If you want to know God you have to know who he is and how he manifests himself. God exists in three persons The Father the Son and Holy Spirit, but he is one God. There is this great tension between maintaining God’s perfect unity and understanding each person of the Trinity. So we have been talking about The Persons over the past 4 weeks. Of course 3 weeks ago we talked about the Father and his immeasurable, and incredible love for us that even though we were disobedient sinners God gave his son Jesus as a sacrifice for our sins.
Then over the past two weeks we have been talking about the Grace of the Son and how we can know Jesus and identify with Jesus because of his personal grace and how he has shown us incredible grace by going to the cross on our behalf and becoming a substitute for us. Today I want to talk about something that is incredibly precious and to me and important to Christianity and that is the Life changing work of the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is the most misunderstood member of the trinity, and He is also the scariest member of the trinity, after all He is often called the Holy Ghost, and Ghosts are scary. Central in all of this is that people don’t understand the Spirit and have different interpretations of the Holy Spirit. One of the things that humanity has always been guilty of trying to conform God into our image rather than being conformed into His image. Did you hear that? One of the things that humanity has often been guilty of is forming a God to fit our image, rather than being conformed into his image. In other words we have an idea of what we want God to be like or what we want God to do and so rather than trusting scripture we begin to create an idea of God in our minds.
Well the member of the Trinity that is most subject to being conformed into someone, or something that He is not is the Holy Spirit.
So this never happened to me personally but I had buddy who was dating this girl in our youth group, and I have heard this story of other youth group girls and one day this girl came up to him and said, “We need to break up” and he said, “well, why?” and her response was, “well the Holy Spirit told me we needed to break up” Now if the Holy Spirit opened your eyes to some scripture or brought to light some truth that you realized this is not the guy for you ok, but don’t go blaming the Holy Spirit or use the Holy Spirit to get out of a relationship. I remember one time on a drive to my parents house Paige and I listened to the story of Carlton Pearson, he was a mega church pastor in Tulsa who had an incredible ministry. Well in the late 1990s he began to slip off into a very typical theological liberalism and fortunately the church didn’t follow him. Numbers began to drop, he eventually left his church to go and pastor a more liberal congregation in Chicago, and he has now left the church completely. It was a tragic and sad story. But through the whole story, they were interviewing him and he kept saying, the Holy Spirit told me this or the Holy Spirit told me that, ideas that were totally contrary to scripture.
So because there has been so much abuse to the person of the Holy Spirit, because people have used the Holy Spirit to say whatever they want to say what they want to say and do what they want to do there is a lot of confusion on the Holy Spirit and so good conservative evangelicals have often avoided talking about the Spirit, because if you start talking about the Holy Spirit too much, watch out or the people will be swinging from the chandeliers.
So since we don’t have chandeliers we are going to push forward today looking at what Jesus had to say about this third person of the trinity, the Holy Spirit. Today as we move forward I want to hopefully answer a few questions for you about the Holy Spirit, and as we know Him we can then know his amazing life changing power. We are going to try to answer 3 questions this week, Who is the Holy Spirit?, What does the Holy Spirit do? And finally What does the Holy Spirit want us to do?
So who is the Holy Spirit?
The Holy Spirit is the third person of the trinity that indwells followers of Jesus and is the presence and the power of God in their lives.
The Holy Spirit is the third person of the trinity that indwells followers of Jesus and is the presence and the power of God in their lives. The Holy is the third person of the Trinity, so there is a personhood in the Holy Spirit. He is always referred to in the masculine, we should never refer to the Holy Spirit as a she, or an “it”. He is fully God. He is an indwelling person.
This is where the Holy Spirit can be confusing, since the Holy Spirit is a spirit, and since he indwells many people at once people commonly refer to the Holy Spirit as a power, or a force, kind of Star Wars, you know “let the force be with you,” or “use the force Luke,” but this is not the way the Bible talks about the Holy Spirit. This is a personal Helper.
15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever,
So this idea of a Helper, it is the Greek Paracletos, an Advocate, a Counselor, He isn’t a force that we tap into, He is a personal helper. In John 14:25, 15:26, 16:7 we see the same language.
