Thursday, August 19, 2010

Who Is the Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit is God. This is the affirmation of historic, orthodox Christianity. But do we really believe it? And do we act like it?

All too often there is a tendency, even among those who affirm His deity, to treat the Holy Spirit like He is a power source we tap into to accomplish our purposes. We decide we want to be holy or we want to minister to people, and we feel if we will use the right magic formula, we can get the Spirit to produce this for us. But is this really the Scriptural approach?

Let us start by establishing the facts. The Scripture teaches the Holy Spirit is God (2 Corinthians 3:17; Acts 5:3,4; 1 Corinthians 3:16) and that He performs the acts of God (1 Corinthians 2:10,11; Romans 8:11; 2 Peter 1:21). Also, He is a person (Romans 8:27; 1 Corinthians 12:11; Ephesians 4:30) and does the deeds of a person (Romans 8:26; Acts 8:29; 13:2-4). He is not an impersonal force.

The Scripture says that God lives in those who genuinely trust in Christ for salvation (Romans 8:9,10; 1 Corinthians 6:19; John 7:38,39). He is working in us to transform us (2 Corinthians 3:18; Philippians 2:13; Colossians 1:29;) and to accomplish the things He desires to accomplish through us (Ephesians 2:10; 2 Corinthians 3:5,6; Zechariah 4:6). The fundamental issue here is one of attitude. We are to do His good pleasure; we are created to do the good works He has prepared for us; we are adequate to be servants of His covenant. But we can reverse this and see the Holy Spirit as a magic genie who, if we rub the lamp the right way, will grant our wishes. The ultimate issue is who is in control of our lives and whether we are attempting to glorify God or ourselves. We are to give ourselves as His instruments to accomplish His purposes (Romans 6:12,13); we are His body to do His work in this world (Romans 12:4,5); we are not to exalt ourselves (Matthew 6:1-18; 1 Corinthians 10:31).

Now we can choose to hinder what the Holy Spirit is trying to do in our lives, and we are commanded not to (Galatians 5:16; Ephesians 5:18; Romans 12:1,2). The picture is not of us trying to get the Holy Spirit to do something, but of our need to respond to what He is doing. The picture is not that of a far-away, rich uncle who, if we jump through the right hoops, might give us money. Rather, we have a rich uncle standing right beside us handing us money, and we are pushing it away because we think we do not need it, we can take care of ourselves. As an attitude toward our Creator and Savior, apart from whom we can do nothing to obey Him (John 15:5), this makes no sense.

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