Most Christians know of the Holy Spirit. We trust Him and believe in Him. We know He is part of the Trinity, and that He is actively at work, bringing God’s will into our reality. We know He gives gifts to men and empowers us. However, when we get past those ‘big’ ideas, I have found that many believers do not actually know, practically, what the Holy Spirit does. With that in mind, I want to look at 5 works of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer, of which all of us should be aware.
After all, as followers of Christ, we should expect His Spirit to actively work in our lives! The Holy Spirit is God. He is one with the Father and the Son (Jesus). Yet, He is “God inside you.” He is always present. Once a person is saved, it is the Holy Spirit who comes to live with them; to help them and guide them in the Christian life. So let’s answer the question, “What does the Holy Spirit do?”
HE BRINGS CONVICTION OF SIN AND REVEALS RIGHTEOUSNESS.
Jesus said in John 16:8 (NASB), “ when (the Holy Spirit) comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment…” I love that the Bible does not just say that He convicts believers of sin and righteousness. It is the Holy Spirit of God who empowers the human conscience to recognize right and wrong and to feel guilt and shame when we do bad things.
This revelation of sin and righteousness is part of the ‘common grace’ God bestows on the world. It is what allows non-believers in governing roles to set up just systems of laws. This grace is what keeps communities civilized, and working for the common good. It allows restraint of our sinful nature, even when we do not believe in Him.
More than that, it is the Holy Spirit’s conviction of sin and righteousness at work in people’s lives that first draw them to the offer of salvation in Jesus Christ. Unless a person is aware of the separation between themselves and their creator, caused by sin, they will never seek a way to overcome the gap.
As Jesus said in John 6:44, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him” (NASB).
HE IS THE ONE WHO GIVES US NEW LIFE IN JESUS.
In a conversation with a religious leader of Israel, Jesus was explaining how a person enters the Kingdom of God. In John 3:3-6, NASB He says, “‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.’ Nicodemus (the religious leader) said to him, ‘How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?’ Jesus answered, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.’”
We know Jesus died for our sins, in order to allow us to be born again. Yet, He tells us that it is through the work of the Holy Spirit that we are brought into God’s kingdom and family.
When a person puts their faith in Jesus, we often say things like “Jesus came into my heart.” That statement isn’t actually true, however. Jesus is seated in heaven at the right hand of God. It is the Holy Spirit who comes in and lives inside of us, mingling with our own Spirit, from the moment we believe in Christ. The Bible calls this being “sealed by the Holy Spirit” (Ephesians 1:13).
As we will see shortly, this is just the first step of the Holy Spirit’s activity in our lives as believers. There is so much more to come!
HE MAKES US HOLY (OR “SANCTIFIES” US).
In 1 Corinthians 6:11 NASB, the Apostle Paul tells us, “ but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” It is not enough simply to be saved from sins and justified before the Father. We must be washed clean, and sanctified, which means “to be made holy.”
This shouldn’t come as a surprise, that when the Holy Spirit comes into our lives and mingles with our own spirits, He does a work to make us like Him. In fact, the command on the believer’s life is, “Be holy as I AM holy” (see 1 Peter 1:16, NIV).
As a student of history, I love reading about the great revivals of the past. What strikes me as very interesting in this study, however, is that the majority of the most powerful revivals did not start with miracles, healings, and supernatural wonders. They started with a conviction of sin and a great calling out to God to make us holy! The first Great Awakening in America was the international spread of what was first called The Holiness Revival in the U.K. The Welsh Revival, which preceded Azusa Street, began when a youth group confessed sin and called out to be made Holy.
This pursuit of holiness attracts the activity of the Holy Spirit in our lives, and into our communities. Again, it shouldn’t surprise us that the Holiness movement, marked by a pursuit of “complete sanctification” in the Holy Spirit preceded the Pentecostal movement, marked by the pursuit of power.
God wants to clean us up and make us like Himself, before He wants to send us out as witnesses and examples to the world. In Him, there is power and authority to resist temptation and put sin to death in ourselves. While we may never achieve perfection on this side of eternity, when we put our trust in the Holy Spirit’s activity in our lives, we will definitely get closer to His perfect holiness, the longer we walk in Him.
HE TEACHES US.
One of the more incredible things that Jesus said to His disciples is in John16:12-13, ESV: He said“ I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.”
I believe the Bible is the final authority and revelation of God. It is to be trusted above all other revelatory “words.” Yet Jesus clearly says there is still more to be told to us, and that we should expect the Holy Spirit to speak to us.
As I have already written extensively on the subject of hearing God speaking to us, I will not say much here. (Check out my previous posts on the subject.)
However, we cannot neglect the fact that the Holy Spirit is not impersonal. He lives in us and wants to interact with us in relationship. We must listen to His teaching and wisdom for our lives!
HE EMPOWERS US WITH GIFTS FOR HIS SERVICE.
One of the last things Jesus spoke to His disciples before He left was concerning the Holy Spirit’s work. In Acts 1:8, ESV He says, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses…” This filling of the Holy Spirit with power has historically been called “the baptism of the Holy Spirit.” This is very different than our being sealed with the Holy Spirit at the point of salvation. This is now an overtaking of our lives for service to the Kingdom of God.
The Baptism of the Holy Spirit releases us to walk in the love of Christ for everyone we meet. As the Apostle Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:14, “the love of Christ controls us.” Being activated in that love, His power then comes to work releasing the Kingdom of God in power, signs, and wonders.
Once a person is baptized in the Holy Spirit, they will begin to develop supernatural gifts, such as prophecy, healing, miracles, speaking in tongues, and many more. You can read about these gifts in-depth in 1 Corinthians 12-14, but please take note of the emphasis on love that Paul makes as He explains their use.
The baptism of the Holy Spirit is secondary to salvation. This is why in the book of Acts, the question is asked multiple times of new believers, “did you receive the Holy Spirit when you first believed?” (For examples, see Acts8:14-17 and Acts 19:2.) Often, the answer was no, so the mature believers would lay hands on them and pray for them to be filled.
The truth is that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is for all believers, just as the rest of His works we have discussed in this post.
To wrap up, let me just say this to you, my dear reader. The Holy Spirit is still alive and active in the world. If you have never felt a conviction of your sin, or put your faith in Jesus Christ for salvation, I would encourage you to say a simple prayer and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal Jesus to you. You have nothing to lose, and everything to gain.
If you have been born again, but have never found freedom from your sin and temptations, then spend some time in prayer and ask the Holy Spirit to give you power to overcome the sin in your life. Out loud, confess your sins to Him and take authority in the name of Jesus to rebuke those temptations in your life. He will empower you to find the victory.
If you have never heard the voice of God, then right now find a quiet space and simply ask Him to speak to you. If you need guidance on how to listen for Him, you can check out my other posts on that subject.
Finally, if you have never received the baptism of the Holy Spirit and His supernatural power to be a witness for Christ, you should begin praying for God to fill you with the Holy Spirit and release those gifts to you. If you struggle with this, then find another believer how is baptized in the Spirit, and simply ask them to lay hands on you and pray for you to receive.
All of these things are for you! We must simply ask.
As Jesus said in Luke 11:14, “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
This is an updated edition of a post that was originally published on AnthonyIngram.com.
Featured Image by Joshua Earle