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Who is the Holy Spirit?

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Introduction

We, as a church, are in the initial stages of our study of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit. And what I’m bringing before you in these first few weeks are some foundational principles from the tail end of Matthew chapter 12, that will help our learning of the spiritual gifts, and of how to pursue them.
Again, I am so thankful to the Lord for aligning our expository study through Matthew, at the right moment, to lead us into our study of the spiritual gifts.
Last week, I spoke about the world of the miraculous, from verses 43-45, where Jesus talks about the activity of demons, on how they roam about in waterless places seeking rest but finding none, and their only desire at that point is to possess a human body. Now, we studied this in some detail, and if you haven’t heard that sermon yet, let me encourage you to visit our website where both the sermon and the sermon notes have been made available.
Having spoken about unholy or unclean spirits, I want to shift our attention then to righteous spirits, especially the Holy Spirit of God. However, as I mentioned last week, a detailed study on this subject will take us weeks, and so my intention here is bring you to the foothills of this mountain and ask you to open your eyes and see the unseen wonders of spiritual realm. See how? Through the lens of Scripture.

No Ground of Neutrality

Demons are unclean spirits, totally and utterly depraved, God hating, and they have a hatred for all that is truly beautiful. Their constant desire is to harm, to turn people away from God.
Jesus accuses the sinners who reject his Gospel message, in John 8:44, by saying,
John 8:44 ESV
44 You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
Revelation 12:10 ESV
10 And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God.
And in this world we live in, there is no ground of neutrality. In what we call the cosmic battle between good and evil, between the forces of righteousness, and the forces of evil, we cannot occupy a ground of neutrality for there is no such thing. You are either of Christ, or you are of the devil.
Matthew 12:30 ESV
30 Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.
Matthew 6:24 ESV
24 “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.
Ephesians 2:1–3 ESV
1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.
Beloved, our formerly life of unbelief was not merely a life of ignorance, it was a life of allegiance to the enemy. Our minds were prey to his evil devices and that of his minions.
We could be tempted, influenced, used, driven to vile desires, and if we went with him so far along, even possessed.
Therefore, as stunning and scary as the passage on demons may be, there is a reason why demons don’t come knocking on our doors the same way they would have in our former life of unbelief.
And that reason is, our allegiance has changed, and Christ has taken us so far along the road of righteousness, his righteousness, that God Himself indwells in us. And let us look at that passage in John 14.

Righteous Spirits

John 14:15–17 ESV
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, 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.
Now, I can’t wait to dive into this text. There is so much for us to see here. But before I do that, let me say a few words about angels.
Hebrews 1:13–14 ESV
13 And to which of the angels has he ever said, “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet”? 14 Are they not all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?
The Bible refers to angels as ministering spirits. They too are entities of the spiritual realm, each of them real immaterial persons, possessing a will and a conscience of their own. And we call demons, fallen angels, for they were once angels who turned their allegiance away from God.
Jude 6 ESV
6 And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day—
2 Peter 2:4 ESV
4 For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment;
Revelation 12:7–9 ESV
7 Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, 8 but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. 9 And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.
These are all passages of the details that I said would take us weeks to unravel, however, I want you to see the cosmic struggle here. Angels are ministering spirits who aid us, and battle the enemy.
They are all spiritual forces in the heavenly places (and heavenly places is just a term for the spiritual realm). They exist and are real, and as I made the case last week, their reality is more realised than our own. The spiritual realm is not a lesser realm, it is the greater realm.
Now, what we read here in Revelation, I believe, is speaking of a war that errupted when Jesus finished his work on the cross. As Doug Wilson put it, “when the defender of sinners was vindicated on earth in the resurrection, the accuser of sinners was deposed in the heavens.
[This means that there cannot be a recurrence of the incident of Job - the accuser no longer has a place, and we are no longer vindicated by our own righteousenss]
And we also know of other activities that angels perform, in worship around the throne of God, as messengers bringing news to God’s people, and so on. They are righteous spirits devoted to God.
The hebrew word Elohim in the OT, is used to refer to these spiritual beings, but the Scriptures uniquely identifies one Elohim as being unique, superior, and set apart from all the others. He is the living God.