John 14 Jesus very clearly says that the Father will send the Spirit, in John 16 it is very clear that Jesus sends the Spirit. In John 14:25 Jesus says we will come to indwell. I want you to just think about this, The Holy Spirit is eternally God sent as a gift from the Father and the Son to indwell the believer to be a counselor, an advocate, a guide, and a friend. This is a gift that the church unfortunately doesn’t realize that it has.
If I came to you and said, would rather have Jesus with you, just like the Disciples had, Jesus in the flesh with you or would you rather have the Holy Spirit in you. I bet if you asked 100 people that question. Would you rather have Jesus with you, or would you rather have the Holy Spirit in you which would you choose? I bet if I asked 100 people that question most of them would say, well I would rather Jesus with me. When Jesus himself said this, “I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.” This is amazing when you think about it, God within you. This is an incredible promise.
At Christmas time we celebrate this amazing truth, Immanuel, God with us, but because of Pentecost we can celebrate an even more amazing truth, God in us. The same Holy Spirit that rushed upon the Red Sea to part the Waters, the same Spirit that allowed David, a mere boy to defeat the giant Goliath, the Same Spirit that came upon Samson to break down the Temple of the Philistines, the Same Spirit of God that guided Jesus through his ministry, that gave Jesus, who was fully man, the power to turn water into wine, to calm the storms, and to heal the Blind, the Same Spirit that brought the dead and rotting body of Jesus back to life on the Third day is with you, is in you. The power of the resurrection has been given to all believers. There is evidence of this all throughout the Bible. On the night Jesus was arrested a mere servant of Caiphus came up to Peter and said, weren’t you with the Galilean weren’t you with Jesus, after Peter had just been with Jesus, after he had just had Jesus wash his feet after they had shared a meal together, after Peter had said, if all these deny you I won’t a servant came up to him and said, “weren’t you with Jesus” and he denied his Lord screaming and cursing his name.Now just weeks later the same Peter, would stand before Caiphus, and three of his priestly buddies, Four members of the high priestly family and he would profess Christ and tell them that the Jesus that they crucified rose from the dead and came with power.Denied Jesus before a servant girl, weeks later boldly professing Jesus before the priestly council. What happened? The power of the Holy Spirit was in Peter.
Look at John 14: 17.
17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.
So what does all of this mean?
In the Old Testament we learn that God had chosen a people the Hebrew people to dwell in their midst and they were a set a part people. The Spirit of God was with them in the Ark of the Covenant. The people were in such awe of this idea that the Spirit of God was with them in their presence that on the day the Ark returned from the Philistines to Jerusalem, those who were carrying the ark would stop every six steps to make a sacrifice before the Lord. This is the kind of awe that the people had of the presence of God. And when the ark got to Jerusalem eventually a temple was built and the Ark was housed in the most Holy place of the temple and one day a year one man, the high priest had access to go before the presence of God in the most Holy place of the Temple. Before he went back there he had to be totally clean, going through ceremonial washing and making sacrifice for his own sins. This is how sacred and how powerful the presence of God is.
This is how clean you are in Christ.
Because Christ has made us this clean we have access to the Spirit of God all the time. Not just one day a year but all the time as the Spirit of God indwells the believer. The presence of God is with you.
If you will just be aware of his presence, invite his presence, and practice his presence it will totally revolutionize your life.
What does the Holy Spirit do?
Now this is very important. Knowing what the Spirit does will help you to be able to test the Spirits. To discern whether or not whatever is leading you is the Spirit of God. Have you ever had one of those thoughts where you said, was that the Spirit of God or was that something else.
Now the Holy Spirit does many things but encompassing everything he does, behind everything He does, the Holy Spirit points people to Jesus. The Holy Spirit is all about Jesus. He wants to bring glory and honor to Jesus. He helps believers follow Jesus; He convicts us when we wander from Jesus. He Reminds the Church of what Jesus said, the Holy Spirit is all about Jesus.
