The Holy Spirit
by E.H. ‘Jack’ Sequeira
But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me; in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.
We learned that convicting or convincing people is not our work but it is the work of the Holy Spirit. Our job is to witness, and let Him do His part and 1 Corinthians 2:9-14 shows us this very clearly:
However, as it is written: No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit.[no human philosophy here] but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.
The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the mans spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom
The Spirit is here to guide us, to convict people. When the Spirit has completed His mission of convincing the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment and has accomplished this work, every person who has been convicted has to make a choice, either for Christ, which the Bible describes as faith, or against Christ, which the Bible describes as unbelief.
If the person refuses to accept the gift of salvation, the Holy Spirit doesnt leave Him, He comes back again and again until that person finally and ultimately says to the Holy Spirit, Leave me alone! But we must be concerned for those of us and others who have said, yes. When we respond positively to the convictions of the Holy Spirit and submit by faith to the truth as it is in Christ, something very important takes place. The Bible calls it regeneration or the new birth.
In dealing with the Spirit in the believer, the starting point is what the Bible calls the new birth experience. Faith is submitting to the truth as it is in Christ and the truth as it is in Christ is two major facts: our life which stood condemned came to an end on the cross; we died. That is what baptism is all about. Its a funeral service. In exchange we accept the life of Christ which is brought to us by the Holy Spirit.
The clearest explanation of justification by faith is found in Galatians 2:19-20. There were two accusations that were made by the Judaizers against the message Paul preached. One was: Paul, if God justifies sinners because they believe, something that the law doesnt do, then isnt God being a minister of sin? The other thing that they accused Paul of: If you tell people that God justifies bad people, then arent you condoning sin by saying, Look, God has justified you while you were bad. What reason is there for you to lead a good life? Therefore youre also making Christ the minister of sin.
Paul, to both these accusations gives a very emphatic No! because justification by faith is more than a mental assent to truth. It is our identification with the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. Listen to Galatians 2:19-20a:
For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.
The law condemned Paul because he was a sinner and the law had dominion over him until he died. Paul could say, I have died. The law killed me but I did not remain in the grave because I rose up with Christ that I might live unto God. How did I die with Christ? When did I die with Christ? I am crucified with Christ, thats when I died to the law, nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ lives in me.
In other words, justification by faith is simply saying, Not I because Im dead on the cross but Christ and now Christ lives in me. Remember, if Christs Spirit is not in you, if you have not experienced the new birth, even though your name may be in the church books, you are none of His. Christ lives in us through the Holy Spirit. The rest of verse 20:
The life I live in the body [in my mortal body], I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
In other words, when the Spirit worked with us before we were converted, He worked with us from the outside. He convicted us through the avenues of our minds. He convicted us of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment. But the moment we said, Yes, the Holy Spirit now came to dwell in us, and we became the temple of God. Thats the first thing that takes place in conversion.
It must be made clear that unless we experience that conversion, justification simply becomes a theory. Justification by faith also involves an experience that comes through the new birth.
Remember, our justification is always in Christ, but that justification has to be made effective, and its made effective when we say yes to the Lord, and the Holy Spirit comes and dwells in us. There are two more texts that clearly say what happens if we do not have that experience. In John 3, Nicodemus, who was trying to earn salvation by his works of the law, came to Jesus at night, and Jesus said something very important to him in John 3:3:
In reply Jesus declared, I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.
No matter how hard you try to be good, no matter if youre a leader in the church (and Nicodemus was a member of the Sanhedrin), unless youre born from above, you dont belong to My kingdom. In Romans 8:9 Paul says:
You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.
Nicodemus, of course, failed to understand what Christ was saying and said, Do you expect me to be born again after Im an old man? He had misunderstood Christ, so Christ answered in verse 5 of John 3:
Jesus answered, I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.
The Greek reads born out of water. The water represents our burial with Christ, which is baptism, and our coming up into the newness of life is the new birth experience.
The starting point of the Christian experience is important, so we will read 1 Peter 1:22-23:
Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth...
Notice, when you surrender to the gospel by faith you have purified the soul. In other words, you have said good-bye to the old life, to the old self life. And all this is done...
...so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart.
In other words, the new life is a life of love and the greatest evidence, said Jesus, is when you love each other. Verse 23:
For you have been born again, not of perishable seed [or perishable life], but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.
We have received the eternal life of Christ in the new birth experience in exchange for our old life, which by faith we have surrendered to the cross. That is why the Apostle Paul tells us that we Christians are the temple of the Holy Spirit. Notice what Paul says to the Corinthians who were not behaving like Christians. They were fighting among themselves; there was jealousy, division, and no love. And Paul tells them, You are not behaving as temples of God. In 1 Corinthians 3:16 Paul says:
Dont you know that you yourselves are Gods temple and that Gods Spirit lives in you?
Turn in the same book to chapter 6 and look at verse 19:
Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;....
Christ has bought you; you belong to Him.
The Holy Spirit comes and dwells in us to make real in our experience what is already ours in Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit does not add one iota to what is ours in Christ. In Christ, we stand perfect and complete. There is nothing that we can add to it. We cannot even improve on it, because, Paul says in Ephesians 2:6, in Christ we are already sitting in heavenly places:
And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,....
So the Holy Spirit doesnt come to add to that, but He comes to make it real in our experience. He comes to restore the image of God which was damaged by sin, and to reproduce in us the character of Christ that the world may see that we are His children.
When God created man, His original plan was that man should be the temple of God. When Adam sinned, He pushed God out of His life and so His children were all born spiritually dead. Christ came here not only to restore our ticket to heaven; He did not only come to save us, but He also came to restore the damage that sin did to the image of God in man. And the starting point is the new birth. God comes and dwells in us and we, once again, become the temple of God.
