The Holy Spirit: God's Transforming Power

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The Holy Spirit

God's Transforming Power

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The Holy Spirit: God's Transforming Power

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“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7 2 Timothy 1:7For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
American King James Version×
).

One of the major problems with the Trinity doctrine is that it clouds our understanding of the crucial role of God’s Spirit as the power of God—particularly in the life of a Christian. We must put away false beliefs if we are to come to a correct understanding of the marvelous truth of what the Bible reveals about the Holy Spirit.

God’s Spirit, as we’ve seen, is described by an angel as “the power of the Highest” (Luke 1:35 Luke 1:35And the angel answered and said to her, The Holy Ghost shall come on you, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow you: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of you shall be called the Son of God.
American King James Version×
). This is the power that made and sustains the universe. And it is the same power we can receive directly from God!

Many other scriptures show this connection between the Holy Spirit and God’s power. For example, Paul, we’ve seen as well, reminded Timothy that “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7 2 Timothy 1:7For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
American King James Version×
). Other scriptures also refer to the Holy Spirit as the power of God (Zechariah 4:6 Zechariah 4:6Then he answered and spoke to me, saying, This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, said the LORD of hosts.
American King James Version×
; Micah 3:8 Micah 3:8But truly I am full of power by the spirit of the LORD, and of judgment, and of might, to declare to Jacob his transgression, and to Israel his sin.
American King James Version×
).

Luke 4:14 Luke 4:14And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee: and there went out a fame of him through all the region round about.
American King James Version×
records that Jesus Christ began His ministry “in the power of the Spirit.” Speaking of the Holy Spirit, which would be given to His followers after His death, Jesus told them, “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you” (Acts 1:8 Acts 1:8But you shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come on you: and you shall be witnesses to me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and to the uttermost part of the earth.
American King James Version×
).

Peter relates that “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, [and Jesus] went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him” (Acts 10:38 Acts 10:38How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.
American King James Version×
).

The Holy Spirit is here associated with the power by which God the Father was with Jesus—the power through which He performed mighty miracles during His earthly, physical ministry. The Holy Spirit is the very presence of God’s power actively working in His servants (Psalms 51:11 Psalms 51:11Cast me not away from your presence; and take not your holy spirit from me.
American King James Version×
; Psalms 139:7 Psalms 139:7Where shall I go from your spirit? or where shall I flee from your presence?
American King James Version×
).

Paul expresses his desire that fellow Christians would “abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit,” in the same way that Jesus had worked through him “in mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God” (Romans 15:13-19 Romans 15:13-19 13 Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost. 14 And I myself also am persuaded of you, my brothers, that you also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another. 15 Nevertheless, brothers, I have written the more boldly to you in some sort, as putting you in mind, because of the grace that is given to me of God, 16 That I should be the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost. 17 I have therefore whereof I may glory through Jesus Christ in those things which pertain to God. 18 For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ has not worked by me, to make the Gentiles obedient, by word and deed, 19 Through mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God; so that from Jerusalem, and round about to Illyricum, I have fully preached the gospel of Christ.
American King James Version×
).

This Spirit empowers Christians to live a life of growing and overcoming, of transforming their lives to become like Jesus Christ!

We need God’s divine help!

None of us can overcome our sins and shortcomings and fully obey God without His divine help. Even if we could by our own will alter our actions, only God can change our hearts.

This is why Paul appealed to members of the church in Rome not to be “conformed to this world, but [to] be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:1-2 Romans 12:1-2 1 I beseech you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be you transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
American King James Version×
) through the power of God’s Spirit. That Spirit is the power God uses to transform our lives and renew our minds!

Earlier in this epistle, in chapter 8, Paul helps us understand how the Holy Spirit works in the life of a Christian. In Romans 8:14 Romans 8:14For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
American King James Version×
he writes that “as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.” Here we see that, to be considered God’s children, we must be led by the Spirit of God.

Paul continues this same thought in Romans 8:9 Romans 8:9But 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.
American King James Version×
, dogmatically stating that if you do not have God’s Spirit, also referred to here as Christ’s Spirit, dwelling in you, you are “not His.” This is why it is vital that we repent and be baptized—so we can surrender our lives to God and receive the gift of His Spirit to work in and transform our lives!

Paul elsewhere writes that you have “Christ in you” if you are a Christian (Colossians 1:27 Colossians 1:27 To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:
American King James Version×
). It is through the power and influence of God’s Spirit that we allow Christ to live in us.

After he had received God’s Spirit, Paul described his new outlook on life: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20 Galatians 2:20I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
American King James Version×
, KJV).

Symbolically buried with Jesus in the watery grave of baptism, Paul now lived a life that was no longer his own. He described his transformed life as one of allowing Christ to live again within him. This is how we please God—by emulating His Son. Paul urged other believers, “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1 1 Corinthians 11:1Be you followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.
American King James Version×
). He tells us, “Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5 Philippians 2:5Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
American King James Version×
, NRSV).

