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The Spirit-Filled Life (Part 1)

The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit

Introduction

The Apostle Paul reminds us that the kingdom of God does not consist in words but in power (1 Cor. 4:20), and that the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in (or “by” pointing to the means) the Holy Spirit (Rom. 14:17). The message of the Gospel brings the power of God into every believer’s life through the person and work of the Lord Jesus and the empowering ministry of the Holy Spirit.

Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is God’s power for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

1 Corinthians 1:18, 24 For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God…24 But to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God.

1 Corinthians 2:4-5 My conversation and my preaching were not with persuasive words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 so that your faith would not be based on human wisdom but on the power of God.

Far too many Christians, however, are not experiencing the enabling power of God. For these believers it is simply a matter of doing the best they can to conform to certain expected standards. On the surface, some appear to be more successful at conforming to the rules than others, but if they are honest with themselves, and this is no easy task because of our bent for self-deception, there is the ever present awareness that something is wrong.

In our attempt to rationalize, we may seek to find comfort in thoughts such as: “No one is perfect, we all have our weaknesses,” or “I am doing the very best I can, and I am sure God understands.” Of course, no one is perfect, and certainly God does understand. Let’s assume we are doing our best, but this does not alter the fact that unless we are walking by faith in God and in His abundant resources in Christ, we are missing the abundant life Christ offered when He said, “I have come so that they may have life, and may have it abundantly” (John 10:10b).

Is our best what God wants? No! He wants faith in His best, the Lord Jesus, and in the person of the Spirit whom God has sent to indwell us and empower us so we can experience the power of Christ and the ability to do our best, not in our own strength, but in the strength which God supplies. “Toward this goal I also labor, struggling according to his power that powerfully works in me.” (Colossians 1:29, author’s translation).

Because of human weakness, no one can live the Christian life any more than one can perfectly keep the Law of the Old Testament (cf. Rom. 3:9-20; Gal. 3:10-14). If we could live the Christian life without God’s enablement, why do you suppose God would promise the Holy Spirit to indwell the church (John 7:37-39; 14:17)? If we could live the Christian life and serve the Lord without God’s power through faith, why would the Lord Jesus give the Holy Spirit the title of “the Helper” or better, “the Enabler” (John 14:16, 26), then point out the disciples’ inadequacy apart from the Spirit (John 16:7-15), and tell them not to attempt any ministry until the coming of the Spirit (Acts 1:4-8)? Yet, it seems to me that we so often try to do just exactly that. So often, we tend to run off to do this or that in our own steam because we are all so prone to trust in our own resources.

Since the Spirit is our Enabler, the doctrine of the filling of the Holy Spirit (like positional truth) is critical to fellowship with God and to obedience. Without an understanding of this doctrine the believer cannot properly function in the Christian life.

It is sometimes said, Christianity is not a way of life, it is a life to live. It is the reproduction of Christ in the believer’s life by faith just as the apostle stated in Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So the life I now live in the body, I live because of the faithfulness of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” However, it is God the Holy Spirit who reproduces the character of Christ in the life of the believer. This has both a positive and a negative side.

(1) The Positive Side: Paul had the positive element in mind in Romans 8:4 when he wrote “so that the righteous requirement of the law may be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” Positive righteousness, i.e., the fruit of the Spirit or the character of Jesus Christ, is reproduced in the believer who is under the Spirit’s control.

Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law

(2) The Negative Side: In Romans 8:13 Paul added, “(for if you live according to the flesh, you will die), but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body you will live.” This teaches that, on the negative side, the deeds (sins) of the flesh are put off, not by will power—though our will is certainly involved—but by the enablement of the Holy Spirit. Note Galatians 5:16, But I say, live by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desires of the flesh.” Producing the character of Christ from both the negative (putting off the deeds of the flesh) and from the positive (putting on godly characteristics) is the work of the Holy Spirit.

The necessity of a proper understanding of the filling/controlling ministry of the Spirit is intensified by such passages as Galatians 4:19 where Paul prayed, “My children—I am again undergoing birth pains until Christ is formed in you!” Included in the meaning of the Greek word translated “formed” ( morfow) is the concept of giving outward expression of inward character. “The form means the essential form rather than outward shape. The idea is therefore of real Christlike character.”45 Paul is praying for Christ to be outwardly expressed in the believer, but from within through the power of the Spirit. Mere external conformity is not the goal. Note also that the verb “formed” is passive. This means the subject receives the action rather than produces the action.

Christ formed in one’s life is not something the Christian can do, nor is it something Christ does Himself. Christ does not manifest Himself in the life of the Christian. This ministry has been given to the Holy Spirit and that fact is born out in numerous passages such as John 16:14 where the Lord says of the Spirit, “He will glorify me, because he will receive from me what is mine and will tell it to you.” Compare also, the following passages:

Ephesians 1:16-19 I do not cease to give thanks for you when I remember you in my prayers. 17 I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you spiritual wisdom and revelation in your growing knowledge of him, 18 —since the eyes of your heart have been enlightened—so that you may know what is the hope of his calling, what is the wealth of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the incomparable greatness of his power toward us who believe, as displayed in the exercise of his immense strength.

Galatians 5:16-25 But I say, live by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh has desires that are opposed to the Spirit, and the Spirit has desires that are opposed to the flesh, for these are in opposition to each other, so that you cannot do what you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity, depravity, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hostilities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish rivalries, dissensions, factions, 21 envying, murder, drunkenness, carousing, and similar things. I am warning you, as I had warned you before: Those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God! 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Now those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also behave in accordance with the Spirit.

Perhaps it can be illustrated this way if one doesn’t take the illustration too far. The believer is like an automobile whether new and beautiful or old and not so pretty. Either way the automobile has all the equipment necessary to run with power—a transmission, an engine, a carburetor, wheels, tires, etc. But without one ingredient, gasoline, the car cannot function. All of its equipment is there, but it is useless unless there is gas to bring about internal combustion. The Holy Spirit is that combustion power for the believer, who, unlike the gas in our cars, is always present since He comes to permanently indwell every believer (Eph. 4:30).

In Romans 6, Paul points to our wonderful resources (our position in Christ) which provide the basis for newness of life. But in Romans 7 he teaches us two important truths with regard to deliverance and spirituality. First, the Law or any other system of ethics, while it exposes our sin, cannot make us righteous or deliver from the power of sin. Second, the apostle teaches us our new position, though absolutely necessary for spiritual transformation, is powerless by itself. It is the necessary foundation for deliverance, but with this new position, we need the empowering work of the ministry of the Holy Spirit as described in Romans 8 to utilize our new resources in Christ.

