The Holy Spirit
God’s Spirit is known by different names, among which are the following: The Spirit (John 7:39), the Spirit of God (Gen. 1:2), The Spirit of the Lord (Isa. 11:2), the Spirit of the Father (Matt. 10:20), the Spirit of Christ (Rom. 8:9), the Spirit of the Son (Gal. 4:6), the Holy Spirit (Ps. 51:11), the eternal Spirit (Heb. 9:14), the Comforter (John 14:16), the Spirit of grace (Zech. 12:10), the Spirit of truth (John 14:17), the Spirit of holiness (Rom. 1:4), the Spirit of life (John 6:63; Rom. 8:2), the Spirit of adoption (Rom. 8:15), The Spirit of wisdom and understanding (Isa. 11:2), the Spirit of counsel and might (Isa. 11:2), the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord (Isa. 11:2), the Spirit of glory (1 Pet. 4:14), and the Spirit of prophecy (Rev. 19:10; John 16:13).
God reveals Himself in different ways through the Holy Spirit. These revelations take the form of various ministries of the Spirit, of which the following are the most important:
The Spirit who convicts of sin and righteousness and judgement
When the Holy Spirit communicates with a person He convicts him of his sins, of the righteousness of Jesus Christ and of the judgements proclaimed over the devil and all the wicked people (John 16:8-11). All people are sinners (Rom. 3:10-12). The biggest sin is to reject the Lord Jesus as Saviour and Son of God (Matt. 23:32-38). God’s righteousness demands a life which meets the standard of His holiness (1 Pet. 1:15). When people fail to meet this standard because they are slaves of sin, God’s justice demands the death penalty upon sinners (Rom. 6:23; Ezek. 18:4). This ruling condemns the entire humanity before God (Rom. 3:10). Only the Lord Jesus led a perfect life in accordance with the righteousness of God. Through His death on the cross He served the death penalty on behalf of all sinners, thereby satisfying God’s demand of a just punishment for sin. The righteousness of God is imputed to all people who believe in the substitutionary death of Christ (Rom. 5:17). Our garment of sin is laid on Him, while we are clothed with His garment of righteousness when we accept Him as our Saviour. Many people still try to establish their own righteousness based on a good life, thereby rejecting the very heart of the gospel of the cross (Rom. 10:3). Such people glory in their good works and church membership, but resist the Holy Spirit when He wants to convict them of the righteousness of God through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. The death and resurrection of Jesus was also a judgement upon Satan (John 12:31), as Christ triumphed over these dark powers (Col. 2:15). Although Satan was defeated, he is still engaged in an active battle against all Christians (1 Pet. 5:8); but he is a condemned enemy of God whose fate has already been determined (Rev. 20:2,7-10). All people who collaborate with him in his rebellion against God will share his judgement in hell (Rev. 20:10,15).
The Spirit of grace and supplication
The Holy Spirit works in the lives of all people who hear the gospel message and moves them to humble themselves with sorrow, under conviction of sin and in brokenness of heart, before the Saviour, Jesus Christ, to pray for His saving grace. The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit (Ps. 34:18; 51:17). During the coming tribulation, the Spirit of grace and supplication will be poured out over Israel (Zech. 12:10).
The Spirit who gives life
“It is the Spirit who gives life” (John 6:63). He regenerates repentant sinners who were dead in their sins and trespasses, to give them new life (Rom. 8:2; 2 Cor. 5:17). Unsaved people are spiritually dead, and are made alive by the Holy Spirit when they repent and trust the Lord to save their souls. Saved people have passed from death to life (John 5:24; Eph. 5:14). When we are born again, the Holy Spirit baptises us into the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:13).
The Spirit who endues with power
After the Spirit of God has regenerated us by virtue of the saving grace of Christ, we must be filled with the power of the Holy Spirit for the following three reasons:
1. It empowers us to be effective witnesses of Christ (Acts. 1:8). Without this enduement with power from on high we cannot work for the Lord.
2. We need the power of the Lord to grow from a weak babe in Christ to a mature man or woman in Christ (Eph. 4:13-14). We must gain insight into the deeper things of the Lord to be able to walk the path of faith with boldness and confidence.
3. We need the power of the Lord to be strong for the struggle against the kingdom of darkness (Eph. 6:10-11). It is only when we are filled with the Spirit that we will have the strength to withstand the temptations to sin (Gal. 5:16).