So the evidence of the Spirit in someone’s life is that they are in love with Jesus, the evidence of the Holy Spirit in someone’s life is not that they sit around and say the Spirit told me this and the Spirit told me this.
The evidence is that they love Jesus.
The Spirit points to Jesus, the Spirit brings to remembrance all that Jesus said. Look at John 14:26 says, “He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”
John 15:26 – “He will bear witness about me”
Lets go back to John 16:7 “I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.”
8 “And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; 10 concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; 11 concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.
He will convict the world concerning righteousness because I go to the Father and you will see me no longer.”
Now what does that mean? He convicts the world concerning sin, righteousness, and judgment. Well sin is pretty simple – the Holy Spirit is the great convector of sin. It is the Holy Spirit that opens our eyes in the first place to show us how desperately we need a savior. When I preach I always pray, “Father, send the Holy Spirit, they won’t hear unless you open their ears and their eyes to see” Ultimately it is the Holy Spirit that shows us our sin and our great need for Christ. But what about this second one, He convicts the world 10 concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer. The Holy Spirit reminds us of the Righteousness of Christ. Remember he is always pointing to Jesus, if Jesus were here we could look at him, but he is with the Father and so the Holy Spirit reminds us of the wonderful righteousness of Christ. The Holy Spirit always points to the way and the holiness of Jesus he convicts the world concerning righteousness.
And Judgment because the ruler of this world is judged – The Holy Spirit reminds the church that Jesus has won, are you discouraged, feel like things aren’t going as you planned, maybe you are being persecuted, maybe your faith is really being tested, take heart, Jesus has won. Jesus has been victorious, Jesus has overcome and the ruler of this world is judged.
So over and over the Holy Spirit is reminding us, you need Jesus, don’t forget the righteousness of Jesus, don’t forget Jesus has won, he is victorious, he has overcome.That is the great test of a Spirit filled ministry.Is this about Jesus?It is very easy in our ministries and this is true of preachers, to deacons, to Life Group Leaders, to nursery workers, to the guy that makes the coffee. The ministry can become about us and not about Jesus. You want to know if your ministry is Spirit filled? Who is it about? Who is more understood? Who do people get excited about?
I want you to hear this A spirit filled ministry really isn’t even about the people that you are serving It is about Jesus.
Now sure your personality is going to come through your work, I mean when I read the book of John, I learn something about John. When I read Paul’s letters I learn something about Paul and I can see his personality that is why I don’t believe Paul wrote Hebrews. For example, because I know him a little bit and I know that this isn’t the guy that wrote Hebrews, so of course your personality will come out in your ministry, but nobody would say that the Gospel of John is about John, nobody would say that Romans is about Paul. It’s about Jesus, when you read the whole Bible, when you really begin to understand that Bible you see that the whole thing is about Jesus, why? Because the Bible was written by the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit does not glorify himself, he glorifies the Son.
So thirdly, What does the Holy Spirit want us to do?
Notice the Emphasis whenever Jesus talks about the Holy Spirit
Back to John 14 notice the emphasis in verse 15
15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth,
23 and 24.
23 Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24 Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me.
John 15 is all about abiding in the vine, knowing Christ and it ends with the promise of the Spirit
13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth.
The Holy Spirit wants us to know the Truth of Christ and to obey the truth of Christ. He leads us in obedience as we follow Jesus.
When I was in high School I started Rock Climbing, and it is a great sport and its kind of a team sport. And there is a type of Rock Climbing called top rope where you run the rope through an anchor at the top of the climb and then one end of the rope goes to the climber and the other end to the Belay man. The climber obviously climbs but the Belay man stands at the bottom and pulls out the slack in the rope to keep the climber against the rock and to keep Him safe.
Well I really got into rock climbing when I got to Auburn because my roommate was this guy names Kyle Omastiak, and Kyle was and still is one of these guys that is just a V. Broad shoulders thin waste strong as they come, incredible balance, and Kyle could like run up and down rocks.