We need to understand that every believer has been indwelt by the Spirit and has both the resources and the power necessary for the abundant life that the Savior promised us in John 10:10b. Our problem is not putting gas in the tank, but using (walking in dependence upon) the power that is there. The need is for every believer to understand and follow the biblical injunctions of Ephesians 5:18, “be filled (be controlled) with (by means of) the Spirit,” and Galatians 5:16, “live by the Spirit.” Later in this study, support for this view of Ephesians 5:18 will be given.

Learning to walk by the Spirit, however, is not so easy. In the first place, the Scripture does not give us a simple definition of how to be filled, and it is not learned by a casual reading of the New Testament. In the second place, there are all kinds of erroneous concepts floating around in Christian circles today. Some teach a spirituality by works (legalism) or will power. Legalism (spirituality by the keeping of the Law) was the problem at Galatia. Others teach a relative concept of filling in that they treat the Spirit as a substance which we get a little at a time. Still others today are viewing the filling of the Spirit as merely a quality of life that is somewhat analogous to spiritual growth. They may even talk about the control of the Spirit, but when you carefully look at their whole proposition for the Spirit-filled walk, it seems to me it borders on a form of self-reformation wherein one simply learns to replace old life dominating patterns with a new lifestyle patterned after the Scripture. There is truth in this approach, but not the whole truth. It lacks the concept of the moment-by-moment dependence on the Spirit coupled with the concept of growth.

Many fail to understand the difference between indwelling, anointing, sealing, and baptizing, and the filling of the Spirit. We often hear people pray for a special anointing. Hymns are sung such as Come, Holy Spirit, Heavenly Dove, or Fill Me Now which do not reflect sound theology in relation to the doctrine of the Holy Spirit. The second verse of Fill Me Now says, “Thou canst fill me, gracious Spirit, though I cannot tell Thee how; But I need Thee, greatly need Thee, Come, O Come, and fill me now.” Surely the writer of this old hymn was expressing our need of the ministry of the Spirit and His control, but the wording is inaccurate and misleading because it fails to distinguish between the indwelling of the Spirit and the filling (control) of the Spirit. The same applies to the chorus Spirit of the Living God, Fall Afresh On Me. The Spirit, as will be explained in more detail later, is not a substance which comes to fill us, but a person who has come to indwell us if we have trusted in Christ. Indeed, one of the proofs of salvation is the presence of the Spirit. Romans 8:9 reads, “…Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, this person does not belong to him.”

The purpose of this study is to:

(1) Define and clarify just who the Holy Spirit is and what it is that He does.

(2) Understand the unique age in which we live as it relates to the Holy Spirit.

(3) Define and clarify the terms used of the Holy Spirit such as anointing, indwelling, and filling, etc.

(4) Demonstrate from Scripture how to be filled with the Spirit, i.e., how to walk under the control of the Holy Spirit in order to experience the character of Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ will not express Himself in the life of the believer apart from the ministry of the Spirit. If the Spirit’s ministry is not understood, then His work in reproducing Christ in us is hindered, if not completely quenched.

Before we actually begin to deal with the Spirit-filled life, what it means, and how we can experience it, there is some ground work that must be laid or we could quickly go off into error with regard to the ministries of the Spirit.

The Person of the Holy Spirit
(Who the Spirit Is)

The Personality of the Holy Spirit

The least understood person of the Godhead is the Holy Spirit. Yet a proper understanding of the truth of His personality is crucial to a number of other doctrines of Scripture, including the ministry of the Spirit Himself.

To deny the personality of the Spirit is to “deny His real existence, the existence of the Trinity, and the teaching of the Scriptures on the subject. Nevertheless, His personality has been denied throughout the ages, first by the Monarchians, the Arians, … and the Socinians in the days of the reformation.”46 In modern days, His personality has been denied by one Pentecostal group and by the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

The name “Holy Spirit” occurs 89 times in the New Testament, and this number does not include the times He is referred to simply as “Spirit.” This, plus the fact He is promised in the Old Testament and is a special gift from God in the New Testament, should show just how important it is to understand what the Scripture teaches about the Spirit.

He Has the Attributes of Personality47

(1) Intellect.

These verses show the Holy Spirit has a mind, that He thinks, searches, and teaches. When we combine this with the other attributes of the Spirit set forth in the Bible, we see this is not like a programmed computer with memory, or like a sign that gives direction along the road, but the Holy Spirit has a mind and does things as a person.

1 Corinthians 2:10-13 God has revealed these to us by the Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. 11 For who among men knows the things of a man except the man’s spirit within him? So too, no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things that are freely given to us by God. 13 And we speak about these things, not with words taught us by human wisdom, but with those taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual things to spiritual people.

Romans 8:27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes on behalf of the saints according to God’s will.

(2) Emotion.

We cannot grieve or cause pain to an influence. We are only able to grieve a person who can love and feel. Because of the Spirit’s holy character—another element of personality—He is grieved by our sin. Note in particular the statement in James 4:5: Or do you think the scripture means nothing when it says, “The spirit that God caused to live within us has an envious yearning?” An “influence” or an “it” does not envy or jealously guard another.

Ephesians 4:30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

Hebrews 10:29 How much greater punishment do you think that person deserves who has contempt for the Son of God, and profanes the blood of the covenant that made him holy, and insults the Spirit of grace?

James 4:5 Or do you think the scripture means nothing when it says, “The spirit that God caused to live within us has an envious yearning”?

(3) Will.

Concerning the will of the Holy Spirit, Ryrie writes:

The distribution of spiritual gifts is said to be according to the will of the Spirit (1 Cor. 12:11), and He is able to direct the activities of God’s servants. This is well illustrated by the Spirit leading Paul at Mysia and Troas. He forbade Paul to preach in Asia and Bithynia, …48

We can translate, “as he decides” of 1 Corinthians 12:11 as “as He purposes or determines.” This could hardly be predicated of a mere it.

1 Corinthians 12:11 It is one and the same Spirit, distributing as he decides to each person, who produces all these things.

Acts 16:6-11 They went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been prevented by the Holy Spirit from speaking the message in the province of Asia. 7 When they came to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them to do this, 8 so they passed through Mysia and went down to Troas. 9 A vision appeared to Paul during the night: A Macedonian man was standing there urging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us!” 10 After Paul saw the vision, we attempted immediately to go over to Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to proclaim the good news to them. 11 We put out to sea from Troas and sailed a straight course to Samothrace, the next day to Neapolis,

He Performs the Actions of Personality

(1) He teaches.

John 14:26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and will cause you to remember everything I said to you.

