God the Holy Spirit
Far too often in conservative, reformed, evangelical circles, the subject of the Holy Spirit is met with tension and uneasiness. Cessationists will bristle, not wanting to venture too far into Continuationist territory. Many believers so greatly dislike the tension and confusion that they would rather just not deal with this subject at all. However, the Holy Spirit is a member of the Godhead. We need to understand what God has said about Himself in Scripture if we are to worship Him rightly.
John Owen, in his book The Holy Spirit: His Gifts and Power, said, “There never was, nor is, nor ever will be the least particle of holiness in the world, but what flows from Jesus Christ, is communicated by the Spirit, according to the truth and promise of the gospel.” We cannot experience or understand the smallest fraction of God’s holiness, or His grace, apart from what is communicated to us by the Holy Spirit. Paul described the Holy Spirit as the “Spirit of Prayer” in Romans 8.
The Holy Spirit is as much God as God the Father or God the Son. He has all the same divine attributes as the other members of the Godhead. It was the Holy Spirit Himself who spoke through the prophets and apostles through divine revelation when the Scriptures were being composed.
“For no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” 2 Peter 1:21
“Seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow.” 1 Peter 1:11
Since the Holy Spirit is God, He is omnipresent, omnipotent, and omniscient. These are attributes that only God Himself has. The Holy Spirit is the author of our sanctification. It is through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit that we are sealed for the day of redemption. God, Himself started our salvation and will carry out the work in us until it is completed. It is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit that unites believers to God the Son. This is what makes it possible for us to be able to approach God the Father without fear.
“Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or Where can I flee from Your presence?” Psalm 139:7
“In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation – having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.” Ephesians 1:13-14
Being Filled with the Holy Spirit
Since believers are indwelled with the Holy Spirit, our hearts are changed by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit sanctifies us – He is constantly in the process of transforming us into the image of Christ. The primary focus of the Christians life is to be filled with the Holy Spirit. It is through this filling that we are empowered to live for His glory. The Holy Spirit convicts us of sin, changes us through the Word of God, and empowers us to live for His glory.
Being filled with the Holy Spirit is not some sort of charismatic event or divine lightning strike. Every Christian already possesses the Holy Spirit in complete fullness. It’s not that some people have a little more of the Holy Spirit than others. We don’t go to church to get an extra dose of the Holy Spirit. We are never commanded to be indwelt with the Holy Spirit – it’s not something that we have to worry about doing. It's something that the Lord does for us. It’s a promise to believers that we WILL be fully indwelt by the Holy Spirit.
“However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him” Romans 8:9
The word Filled also includes the context of permeation, just like if you put a tablespoon of cranberry concentrate juice in a glass of water. The cranberry juice permeates the entire cup of water. It is in this sense that we are filled and permeated by the Holy Spirit. He fills our heart, our life, our being, just like the cranberry juice fills the glass of water. His influence needs to seep into every aspect of our life, our thoughts, our entire being. When we are filled with the Holy Spirit we are controlled in every way by the permeation of the Holy Spirit. John MacArthur says it is “living your life under the control of the Holy Spirit…. Being filled with the Spirit is simply letting the Word dominate my life. If you want to know what it is to be Spirit-filled, then feed yourself the Word of God, because when the Word goes in the Spirit has the truth with which to give you the direction and the guidance.”
The Holy Spirit in our Sanctification
Our Sanctification is the process by which we grow in godliness. God saved us at one point in time, and we were totally and completely saved then. But our salvation is also progressively continual – we are progressively being saved through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. We are continuously growing more and more like Christ. It is the salvation process that God will complete when we are given our glorified state in Heaven.
The Bible teaches that the Holy Spirit is our teacher, He educates us on how to live righteously. He affirms what is True and He convicts us o1 f our sins urging us to repent. It is through His guiding us through life’s trials, empowering us through spiritual discipline, and by helping us study the Scripture that we are able to learn discernment. This is all a part of the process of sanctification.
“As for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him.” 1 John 2:27
“I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever.” John 14:16
The Holy Spirit enables us to understand and apply Scripture. Without God indwelling in us, the Bible would sound like foolishness. It is through the Holy Spirit that He renews our mind. It is by our minds being renewed that we grow in the process of sanctification.
“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:2