However, we cannot succeed at living a converted life of obedience to God and becoming like Jesus Christ strictly through our own efforts. We succeed through God’s power and help rather than through our own efforts. Therefore, the glory and credit go to God.

To imitate Christ we must ask God for help, through His Spirit, so we can humbly obey God and bring our thoughts, attitudes and actions in line with His. We must allow His Spirit to become the guiding force in our lives to produce the qualities of true Christianity. We must regularly ask ourselves whether we are truly being led by God’s Spirit or are resisting it.

We receive divine help through God’s Spirit

What does God’s Holy Spirit do for us as Christians? This question affects the core of our religious beliefs, because without the power of God’s Spirit we can have no deep, close relationship with the Father, nor can we become His children. It is because the Spirit dwells in us that we are called the children of God (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×
).

We must understand what it means to be “led by the Spirit.” God’s Spirit doesn’t drive, drag or push us around; it leads us. It will not prevent us from sinning, nor will it force us to do what is right. It leads us, but we must be willing to follow.

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 1 John 3:24And he that keeps his commandments dwells in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he stays in us, by the Spirit which he has given us.
American King James Version×
). Through God’s Spirit, which He gives us, we can be influenced by Him for the good and obey God’s commandments. 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 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×
).

God’s Spirit inspires a deeper understanding of His Word, purpose and will. As 1 Corinthians 2:9-11 1 Corinthians 2:9-11 9 But as it is written, Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for them that love him. 10 But God has revealed them to us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. 11 For what man knows the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knows no man, but the Spirit of God.
American King James Version×
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 understand God’s divinely expressed Word and will, “for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14 1 Corinthians 2:14But the natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness to him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
American King James Version×
).

The Holy Spirit makes overcoming possible. Nothing is too difficult for us with the power of God working in our lives. Romans 8:26 Romans 8:26Likewise the Spirit also helps our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
American King James Version×
tells us that God’s Spirit helps us in our weaknesses. Paul, who wrote the letter to the Romans, speaks for all of us when he said, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13 Philippians 4:13I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.
American King James Version×
).

Jesus promises Christians, “With God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26 Matthew 19:26But Jesus beheld them, and said to them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.
American King James Version×
; Mark 10:27 Mark 10:27And Jesus looking on them said, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.
American King James Version×
). The Christian life is to be one of overcoming. We must realize God doesn’t want us to remain just as we were when He called us. Instead, as we earlier read, we must “not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2 Romans 12:2And be not conformed to this world: but be you transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
American King James Version×
). Christianity is a lifetime of overcoming and growing— of transforming our thoughts and mind to become like Jesus Christ (Philippians 2:5 Philippians 2:5Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
American King James Version×
) .

The Spirit of God convicts our conscience and helps us see sin as it really is. In speaking of the Holy Spirit, which would be given to His followers after His death and resurrection, Jesus said it would “convict the world of sin” (John 16:8 John 16:8And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:
American King James Version×
). God’s Spirit within us, working with our conscience, helps us to recognize and avoid sin. The guilt we feel is real when prompted by recognition of sins.

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 the life of a Christian. Paul lists 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 Galatians 5:22-23 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
American King James Version×
, NIV).

Each aspect of this fruit is worthy of a detailed study in itself, coupled with a self-analysis to see to what extent these traits are evident in our lives. (You can download our article reprint series on “The Fruit of the Spirit ,” which explores each of these in detail)

The apostle Peter sums up the process of growing to spiritual maturity: “[God’s] divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

“For this very reason, 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. 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.

“But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins. Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:3-11 2 Peter 1:3-11 3 According as his divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that has called us to glory and virtue: 4 Whereby 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. 5 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; 6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; 7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. 8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that you shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But he that lacks these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and has forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. 10 Why the rather, brothers, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if you do these things, you shall never fall: 11 For so an entrance shall be ministered to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
American King James Version×
, NIV).

The Spirit of God also comforts, encourages and otherwise helps us. Jesus Christ promised to send His followers the Holy Spirit as a “Helper” (John 14:16 John 14:16And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;
American King James Version×
) or “Comforter” (King James Version). True comfort and reassurance 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 out for the good “to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28 Romans 8:28And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
American King James Version×
).

This assurance provides an outlook on life that is rare in our world. Yes, a Christian can get discouraged, but it is through the Holy Spirit that we can begin to look at life differently. As noted earlier, peace is another fruit of God’s Spirit in the life of a Christian.

When we rid our minds of the confusion over the Holy Spirit created by the Trinity teaching, we come to see the wonderful truth of how and why God works in our lives to transform us—enabling us to obey Him and grow in His way while in this physical life, that we may experience an awe-inspiring transformation in the future at Christ’s return. Now let’s examine how God’s Spirit can help lead us to our ultimate destiny!