John 16:13-15 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. For he will not speak on his own authority, but will speak whatever he hears, and will tell you what is to come. 14 He will glorify me, because he will receive from me what is mine and will tell it to you. 15 Everything that the Father has is mine; that is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what is mine and will tell it to you.

(2) He testifies or bears witness.

John 15:26 When the Advocate comes, whom I will send you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me,

(3) He guides or leads.

Romans 8:14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God.

(4) He performs miracles.

Acts 8:39 Now when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him any more, but went on his way rejoicing.

(5) He convinces.

John 16:7-8 But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I am going away. For if I do not go away, the Advocate will not come to you, but if I go, I will send him to you. 8 And when he comes, he will prove the world wrong concerning sin and righteousness and judgment—

(6) He restrains.

Genesis 6:3 So the Lord said, “My spirit will not remain in mankind indefinitely since they are mortal. They will remain for one hundred and twenty more years.”

2 Thessalonians 2:6-7 And so you know what holds him back, so that he will be revealed in his own time. 7 For the hidden power of lawlessness is already at work. However, the one who holds him back will do so until he is taken out of the way,

(7) He commands and directs people.

Acts 8:29 Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and join this chariot.”

(8) He intercedes in prayer.

Romans 8:26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness, for we do not know how we should pray, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with inexpressible groanings.

We can learn from books or from our experiences, but they do not really function as teachers who possess will and purpose. Handcuffs can restrain, but in 2 Thessalonians 2:6-7 (if this refers to the Spirit through His role in the church, and many believe it does) the restrainer is spoken of as “he”—a person. (See below on the concept of accidence.)

2 Thessalonians 2:6-7 And so you know what holds him back, so that he will be revealed in his own time. 7 For the hidden power of lawlessness is already at work. However, the one who holds him back will do so until he is taken out of the way,

The aspect of bearing witness is presented as the work of one who is a person. All of these actions of the Spirit are presented in Scripture, especially when taken as a whole, as the work of a person who is vitally involved with us as people in a relationship. For instance, the Holy Spirit intercedes for us and performs miracles—things which only a person can do.

He Receives Ascriptions of Personality

Ryrie writes: “Certain acts are performed toward the Holy Spirit which would be incongruous if He did not possess true personality.”49

(1) He can be obeyed.

Acts 16:6-7 They went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been prevented by the Holy Spirit from speaking the message in the province of Asia. 7 When they came to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them to do this,

(2) He can be lied to.

Acts 5:3 But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back for yourself part of the proceeds from the sale of the land?"

(3) He can be resisted.

Acts 7:51 You stubborn people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are always resisting the Holy Spirit, like your ancestors did!

(4) He can be blasphemed.

Matthew 12:31 For this reason I tell you, people will be forgiven for every sin and blasphemy, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven.

(5) He can be grieved.

Ephesians 4:30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

(6) He can be insulted.

Hebrews 10:29 How much greater punishment do you think that person deserves who has contempt for the Son of God, and profanes the blood of the covenant that made him holy, and insults the Spirit of grace?

He Receives Accidence of Personality

The Greek word for Spirit is pneuma which fundamentally means “breath, wind.” “Wind” in John 3:8 is pneuma. From this word, we derive English words like “pneumonia” or “pneumatic.” Pneuma is a neuter gender word and would normally require a neuter gender pronoun according to a rule of Greek grammar called concord. However, because the Holy Spirit is a person, the New Testament writers sometimes used a masculine pronoun in place of a neuter pronoun for the neuter noun pneuma. Masculine pronouns are used of the Spirit in John 15:26; 16:7, 8, 13, and 14.

Ramifications of the Personality of the Spirit

The Holy Spirit is related to people as a distinct person rather than simply an influence. The following are some illustrations:

(1) He is related to the apostles as a distinct and separate person who thought about what was best and related that to the apostles who were in accord with the Spirit.

Acts 15:28 For it seemed best to the Holy Spirit and to us not to place any greater burden on you than these necessary rules:

(2) He is related to the Lord Jesus as a distinct and separate person.

John 16:14 He will glorify me, because he will receive from me what is mine and will tell it to you.

(3) He is related to the other persons of the Godhead so as to indicate personality. Concerning this, Ryrie writes:

In the passages where this occurs it would be completely unnatural to regard the Spirit as a thing while understanding the Father and the Son as persons. The baptismal formula is in the “name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (Matt. 28:19). Not only does the association of the Spirit with the Father and the Son argue for the Spirit’s personality, but the use of the word “name” in the singular also indicates that He is a person just as the others are. The apostolic benediction leads to the same conclusion: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen” (2 Cor. 13:14).50

(4) He is distinguished from His own power as a person. Ryrie writes:

Further, the Holy Spirit is related to His own power and yet distinguished from it, so that one may not conclude that the Spirit is only power. “And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee” (Luke 4:14). A verse like this leads one to understand that the Spirit is a person who has power, and not that the Spirit is simply a powerful force or thing. Other examples of this distinction between the Spirit as a person and that person’s power are found in Luke 1:35; Acts 10:38; Romans 15: 13; I Corinthians 2:4. The phraseology of these verses would be useless and inexplicable repetition if the Holy Spirit were conceived as merely a power or influence and not a distinct personality with power of His own.51

The Deity of the Holy Spirit

Proofs for the Deity of the Holy Spirit

The fact that the Holy Spirit is a person does not prove that He is God, but the reverse of that is true. If He is God, then He must be a person as God is. However, the denial of His deity and personality usually go together. Erickson writes:

The deity of the Holy Spirit is not as easily established as is that of the Father and the Son. It might well be said that the deity of the Father is simply assumed in Scripture, that of the Son is affirmed and argued, while that of the Holy Spirit must be inferred from various indirect statements found in Scripture. There are, however, several bases on which one may conclude that the Holy Spirit is God in the same fashion and to the same degree as are the Father and the Son.52

Proven by His Titles

The title “the Holy Spirit” is in itself an affirmation that He is God in keeping with the emphasis of God’s holiness found throughout the Bible. His deity, however, is further borne out by the various references to the Spirit which are clearly interchangeable with references to God, and in essence speak of Him as God. Two prominent illustrations show this.