Now comes the process of restoring that image of God in man and the Bible calls that the process of sanctification. That is the work of the Holy Spirit. Yes, we cooperate, but God doesnt say to you, Christ saved you; He justified you; He redeemed you; now He leaves the rest to you. No, from beginning to end, it is the work of God.
Lets look at 2 Thessalonians 2:13:
But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth.
Remember that sanctification is part and process of the redemption that God planned for each one of us. Now in 2 Corinthians 3:17-18 we read:
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
Notice that Christ in you is synonymous with the Spirit in you and Paul is saying that where Christ is, the Spirit is, because Hes the representative of Christ.
Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty liberty from anxiety, liberty from insecurity, liberty from guilt, liberty from condemnation, but there is also liberty from sin. Verse 18:
And we [we who have received the Spirit], who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lords glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
Unveiled faces means that we can come to God boldly without fear; there is no more curtain between us and God. We can come directly to God in Christ. In doing so, we begin to reflect the Lords glory. It is the Holy Spirits work!
Now, let us go to 1 Thessalonians 5:23 to see how much He changes us and how much of us He wants to affect. Notice that when God begins a work He doesnt do a half job. See how Paul refers to God here, because the very first thing God does in the wonderful truth of justification by faith is to give you peace:
May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Christians are no longer worried, Am I going to make it to heaven? Yes, we will struggle in our Christian life. We will have ups and downs. But one thing we must have is peace with God, because, in Christ, we have been accepted. Here is Gods plan for the people He has given peace to.
What does he mean by through and through? God wants to affect every part of us. He wants the total being, not just part of us. Christianity is a seven-days-a-week religion. It is not something that is put on for Sabbaths. He wants total commitment, and He wants total control.
There is a special message that God has given us as a people which we call the Sanctuary Message. When we look at the sanctuary, we see it is in three parts: the court yard, which is visible to all; the holy place; and the most holy place. As we study the sanctuary, we see that it is pointing to the humanity of Christ, because He was made flesh and dwelt among us. Christ redeemed us in that humanity, and, when we accept Christ and become part of His body, that truth also now applies to us. We become the temple of God. The courtyard is the body, which is visible to all. The soul or the mind where we have our will, where we make decisions is like in the holy place. And the spirit is where the Holy Spirit dwells, the innermost part of me, which is the most holy place in this temple where God dwells.
Just as God cleansed the temple in Christ, He wants to cleanse this temple so that we might reflect His glory. And He works from inside outwards. Legalism works only from the outside. Thats all its concerned about; the inside is still rotten. But the Holy Spirit comes and dwells in us, and He begins the process of sanctification and when He works in us, He works in us completely, until the whole man is a reflection of His Son, Jesus Christ.
But all that time He gives us peace, even though we are struggling, and even though we are having failure. The Holy Spirit does not use compulsion. He is able to walk in us, and live in us, in direct proportion as we cooperate with Him. And that takes time; that takes growth. That is why we need to also learn what the Bible teaches concerning walking in the Spirit.
But we must realize that when the Holy Spirit comes and dwells in us, He wants all of us. What we need to emphasize is that the Holy Spirit wants to guide and to control the whole being so that we no longer live independently of God, because that is where man went wrong; he turned his back to God.
There are at least four areas where He wants to guide and control us.
Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.
God always begins with peace; He does not begin with victory and, if we dont have that peace, we might as well forget the victory, because our motivation for victory will always be wrong. Our motivation for victory must be because we already have peace. Now we want to live for Jesus Christ. Verse 3:
...His divine power has given us everything we need for life [thats eternal life] and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.
Everything in terms of our salvation has already been obtained for us in Jesus Christ, and because of this, in verse 4 we read:
Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature [thats the new birth experience] and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
Having said this, now He says this is now what must happen after we have experienced all this. Verses 5-8:
For this very reason [we have peace now, hope, assurance, and we have become partakers of the Divine Nature], make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love [from brotherly love, we go to unselfish love]. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
God wants us to be fruitful. He wants the world to see that the gospel is more than raising our hands and saying, Hallelujah, Im saved! He wants to see fruits in our lives.
But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.
In the same way, the Holy Spirit, who inspired the writers of this Book, must also illuminate our minds as we read the Book. It does not matter how much we may know the original languages, or all the rules of hermeneutics (which is the science of the interpretation of Biblical writings), if we do not depend on the Spirit to guideus into truth, we will be in trouble.
There are some wonderful volumes, excellent material by Kittle, a famous theologian, and yet he was one of the men who encouraged Hitler to do what he did with the Jews. How can a man who knew so much make that distinction between Jew and Gentile and encourage Hitler to do what He did? We must be guided by the Holy Spirit because head knowledge is not enough. The Spirit guides us into truth. Even though we dont have all the tools that the ministers have, we cannot say that we cant study the Bible. In Africa there are some elders who could not read and write, who gave me ideas of truth that I could not get myself. I thank God that these were men of God who did not depend on their natural ability or on their education, important as they may be. We must depend on the Spirit to guide us into truth. That is one of His jobs.
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.
So the Christian life is not simply trying to do our best. The Christian life is a life in the Spirit. We are born-again Christians. The Spirit has come and dwells in us and He has come to dwell in us so that the world may see the power of the gospel now reproduced in us to the glory of God.
It is my prayer that all of us will allow the Holy Spirit who dwells in us to control us, to guide us, and to use us to finish the work of preaching and witnessing to the world the good news of salvation. The time has come when we need to witness the gospel. The time has come when we cannot simply say, Thank God, I have assurance of salvation. We must rise up and let the world see Christ in us, the hope of glory. May God bless us that now we may now begin to walk in the Spirit and allow Him to reproduce in us the character of the Son of God, Jesus Christ. What the world needs to see is Christ manifested in the body, the church.