In all of theology, understanding what God's Holy Spirit is may be the most crucial element, yet few outside of the church really know the truth. It is the Spirit of God within us that enables us to understand God's way of life and what it means to be a true Christian being transformed "to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ" (Ephesians 4:13). In fact, it is the Spirit in us that makes us children of God and imparts to us eternal life (Romans 8:10, 14)!
When the Holy Spirit works within us, our lives produce what the Bible calls "the fruit of the Spirit" (Galatians 5:22-23), that is, elements of the very character of God. As we grow in them, we show both God and man that we are maturing into the image of Christ. Before we launch into these traits, we need to understand what motivates and produces them in us, the Holy Spirit itself.
1. Is the Holy Spirit a person or power? Genesis 1:2; Psalm 104:30; Isaiah 32:15; John 7:37-39; 14:16-17; Romans 8:9-14; I Corinthians 2:9-16; 12:4-11; II Timothy 1:6-7; II Peter 1:2-4.
Comment: The Holy Spirit is the power of God—not a personage, entity, consciousness or part of the Godhead or a trinity. The Bible speaks of the Spirit as the power or mind of God, the power of love and of a sound mind. It emanates from Him and thus can be said to be "poured out" (Titus 3:5-6), "breathed" (John 20:22) and used to "fill" (Acts 2:4) and "anoint" (Acts 10:38).
2. To whom does God give the Spirit? Luke 11:13; Acts 2:38; 5:32; Ephesians 1:13-14; I John 3:24.
Comment: Though Jesus says God gives the Holy Spirit to those who ask, the Bible further qualifies this with conditions. God will give His Spirit only to those who have demonstrated in attitude and behavior that they have repented. Then they must be baptized and obey His commandments. No one who continues to live a lifestyle apart from God's law has received the Spirit of God or has the power of God working in him.
3. How does God call us to the knowledge of the truth? John 6:44-45, 63; 14:26; 16:13; I Corinthians 2:7-14.
Comment: No man—by scholarship, human reason or intelligence—can comprehend the whole truth of God apart from the Holy Spirit. Only by the intervention of the Spirit are we called to understand it. God, by divine revelation through the help of the Spirit, opens our minds to the "mysteries" of the truth, allowing us to discern what is truly vital to our salvation.
4. Does the Holy Spirit have other functions? Isaiah 11:2; John 14:26; Acts 9:31; Romans 8:26-27.
Comment: God's Spirit imparts wisdom and understanding. It teaches His way of life, comforts and helps us. Even when we cannot express ourselves in our prayers, the Spirit aids us in making our requests before God.
5. By what is a person known? Matthew 7:20; John 15:8, 16. What is God developing in His called-out children through the Holy Spirit? Galatians 5:22-23; Ephesians 4:1-3, 13, 22-24.
Comment: A person is known by his fruits (actions, works), and a Christian is to bear much good fruit. By giving the Spirit to those He has called, God is creating and shaping traits in them that produce the fruit of the Spirit.
6. Will the opportunity to receive the Holy Spirit and eternal life be given to everyone after Christ's second coming? Isaiah 11:9; Ezekiel 39:29; Joel 2:28-29; Zechariah 12:10.
Comment: Man can learn how to live under God's rule only if the Holy Spirit is given to him, but since Adam rejected God's offer in Eden, God has not offered salvation to humanity as a whole. When Christ established His church, God began offering His Spirit only to those He called to be firstfruits (John 7:39). In the World Tomorrow, God will give everyone this opportunity.
7. What does the Holy Spirit deliver us from and what gift comes from it? Romans 6:23; 8:9-11; Ephesians 1:13-14; I John 5:11.
Comment: The Holy Spirit delivers us from death and leads us to the gift of eternal life. We inherit mortal life through Adam, but God gives His Spirit to endow eternal life on His faithful and obedient children. Since the Spirit is God's gift, neither are we born with it, nor can we earn it.
8. What evidence makes it apparent that the Holy Spirit is working in us? Matthew 7:16-20; John 15:1-8; Galatians 5:22-25; II Timothy 1:6-7.
Comment: Once regenerated by the Holy Spirit from the Father, we must continually be led by it, bearing spiritual fruit throughout our lives. If we are producing the fruit of the Spirit, which exhibit a sound mind, we know it is working in us. The Spirit is the mind and essence of the divine nature, and through it God carries out His will. It empowers the mind to comprehend spiritual matters, producing conversion. It gives us the strength, will and faith to overcome our sins. Is there evidence of God's Spirit working within you?