he surnamed Peter; And James the son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James; and he surnamed them Boanerges, which is, The sons of thunder: And Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, which also betrayed him: and they went into an house. And the multitude cometh together again, so that they could not so much as eat bread. And when his friends heard of it, they went out to lay hold on him: for they said, He is beside himself. And the scribes which came down from Jerusalem said, He hath Beelzebub, and by the prince of the devils casteth he out devils. And he called them unto him, and said unto them in parables, How can Satan cast out Satan? And if a kingdom be divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand. And if Satan rise up against himself, and be divided, he cannot stand, but hath an end. No man can enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil his goods, except he will first bind the strong man; and then he will spoil his house. Verily I say unto you, All sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and blasphemies wherewith soever they shall blaspheme: But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation. Because they said, He hath an unclean spirit.
1 Corinthians 12:3 – Wherefore I give you to understand, that NO MAN speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.
John 3:16-19 – For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
John 12:48 – He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.
1 John 4:1-16 – Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them. We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error. Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us. Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world. Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God. And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.
A born-again believer cannot blaspheme the Holy Spirit in the context of the above verses we see. A born-again believer can sin, but to deny Christ, His death, burial and resurrection is to deny the Holy Spirit’s work in which a Christian sealed with Holy Ghost cannot do. We see in the book of Acts how many those in unbelief dismissed the sign gifts that were wrought before them by the Apostles and hence rejected the Gospel. Genuine conversion leads not only to a Christ-centered life but also to a humble reverence of the Gospel which is God-glorifying.