The first illustration is Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5:1-4. Concerning this Erickson writes:

Bringing a portion of the proceeds to the apostles, they represented it as the whole of what they had received. Peter spoke harsh words of condemnation to each of them, and both were struck dead. In rebuking Ananias, Peter asked, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back part of the proceeds of the land?” (v. 3). In the next verse he asserts, “You have not lied to men but to God.” It seems that in Peter’s mind “lying to the Holy Spirit” and “lying to God” were interchangeable expressions. It could, of course, be argued that two different referents were in view, so that Peter was actually saying, “You have lied both to the Holy Spirit and to God.” The statement in verse 4, however, was apparently intended to make it clear that the lie was told not to humans, to someone less than God, but to God Himself. Thus, we are led to the conclusion that the second statement is an elaboration of the first, emphasizing that the Spirit to whom Ananias had lied was God.53

A second illustration is found in 1 Corinthians 3:16-17 where again the titles “Holy Spirit” and “God” are used interchangeably in the apostle’s discussion of the body of Christ and believers as individuals.

1 Corinthians 3:16-17 Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? 17 If someone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, which is what you are.

It is also significant that the word for temple is the Greek naos which was used of the Holy of Holies portion of the temple, the place where the Ark was and where God dwelt in the Old Testament before the parting of His glory. Today, the believer’s body is the naos—the dwelling place of God through the Spirit.

Ephesians 2:21-22 In him the whole building, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, 22 in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.

This was apparently in the apostle’s mind when he chose the word naos.

Proven by His Attributes

(1) Omniscience.

1 Corinthians 2:10-11 God has revealed these to us by the Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. 11 For who among men knows the things of a man except the man’s spirit within him? So too, no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God.

1 Corinthians 2:10-11 combines both the personality of the Spirit as one who knows and thinks, and His omniscience. The Spirit could not possibly know the thoughts of God who is omniscient and omnipresent unless He too possessed these attributes. This shows the Spirit fully comprehends the depth of God’s thoughts and plans of grace. Who but God could comprehend the thoughts of God?

(2) Omnipotence.

Regarding this attribute of the Holy Spirit, Erickson writes:

In Luke 1:35 the phrases “the Holy Spirit” and “the power of the Most High” are in parallel or synonymous construction. This is, of course, a reference to the virgin conception, which must certainly be considered a miracle of the first magnitude. Paul acknowledged that the accomplishments of his ministry were achieved “by the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 15:19). Moreover, Jesus attributed to the Holy Spirit the ability to change human hearts and personalities: it is the Spirit who works conviction (John 16:8-11) and regeneration (John 3:5-8) within us. It should be borne in mind that Jesus had elsewhere said with respect to this ability to change human hearts: “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matt. 19:26; see vv. 16-25). While these texts do not specifically affirm that the Spirit is omnipotent, they certainly indicate that he has power which presumably only God has.54

(3) Omnipresence.

Psalm 139:7-10 Where can I go to escape your spirit?
Where can I flee to escape your presence?
8 If I were to ascend to heaven, you would be there.
If I were to sprawl out in Sheol, there you would be.
9 If I were to fly away on the wings of the dawn,
and settle down on the other side of the sea,
10 even there your hand would guide me,
your right hand would grab hold of me.

(4) Eternality.

Hebrews 9:14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our consciences from dead works to worship the living God.

Matthew 4:1 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.

The eternality of the Holy Spirit is affirmed in Hebrews 9:14 which states that Christ offered Himself “through the eternal Spirit.” Some have suggested that this is a reference to the human spirit of Christ, but it is more consistent to see this as a reference to the Holy Spirit since, from the standpoint of His humanity, Jesus Christ always lived His earthly life under the control and leading of the Holy Spirit (cf. Matt. 12:18-28).

Proven by His Works

(1) Creation.

Genesis 1:2 Now the earth was without shape and empty, and darkness was over the surface of the watery deep, but the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the water.

Psalm 104:30 When you send your life-giving breath, they are created,
and you replenish the surface of the ground.

Erickson writes:

He was and continues to be involved with the creation, both in the origination of it and in the providential keeping and directing of it. In Genesis 1:2 we read that the Spirit of God was brooding over the face of the waters. Job 26:13 notes that the heavens were made fair by the Spirit of God. The Psalmist says, “When thou sendest forth thy Spirit, they [all the parts of the creation previously enumerated] are created; and thou renewest the face of the ground” (Ps. 104:30).55

(2) Inspiration of Scripture.

2 Timothy 3:16 Every scripture is inspired by God and useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,

2 Peter 1:21 for no prophecy was ever borne of human impulse; rather, men carried along by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.

In 2 Timothy 3:16 we are told all Scripture is inspired by God and profitable (literally, “God-breathed”). This verse declares the fact and value of the inspiration of the Bible. In 2 Peter 1:21 we are given the how of inspiration: men were moved by the Holy Spirit, borne along like wind in the sail of a ship. Here again the titles God and Holy Spirit seem to be used interchangeably of the person of the Spirit.

(3) Regeneration, Illumination, and Sanctification.

Considering the nature and condition of man, these are things which are miraculous and which only God can do as stressed by the Lord in Matthew 19:26.

John 3:5-8 Jesus answered, “I tell you the solemn truth, unless a person is born of water and spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must all be born from above.’ 8 The wind blows wherever it will, and you hear the sound it makes, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

Titus 3:5 he saved us not by works of righteousness that we have done but on the basis of his mercy, through the washing of the new birth and the renewing of the Holy Spirit,

Romans 8:11 Moreover if the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you, the one who raised Christ from the dead will also make your mortal bodies alive through his Spirit who lives in you.

Ephesians 3:16-19 I pray that according to the wealth of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inner person, 17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, so that, because you have been rooted and grounded in love, 18 you may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and thus to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.

Proven by Equal Association

Concerning this evidence, Ryrie writes:

One of the strongest proofs of the deity of the Spirit is the identification of the Spirit with Yahweh of the Old Testament. This is seen in passages where the Old Testament records that Yahweh said something and the New Testament quotation of that same passage is attributed to the Spirit as the Speaker. That would seem to say clearly that the Spirit, like Yahweh, is fully divine (Is. 6:1-13 and Ac 28:25; Jer 31:31-34 and Heb. 10:15-17).56

Along these same lines, we find another line of evidence in the New Testament where the Holy Spirit is associated equally with the Father and the Son.

(1) The Great Commission.

Matthew 28:19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,

Interestingly, the word “name” which refers to all three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, is singular. There is one God, and yet, in some mysterious way, three distinct persons who are equal.

(2) The Pauline Benediction.

2 Corinthians 13:13 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

(3) Declaration Regarding Spiritual Gifts.

As Paul discusses spiritual gifts In 1 Corinthians 12, he equally associates and coordinates the three members of the Godhead:

1 Corinthians 12:4-6 Now there are different gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 And there are different ministries, but the same Lord. 6 And there are different results, but the same God who produces all of them in everyone.

