The Holy Spirit is a familiar teaching within the Christian church and yet, widely misunderstood. Maybe it’s because most of us see the Spirit as something supernatural and ghostly — something that isn’t seen but is present all around us, even residing within us.
It’s probably safe to say that most of us don’t have a problem picturing God or Jesus in our mind’s eye. But the Holy Spirit? How can we possibly imagine something we’ve never seen, much less understand its importance?
Luckily, we’re not on our own with questions regarding the Holy Spirit. In fact, the apostle Paul has quite a bit to say on the subject in the book of Galatians. Listen to this,
“You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you?” (Galatians 3:1)
This is how Paul responds to the Galatians who were downplaying the role of the Holy Spirit; he calls them fools. Today, it’s quite possible that Paul would label some of us as fools, too. Just like the Galatians, some of us have forgotten the importance of the Holy Spirit and are relying on ourselves instead of relying on the helper.
So let’s take a look at some of the key roles the Holy Spirit plays in the life of a believer. To begin with, Jesus clearly describes one of the jobs of the Holy Spirit in John 16:13-14. Listen to this,
“But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will only speak what he hears…”
Jesus says the Holy Spirit will communicate truth to believers. One way this can be achieved is through reading the Bible. Scripture contains all the truth we need — truth about salvation, righteousness, and transformation — and it’s the job of the Holy Spirit to communicate these truths and to help us understand.
Another job of the Holy Spirit is to direct our steps. In others words, the Spirit will help us with our thoughts, our actions, and our attitudes. Listen to what the apostle Paul says in Romans,
“You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you.” (Romans 8:9 NIV)
Along with communicating truth and directing our steps, the Holy Spirit also gives us spiritual gifts. Listen to these verses,
“Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given the Spirit of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still, another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.” (1 Corinthians 12:7-11 NIV)
But more importantly, God makes us a promise concerning the Spirit:
“Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession — to the praise of his glory.” (Ephesians 1:13-14 NIV)
It’s impossible to find assurance of salvation by looking at ourselves because we are a flawed, sinful, inconsistent, and immoral people. Our salvation is made possible only by what Christ did on the cross, not by any good we might have done. But God graciously gives us assurance of our salvation; he has given the Holy Spirit as a guarantee that we belong to him.
As we have seen, the Holy Spirit plays an essential role in the life of a believer. He is our comforter, our teacher, and our guarantee of salvation.
And nothing can ever take that away from those who believe.
Donna Hughey is an award-winning Christian author and columnist. She lives in Crescent City.