A cornerstone of the New Covenant is God's promise to "put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts" (Jeremiah 31:33). In Ezekiel 36:26-27 He tells us how He will accomplish this: "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws" (NIV).
We need God's help, through His Spirit, to obey Him from the heart and bring our thoughts, attitudes and actions in line with His. We must allow His Spirit to become the guiding force in our lives so that we might have this "new heart."
To grasp how God's Spirit works within us, we must understand what God's Spirit is.
The Holy Spirit is not a separate "person" forming part of a "Holy Trinity." There simply is no biblical evidence to support the common belief that the Holy Spirit is a separate person (for biblical proof, request or download our free booklet Who Is God?). In Scripture the Holy Spirit instead is described most often as the power of God at work in our lives to lead us (see Romans 8:14).
Divine help through God's Spirit
How does God's Spirit lead us? Let's consider a few ways.
The Holy Spirit keeps us in contact with God's mind. God's Spirit works with our mind. The apostle John describes it this way: "Now he who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. And by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit [which] He has given us" (1 John 3:24). Through God's Spirit, which He gives us, we can be influenced by God for the good. This is in stark contrast to the world around us and our own nature, which influence us toward evil.
God's Spirit also helps us come to a deeper comprehension of His truth. When Jesus promised the apostles He would send the Spirit to them, He said it would "guide [them] into all truth" (John 16:13).
God's Spirit inspires a deeper understanding of His Word, purpose and will. As 1 Corinthians 2:9-11 tells us: "But as it is written, 'Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.' But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except [by] the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except [by] the Spirit of God."
Without God's Spirit a person cannot fully understand God's Word and will, "for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned" (John 16:14).
The Holy Spirit makes overcoming possible. Nothing that God asks of us is too difficult to achieve with His power working in our lives. Romans 8:26 tells us that God's Spirit helps us in our weaknesses. Paul speaks for all of us when he said, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:13).
Jesus promises Christians, "With God all things are possible" (Matthew 19:26; Mark 10:27). The Christian life is to be one of overcoming. God doesn't want us to remain just as we were when He called us. Instead, He tells us to "not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind" Romans 12:2). Christianity is a lifetime of overcoming and growing—of transforming our thoughts and mind to become like Jesus Christ (Philippians 2:5).
The Spirit of God convicts our conscience and helps us see sin as it really is. Speaking of the Holy Spirit, which would be given to His followers after His death, Jesus said it would "convict the world of sin" (John 16:8). God's Spirit within us, working with our conscience, helps us to recognize and avoid sin.
The Holy Spirit produces godly fruit in us. Just as an apple tree produces apples, God's Spirit produces a particular type of fruit in our lives. Paul lists aspects of the fruit that should be evident in those who are led by God's Spirit as "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control" (Galatians 5:22-23, NIV).
The Spirit of God also comforts, encourages and otherwise helps us. Jesus Christ promised to send His followers a "Helper" (John 14:16) or "Comforter" (KJV). True reassurance and strength come from God's Spirit dwelling in us. We need not be unduly worried about what may happen to us. God's Spirit gives us the assurance that whatever happens will work for the good "to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose" (Romans 8:28).
Growing to spiritual maturity
Correctly understanding the scriptural truth that the Holy Spirit is God's power that can transform our lives helps us better understand His purpose and will for us.
It is also a key to understanding the whole purpose and intent of the New Covenant. God did not establish the New Covenant to abolish His laws, which are holy, just and good (Romans 7:12). He established it to remedy the flaw that was in the people (Hebrews 8:8)—the weakness, disobedience and lack of faith inherent in all of us that leads us to sin (Romans 3:10-18). Through His Spirit, God empowers us to develop holy, righteous character and resist temptation and the pulls to sin.
With God's Spirit at work within us, God's wonderful promise of the New Covenant in Jeremiah 31:33-34 can be fulfilled: "I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, 'Know the Lord,' for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more."