(4) Peter’s Salutation in 1 Peter 1:2.

In the salutation of his first epistle, Peter links all three persons of the trinity together, pointing to their respective roles in the process of salvation.

1 Peter 1:2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father by being set apart by the Spirit for obedience and for sprinkling with Jesus Christ’s blood. May grace and peace be yours in full measure!

Clearly, all of these instances argue that the Holy Spirit is not only a person, but God, the third member of the Trinity. Now that we have some idea of who the Spirit is, we need to consider what the Spirit does for and in believers since He is God’s special gift and resource for living the Christian life.

The Advent and Age of the Spirit

Understanding the uniqueness of this age as the Age of the Spirit is crucial for our ability to correctly interpret the teaching of the New Testament on the Spirit and His ministry for today. The Church Age is often referred to as the Age of the Spirit because of His distinctive ministry during this time.

This truth needs to be stressed because the Holy Spirit is God’s special gift and means of power to experience Christ’s life in ours. In fact, there is no aspect of the Christian life, Bible study, prayer, witnessing, growth, etc., that is not vitally dependent on the enabling ministry of the Holy Spirit of God. Though God gives us spiritual gifts and a new capacity for life through the Spirit’s work of regeneration, it is the Holy Spirit, as our divine Enabler, who empowers our lives for both worship and service.

The Promise of the Spirit as God’s Special Provision

That God would one day do a unique work through the Holy Spirit in His people is not new revelation. Rather, the Holy Spirit is the object of many marvelous promises in both the Old and New Testaments in anticipation of what God would do through the Spirit for His people.

Ezekiel 36:24-27 “‘I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries; then I will bring you to your land. 25 I will sprinkle you with pure water and you will be clean from all your impurities. I will purify you from all your idols. 26 I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit within you. I will remove the heart of stone from your body and give you a heart of flesh. 27 I will put my Spirit within you; I will take the initiative and you will obey my statutes and carefully observe my laws.

Ezekiel 37:14 I will place my Spirit in you and you will live; I will give you rest in your own land. Then you will know that I am the Lord—I have spoken and I will act, declares the Lord.’”

Isaiah 44:3 For I will pour water on the parched ground
and cause streams to flow on the dry land.
I will pour my spirit on your offspring
and my blessing on your children.

Joel 2:28-29 After all of this
I will pour out my Spirit on all kinds of people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy.
Your elderly will have revelatory dreams;
your young men will see prophetic visions.
29 Even on male and female servants
I will pour out my Spirit in those days.

John 7:37-39 On the last day of the feast, the greatest day, Jesus stood up and shouted out, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me, and 38 let the one who believes in me drink. Just as the scripture says, ‘From within him will flow rivers of living water.’” 39 (Now he said this about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were going to receive, for the Spirit had not yet been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.)

John 14:16 Then I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you forever—

Acts 1:4-8 While he was with them, he declared, “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait there for what my Father promised, which you heard about from me. 5 For John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” 6 So when they had gathered together, they began to ask him, “Lord, is this the time when you are restoring the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He told them, “You are not permitted to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the farthest parts of the earth.”

The Fact of the Spirit’s Coming

When we come to Acts 2 and the events that follow in the book of Acts and in the rest of the New Testament, we have the declaration that the Holy Spirit has come to indwell believers with an explanation of His new and distinctive role. No longer is His coming an anticipation; it is a blessed fact.

Acts 2:1-4 Now when the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like a violent wind blowing came from heaven and filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 And tongues spreading out like a fire appeared to them and came to rest on each one of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit, and they began to speak in other languages as the Spirit enabled them.

Acts 2:14-17 But Peter stood up with the eleven, raised his voice, and addressed them: “You men of Judea and all you who live in Jerusalem, know this and listen carefully to what I say. 15 In spite of what you think, these men are not drunk, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning. 16 But this is what was spoken about through the prophet Joel:
17 ‘And in the last days it will be,’ God says,
‘that I will pour out my Spirit on all people,
and your sons and your daughters will prophesy,
and your young men will see visions,
and your old men will dream dreams.

Acts 10:44-45 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell on all those who heard the message. 45 The circumcised believers who had accompanied Peter were greatly astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles,

Acts 11:15-17 Then as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them just as he did on us at the beginning. 16 And I remembered the word of the Lord, as he used to say, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ 17 Therefore if God gave them the same gift as he also gave us after believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to hinder God?”

1 Corinthians 6:19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?

Ephesians 1:13-14 And when you heard the word of truth (the gospel of your salvation)—when you believed in Christ—you were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the down payment of our inheritance, until the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of his glory.

Ephesians 4:30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

Galatians 5:5 For through the Spirit, by faith, we wait expectantly for the hope of righteousness.

An Explanation of the Age of the Spirit

The following chart illustrates the change in the ministry of the Spirit from the Old Testament to that of the New Testament. From Acts 2 onward, the Spirit’s ministry took on a new and distinctive change beginning with the events of Pentecost as promised both in the Old Testament and by the Lord. From this point on we have the formation of the body of Christ, the church, and the universal indwelling ministry of the Holy Spirit. This is when the church began and when the Spirit began to indwell all who believed in the Savior. This is proven by the following:

(1) In Acts 1:5, the Lord gave the promise of the baptizing ministry of the Spirit. “For John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

(2) Baptism is a form of identification. “With the Spirit” may also be translated “by the Spirit” and should be in view of 1 Corinthians 12:13. First Corinthians 12:13a describes what the baptizing work of the Spirit consists of. It is the work by which the Holy Spirit joins every believer into union with the body of Christ so that the believer becomes identified with the body of Christ and with Christ Himself. This occurs simultaneously with the indwelling of the Spirit (1 Cor. 12:13b). When we trust in the Savior, the Spirit joins us into union with the body of Christ, the church (Rom. 6). As a result, we become identified with Christ in His person and His work.

(3) In Acts 11:15-16, Peter equated the coming of the Spirit on the Gentiles in the house of Cornelius with that which had occurred to them as Jews in Acts 2 on the Day of Pentecost. But he also equated Acts 2 with the fulfillment of the promise of Christ regarding the baptism of the Spirit in Acts 1:5. In other words, Acts 2 began the indwelling and baptizing work of the Spirit for the body of Christ. This began the unique age of the indwelling ministry of the Holy Spirit.

The following chart illustrates the difference.

