by Dr. Ray Self
The Work of the Holy Spirit with the Believer
The Holy Spirit is active in His work with the Christian believer. The work that we may be most familiar with is the work of the Holy Spirit regarding salvation. I personally believe that this may be the most important Holy Spirit activity of all. In these lessons it is important to remember the vast and varied workings of the Holy Spirit. He is the very active, third person of the trinity.
The Bible clearly points out that the believer is born again of the Holy Spirit. Jesus said, "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born of water and of 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" (John 3:5-6). This is not a physical birth but a spiritual birth of which we are speaking. And this Spiritual rebirth can have dramatic effects on the soul and the physical body. When we are born naturally then natural life is given. When we are born spiritually, then spiritual life is given. These are two separate events that have a dramatic impact on each other.
The believer’s understanding of the Spirit of God is given by the Holy Spirit. In simple terms without the working of the Holy Spirit a person cannot understand the Holy Spirit. This explains why it is hard to grasp the spiritual revelation of God through intellectual argument. You cannot impart revelation to an unbeliever through debate. 1 Corinthians 2:14 says, "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." In man’s natural intellectual understanding, the things of the Spirit will seem foolish. But with the wonderful help of the Holy Spirit renewing our mind, the things of God open up for the believer. Scripture plainly tells us that the unbeliever with his natural mind, cannot know the things of God nor can he be subject to the will of God, "because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be" (Romans 8:7).
The importance of being born again by the Spirit cannot be stressed enough. It leads to amazing things for the believer such as eternal life, adoption as a son, being a joint heir with Christ, and more. But a lack of salvation leaves the unbeliever with serious problems. As mentioned earlier, the unbeliever cannot know or understand God. He cannot be in God’s will. In worship, the unbeliever cannot call Jesus Lord: "and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost" (I Corinthians 12:3). He cannot please God (see Romans 8:8). He cannot bear fruit: "Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in Me" (John 15:4). He cannot receive the Spirit of truth: "Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth Him not, neither knoweth Him: but ye know Him; for He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you" (John 14:17).
The definition of a Christian is one in whom the Spirit dwells. I Corinthians 6:19 asks us, "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?" Paul is defining Christians as ones whose bodies are home to the Holy Spirit. But at the same time we can be certain that we are children of God by the Spirit. The Holy Spirit bears witness to this fact as revealed in Romans 8:16 (NASV): "The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit, that we are children of God." For additional confirmation of this point see also I John 5:10 and Galatians 4:6.
The Holy Spirit baptizes the believer into the body of 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" (1 Corinthians 12:13). Through the operation of the Holy Spirit we are made to be members of the body of Christ. We are joined to God as His children and joined to each other as His body by the working of the Holy Spirit. This is not the same as the baptism of the Holy Spirit for power (as seen in Acts 1:8.) We will cover that baptism later in this course. The Holy Spirit performs many wonderful works (after all he is God!)
The Holy Spirit seals the believer. Ephesians 1:13b tells us, ". . . in Whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise." A seal is a guarantee that something is authentic. Seals should not be broken. If they are then the contents within can be suspect. Praise God, for when He seals us it is for a long time. We are sealed by the Holy Spirit as saved children of God until the day of redemption. (Christ’s return and the final judgment.) Ephesians 4:30 says, "And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption."
What about after salvation? What is the Holy Spirit up to then? The Holy Spirit is active after salvation helping the Christian to maintain his life in the Spirit. The believer is sanctified by the Holy Spirit. II Thessalonians 2:13 says, "But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth." The believer overcomes the flesh through the Holy Spirit. Romans 8:5 reads, "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." The Holy Spirit transforms the believer into the image of Christ as shown in II Corinthians 3:18: "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."
The Holy Spirit strengthens the believer for greater revelation of Christ. Ephesians 3:16-17 tells us, "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." He established that our hearts were to walk with Christ and receive and give His love.
The Holy Spirit gives us the knowledge that Christ has received from God. He reveals and glorifies Christ to the believer. John 16:14 explains that, "He (Holy Spirit) shall glorify Me (Jesus): for He shall receive of Mine, and shall shew it unto you." This is a key scripture for this course. Think about it; Jesus has received from God and by the working of the Holy Spirit He is giving to us what He has received. This may be one of the greatest promises in the Bible! To be able to have what Jesus has, how can it get any better?
He leads the sons of God as shown in Romans 8:14: "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God." If you are led by the Spirit then you are a son of God. This puts the importance of the work of the Spirit in a new and vital perspective. To be led by the Spirit is not an option. There is a strong implication here that if we are not led by the Spirit then we are not children of God. I think that Romans 8:14 begs this question: "Is the Holy Spirit the primary influence in your life?" As God’s own children, bought by the blood of Jesus, the Spirit must be our guiding influence. Our Father expects this from us.
The Holy Spirit is a comforter for the believer and brings the believer peace. In John 14:16 we read, "And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you for ever." There is an inner peace that only the Comforter can bring. In this world true peace is not obtained any other way.
The Holy Spirit brings forth fruit in the believer’s life. "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith" (Galatians 5:22). I always like to point out through this verse that it is not our fruit but the Holy Spirit’s fruit. Many a well meaning teacher has taught that we should seek to have this fruit. We cannot have this fruit by our own efforts. Only by allowing the Holy Spirit to subdue our flesh can we have this fruit. The more we have of the Spirit, the more we have of His fruit. It is good to remember that evidence of the fruit lets us know when the Holy Spirit is in operation. Satan can imitate the gifts but he has a difficult time counterfeiting fruit. When was the last time the devil expressed godly love? True godly love is the basis for all of the fruit of the Spirit and all of the fruit are elements of love. When you grow through the Spirit the fruit becomes more and more evident.
Chapter Three Review – The Holy Spirit - Lesson 3
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