Who is the Holy Spirit? And what, exactly, does He do? If you listen to certain modern-day cults, you’ll be told that the Holy Spirit is a feeling, much like we “get into the spirit of things,” or “have school spirit.” This, however, runs in direct opposition to the word of God.
“In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise.” (Ephesians 1:13)
The Holy Spirit, Christ’s Spirit as He is sometimes referred to [see Romans 8:9], is the third person of the Trinity. Jesus said, “…It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in Me; of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world [Satan] is judged. I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now [before Jesus’ death, and before the coming of the Holy Spirit to believers]. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you.” (John 16:7-15) The Holy Spirit is sent by Christ to “guide us into all truth,” and to “take what is [Jesus’]…and declare it to” us. He is also the One who convicts, and who “will tell…[us] things to come.”
We are commanded in Scripture to walk according to the leading of the Holy Spirit. This isn’t a slavish obedience to my feelings, but rather a submission to the right way of life as revealed by God in His Word:
“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the [sinful urges of the] flesh, but according to the Spirit…For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally [fleshly] 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, not indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God. But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. Therefore, brethren, we are debtors—not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the [sinful] deeds of the body, you will live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God…The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ…” (Romans 8:1-17) Not only are we commanded to deny our sinful fleshly desires and walk according to the prompting of the Holy Spirit in accordance with Scripture, we are actually told that if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, that person does not belong to Christ.
So how do we get the Holy Spirit? Galatians 3:14 states, “That the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.” The Holy Spirit comes through faith. But how can we know if we really have the Holy Spirit in us?
The answer is that those who are Christ’s have Christ’s Spirit in them. I Corinthians 2:12 tells us, “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.” I Corinthians 3:16-17 says, “Do you not know that you are the temple [residence, dwelling place] of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” Galatians 4:6 tells us, “And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, ‘Abba, Father!’”
We are also know that while Christians have the Spirit, others do not. “These are grumblers, complainers, walking according to their own lusts; and they mouth great swelling words, flattering people to gain advantage. But you, beloved, remember the words which were spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ: how they told you that there would be mockers in the last time who would walk according to their own ungodly lusts. These are sensual persons, who cause divisions, not having the Spirit.” (Jude 16-19) Not everyone who studies or discusses the Bible is indwelt by the Holy Spirit. We should not be intimidated by advanced theological degrees or claims of Christianity. “For every tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they gather grapes from a bramble bush.” (Luke 6:44) Those who truly belong to Christ have the Spirit who generates fruit–evidence of the work of the Holy Spirit–in His people. Jesus illustrated this principle when He said, “Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:7-8) Just as we cannot see the wind, but know it exists and see its activity, even so we cannot physically see the Holy Spirit, yet know He is there and see the work He accomplishes in and through God’s people.
Thank you for Your Spirit. Help me to submit to His leading and bear much fruit for You. Amen.