God offers the incredible gift of His Holy Spirit as part of the conversion process. How do we make use of the power of this gift?
Yet there’s a lot of confusion about the Holy Spirit and what it does in a person’s life. Some believe that God takes over, or possesses, and controls the believer by His Holy Spirit, enabling the believer to speak in tongues or do other miraculous deeds.
While the Holy Spirit does enter us after baptism and the laying on of hands, it does not possess us and dominate us against our will. The idea of “being possessed” by the Holy Spirit is more reminiscent of demon possession than how God actually works.
In the Old Testament, the prophet Elijah had a crisis of faith. After seeing God work a wonderful miracle, he ran for his life because of Jezebel’s threats (1 Kings 19:2-3). After he arrived at a secluded place (verse 9), God gave Elijah four demonstrations of His power. There was a strong windstorm that actually smashed the rocks of the mountain, an earthquake, and a fire—yet God’s presence wasn’t in any of these powerful phenomena.
Then God spoke with “a still small voice” (1 Kings 19:11-13). God doesn’t always, or even often, work with large, awe-inspiring miracles. Sometimes God’s Spirit quietly deals with us by causing us to reason with more clarity and see things with a new awareness. The Holy Spirit gives us a greater ability to see how we can apply God’s wisdom to our daily decisions.
A Spirit of power
The Holy Spirit does not directly control us, but it is still a spirit of great power. “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). It gives us strength and insight to make the necessary changes to who we are on the inside. Only through the help of the Spirit can we be transformed into beings who are continually growing to more closely resemble the character of God. The Holy Spirit helps us change into new men and women.
The Holy Spirit leads us as a guide on the path, but it does not drive us.The Holy Spirit leads us as a guide on the path, but it does not drive us. It leads us just as it led Jesus Christ (Matthew 4:1). It can also give our lives direction as it did for Christ (Mark 1:12). But the Holy Spirit does not force us to do anything. We are free moral agents; we make our own choices and decisions.
Following the lead or direction of the Holy Spirit is very important. The Bible plainly states, “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God” (Romans 8:14). God’s people are to follow the lead of the Holy Spirit. We must live according to the Spirit—setting our minds on the things of the Spirit (Romans 8:5).
This leads to the vital question: How does the Holy Spirit help us?
The Holy Spirit and your mind
The Holy Spirit works with us in different ways, all of them depending on the extent to which we allow it. The Bible reveals five primary ways that the Holy Spirit works with our minds.
- The Holy Spirit opens our minds to understand God’s way.
The apostle Paul declared that the Holy Spirit enables us to “comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge” (Ephesians 3:16-19). The Holy Spirit also opens our minds to properly understand what is found in the Bible—“for the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God” (1 Corinthians 2:10).
- The Holy Spirit changes our minds to pure minds.
The Holy Spirit helps us to put off the old man and to “be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man” (Ephesians 4:23-24). The Holy Spirit works to change our minds so that we can have the mind of Christ. We must work to transform our minds instead of conforming our minds to the world around us (Romans 12:2).
- The Holy Spirit teaches us.
The Holy Spirit teaches us about God’s way of life, bringing to mind the words of Jesus Christ (John 14:26). It is described as “the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge” (Isaiah 11:2).
- The Holy Spirit comforts and encourages us.
One of the primary descriptors that Jesus used for the Holy Spirit was the word Helper or Comforter (John 14:16; 15:26). One way Jesus Christ comforts us through the Holy Spirit is by giving us His unique peace. “My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27).
- The Holy Spirit keeps us in touch with God.
The Holy Spirit is evidence that God is living in us, and that we are living in God (1 John 3:24). It is through Jesus Christ that we “have access by one Sprit to the Father” (Ephesians 2:18). The Holy Spirit even helps communicate things we don’t know how to say to God (Romans 8:26).
Stirring the Holy Spirit
We must do more than follow the lead of the Holy Spirit. We are to stir up the Holy Spirit daily in our lives (2 Timothy 1:6).
There are four primary ways that we can stir up the Holy Spirit. The first way is Bible study, which lets the Holy Spirit work in a greater way in our minds as we take in God’s Word and allow it to instruct us.
Meditation, or concentrated thinking, on the Bible also stirs up the Holy Spirit in our minds, helping us to focus more deeply on God’s words. Prayer, or talking to God, stirs up the Holy Spirit in our lives as we talk to God and seek His will. Occasionally, we must also go without food and water in a religious fast to draw closer to God and stir up the Holy Spirit. Read the articles in our section on “Prayer, Fasting and Meditation: Relating to God.”
God will give the Holy Spirit after repentance, baptism and the laying on of hands. Yet our part is not finished once we receive the Holy Spirit. We must yield to the Holy Spirit. It is up to us whether we will follow the lead or direction of the Holy Spirit and stir it up on a daily basis. If we follow the Holy Spirit’s lead, we will walk according to God’s way of life (1 John 2:6).
The Holy Spirit can help us greatly, but only if we let it. Will we focus on the things of the Spirit and follow the lead of the Holy Spirit? Will we allow the Holy Spirit to help us? For further information, read our articles “How Do You Know You Have the Holy Spirit?” and “Christ in Us: How Does He Live in You?”