Who Is the Holy Spirit & Why Do You Want Him
Pastor, Sligo City Church
More important than what we know is how we live. Being a Christian is not about knowing lots of stuff—it’s about knowing Christ and living in light of who he is. If we truly believe in him it will shape how we live our lives. If our understanding of God is misguided then our lives will be misguided. So as we study the Holy Spirit, it’s very important that we develop an accurate understanding of who he is and what he does.
All of us are capable of studying biblical truth in a way that makes us “smarter” but that doesn’t necessarily affect how we live our day to day lives. The end result of this message could be that you know a little more about the Holy Spirit. Or it could be that you walk away knowing the Holy Spirit a little more, in such a way that people around you see something of the reality of a Spirit-filled life. Only a life lived in the power of the Holy Spirit can offer the world something better than what they have already...
WHO IS THE HOLY SPIRIT?
An important thing to remember is that the very Spirit we are learning about is present with us tonight, and living within those of us who have believed the gospel. The Holy Spirit is a person. He is not an “it”. He is not an impersonal force or a thing. He is a person with emotions. For example; Eph 4:30 says “do not grieve the Holy Spirit...” On top of this the Holy Spirit is not just any person, he is the third person of the Holy Trinity. This is why Jesus commanded his disciples in Matt 28:19 to baptise believers “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” He is equal with the Father and the Son. In Acts 5:3-4 he clearly referred to as God. The Bible also teaches that the Holy Spirit has a will (1 Cor. 12:11), a will that is totally in line with the Father and the Son and a will that he desires to align our hearts with.
Since the Holy Spirit is God this means he shares all the attributes of God. He is all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-present. In Zech 4:6 God calls his people to trust and rely on the power of the Holy Spirit... In 1 Cor. 2:10 Paul teaches us that the Holy Spirit knows everything, even the deep things of God (because he is God), and he reveals truth to us... In Psalm 139:7-8 King David tells us the Spirit is everywhere, and we cannot escape his presence. How do these truths affect the way we look at the Spirit?
As we study the Holy Spirit, keep in mind that because he is God you cannot fully comprehend him. The point is not to fully grasp who God is—we can’t—but to worship him. We cannot grasp the infinite God with a finite mind! What we learn about him should lead us to honour him more and to desire his active presence in our lives... because when we are filled with his presence we will live more like Jesus... This lead us perfectly to our next question...
WHY DO YOU WANT HIM?
All of us need to question our motives. We can never assume our hearts are in the right place. Jeremiah 17:9 says “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it.” This verse was directed at the people of Judah – God’s own people. Motivation makes all the difference in the world. We can do things out of all sorts of motives – fear, pride, acceptance, pretence, greed, to prove ourselves, self-glory – and I’m sure if we honestly search our hearts we will all find at least traces of these things. When we pursue the Holy Spirit we need to make sure it is out of love for God and people... For this reason we need to let God search our hearts and test our minds often. To ask with King David, “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” (Psalm 139:23-24).
In Acts 8:9-24 we learn of Simon the magician who was accustomed to incredible displays of power. He used his magic to amaze people and to convince them he was powerful. But when he saw the miracles God performed through Philip and the other disciples, he himself was amazed. When someone who spends his life thinking up displays of power is left in awe, something very special is happening. Simon was intrigued by the power of the Holy Spirit, he was drawn to it, but his heart was not in the right place to receive it.
READ Acts 8:18-24.
Peter said to Simon “your heart is not in the right place before God” (v21)! Peter’s response highlights the importance of calling our motives into question. You see Simon wasn’t satisfied with seeing the Spirit at work; he wanted to be the one who controlled the Spirit’s power... I’m sure all of us want to see the Holy Spirit working in power, but unless our hearts are right, Peter’s words to Simon should stop us in our tracks. Do we like Simon need to repent of wicked motives? Why do you want the Holy Spirit? Our answer to that question makes all the difference.
Jesus says about the Holy Spirit in John 16:14, “He will glorify me”. This is the motive of the Holy Spirit if you like – to glorify Jesus... However too often, the people who talk most about the Holy Spirit just want glory for themselves. They put too much attention on themselves, they talk too much about themselves and they allow people to think too much of them. But the Holy Spirit desires people to pay much attention to Jesus... to give us the boldness to talk much about Jesus... so that people think so much of Jesus they put their hope in Him alone. This has to be our motivation in asking to be filled with the power of the Holy Spirit...
We need the promised power of the Holy Spirit to be Christ’s witnesses. However our focus in all this needs to be on God—not on ourselves, not even on the things we can accomplish with his power. So instead of deciding in advance what sort of supernatural display God should provide, we should simply ask him to work in our lives and allow him to work as he wills. Sometimes we get stuck on one manifestation of the Spirit, but God works in different ways at different times... When an extremely proud person displays great humility, is that any less supernatural? According to 1 Corinthians 12:7 the Spirits work in our lives is “for the common good”. Our task is to build up other Christian’s around us and reach out to the rest of the world. This is why we should desire to be filled with the Holy Spirit...
Another trap we can easily fall into is trying to lead the Spirit instead of abandoning ourselves to his leading. When we do this, we’re really following in the footsteps of Simon the magician—he earnestly desired the Spirit, but he wasn’t seeking to be led by him...