The Power of the Holy Spirit

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The Power of the Holy Spirit

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U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt said in his first inaugural address, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” He spoke to a generation of people who genuinely feared for their immediate future. They feared they would lose their property, jobs and the ability to actually feed their families. My parents were part of the audience to which Roosevelt spoke.

Things haven’t changed much. We find ourselves still fearing loss of jobs, loss of home and difficulties feeding our families. What are your fears?

God wants to help you live a productive life—free from crippling fear. If fear is a daily part of your life, the truth about God’s Holy Spirit is exactly what you need to hear.

God’s Holy Spirit now available

Fearful, uncertain, doubtful—words that describe Jesus’ disciples following His crucifixion. Their Master and Teacher was murdered in brutal and bewildering fashion. Their mission was seemingly at an end.

Perhaps you feel the failure of not being able to overcome your own personal weaknesses. The good news is that you can make the choice to resist sin with God’s help through the Holy Spirit.

But these negative emotions were mingled with a new excitement. Jesus, whom they saw crucified, appeared to them and delivered new instructions: “Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high” (Luke 24:49 Luke 24:49And, behold, I send the promise of my Father on you: but tarry you in the city of Jerusalem, until you be endued with power from on high.
American King James Version×
).

A short time later they assembled for the Feast of Pentecost. As they remembered Jesus’ words, the anticipation must have been palpable. Then, as they were gathered there in Jerusalem: “Suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:2-4 Acts 2:2-4 2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. 3 And there appeared to them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat on each of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
American King James Version×
).

The wait was over. Jesus’ promise was now being fulfilled. They had indeed been given great power from God. His Holy Spirit began to change their lives in incredible and tangible ways. This same power is available today for those God is calling to obey Him—it’s available to you right now.

A Spirit of change

God’s Spirit is a spirit of change—of conversion. It’s what enables Christians to begin to develop the character of Jesus Christ in their own lives. We should choose to develop the spiritual side of life—the character side—first. Then, with sound character, we can handle the physical things of life that sometimes challenge us.

What is the Holy Spirit? It’s not a third person in a trinity, as many believe about God (see our free study aid Is God a Trinity? ). Instead, the Holy Spirit is the essence of God. It’s the essence that both God the Father and Jesus Christ share though They are distinct beings. You see, God is Spirit (John 4:24 John 4:24God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
American King James Version×
)—two Beings consisting of Spirit.

The Bible shows us that the Holy Spirit is also the power of God that can be projected outwardly from Them. It’s what They use to create. This Spirit was the method of creation: “The earth was without form and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters” (Genesis 1:2 Genesis 1:2And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved on the face of the waters.
American King James Version×
).

Here we see that the Holy Spirit of God is described as something far more than what you’ve perhaps been led to understand. It’s the power with which God through Christ works His will, not only on the topography of our planet, but in the lives of those who put their faith in Him and ask for His help each day.

The Holy Spirit of God is the missing dimension in human lives that will transform people beyond anything you can imagine!

Kindling the Holy Spirit

Do you need help to overcome sin? Do you need faith to conquer fear and to be courageous in life’s trials? The honest answer is yes —we all do. Overcoming sin in particular is something we are incapable of doing of our own will and effort. What we need is the power of God’s Spirit in our lives.

Have you ever sat by a fire and watched it die down to glowing embers? In time those embers will fade. To rekindle the fire, you have to stir up the coals so oxygen can breathe life back into the fire. Then you can add more wood and watch the fire grow into a nice warm blaze again.

The power of the Holy Spirit works in much the same way. God’s Spirit is a very potent power, much like fire. It has to be nurtured and “stirred up” to be an effective tool that God uses to impart qualities we need for a successful life.

The apostle Paul mentored a young minister named Timothy in how to nurture the gift of the Holy Spirit:

“I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands [a reference to the way the Holy Spirit is bestowed—see Acts 8:17-19 Acts 8:17-19 17 Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost. 18 And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, 19 Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost.
American King James Version×
]. For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:6-7 2 Timothy 1:6-7 6 Why I put you in remembrance that you stir up the gift of God, which is in you by the putting on of my hands. 7 For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
American King James Version×
).

Notice these elements of the Holy Spirit— power, love, a sound mind. They are the opposite of fear.

Fear is what President Roosevelt was trying to combat when he encouraged the nation that there was nothing to fear but fear itself. Yet all these years later the same fears remain for many of us.

But God doesn’t want us to live this way. He offers a better way of life. We need to align ourselves with our Creator and His way of life for the real solution to the problem.

A Spirit of power

Think about what God offers. First, He offers power. To understand, we have to understand power differently than what people might think. This power that Paul speaks of in the Bible gives a person confidence about life. And when you begin to understand that your life has purpose, it brings a contentment that is a very real power.

Knowing why you were born is really the starting point for power and mastery over yourself. We then need inner strength to maintain focus and act accordingly. This is the power that Paul is talking about in this verse—power over yourself and over your thoughts and actions.

Changing your life in this sort of profound way is challenging to say the least. It would probably be more accurate to say it’s impossible to do it alone! When God tells us we can have a Spirit of power, this is what He means—power to actually change our lives. God will help us experience this powerful change, but we must take a step in His direction.