The Primary Ministry and Purpose of the Spirit

The Principle of Focus

As we may need light to bring the printed page into focus, so we need the illumination of Scripture to shed light on the primary ministry of the Spirit in connection with all His ministries. Getting the Spirit in focus means (a) thinking rightly about Him and (b) thinking rightly about our relationship to Him: what He is to believers, and how this relates to Jesus Christ. Great emphasis is often given to the person and ministry of the Holy Spirit, but unfortunately, it is very often not in accord with the clear teaching of the Word.

Scripture’s Focus on the Ministry of the Holy Spirit

Some see the chief purpose of the Holy Spirit as power, some as performance, some as unity, some as the administration of the gifts of the Spirit, some as teaching, some as His miraculous workings, and so on. All of these either are or have been ministries of the Spirit and are important to the body of Christ. However, to emphasize any one of these while minimizing the others and ignoring the chief emphasis of the Word is to go off into error.

This is vitally important because Jesus Christ is our life. He is the hope of glory and the focus of the Bible.

Colossians 1:27-28 God wanted to make known to them the glorious riches of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 28 We proclaim him by instructing and teaching all people with all wisdom so that we may present every person mature in Christ.

Colossians 2:10 and you have been filled in him, who is the head over every ruler and authority.

Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So the life I now live in the body, I live because of the faithfulness of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Therefore, the chief focus given to us in the Word is that the Holy Spirit in all His ministries is given to mediate the presence of Christ. He is given to manifest the person and work of Jesus Christ, to make us aware of all He is to us, and to enable us to experience Christ’s life in ours.

John 16:13-15 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. For he will not speak on his own authority, but will speak whatever he hears, and will tell you what is to come. 14 He will glorify me, because he will receive from me what is mine and will tell it to you. 15 Everything that the Father has is mine; that is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what is mine and will tell it to you.

Ephesians 3:16-19 I pray that according to the wealth of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inner person, 17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, so that, because you have been rooted and grounded in love, 18 you may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and thus to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.

Galatians 5:16-25 But I say, live by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh has desires that are opposed to the Spirit, and the Spirit has desires that are opposed to the flesh, for these are in opposition to each other, so that you cannot do what you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity, depravity, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hostilities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish rivalries, dissensions, factions, 21 envying, murder, drunkenness, carousing, and similar things. I am warning you, as I had warned you before: Those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God! 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Now those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also behave in accordance with the Spirit.

The Holy Spirit is our Enabler and the power for the Christian life, and we are to walk by faith in dependence upon the Spirit’s control (Gal. 3:3; 5:5; 16-25 quoted above). However, Galatians 2:20 when considered in light of Galatians 4:19 and 5:1-5 gives us the primary focus—Christ living in believers or being formed in them by the power of the Spirit of God. Even when we are trusting in the Holy Spirit to empower our lives, our faith is ultimately in the Son because the Spirit proceeds from the Father through Jesus Christ at His request as one of His gifts to us. But the purpose is that we might share in the life of Christ.

John 14:16-20 Then I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot accept, because it does not see him or know him. But you know him, because he resides with you and will be in you. 18 “I will not abandon you as orphans, I will come to you. 19 In a little while the world will not see me any longer, but you will see me; because I live, you will live too. 20 You will know at that time that I am in my Father and you are in me and I am in you.

The ministry of the Spirit is Christ-centered. It is neither man-centered with an emphasis on our gifts, personalities, and experiences, nor Holy Spirit centered with an emphasis on Him and His miraculous activities or ministries, as important and rich as they are. This scriptural focus is seen in the following passages:

(1) John 7:37-39

On the last day of the feast, the greatest day, Jesus stood up and shouted out, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me, and 38 let the one who believes in me drink. Just as the scripture says, ‘From within him will flow rivers of living water.’” 39 (Now he said this about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were going to receive, for the Spirit had not yet been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.)

Concerning the promise of the Spirit, the text says He was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. The Spirit is promised as a gift from God to indwell believers, empowering and energizing them, but the focus here is on the glorification of the Savior. This is a reference to Christ at God’s right hand following His finished work on the cross, the resurrection, and ascension into glory. The basis for the gift of the Spirit is the glorification of Christ. He proceeds from the Father, through the Son to believers because Jesus has accomplished our justification.

John 15:26 When the Advocate comes, whom I will send you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me,

(2) John 14:16, 26; 15:26; 16:7-15

John 14:16 Then I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you forever—

John 14:26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and will cause you to remember everything I said to you.

John 15:26 When the Advocate comes, whom I will send you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me,

John 16:7-15 But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I am going away. For if I do not go away, the Advocate will not come to you, but if I go, I will send him to you. 8 And when he comes, he will prove the world wrong concerning sin and righteousness and judgment— 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; 10 concerning righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will see me no longer; 11 and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been condemned. 12 “I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. For he will not speak on his own authority, but will speak whatever he hears, and will tell you what is to come. 14 He will glorify me, because he will receive from me what is mine and will tell it to you. 15 Everything that the Father has is mine; that is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what is mine and will tell it to you.

In each of these passages the Spirit is called “the Advocate,” ( parakletos) which, due to the nature of His ministry, might better be rendered, “the Enabler.” Parakletos contains the ideas of comforting, exhorting, encouraging, interceding, advising, and strengthening. He strengthens or enables us through His various ministries. But in none of these four passages does the gift and ministry of the Holy Spirit overshadow the person and work of the Son, the Lord Jesus. Rather, the focus is on how the Enabler (a) is sent in the name of Christ, (b) brings to remembrance what Christ taught the disciples, (c) bears witness of Him, (d) is sent by the Savior Himself, (e) does not speak on His own initiative, (f) glorifies the Savior, and (g) takes of the things of Christ and discloses them to us.

The Holy Spirit calls attention to neither Himself nor to man, but focuses all attention on the Lord Jesus Christ and what God has done in and through His Son. His purpose via all His ministries is to develop our faith, hope, love, adoration, obedience, fellowship, and commitment to Christ.

This truth and this focus becomes a criterion by which we may judge any spiritual movement and its biblical authenticity. Swindoll writes:

Let me pass along something I hope you never forget. If you get involved in a ministry that glorifies itself, instead of Christ, the Spirit of God is not in that ministry. If you follow a leader that is getting the glory for that ministry, instead of Christ, the Spirit of God isn’t empowering his leadership. If you’re a part of a Christian school or mission organization or a Christian camping ministry in which someone other than Christ is being glorified, it is not being empowered by the Spirit of God. Mark it down: THE SPIRIT GLORIFIES CHRIST. I’ll go one step further; if the Holy Spirit Himself is being emphasized and magnified, He isn’t in it! Christ is the One who is glorified when the Spirit is at work. He does His work behind the scenes, never in the limelight. I admire that the most about His work.57

The Work of the Spirit

As a matter of clarification and in preparation for what the Spirit is to believers, it would be helpful to note the following facts:

Negatively: The believer is never told to seek or commanded to be (a) baptized with or in the Spirit, (b) or to be indwelt with the Spirit, (c) or to be anointed with the Spirit, (d) or to be sealed with the Spirit, (e) or in our age to even pray for the Spirit (Luke 11:13 was pre-Pentecost). Rather, these are all presented by the New Testament as accomplished facts during the Church Age.

