Faithlife Sermons

Growing Our Relationship with God - The Holy Spirit


The Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit transforms God’s people and empowers them to fulfill His purpose their lives. The Spirit is active in creation and among all god’s people. We can do nothing without the Spirit working in our lives.
In Genesis 1:2, we see the Spirit of God in creation:
Genesis 1:2 NASB95
The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.
Psalm 104:30 NASB95
You send forth Your Spirit, they are created; And You renew the face of the ground.

The Spirit in the Old Testament

In the Old Testament, the Spirit of God is active , emphasizing the character and activity of the one True God, rather than distinguishing the different Persons within God. The nation of Israel was among people who worshiped many gods, and having only One God was unique.
The Hebrew word translated “Spirit” can also mean “breath” and “wind”.
2 Samuel 22:16 NASB95
“Then the channels of the sea appeared, The foundations of the world were laid bare By the rebuke of the Lord, At the blast of the breath of His nostrils.
Ezekiel 37:1 NASB95
The hand of the Lord was upon me, and He brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of the valley; and it was full of bones.
Descriptions of God’s deliverance show Him working through the wind:
Isaiah 17:13 NASB95
The nations rumble on like the rumbling of many waters, But He will rebuke them and they will flee far away, And be chased like chaff in the mountains before the wind, Or like whirling dust before a gale.
His breath:
Isaiah 40:7 NASB95
The grass withers, the flower fades, When the breath of the Lord blows upon it; Surely the people are grass.
The idols of Israels enemies have no breath at all!
Jeremiah 10:14 NASB95
Every man is stupid, devoid of knowledge; Every goldsmith is put to shame by his idols; For his molten images are deceitful, And there is no breath in them.
Habakkuk 2:19 NASB95
“Woe to him who says to a piece of wood, ‘Awake!’ To a mute stone, ‘Arise!’ And that is your teacher? Behold, it is overlaid with gold and silver, And there is no breath at all inside it.
The Spirit of God brings life and understanding of God.
Genesis 2:7 NASB95
Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.
Job 32:8 NASB95
“But it is a spirit in man, And the breath of the Almighty gives them understanding.
Job 33:4 NASB95
“The Spirit of God has made me, And the breath of the Almighty gives me life.
The people of Israel had no notion of the distinct persons of the Trinity. However, there are verses that lead us to that truth.
Isaiah 48:16 NASB95
“Come near to Me, listen to this: From the first I have not spoken in secret, From the time it took place, I was there. And now the Lord God has sent Me, and His Spirit.”
The Spirit empowered some of God’s servants to speak and act for Him. This involved such skills as leadership and prophesy. Prophesies about the period of restoration show the Spirit’s ability to provide moral transformation by empowering God’s people to keep His law.

The Spirit in the New Testament

In the New Testament, writers link the Spirit with the Father and the Son. In some verses of Acts, the Spirit acts as a distinct person.
1 Corinthians 12:4–6 NASB95
Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons.
2 Corinthians 13:14 NASB95
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all.
Ephesians 4:4–6 NASB95
There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.
In Matthew 28:19-20 (the Great Commission) Jesus explicitly tells us of the three persons of God!
Matthew 28:19–20 NASB95
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
Jesus is very clear about the Holy Spirit in His last discourse to His disciples before His crucifixion.
John 14:16–17 NASB95
“I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.
John 14:25–26 NASB95
“These things I have spoken to you while abiding with you. “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.
John 16:7–8 NASB95
“But 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. “And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment;
John 16:13–14 NASB95
“But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. “He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you.

The Role of the Spirit

The Spirit transforms God’s people.