Well Kyle taught me the importance of a good belay man. Because a good belay man not only keeps the rope tight, he also helps you to see the Rock. See, when you are on the rock, you are pressed up against the rock and all you can see is what is right in front of you, but the Belay man can see the whole rock and so throughout the climb he is calling out, “hey man just above your right hand,” or “swing your left leg out and there is something to put your foot on,” or “just a few more feet”
As I have thought about the Spirit’s work in my life He is like that, as I pursue this Christian life, as I follow Jesus.
The Holy Spirit keeps me from falling, there have been so many times in my life when I could have fallen into deep and damaging sin, that the Spirit of God has kept me from. The Spirit also is a guide, reminding me of Jesus’ truth, and teaching me to live that out.
There have been so many times in my life when the Spirit of God will lead me, saying, “Hey remember what Jesus said about the poor in Spirit.” “Hey remember what Jesus said about forgiveness” “Hey remember how Jesus treated the children” The Spirit wants us to live out this truth of Christ so we can become like Christ and to be a reflection of Christ, and to bring glory to Christ.
So just as we close I want to give you 5 very practical steps on inviting the Holy Spirit’s work in your life.
If you want to invite the Holy Spirit’s work in your life…
1. Meditate on What needs to be changed in your life
The Holy Spirit is all about life change, guiding you to become like Christ. So what are some things that you want to change in your life, what are some areas that need to be shaped? In other words, set some spiritual goals. Paige and I do this ever year physical, occupational, relational, spiritual, how are we going to grow this year, what in our lives needs to be shaped?
And if you need help on this ask someone, Ask someone that you trust and that you know loves you they will help you see areas of opportunity in your life.
2. You want to activate the Holy Spirit get in the Word.
The Holy Spirit loves the Bible. Through the hands of men the Holy Spirit wrote the Bible, so you want the Holy Spirit to move in your life, get into the Bible. Get into the word of God. Watch the Holy Spirit move and speak to you. I can’t tell you how important this is. Just spending a few minutes in the word of God every day. It is really easy now, with technology.
On my I phone I have an app called U version and every day at 6:45 a reminder goes off that says, don’t forget your Bible Reading plan. Awesome. There is really no excuse on this one. Do you want to hear from God, do you want the Spirit of God to be activated in your life, get into the word? Even if you don’t have a smart phone, just keep your Bible by your bedside. And get a good reading plan.
Next Sunday we are going to have available a list of Bible reading plans, we will put this on the web sight and we will have these lists out for you. You want to activate the Holy Spirit in your life get into the Word.
3. Kill Sin
Don’t grieve the Holy Spirit when you feel the conviction of God, listen to that. Don’t miss this. I’ll remind you of the old John Owen quote, “be killing sin, or sin will be killing you” If you want to be close to God and feel the Holy Spirit’s leading and working in your life, don’t mess around with sin, kill it, get rid of it. When you feel conviction don’t ignore that, or you will grow numb to the Spirit’s leading and miss out on this most gift God has given you.
4. Ask God for His Presence (Pray) –
Ask that God would lead, ask for the Lord’s help in your life. God will respond. I know this is so simple, so elementary, but so real. Do not forsake to call upon the Lord to ask for his presence for his leading that is a prayer that God loves to answer.
5. Practice the Presence of God –
I have mentioned this old book before by a man named Brother Lawrence called The Practice of the Presence of God. And the book is a little mystical and I certainly wouldn’t agree with all of Brother Lawrence’s theology, but the value of the book is Brother Lawrence’s keen awareness of the presence of God. He practices the presence of God, He remembers that the Holy Spirit is with him all of the time. Leading Him.
I have better behavior when Paige is around, because I am aware of her presence and I want to show myself a Godly man in front of her.
When you become aware of the presence of the Holy Spirit. You will be amazed at how your behavior and your whole life will change.
I want to close reminding you again of the amazing verse John 16:7
Jesus says to his disciples “It is to your advantage that I go, because when I go I am going to send you the Holy Spirit, the Helper.”
In other words, it is way better to have the Spirit of God in you than it even is to have Jesus with you.
So, do not forsake this great gift of the Father and the Son, the life changing power of the Holy Spirit in your life, that God has given to you. What a gift. May he lead us toward all obedience and faith.