Understanding the Work of the Holy Spirit

Understanding The Work Of The Holy Spirit

Part I

Experiencing The Fullness of The Spirit (Chapters 1-8)

Chapter One

Understanding The Work Of The Holy Spirit
The Convicting Work Of The Holy Spirit 1 The Counseling Work Of The Holy Spirit 5
The Convincing Work Of The Holy Spirit 2 The Communicating Work Of The Holy Spirit 6
The Cleansing Work Of The Holy Spirit 3 Discussion Questions: 7
The Comforting Work Of The Holy Spirit 4    

John 14:15-20

The Convicting Work Of The Holy Spirit

The apostle Paul one time asked certain disciples, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed"? (Acts 19:2-3, NIV) Many today are just as ignorant regarding the ministry of the Holy Spirit!

The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity. It is the work of the Holy Spirit to continue the ministry of Jesus in the world today.

In considering the work of the Holy Spirit during the next several days, consider several words, each of which describes one of the many different ministries of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit convicts, convinces, cleanses, comforts, counsels, and communicates.

The Holy Spirit convicts of sin. "When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment." (John 16:8, NIV)

The word that John uses of the work of the Spirit "is the word which is used for the cross-examination of a witness, or a man on trial, or an opponent in an argument. It always has this idea of cross-examining a man until he sees and admits his errors, or acknowledge the force of some argument which he had not yet seen… Now clearly such cross-examination can do two things–it can convict a man of the weakness of his case, and the strength of the case which, up to this time, he has opposed. In this passage we need both the meanings; we need both convict and convince". (Daily Study Bible; John, vol. 2; William Barclay)

It is the work of the Holy Spirit to convict a man of his sin, and to convince a man of his own weakness and of Christ's strength.

The Spirit of God, speaking through the Holy Scriptures, convicts man of inward attitudes and sinful desires against which there is no civil law. Civil laws are made against murder, but only the Spirit can convict a man for anger. Civil laws can convict a man for perjury and fraud, but only the Spirit of God can convict a man for malice and resentment. There are civil laws against adultery, but who, other than the Spirit of God, can convict one of lustful desires and impure thoughts? Laws against stealing are made by society, but only God's Spirit can convict one of the wrong in covetousness, envy, and jealousy. What passes the scrutiny of man, does not pass the scrutiny of God. Jesus said that the Spirit convicts the world of sin because the world does not believe in Him. One may not be a murderer, or an adulterer, or a thief, but if he does not truly believe in Christ, that person stands condemned. "Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son." (John 3:18, NIV)

"Father, I come to you with a receptive heart and an open hand to receive you gifts of divine grace. I stand convicted of my own inadequacies, and convinced of the adequacy of your grace. What passes the scrutiny of man cannot pass your scrutiny. I confess my hidden sins in order to receive your revealed mercy."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: I will not allow society's approval of my outward conduct to blind me to my need for God's cleansing of my inward condition!

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John 16:5-11

The Convincing Work Of The Holy Spirit

It is the ministry of the Holy Spirit to convince the world of true righteousness, as it is supremely exemplified and personified in Jesus. Comparing other men with Jesus is like comparing coal dust with freshly fallen snow. All others appear unclean and unrighteous in the sight of the sinless and immaculate Son of God.

It is a strange characteristic of sin to reverse values and to change moral standards until right can be called evil, and evil goodness. It is a realistic commentary on the deceitfulness of man's heart, that the Jews who performed the most religious practices in Jesus' day were the same Jews who defamed and rejected the very Son of God! It was the Jewish religious leaders who accused Jesus of keeping bad company with publicans and sinners (Matthew 9:11). It was the religious leaders who accused Jesus of gluttony and intemperance (Matthew 11:19). It was the Jewish High Priest who accused Jesus of blasphemy (Matthew 26:65). Jesus' own family on one occasion accused Jesus of insanity (Mark 3:21). The spiritually-blinded Jewish leaders even accused Jesus of being possessed with devils (John 7:20) . The hardened, calloused Jewish legalists accused Jesus of breaking the Sabbath (John 9:16). The spotless Son of God was accused of treason (John 19:12).

Who would date say to His fellowman, as Jesus said, "Which of you convinceth me of sin"? Jesus was sinless and to men he declared His sinlessness without giving any evidence of pride. Only the Son of God could do this.

