The Bible teaches that there is one true and living God who exists co-equally and co-eternally in three distinct persons: The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (1 Jn. 5:7). All three are called God and are said to have the same divine attributes. The Spirit of God is a real person, and not a mystical force (else, how He could He be grieved? Eph. 4:30).
The professing church is very confused and misinformed about how the Holy Spirit works in this present age. The root of the problem is that most professing Christians don’t personally study the Bible, and among those that do, most do not rightly divide the word of truth. Many like to quote Heb. 13:8 and claim that God never changes in how He works. It is true that He does not change in His Person, but He does in His dealings with man. There are dispensational differences concerning the work of the Holy Spirit.
Examples: 1 Sam. 16:14; Ps. 51:11 with Eph. 4:30; Acts 2:4 with Eph. 5:18-20.
It is impossible to live the victorious Christian life without the power of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, we must be grounded in what the Bible says about the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the believer during this present age. The Holy Spirit has certainly worked in previous dispensations (Gen. 6:3), but He did not work in the same way that He is today.
Here is a simple overview of how the Holy Spirit works in the believer today:
I. The Relation of the Holy Spirit to the Believer
Every believer is in the Sprit and the Spirit is in every believer. This is brought about by five works of the Spirit:
A. He circumcises us – (Col. 2:8-11) Man is a tri-partite being (spirit, soul, and body, 1 Thess. 5:23). When Adam fell, he died spiritually (separated from the Spirit of God), his flesh became corrupt, and his soul and spirit became stuck to the flesh. That is the condition of all that are born of the flesh. Upon salvation, Christ, by the Spirit, cuts away our inner man from the outer man. Our standing is no longer, “in the flesh”.
B. He baptizes us – (Col. 2:12) This baptism is just as spiritual as the circumcision in v.11 (Rom. 6:3-4; 1 Cor. 12:13; Gal. 3:27-28). As we saw in our Bible study on Wednesday night, the word “baptism” primarily means “identification” and does not always involve water. This is a saving baptism and is not to be confused with Acts 1:5 (power vs. salvation, visible manifestations vs. none, prophecy vs. mystery, Christ the baptizer vs. the Spirit).
C. He regenerates us – (Titus 3:4-7) Salvation is not a reformation of the flesh but a regeneration (new creature) by the Spirit.
D. He dwells in us – (Rom. 8:9, I Cor. 6:19) The Spirit lives in every believer. The fact that He DWELLS in us (permanent residence) means we are secure.
E. He seals us (Eph. 1:13-14) – The Holy Spirit is the guarantee (earnest) that we belong to God and our salvation is secure.
These five doctrines are not based on feelings and experience but on the word of God. They are true of every believer whether we know it or not. Many things happen upon salvation that we must learn about by studying the scripture. We have a STANDING in the Spirit that is unconditional and unchanging!
II. The Responsibility of the Believer to the Holy Spirit
Although the believer’s standing in the Spirit never changes, our state is conditioned on us fulfilling our responsibility to Him.
A. Know Him through His word (deception, 2 Cor. 11:4; 1 Tim. 4:1)
B. Walk in the Spirit (Gal. 5:25) – what does that look like? (Gal. 4:19; 5:22-23)
C. Do not grieve Him (Eph. 4:30-32)
D. Seek to be filled with Him (Eph. 5:18-21). This is not an event with supernatural manifestations as in Acts, but a goal to press toward (Phil. 3:12-14). We are only filled to the extent we are yielded to Him and filled with His word (Col. 3:16).
III. The Results of the Holy Spirit in the Believer
What can we expect when we are walking in the Spirit?
A. What NOT to expect
1. Signs and wonders - The sign gifts of the Acts period have ceased (1 Cor. 13:8-13).
2. Emotional high - I heard a well-known IFB preacher claim that he gets “drunk in the Holy Ghost.” Many teach that “losing control of emotions” is evidence that you are filled with the Spirit. Yet, a fruit of the Spirit is TEMPERANCE! There is nothing wrong with strong emotions, but they can be deceptive.
3. A “still small voice” to tell us what to do
B. What TO expect
1. Illumination to spiritual truth (1 Cor. 2:7-16)
2. Victory over the flesh (Gal. 5:16-21)
3. Fruitfulness (Gal. 5:22-23)
4. Communion with God (2 Cor. 13:14, Eph. 6:18)