Positively: The only commands in the New Testament given to believers in relation to the Holy Spirit deal with the filling of the Holy Spirit or with walking by means of the Spirit who already indwells us. There are only four direct commands that relate to the Spirit and the believer’s life. Two are positive and two are negative.

(1) The Positive Commands: We are commanded to be “filled with the Spirit” and to “walk by the Spirit.”

Ephesians 5:18 And do not get drunk with wine, which is debauchery, but be filled by the Spirit,

Galatians 5:16 and 25 But I say, live by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desires of the flesh…25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also behave in accordance with the Spirit.

(2) The Negative Commands: We are commanded to “ not grieve the Spirit” and to “not extinguish the Spirit.”

Ephesians 4:30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

1 Thessalonians 5:19 Do not extinguish the Spirit.

In addition, the following are some passages one might view as commanding the filling of the Spirit indirectly or by implication because the need of His ministry in the issue involved.

John 4:24 God is spirit, and the people who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.

Ephesians 6:18 With every prayer and petition, pray at all times in the Spirit, and to this end be alert, with all perseverance and requests for all the saints.

Philippians 3:3 For we are the circumcision, the ones who worship by the Spirit of God, exult in Christ Jesus, and do not rely on human credentials

Romans 8:4-13 so that the righteous requirement of the law may be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5 For those who live according to the flesh have their outlook shaped by the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit have their outlook shaped by the things of the Spirit. 6 For the outlook of the flesh is death, but the outlook of the Spirit is life and peace, 7 because the outlook of the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to the law of God, nor is it able to do so. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. 9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, this person does not belong to him. 10 But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is your life because of righteousness. 11 Moreover if the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you, the one who raised Christ from the dead will also make your mortal bodies alive through his Spirit who lives in you. 12 So then, brothers and sisters, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh 13 (for if you live according to the flesh, you will die), but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body you will live.

What the Spirit Is to Believers in His Indwelling Presence

In anticipation of the coming of the Spirit, in John 14:17 Christ spoke of the unique change that would occur in the Spirit’s relationship with believers when He said, “… because he resides with you (Old Testament economy) and will be in you (New Testament economy).” Through this universal indwelling of all believers, the Spirit becomes a seal, an anointing, a pledge, and our enabler. All of this stems from the fact of His indwelling presence from the moment of salvation.

(1) A Seal

2 Corinthians 1:21-22 But it is God who establishes us together with you in Christ and who anointed us, 22 who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a down payment.

Ephesians 1:13-14 And when you heard the word of truth (the gospel of your salvation)—when you believed in Christ—you were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the down payment of our inheritance, until the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of his glory.

According to 2 Corinthians 1:21-22, God the Father (the subject of the verb) does the sealing. The Holy Spirit is the seal, and believers are those who are sealed with God’s seal (the Spirit). The seal suggests the ideas of ownership and security.

A further consequence of the Spirit’s presence is the seal of ownership (cf. Eph. 1:13-14) which also is accomplished at the moment of faith. A seal on a document in New Testament times identified it and indicated its owner, who would “protect” it. So too, in salvation, the Holy Spirit, like a seal, confirms that Christians are identified with Christ and are God’s property, protected by Him (cf. 1 Cor. 6:19-20). It was probably this thought that caused Paul to describe himself as a slave of Christ. (Rom. 1:1; Phil. 1:1).58

(2) An Anointing

1 John 2:20 and 27 Nevertheless you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you all know…27 Now as for you, the anointing that you received from him resides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things, it is true and is not a lie. Just as it has taught you, you reside in him.

Again, God the Father, as the subject of the verb in 2 Corinthians 1:21, does the anointing; the Holy Spirit, as 1 John 2:20 and 27 make clear, is the anointing; and we as believers in Christ are the ones who are anointed.

Persons and things were anointed, in the OT, to signify holiness, or separation unto God: pillars ( cf. Gen. 28:18); the tabernacle and its furniture (Ex. 30:22ff.); shields (2 Sa. 1:21; Is. 21:5: probably to consecrate them for the ‘holy war,’ see Deut. 23:9ff.); kings (Jdg. 9:8; 2 Sa. 2:4; 1 Kgs. 1:34); priests (Ex. 28:41); prophets (1 Kgs. 19:16). … Fundamentally the anointing was an act of God (1 Sam. 10:1), and the word ‘anointed’ was used metaphorically to mean the bestowal of divine favour (Psa. 23:5; 92:10) or appointment to a special place or function in the purpose of God (Ps. 105:15; Is. 45:1). Further, the anointing symbolized equipment for service, and is associated with the outpouring of the Spirit of God (1 Sa. 10:1, 9; 16:13; Is. 61:1; Zech. 4:1-14). This usage is carried over into the NT (Acts 10:38; 1 Jn. 2:20, 27).59 (Emphasis mine.)

The identification of the Spirit as our anointing is a portrait of the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit as an act of God which separates us, appoints us, and equips us for ministry in the purpose of God. Strictly speaking, then, it is doctrinally incorrect to ask God to anoint a believer today with the Spirit in preparation for a particular task. A more accurate prayer would be that the one involved in the task at hand be truly under the power of the Spirit, or that he or she might experience the work of the Spirit in a marvelous way because the Spirit is already present as God’s anointing.

(3) A Pledge

The Holy Spirit’s indwelling presence in believers’ lives is also viewed by God as His personal pledge (i.e., earnest or down payment) that God will fulfill His promises to believers and that our salvation will be consummated (Eph. 1:14).

2 Corinthians 1:21-22 But it is God who establishes us together with you in Christ and who anointed us, 22 who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a down payment.

Present redemption is only a foretaste of what eternity holds (cf. Rom. 8:23), and the presence of His Spirit in our hearts (cf. Rom. 5:5; 2 Cor. 5:5) is like a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. These last seven words are a translation of one Greek word arrabona , a down payment which obligates the payer to make further payments. The same Greek word is used again in 5:5 and Ephesians 1:14 (cf. “the first fruits of the Spirit,” Rom. 8:23).60

(4) An Enabler

John 14:16 and 26 Then I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you forever…26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and will cause you to remember everything I said to you.