The Spirit who equips for service
When the Holy Spirit fills the believers He also gives them gifts to equip them for particular ministries or service in the body of Christ (Rom. 12:4-8; 1 Pet. 4:10). The one may have a gift of teaching, another of intercession or encouragement, but everything must be done in a spirit of love as that is the greatest gift of all. We should actively practise our gifts and not be restrained by fear of people to do so (1 Tim. 4:14; 2 Tim. 1:6-7). The Holy Spirit Himself will decide on which gifts to give to people (1 Cor. 12:4-11). These gifts may be widely diverging, as many support services are needed in proclaiming and spreading the gospel message throughout the world.
The Spirit of fruitful service
All saved people are commanded to bear spiritual fruit to the glory of God and the extension of His kingdom (Matt. 3:8; Rom. 6:22). Nine fruits of the Spirit are mentioned (Gal. 5:22-23). Our relationship with God must be characterised by His love which is poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit (Rom. 5:5), by the joy of the Lord because He has saved our souls and by His peace that surpasses all understanding. Towards our fellow men we must be long-suffering by continually praying for them and being slow to condemn them; we must also be friendly and strive to do good to them in various ways. As individuals we must be faithful in the execution of our duties, while having a gentle and teachable spirit, and always practise self-control.
The Spirit who guides and sanctifies us
The Holy Spirit is leading and helping us. He gives us a consciousness of the continued presence and indwelling of the Lord in our lives, so we never have to feel alone. We should realise that our body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, and that we are under an obligation to lead holy lives (1 Cor. 3:16-17; 2 Cor. 7:1).
The Spirit of wisdom
The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of wisdom (Isa. 11:2). He gives us enlightened eyes of our understanding (Eph. 1:17-18; Ps. 147:5). Should we have doubts on any matter we must ask God for wisdom (Jas, 1:5). In the Triune God is hidden all treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Col. 2:3). The Lord wants to guide and instruct you through His Spirit (Ps. 32:8).
The Spirit of truth
We must know and observe the whole truth about the way of the Lord, and for that purpose we need the Spirit of truth to guide us into the whole truth of God’s Word (John 16:13; 1 John 2: 27). The truth of God has the power to set us free (John 8:32), but for that to be realised we need an intensive knowledge of and faith in the Bible. Only then will we walk in the light of the Word and have a well-developed ability of discernment under the guidance of the Holy Spirit (1 John 4:1-6).
The Spirit of prophecy
John 16:13 says that the Holy Spirit will reveal to us things to come. He gives us an expectation of the Second Coming of Jesus, and helps us to understand Biblical prophecies and to rightly divide the word of truth (2 Tim. 2:15). Do not despise prophecies (1 Thess. 5:20). By observing the fulfilment of Biblical prophecies the Holy Spirit is preparing us for future events. If we have this outlook we will not lose our expectation of the Lord’s imminent coming and hence not fall asleep spiritually during the midnight hour of this dispensation.
The Holy Spirit Himself warns us against great spiritual deception and departing from the faith that will occur in the end-time (1 Tim. 4:1). The deception will be driven by Satan’s spirit of error (1 John 4:6), who will have many false prophets at his disposal (1 John 4:1). Sensational signs and wonders will be used by them, as well as extra-Biblical revelations on what God allegedly said to the “prophet” or “apostle.” In this way, a distorted presentation will be given of Jesus, of the gospel message and of the Holy Spirit (2 Cor. 11:4). The Holy Spirit, who guides faithful children of God in all the truth of the Word, and also helps us to discern truth and error, is clearly warning us against these end-time phenomena (John 16:13).
I am full of gratitude to the Holy Spirit for having convicted me of my sin and lost state, and for the forgiveness and righteousness that is offered to me through the death of Jesus Christ on the cross. After I accepted His friendly invitation of salvation in faith, He baptised me into the body of Christ through rebirth. I am full of praise for the Lord’s work of grace through the Holy Spirit, who also meets all my needs: he dethrones the flesh and fills my heart and whole being; He endues me with power from on high to enable me to be a witness for Jesus; He gives me enlightened eyes of the mind to understand the Bible and to be able to discern all things from a spiritual perspective; and He gives me peace in my heart when I take the right decisions. I commit myself to a life of obedience to God when He leads me through His Spirit, and also to self-discipline to refrain from doing things that will grieve the Holy Spirit. May I daily walk in the Spirit in such a way that I will never fulfil the lust of the flesh. I thank God for a life of victory under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
1. Name and discuss five descriptive names of the Holy Spirit.
2. Of what does the Holy Spirit convict us?
3. What is the role of the Spirit in the work that we have to do for the Lord?
4. What is the function of the Holy Spirit in Biblical prophecies?
5. Where in the NT is it mentioned that the Holy Spirit has an eternal existence?
Prof. Johan Malan