The Holy Spirit in the Church

You are here

The Holy Spirit in the Church

Login or Create an Account

With a UCG.org account you will be able to save items to read and study later!

Sign In | Sign Up

×

“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by [which] we cry out, ‘Abba, Father.’ The Spirit [itself] bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together” (Romans 8:14-17 Romans 8:14-17 14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. 15 For you have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but you have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. 16 The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: 17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
American King James Version×
).

Only those who have God the Father and Jesus the Son dwelling in them through the power of the Holy Spirit are considered “children of God.”

Notice that God leads His children with His Spirit. He does not drive them. God’s Spirit empowers only those who choose to serve Him. That explains why Paul wrote: “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God” (Romans 6:12-13 Romans 6:12-13 12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in the lusts thereof. 13 Neither yield you your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin: but yield yourselves to God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.
American King James Version×
).

Paul is telling us that God, through His Spirit, will help us live righteously. If we respond He will instill more and more of His divine nature and character in us. But He will not force us. We must trust Him to help us so we can act in faith. As we need more faith, He will provide it (Ephesians 2:8 Ephesians 2:8For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
American King James Version×
; compare Psalms 1:1-3 Psalms 1:1-3 1 Blessed is the man that walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful. 2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law does he meditate day and night. 3 And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper.
American King James Version×
).

Is it possible to be a true Christian without the Holy Spirit?

“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 [which] dwells in you” (Romans 8:8-11 Romans 8:8-11 8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. 9 But you are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. 10 And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwells in you.
American King James Version×
).

Anyone who claims to be a converted follower of Christ who has not truly repented and received the indwelling power of God through the Holy Spirit is sorely mistaken about his status in God’s sight. Such a person’s outlook on life is still being shaped mostly by his fleshly feelings, desires and impulses because “the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another …” (Galatians 5:17 Galatians 5:17For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that you cannot do the things that you would.
American King James Version×
).

Notice that Paul spoke of the Holy Spirit proceeding from both the Father and Jesus. The Scriptures represent the Spirit’s divine power as available to us from either of Them. But it is represented as the same Spirit—with no distinction. As Paul explains: “There is … one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling” (Ephesians 4:4 Ephesians 4:4There is one body, and one Spirit, even as you are called in one hope of your calling;
American King James Version×
).

Why, in addition to spiritual strength, do we need the Holy Spirit?

“Now we did not receive the spirit of the world, but we received the Spirit that is from God so that we can know all that God has given us. And we speak about these things, not with words taught us by human wisdom but with words taught us by the Spirit. And so we explain spiritual truths to spiritual people” (1 Corinthians 2:12-13 1 Corinthians 2:12-13 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. 13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teaches, but which the Holy Ghost teaches; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
American King James Version×
, NCV).

Jesus told His disciples, “… It has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them [who are not disciples] it has not been given” (Matthew 13:11 Matthew 13:11He answered and said to them, Because it is given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.
American King James Version×
). Without God’s Spirit no one can fully comprehend the Holy Scriptures. God’s help, through His Spirit, is essential for us to attain that level of understanding.

Should we ask God to guide us, through His Spirit, to rightly understand the Scriptures?

“If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” (Luke 11:13 Luke 11:13If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?
American King James Version×
).

“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, [which] the Father will send in My name, [it] will teach you all things …” (John 14:26 John 14:26But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatever I have said to you.
American King James Version×
).

“However, when [it], the Spirit of truth, has come, [it] will guide you into all truth …” (John 16:13 John 16:13However, when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come.
American King James Version×
).

From the above scriptures it is clear that God does the guiding, and He does it through His Spirit.

Does God expect us to spiritually mature and grow?

“We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people’s trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming. But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ” (Ephesians 4:14-15 Ephesians 4:14-15 14 That we from now on be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; 15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:
American King James Version×
, NRSV).

“You therefore, beloved, since you are forewarned, beware that you are not carried away with the error of the lawless and lose your own stability. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:17-18 2 Peter 3:17-18 17 You therefore, beloved, seeing you know these things before, beware lest you also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own steadfastness. 18 But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.
American King James Version×
, NRSV).

“… As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby” (1 Peter 2:2 1 Peter 2:2As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that you may grow thereby:
American King James Version×
).

When we receive God’s Spirit we are no more than spiritual infants. But we should begin growing by quickly learning the basics of God’s way of life, by thriving on the milk of the Word. If we do, God will work in us, though the Holy Spirit, to transform our lives.

Is effort on our part necessary?