Exegesis

Who is the Holy Spirit?
When talking about the cosmic powers in the heavenly places, Christians often make a false assumption, even if they don’t acknowledge it intellectually, where they tend to functionally believe that the devil is on somewhat of an equal footing as God.
[Jesus and the devil don’t arm-wrestle -> a reference to the famous meme]
A common resistance to such belief is to say that the devil is a defeated foe. Then again, this is not a good response, because it suggests that before he was defeated, he was a foe to be reckoned with. No beloved, none of the Elohim ever compared with God.
Throughout Scripture, we find ultimate submission of all beings to the might of the Creator. In fact, He is the Creator of them all.
So, who then is the Holy Spirit? He is not just another spirit in the spiritual realm. He is the Spirit of the Living God.
When thinking about the trinity most of us have a sufficiently clear picture of the Father and the Son, but what about the Holy Spirit? Who is this third person in the trinity?
Genesis 1:1–2 ESV
1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
Many theologians make an attempt at understanding the specifics of this text, but I wonder if we could compare this, to our portion in Matthew 12 that speaks of demons passing through waterless places. We saw there that that was a picture of unrest of horror, but here we have a picture of rest and peace. The Spirit of God did not pass through waterless places like demons, but hovered over the face of waters.
At least, we can see the difference in the picutre. And by his Spirit, and through his Son, the Father created the world and everything in it. There are mysteries in the Trinity that we do not understand, and may not every understand.
But just as Jesus is that person in the Trinity through whom the God-head decided to be incarnate, die for the sins of the world, and to secure for us the ressurection from the dead, the Holy Spirit is that person of the Trinity through whom God has, and continues to, accomplish all His works of power and grace.
The Spirit of God is the power of God that has worked throughout the stories of the OT and the NT.
When Gabriel appeared to Mary, he explained how she would concieve a child, Luke 1:35
Luke 1:35 ESV
35 And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God.
So, if any verse could sum it up for us, I believe this is the one to do it.
Zechariah 4:6 ESV
6 Then he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts.
God does all that he does through His Holy Spirit. The birth of Christ, the leading of Christ, the peace of Christ, the strength of Christ, the miracles of Christ, the revelation of Christ, and the very resurrection of Christ were all through the Spirit of God.
Romans 8:11 ESV
11 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.
In the person of the Holy Spirit, we don’t have a part of God, or a dispassionate force, or some magical power. In Him, we have the display of all of God’s glorious might and power, the love and grace of God poured out to us.
If, like we saw last week, we must be aware of the spiritual beings such as demons and angels, how much more must we be aware of the Holy Spirit of God.
Coming back to our portion in John 14:15-17
John 14:15–17 ESV
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, 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.
That persons of the Trinity through whom the God-head has accomplished all this, through whom the power of God is at display, is the One whom the Father has sent to us, and He now dwells in us.
Jesus says that the world ‘cannot’, not ‘will not’, but cannot receive him, because it neither sees or knows him. But we know him, we who are Christian, who are saved. How? for he dwells with you and will be in you.
Jesus is saying that for the Christian the presence of the Holy Spirit is an unmistakable reality. So many of you have experienced this even though you’ve not yet recognised that that is what you've experienced.
As John Piper once pointed out, much of our Christian life is our experiences going far ahead of our theological mind, and we’re having to catch up to understanding what’s happening to us.
[Example - the transformation of our hearts in salvation, the desire for God and his righteousness, discernment and wisdom and so on]
John 14:26 ESV
26 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 have said to you.
And the presence of God’s Spirit is expressed in counsel and teaching and reminding and helping and strengthening.
Philippians 2:12–13 ESV
12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
Do you see beloved how in the Spirit of God we have an intimate ally, a friend, the very power of God at work? Gone are the days when angels have travelled afar to carry our prayers to the throne room of God, for God has now established his throne in the altar of our temples. His Spirit now dwell within us.

Conclusion

What I want to help you see is just how spiritual the Christian life really is, and why understanding the nature of the spiritual world is a solid ground for our feet, to live and to understand our experiences and the world we live in.
So, in touching some of the aspects of this subject as I have done in these past two weeks, I hope the Lord is opening your heart to the reality of a world that is unseen, yet is very much real and in effect.
But if I may press a bit in this conclusion on the very work of this Holy Spirit of God in our lives.
We know that the Holy Spirit is in us and his work in our lives is crucial for our salvation. So, I will leave you with three points in closing.
He brings faith and transforms the heart of sinners and saves the elect of God
Titus 3:5–6 ESV
5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior,
Romans 8:14–16 NASB95
14 For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. 15 For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God,
He then, sanctifies and carries the believer on their journey of faith
John 16:13–15 ESV
13 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. 14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15 All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.
He dwells in us, and our bodies are the temple of the Living God
Now we see one of the ways this Helper helps us in
Romans 8:26–27 ESV
26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
I want you to think about this. The Holy Spirit intercedes for us according to the will of God, through our groanings too deep for words. He shapes our very prayer. What dimension of help is this? No weakness too deep that he cannot strenthen.
Now, if I may point out Paul’s raitonale in 1 Corinthians 14:2
1 Corinthians 14:2 ESV
2 For one who speaks in a tongue speaks not to men but to God; for no one understands him, but he utters mysteries in the Spirit.
Are we “ok” with groanings, but not with the gift of “tongues”? You see the nature of the work of the Holy Spirit in both these cases, in making intercesion for us and thereby edifying us.
He is the seal of our inheritance, our promise of eternal life
Ephesians 1:13–14 ESV
13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.
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