In Ezekiel, God has exiled His people because of their sin. However, He promised He would restore them and put His Spirit in them so they could obey His law.
Ezekiel 36:26–27 NASB95
“Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. “I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.
Early Christians wrote about spiritual purification and transformation. Paul links Ezekiels promise of transforming Spirit to Jeremiah’s promised new covenant in which God would write His laws in the hearts of His people.
Jeremiah 31:31–34 NASB95
“Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” declares the Lord. “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the Lord, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. “They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the Lord, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”
Paul writes in 2 Corinthians:
2 Corinthians 3:3–6 NASB95
being manifested that you are a letter of Christ, cared for by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. Such confidence we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God, who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
Jesus, when He speaks to Nicodemus, tells us we must be born of water and the Spirit, and what is born from Spirit is Spirit. He is possibly eluding to Ezekiel 36:36-37. He would expect Nicodemus to understand this because he is a teacher to Israel. He tells him:
John 3:5–10 NASB95
Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. “Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ “The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” Nicodemus said to Him, “How can these things be?” Jesus answered and said to him, “Are you the teacher of Israel and do not understand these things?
Nicodemus should know the Prophets, yet he does not understand.
Jesus also spoke on the last days of the Feast of Tabernacles, announcing that rivers of Living Water will burst forth. He uses “waters” as an allusion of the Spirit as John tells us:
John 7:37–39 NASB95
Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’ ” But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.
Paul also emphasizes the Spirit transforms people and provides new life and new identity.
Romans 8:5–11 NASB95
For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. 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. If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.
One of the signs of the Spirit living within us is that we produce the fruit of the Spirit:
Galatians 5:22–26 NASB95
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another.
These comments fit in Galatians because Paul is contrasting living on our strength alone with living a life in which the Spirit of God ives within each of us. That Spirit empowers us to reject the world and live a life devoted to God. But it is only through His strength are we able to live this life. He also emphasizes that the greatest of the fruits is Love.
Galatians 5:13–14 NASB95
For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
1 Corinthians 13:1–13 NASB95
If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing. Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part; but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.

The Spirit Empowers Ministry to Others

Throughout history, the Spirit of God has empowered His people to serve each other. In judges, God rose up people to lead Israel when they were oppressed by other nations. Samson, Gideon, Deborah are all examples of people that the Spirit of God gave extraordinary gifts at just the right time.
The prophets are all examples of people God empowered and spoke through in order to explicitly speak to His people. It was not easy to be a prophet of God. They were often despised because they spoke against the ways of the world. They did not always live a safe life and many met the end in terrible ways. but they were strengthened by the Spirt to live this life. The writer of Hebrews tells us:
Hebrews 11:32–40 NASB95
And what more shall I say? For time will fail me if I tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets, who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received back their dead by resurrection; and others were tortured, not accepting their release, so that they might obtain a better resurrection; and others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated (men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground. And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised, because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they would not be made perfect.

The Spirit as a Foretaste of the Future

The New Testament portrays the present experience of the promised Spirit as a foretaste of the future, The prophets spoke of the Spirit being poured out on God’s people at the time of their restoration. By the time of Jesus, many in Israel believed the Spirit was no longer active as it had been before, When God began pouring out His Spirit, the followers of Jesus recognized that the prophetic promises were being fulfilled. They new they were in the last days. in Acts, Luke quotes Joel 2:28-32:
Acts 2:17–21 NASB95
And it shall be in the last days,’ God says, That I will pour forth of My Spirit on all mankind; And your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, And your young men shall see visions, And your old men shall dream dreams; Even on My bondslaves, both men and women, I will in those days pour forth of My Spirit And they shall prophesy. And I will grant wonders in the sky above And signs on the earth below, Blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke. The sun will be turned into darkness And the moon into blood, Before the great and glorious day of the Lord shall come. And it shall be that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’
The coming of the Spirit cast the followers of Jesus as the righteous remnant of God’s people. Jesus is the promised King. Gentiles were being brought into the people of God, receiving the Spirit confirming the promise of God to Abraham that all the world would be blessed by his offspring.
Genesis 12:1–3 NASB95
Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go forth from your country, And from your relatives And from your father’s house, To the land which I will show you; And I will make you a great nation, And I will bless you, And make your name great; And so you shall be a blessing; And I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.”
The pouring out of the Spirit provided a foretaste of the future world in which we will live.
1 Corinthians 2:9–13 NASB95
but just as it is written, Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, And which have not entered the heart of man, All that God has prepared for those who love Him.” For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.
The coming of the Spirit is a pledge of our inheritance as children of God and heirs with Christ.
Ephesians 1:13–14 NASB95
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.
As believers who live in the Spirit’s power, we should show the world around us a foretaste fo the coming world.
Romans 12:1–2 NASB95
Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
Throughout the entire Bible, the Spirit plays a prominent role. God’s Spirit empowers God’s people to live righteously and minister to others,. Scripture portrays this empowerment in dramatic ways, such as prophetic pronouncements and the performance of miracles. It also shows people who live their lives in a new way, with a new identity that identifies them as Children of God.
In this lenten season, let us reflect on how the Spirit is empowering us to live our lives as true Children of God. We are not perfect. Indeed, there are times when we feel that we are drowning in the the events of our lives. That we have committed unforgivable sins. That we have no hope. Rest assured that the God who gave a rainbow as a promise He wold never again drown out the world, is the same God who is watching over us and will place out feet on dry land. He will sustain us to the end of our life here on earth and welcome us into His kingdom of eternal life.
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