Let me admit that for a long time I didn’t think all that much about the Holy Spirit (which by-the-way is only one of several names He is known by). For starters, I think one reason is, I didn’t want to. At first it kinda’ creep-ed me out. (Maybe that’s because, in the church I grew up in, He was called the Holy Ghost). Plus, having a part of God inside me was just …a difficult concept to understand – and accept. I mean you can’t get away from someone who is inside you, for cryin’-out -loud. So, just don’t think about it.
Now, in an attempt to give this topic some structure (and thinking it may be too long for a single post), I’m going to divide this into four segments: ‘Purpose’; ‘Where He lives’; ‘How He speaks to Us’; and, ‘What a Spirit-filled Life Looks Like’. And I’m going to try to keep it to a single post – or, two at the most. (Yeah, good luck with that!)
OK, I’ve got to tell you what just happened. I’d written the above; and been researching, and writing notes for about 45-minutes. My wife came into the closet – literally, a large closet where I work – handed me my cell phone and said it was my grandson. After buying a magazine (school fund-raiser), I told him I was writing and that it was turning into a much bigger project than I expected. He told me about a problem his class was given at school and what a simple answer it had – that no one (except him) had gotten… because, they made it too difficult. Well, the Spirit doesn’t have to hit me over the head. I get it. This will be one post – although any one of the above sub-topics could be a book.
The Holy Spirit does not make His first appearance in the New Testament. He is present throughout the Old Testament, as well. In the Old Testament (and the New, prior to Pentecost*) God would pick out an individual for whom He had a task. It could have been a short-term assignment, or one that would last many years. Then God would send the Spirit to (or “upon”) this individual to give them strength, knowledge, wisdom, whatever was needed to accomplish their God-given mission. After Pentecost, it changed. God sends the Holy Spirit to all believers to be a counselor, interpreter, advocate, coach, motivator and a lot of other things. Everything, in fact, that we need to live a Christ-filled life.
And, even before we become Christians, it is the Holy Spirit that God uses to convict us of our need for redemption and righteousness. (I guess He can check-in, and -out).
Where does the Holy Spirit live?
The simple answer is, He lives in all Christians. However, there is more to it than that. Have you ever wondered why some who claim be be Christian don’t seem very Christian in the way they actually live? Well, for starters, not everyone who claims to be a Christian is truly a Christian. (A note of caution: remember, only God can judge a persons heart). But, for those who are Christians; well, we weren’t perfect before we accepted Jesus, and we aren’t perfect now. But, we are forgiven. And, unfortunately, some “use” that fact to justify not taking the next step of working to pattern their lives after the one they call “Lord”. So, what does this have to do with the Holy Spirit? A lot.
Some Christians welcome the Holy Spirit, and make Him an integral part of their walk. Others say, in effect, “…Sorry, there’s no room in the inn; but you can have the stable.” Remember, God gives us free will; and, that does not change after we accept Christ. Neither God, nor Jesus or the Holy Spirit will force Their will on us. So, if we push the Holy Spirit into the “stable”… He retreat’s into the “stable”.
I believe that to be saved we must believe that Christ is the Son of God, surrender to Him, confess our sins to Him, and ask Him for forgiveness. At that point, you are a Christian.
Now, consider this. Satan knows about Jesus, knows Him to be the Son of God. But, that doesn’t make Satan a Christian. Unfortunately, I think many people learn about Jesus, and they “want” Heaven, so they adopt the title “Christian” for themselves.
That is not the same as willfully placing your pride, your free-will, and your sins on the cross with Jesus. When you do that, and you truly accept God’s plan for your life; then you are welcoming the Holy Spirit into your body. You will get to know God personally; and you will grow to be more like Him. Your life will change.
How does the Holy Spirit speak to us?
From what I’ve read, people I’ve talked to, and personal experience, the Spirit can “speak” to us in many ways. Some report that they feel “led by the Spirit” through reading the Bible. Some through “insight” gained while praying, or in conversation with others, or just “out of the blue”. I think the Spirit also uses coincidence – to the point that I’m not sure I even believe in coincidence any more. Anyway, the answer is “…lots of ways”.
I hear the Spirit in many ways. When thinking or writing, I will sometimes receive a very strong insight – the Spirit leads my thoughts in a direction I hadn’t considered. And, He has also told me I’m. “…off track”. Before starting to read the Bible, I ask the Holy Spirit to interpret scripture for me and to show me anything He has for me in what I’m about to read. (That evidently works, because sometimes, a passage I’ve read many times, will suddenly take on new meaning for me). The same concept also works for me at church. Before I enter the auditorium, I ask that if there’s anything specific in the service for me, that I “…get it”. It could be in the music, it could be in scripture, and it could be in the pastor’s message. I’ve also heard from the Spirit during prayer. And, then, there’s the coincidence situation, like when my Grandson calls me just when I’m struggling with a post!
Two points I’d like to make: First, I seldom heard from the Spirit until I was brought-up short (read “convicted”) by that idea about relegating the Spirit to the stable. I immediately went to prayer and apologized for my willfulness, and stupidity. I then asked for forgiveness and specifically welcomed the Spirit into my heart; and, asked that He build His temple there …just as big as He wanted it. And, finally, I rededicated my life to God’s will – right then and there. Believe me, it made a difference.
Second, when I hear from the Spirit, I often stop to ask if that’s really Him – even when I’m pretty certain it is. Satan can be very deceiving and I don’t want to make a mistake. If I err, I want to err on the side of caution – and God. One simple test for me is that I know the Spirit will never ask me to do something that contradicts God’s Word or does not further God’s Kingdom.
What does a Spirit-filled life look like?
It seems to me that all those who have done the most for God in the Bible were said to have been “Spirit-filled,” or something very similar. And, much the same with men and women of God ever since John penned the last verse of Revelation.
In Gal 5:22-23, Paul lists the “…fruit of the Spirit” as: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. The “…gifts of the Spirit” are listed (1Cor 12:8-11) as: wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miraculous power, prophecy, discernment, speaking in tongues and interpretation of tongues. It is also noted that one receives a single gift; and we are instructed that in doing our work, we are to use our gift in concert with those of our brothers and sisters in Christ. (Do you think this might be one reason we are encouraged to go to church?)
The Holy Spirit does many more things for us, but one really important job is He convicts us. So, when you find yourself outside God’s Will (and we all do) …that little voice nagging at you? Well, say “hello” to the Holy Spirit. Give Him the chance and He will lead you to the truth. As noted above, you will change. People will notice.
What it all boils down to is this: The Holy Spirit is vital to our lives as Christians. So, get up-close and personal with the Holy Spirit. And, did you notice? There is no limit on the fruit of the Spirit. Those are all things I want “to the max”. How about you?
* In the Christian church Pentecost is observed as the day on which the gift of the Holy Spirit was given to all Christians.