A Spirit of love

The apostle Paul next describes the Holy Spirit as a Spirit of love. Love is a concept much misunderstood today. Love is too often understood only in a romantic context. While that can be part of the meaning, it doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of what love is all about. To understand love we must look to how God defines it.

On one occasion, the Pharisees gathered around Jesus. One of them, a lawyer, tested Him with a question, saying, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” (Matthew 22:36 Matthew 22:36Master, which is the great commandment in the law?
American King James Version×
).

Christ’s reply went to the heart of what God requires. He said, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it. ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 22:37-40 Matthew 22:37-40 37 Jesus said to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like to it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
American King James Version×
).

Yet to love God and others to this depth, remaining obedient to God’s commandments (1 John 5:3 1 John 5:3For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.
American King James Version×
), requires something we don’t naturally have. Rather, God’s love is “poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us” (Romans 5:5 Romans 5:5And hope makes not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given to us.
American King James Version×
, New Revised Standard Version). We need the power from the Holy Spirit to transform us into people capable of a deep, godly love.

A Spirit of soundness of mind

Lastly, Paul writes that God’s Spirit enables us to have a sound mind. When we have a sound mind through the Spirit, we’re able to bring our thoughts under control and become subject to the life-giving direction of Jesus Christ.

Paul wrote of this in another letter:

“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5).

Do you have “arguments” against God? Maybe you think God isn’t fair, or that He doesn’t hear you when you call out to Him. Maybe you’re disappointed He hasn’t answered your heartfelt prayers.

Living according to God’s Spirit means jettisoning our own personal concepts of God. It means viewing Him as He really is and ourselves as we really are. Paul challenged Christians of his time to tear down any contrary thought about God and His sovereignty over all life and bring every thought into captivity to Christ. This requires a self-disciplined mind molded by the Holy Spirit.

Transformed by the Spirit

After Paul’s miraculous encounter on the road to Damascus, he went through a very important process. Paul was baptized, and he received the gift of the Holy Spirit. From that moment forward, his life had a true, godly focus. He later wrote about the process of transformation he had gone through himself. He wrote it so that we could understand the power that’s available to us.

“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:1-2 Romans 8:1-2 1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.
American King James Version×
).

Before Paul was baptized and received the Holy Spirit, he struggled with his own inherited view of God. When he began to walk by the Spirit, he experienced a completely new approach to life.

Paul’s experience can be summed up by paraphrasing what he wrote in Romans 8:5-8 Romans 8:5-8 5 For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. 6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. 8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.
American King James Version×
:

I thought I was a good person, pleasing God. Then I realized I was just another man like everyone else, struggling with life by my own works. But my mind was not completely right with God. Something was lacking, and until I took the necessary step toward God, life was futile. As long as I was trying to do it all alone I could not please God.

Are you at this point? Do you feel something is missing? Perhaps you feel the failure of not being able to overcome your own personal shortcomings. The good news is that we can make the choice to resist sin, and with God’s divine help through the Holy Spirit we can actually overcome sin. The difference between the old Paul and the new Paul was the Spirit of God.

Notice how he explains it: “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” (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×
, New International Version, 1984).

Live a changed life through the Holy Spirit

To be a Christian, we must have more than a profession of belief or faith. We must have the Holy Spirit. There is no shortcut to true Christianity. And to receive this gift, we must repent. This means turning from sinful actions to obeying God and His Word. The life of a committed Christian requires that we go above and beyond the exact literal wording of God’s law and strive to follow its underlying intent.

Christ said that lusting after someone is the same as adultery. Even more, hating someone is equivalent to murder (Matthew 5:21 Matthew 5:21You have heard that it was said of them of old time, You shall not kill; and whoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment:
American King James Version×
, Matthew 5:28 Matthew 5:28But I say to you, That whoever looks on a woman to lust after her has committed adultery with her already in his heart.
American King James Version×
). He described the deeper, spiritual dimension of the law.

Paul understood, through his own life, how to rise above himself and his past and how to change and grow into a different person. Is this what you want for your life?

Paul writes: “Therefore … we have an obligation—but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship” (Romans 8:12-16 Romans 8:12-16 12 Therefore, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. 13 For if you live after the flesh, you shall die: but if you through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, you shall live. 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:
American King James Version×
, NIV, 1984).

The Holy Spirit frees us from fear and enables a transforming relationship with God. When we are led by that Spirit we can experience a settled, confident, joyful and successful life. We have the love and power of God leading us. We have a life framed by sound character that leads us to make wise choices with all the details of our life.

Have you repented of your sins? Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior? Have you followed His example in being baptized? Have you had hands laid on you by one of His ministers with prayer that the Holy Spirit be bestowed on you?

Unless you have followed the biblical steps of repentance, baptism and the laying on of hands, you may not have God’s Spirit. It doesn’t mean you’re not sincere. But God is clear that He expect us to carefully follow the example of Jesus and His apostles.

The fears that gripped society during Franklin Roosevelt’s presidency still echo in our modern world. The fact is, times of trial and difficulty have been and always will come up. We can’t escape all of life’s negative circumstances. What we can escape is the fear that comes from not having a sound confidence and love from our Creator that helps us truly live a transformed life of power, love and a sound mind!