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Work of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer (part 2)

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James Callen | James Callen – Follower of Jesus Christ, Bible teacher, and award-winning Christian author

Jesus told His followers: “The Father . . . will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—the Spirit of truth” (John 14:16-17, emphasis added).  “He will guide you into all the truth . . . He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you” (John 16:13-14).

If you are a believer, the Holy Spirit’s presence dwells in you permanently. He is a continually active Helper (John 16:7) who protects you, comforts you, leads you, teaches you, and equips you to grow in Christlikeness. He provides spiritual empowerment, sustenance, and encouragement.

In what ways does the Spirit work to help us in these things?

To begin, understand first that the works of the Holy Spirit are beyond what we can fully discuss, or even comprehend. I am reminded of the verse, “Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written” (John 21:25). The works of the Holy Spirit are beyond what any man could know, much less make note of. However, Scripture speaks about some of the ways in which the Holy Spirit works in our life.

This is the second lesson of a two-part study on some of those works of the Spirit. In the first lesson, three of His works studied were:

1. The Holy Spirit’s indwelling presence assures us that we are a child of God and our salvation is sealed.

2. The Holy Spirit gives spiritual gifts to believers that are purposed for the building and betterment of the Church.

3. The Holy Spirit matures our character in Christ, molding us into Christlikeness.

If you missed part one of the study, you can find it at this link:

Works of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer (part 1)

In this final lesson, let’s look at three other ways that Scripture shows how the Holy Spirit works in us, for us, and through us.

4. The Holy Spirit opens our understanding into biblical truths and spiritual realities.

  • This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words. The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.” (1 Corinthians 2:13-14)

The Bible is the written Word of God, given to men as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. It is a holy book, composed of Spirit-taught words that speak to our heart and spirit. Scripture did not have “its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21). “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16).

The entire Bible is revelation from God to us, and it gives to us revelation of God. It is inerrant, and it is eternal. Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away” (Matthew 24:35).

Just as the Bible will never pass away, it can never be exhausted. It “is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). Yet, without the inspiration and revelation of the Holy Spirit, the Bible is indiscernible for the “natural man.”

The Word of God seems strange to the mind of anyone who is estranged from God; because the Bible is a God-breathed, Spirit-given, Holy Book that can only be rightly discerned through the Spirit of the living God. For those in Christ, there are always new truths and insights from Scripture that the Holy Spirit is waiting to reveal to us—if we allow Him, rather than quench Him.

Believers need to be faithfully devoted to studying the Bible. In that, whenever we open the Word of God to read and study it, we need to be receptive to the Spirit of God speaking to our heart, because He is openly reading us too.

5. The Holy Spirit helps us pray because, in our weaknesses, we don’t know what we should pray for as we ought.

  • Likewise the Spirit also helps us in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. (Romans 8:26 NKJV)
  • Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” (Romans 8:15)

As a child of God, we have total access to the heavenly Father. We can approach Him at any time, day or night. Our Abba Father is never bothered or wearied by our calling on Him. On the contrary, He waits for us to approach Him.

Through Christ, it’s as if we can walk right up to the throne of God and sit in His lap to talk to Him. His is a “welcome” that could never become worn out. That’s a picture of the freedom we have to readily approach a Holy God.

Yet, Christians struggle in prayer. Why? Because our “flesh” has its selfish desires, blinding emotions, and limited understanding. So, in seeking God’s will, it’s difficult not to allow what we want—or what we fear, from becoming an obstruction for what God wants for us.

Yet, we have an all-knowing Helper. Along with direct access to the heavenly Father, we have the Holy Spirit who intercedes and prays for us. He “helps us in our weaknesses.” In part, that applies to our prayer life, because “the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41). And, yes, the weakness of the flesh spills over into our prayer life.

Generally, there is a tendency to pray far more about physical needs than for our spiritual needs. We stress over things such as health, finances, legal matters, relationships, etc. Those things are important and we should definitely pray over them. If you have a burden, God wants you to bring it to Him.

Certainly, God knows what you need before you ask (Matthew 6:8), but He still wants you to talk to Him about what worries you. For God cares for you and all your concerns, and He wants to comfort and console you. “In every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6).

Yet, people don’t usually spend as much attention on spiritual needs as to their physical needs. While we may not realize it, our spiritual needs are even more important than our physical needs. However, we don’t readily distinguish, or even realize many of our spiritual needs.

But those needs that are unknown to us, are known to the Spirit of God. And He graciously intercedes for us to take those unknown, yet necessary, needs to the heavenly Father.

The Holy Spirit searches the will of the heavenly Father for our life. And He impresses the Father’s will on our hearts. Through the enabling of the Holy Spirit, we can “pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests” (Ephesians 6:18).

6. The Holy Spirit actively teaches us God’s ways and will, and guides us in God’s direction for our life.

  • When he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. (John 16:13)
  • But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. (John 14:26)
  • For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. (1 Corinthians 2:11-12)

Every believer goes through times when they struggle in knowing whether they’re at the place the Lord wants them to be in their life. However, that’s not anything that God ever intends for us! Jesus called us to be His followers. That tells us He wants to constantly lead us.

That is not to say that we will fully know what God has ahead for us, or where God is taking us to. Most of the time, we won’t. We are called to “walk by faith, not by sight.” But even when we walk in faith, we are still walking with God. And, while we may not know the destination, we can know the direction He wants to take us.

For that, we have a guide—One who “guides us into all the truth.” We have the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit to enlighten us to God’s direction for our life. He knows where God wants us now, and He knows where God wants to take us. Further, He knows God’s timing for it, God’s purpose in it, and how God wants to develop us as we walk with Him.

Still, while the Holy Spirit is our help and guide, He does force us to follow where He leads us. Even though it grieves the Holy Spirit (cf. Ephesians 4:30), He will allow us disobey His leading. That’s when we find ourselves struggling in what seems to be darkness; where we’re unable to discern where God wants us to be at.

We need to go back and listen to our guide!

Imagine going into an unknown area that is vast in size, and vastly unfamiliar to you. However, you are privileged to have with you the most qualified, knowledgeable, and trustworthy guide for that area. He knows the area thoroughly. He knows the most exciting and beautiful places—and He wants to lead you there and show those to you. And, while it may be a distance walk, the guide knows where there is shelter and provisions along the way. Furthermore, He knows those places to avoid, paths that hold dangers or dead-ends.

Now, suppose you convince yourself, “That’s nice, but I’m pretty sure of myself. I’ll go out front and the guide can follow me. If I get turned around, then I’ll ask him how to get me out of it.”

That’s kind of how we sometimes seem to treat the Holy Spirit. We would do best to let Him lead in the first place. For, He knows what’s best for us.

Those times when we seem to be blinded to God’s will for us, are the times when we are walking by self-direction, rather than seeking or heeding God’s direction. But the heavenly Father has given us the Spirit of God to enlighten us. The Spirit knows what’s ahead. He knows our strengths and weaknesses. He knows what we need and when we need it. For, the Spirit of the God knows the mind and will of God. He is our guide. “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit” (Galatians 5:25).

Again, this is only an abbreviated list of ways the Bible teaches on how the Holy Spirit works in our life. There are many other ways in which He works. Jesus said, “Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.’ By this he meant the Spirit” (John 7:37-38). In describing how the Holy Spirit works in our lives as “rivers of living water” flowing from within us, Jesus gives us precious imagery of how the Holy Spirit works for our spiritual vitality. As water is first essential for life, and then plentiful water is crucial for sustaining health, so it is with the Holy Spirit.

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Grow in the Grace: Spiritual Growth Lessons from Peter’s Walk with Jesus

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