“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15 2 Timothy 2:15Study to show yourself approved to God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
American King James Version×
).
“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12 Philippians 2:12Why, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
American King James Version×
).

“My son, if you receive my words, and treasure my commands within you, so that you incline your ear to wisdom, and apply your heart to understanding; yes, if you cry out for discernment, and lift up your voice for understanding, if you seek her as silver, and search for her as for hidden treasures; then you will understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God” (Proverbs 2:1-5 Proverbs 2:1-5 1 My son, if you will receive my words, and hide my commandments with you; 2 So that you incline your ear to wisdom, and apply your heart to understanding; 3 Yes, if you cry after knowledge, and lift up your voice for understanding; 4 If you seek her as silver, and search for her as for hid treasures; 5 Then shall you understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God.
American King James Version×
).

God expects us to study the Holy Scriptures so we will correctly understand them. He wants us to learn how to effectively apply His Word in our in daily lives. The Scriptures tell us that “solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil” (Hebrews 5:14 Hebrews 5:14But strong meat belongs to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.
American King James Version×
).

In contrast, those who neglect spiritual growth are told: “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe” (Hebrews 5:12-13 Hebrews 5:12-13 12 For when for the time you ought to be teachers, you have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. 13 For every one that uses milk is unskillful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.
American King James Version×
). As our knowledge of God’s Word increases, our skill in discerning the proper application of its spiritual principles should also greatly increase.

Notice Paul’s prayer for God’s converted children: “For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height; to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:14-19 Ephesians 3:14-19 14 For this cause I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 16 That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; 17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; 19 And to know the love of Christ, which passes knowledge, that you might be filled with all the fullness of God.
American King James Version×
).

Paul prayed that God would help His children to discern His will, to comprehend the intent of His Word. Through His Spirit God helps us incorporate this understanding into our character—patterning it after His character, His divine nature (2 Peter 1:4 2 Peter 1:4Whereby are given to us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these you might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
American King James Version×
). With our cooperation, He writes the principles embodied in His laws in our hearts and minds (Hebrews 8:10 Hebrews 8:10For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, said the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:
American King James Version×
).

The marvelous process of developing character is a miracle. We could never accomplish it by ourselves. That is why Paul wrote: “For by grace [God’s loving gift] you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:8-10 Ephesians 2:8-10 8 For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to good works, which God has before ordained that we should walk in them.
American King James Version×
).

No amount of effort on our part, unless it is accompanied by the power of God’s Spirit, would ever shape us into what God wants us to be. But with His Spirit working in us we become His workmanship—enabled to perform works truly pleasing to Him. We can comprehend what those righteous works are because God helps us, through the power of His Spirit, to discern how to observe the spirit (the intent) of “every word of God” (Luke 4:4 Luke 4:4And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.
American King James Version×
).

How does the Bible define the “good works” we should “walk in”?

“But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him” (Acts 10:35 Acts 10:35But in every nation he that fears him, and works righteousness, is accepted with him.
American King James Version×
).

“Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom” (James 3:13 James 3:13Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him show out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom.
American King James Version×
).

“[Christ] gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works” (Titus 2:14 Titus 2:14Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify to himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.
American King James Version×
).

“They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him, being abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work” (Titus 1:16 Titus 1:16They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and to every good work reprobate.
American King James Version×
).

A “lawless deed” cannot qualify as a “good work.” Rather, one who “works righteousness” is also known by his “good conduct.” Jesus stressed this truth when He said, “Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” (Matthew 7:23 Matthew 7:23And then will I profess to them, I never knew you: depart from me, you that work iniquity.
American King James Version×
).

In contrast, through the power of the Holy Spirit God writes His laws in our hearts and minds, enabling us to obey the Scriptures (Hebrews 10:15-16 Hebrews 10:15-16 15 Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before, 16 This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, said the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them;
American King James Version×
; Ezekiel 36:26-27 Ezekiel 36:26-27 26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and you shall keep my judgments, and do them.
American King James Version×
). As Peter wrote: “Like obedient children, do not be conformed to the desires that you formerly had in ignorance. Instead, as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in all your conduct” (1 Peter 1:14-15 1 Peter 1:14-15 14 As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: 15 But as he which has called you is holy, so be you holy in all manner of conversation;
American King James Version×
, NRSV).

Righteous works are simply the application of the principles found in God’s Word—performed through the help and guidance of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, as Jesus reminds us: “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God” (Luke 4:4 Luke 4:4And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.
American King James Version×
). We can consistently do this, however, only if God works in us through His Spirit.