John 16:7 But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I am going away. For if I do not go away, the Advocate will not come to you, but if I go, I will send him to you.

In these passages the Lord promised the disciples He would give them “another Advocate.” “Another” is the Greek allos which means “another of the same kind.” This is a reference to the Holy Spirit who, as the third person of the trinity, is of the same essence and power as the Lord Jesus Christ. In His absence, there would be no lack. In fact, it would be for their advantage (John 16:7) that He leave so the Holy Spirit could come in His place and indwell their lives.

The Spirit is called “Advocate.” This is the Greek parakletos and refers to one who is called alongside on behalf of another as an intercessor, mediator, helper. It is translated variously, “helper,” “counselor,” and “comforter.” In view of the purpose and ministry of the Spirit along with the meaning of this word, perhaps “Enabler” is a better translation. He comes not just to give help, as a servant might help his employer or as one person helps another. Rather He comes and indwells us to enable—to empower us for the Christian life in witnessing, in prayer, in obedience, etc. The title “Enabler” not only teaches us what the Holy Spirit is to us, but what we are apart from His control and ministry—without ability or enablement.

What the Spirit Does For Us

There is no part of the believer’s life for which the Spirit is not needed. The following illustrates just how complete is the work of the Spirit who is our Enabler.

(1) He convicts and reveals Jesus Christ to men.

John 16:8-11 And when he comes, he will prove the world wrong concerning sin and righteousness and judgment— 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; 10 concerning righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will see me no longer; 11 and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been condemned.

(2) He restrains sin in the world.

2 Thessalonians 2:6-7 And so you know what holds him back, so that he will be revealed in his own time. 7 For the hidden power of lawlessness is already at work. However, the one who holds him back will do so until he is taken out of the way

(3) He regenerates to new life.

Titus 3:5 he saved us not by works of righteousness that we have done but on the basis of his mercy, through the washing of the new birth and the renewing of the Holy Spirit,

(4) He baptizes into Christ.

1 Corinthians 12:13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body. Whether Jews or Greeks or slaves or free, we were all made to drink of the one Spirit.

(5) He empowers and reproduces the character of Jesus Christ in those who submit to Him by faith.

Galatians 4:19 My children—I am again undergoing birth pains until Christ is formed in you!

Galatians 5:5 For through the Spirit, by faith, we wait expectantly for the hope of righteousness.

Galatians 5:16-23 But I say, live by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh has desires that are opposed to the Spirit, and the Spirit has desires that are opposed to the flesh, for these are in opposition to each other, so that you cannot do what you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity, depravity, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hostilities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish rivalries, dissensions, factions, 21 envying, murder, drunkenness, carousing, and similar things. I am warning you, as I had warned you before: Those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God! 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

(6) He promotes spiritual maturity. (Cf. also Gal. 5:1-5; Heb. 5:11-6:6.)

Galatians 3:1-3 You foolish Galatians! Who has cast a spell on you? Before your eyes Jesus Christ was vividly portrayed as crucified! 2 The only thing I want to learn from you is this: Did you receive the Spirit by doing the works of the law or by believing what you heard? 3 Are you so foolish? Although you began with the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by human effort?

(7) He teaches: gives understanding in the Word. (Cf. also 1 Cor. 2:9-16; John 16:11-15.)

John 14:26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and will cause you to remember everything I said to you.

Ephesians 3:16-18 I pray that according to the wealth of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inner person, 17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, so that, because you have been rooted and grounded in love, 18 you may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth,

(8) He applies truth to our experience. (Cf. also John 14:26; Eph. 6:18.)

Romans 8:16 The Spirit himself bears witness to our spirit that we are God’s children.

(9) He gives power to our prayer life.

Jude 20 But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith, by praying in the Holy Spirit,

John 15:7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you want, and it will be done for you.

Psalm 66:18 If I had harbored sin in my heart,
the sovereign Master would not have listened.

(10) He promotes meaningful worship. (Cf. also John 4:23-24; Eph. 5:18-21; Isa. 59:1-2.)

Philippians 3:3 For we are the circumcision, the ones who worship by the Spirit of God, exult in Christ Jesus, and do not rely on human credentials

(11) He gives capacity, burden, and direction for witnessing.

Acts 1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the farthest parts of the earth.”

1 Thessalonians 1:5 in that our gospel did not come to you merely in words, but in power and in the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction (surely you recall the character we displayed when we came among you to help you).

(12) He gives capacity for ministry. This refers to gifts of the Spirit which are to be exercised in the power of the Spirit from the motive of love—which is also a work of the Spirit.

1 Corinthians 1:12-14 Now I mean this, that each of you is saying, “I am with Paul,” or “I am with Apollos,” or “I am with Cephas,” or “I am with Christ.” 13 Is Christ divided? Paul wasn’t crucified for you, was he? Or were you in fact baptized in the name of Paul? 14 I thank God that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius,

1 Peter 4:10 Just as each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of the varied grace of God.

The fact that the Holy Spirit is our Helper, indeed, our Enabler for these varied ministries demonstrates just how tremendously important the Spirit is to our daily walk. It shows how necessary it is that we walk by means of the Spirit, i.e., by constant dependence upon Him (Gal. 5:5, 16; Eph. 3:16-17). The lessons that follow are devoted to more biblical principles and promises that teach us more about the ministry of the Spirit and how to walk in His power.

45 Fritz Rienecker, A Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament, Regency, Grand Rapids, 1976, p. 513.

46 Charles C. Ryrie, The Holy Spirit, Moody Press, Chicago, 1965, p. 11.

47 The outline and basic argument used in this section, with slight variation, is taken from The Holy Spirit, by Charles C. Ryrie.

48 Ryrie, p. 12.

49 Ryrie, p. 13.

50 Ryrie, p. 16.

51 Ryrie, The Holy Spirit, p. 16.

52Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology, Baker, Grand Rapids, 1990, p. 857.

53Erickson, p. 857.

54Erickson, p. 858.

55Erickson, p. 858.

56 Charles C. Ryrie, A Survey of Bible Doctrine, Moody Press, Chicago, 1972, p. 70.

57 Charles R. Swindoll, Growing Deep in the Christian Life, Multnomah Press, Portland, 1986, p. 188.

58David K. Lowery, “2 Corinthians,” The Bible Knowledge Commentary, eds. John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck, Victor Books, Wheaton, 1985, p. 557.

59 New Bible Dictionary, quoted from Logos CD.

60 Lowery, p. 557 .

Related Topics: Pneumatology (The Holy Spirit), Basics for Christians, Sanctification