Jesus' disciples spent many months with Jesus under all circumstances. They saw Jesus when He was overcome with weariness or hunger, when the crowds pressed upon Him and the diseased people thronged around him, when the repentant ones cried out to Him, and when the hypocritical challenged Him with subtle questions. The disciples saw Jesus when He was filled with sorrow, following the beheading of John the Baptist. They saw Him when He was sore pressed in His spirit and when He experienced the agony of the Garden. And yet those who knew Christ best declared that He was sinless and pure. Peter, a devout Jew who believed with all Jews in the universality of sin, declared that Christ "did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth". (1 Peter 2:22)

"The world denied Christ's claim to righteousness, disputed His profession of Messiahship, declared Him to be an execrable imposter, and finally seemed to have triumphed in its attempted demonstration of His unrighteousness, by His crucifixion … But just when it seemed that the world had triumphed, and had demonstrated the falsity of Christ's profession, thus putting an end to the religion He had sought to establish, the grandest demonstration of his holiness and of His Messiahship was given to the world by His resurrection from the dead." (The Holy Spirit, A Study, p. 173; Hogue)

"Father, your Son of righteousness shines more brightly than the noonday sun. No sooner can sinful man deny the righteousness of the Son than can man quench the flames of the sun with the waters of earth. His righteousness is from everlasting to everlasting."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: Just as Christ's righteousness was demonstrated conclusively through the Resurrection, I will allow the Holy Spirit to demonstrate Christ's righteousness through my new life today!

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Ezekiel 36:24-28

The Cleansing Work Of The Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit cleanses the sinner from the guilt of his sins. The Holy Spirit is the agent in resolving guilt and imparting new life. "But when the kindness of God our Savior and his love toward man appeared, he saved us in his mercy–not by virtue of any moral achievements of ours, but by the cleansing power of a new birth and the moral renewal of the Holy Spirit, which he gave us so generously through Jesus Christ our Savior. The result is that we are acquitted by his grace, and can look forward to inheriting life for evermore." (Titus 3:4-7, Phillips)

The Holy Spirit is also the agent in cleansing the believer from the pollution of sin. Man is not only a sinner in practice who needs forgiveness, but man is also a sinner by nature who needs inner cleansing. David acknowledged his need for inner cleansing. "Behold, I was brought forth in (a state of) iniquity; my mother was sinful who conceived me (and I, too, am sinful)… Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean (ceremonially), wash me, and I shall (in reality) be whiter than snow… Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right, persevering, and steadfast spirit within me." (Psalms 51:5, Pslams 51:7, Pslams 51:10, Amplified Bible)

The fire which took the appearance of cloven tongues on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2) symbolized cleansing. The disciples of Christ needed cleansing from carnal strife and selfish ambition. The Holy Spirit comes to consume the dross of sin and to purify the character of the Christian, enabling the believer to reflect the beauty of Christ's holiness. "He is like a refiner's fire and like fullers soap, and he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; and he shall purify the sons of Levi." (Malachi 3:2-3) "The illustration is that of a jeweler sitting before his crucible watching the fierce flame as it eliminates the dross leaving the silver so perfectly refined that at length he can see his image in the glowing metal." (To Tell The World, p. 76; Myron Boyd)

Cleansing is the work of the Holy Spirit. He works to refine Christian character and to cleanse away all defilement. "I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you." (Ezekiel 36:25-26 a, NIV) One believer who read these verses found deliverance from sin. "I began to exercise faith, by believing 'I have the blessing now'. Just at that moment a heavenly influence filled the room; and no sooner had I spoken than refining fire went 'through my heart–illuminated my soul–scattered its life through every part, and sanctified the whole'. I then received the full witness of the Spirit that the blood of Jesus Christ had cleansed me from all sin." (Entire Sanctification; Studies in Christian Holiness, p. 73)

"Wash me and I shall be clean! Purge me and I shall be whiter than snow! Renew a right spirit within me and cleanse me from every guilty stain. In Jesus' name."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: God offers nothing less and I will settle for nothing less than a heart that is totally cleansed from the pollution of sin!

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John 14:15-17

The Comforting Work Of The Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit gives comfort in times of sorrow and loss, but, as Comforter, He does much more than this. The Holy Spirit gives courage to the faint-hearted, strength to the weak, and assurance to the doubter.

The Holy Spirit is man's helper. The Holy Spirit enables the Christian to cope with every circumstance of life. As helper, He is the strengthening and enabling presence of Jesus.

Dr. A. B. Simpson, founder of the Christian and Missionary Alliance, discovered new strength to cope with life when he surrendered his life completely to the Spirit's control. His testimony is inspiring; "I shall never forget the morning that I spent in my church reading an old musty book I had discovered in my library on the subject THE HIGHER CHRISTIAN LIFE. I had struggled long and vainly with my own intense nature, my strong self-will, my peculiar temptations. My spiritual life had been a constant humiliation. I had talked to my people about the deeper things of the Spirit, but there was a hollow ring, and my heart was breaking to know the Lord Jesus as a living bright, reality. As I poured over that little volume, I saw a new light. The Lord Jesus revealed Himself as a living and all-sufficient presence, and I learned for the first time that Christ had not saved us from future peril, and left us to fight the battle of life as best we could; but He who had justified us was waiting to sanctify us, to enter into our spirit, and substitute His strength, His holiness, His life, His joy, His faith, His power, for all our worthlessness, helplessness and nothingness, and make it an actual living fact. 'I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.' Across the threshold of my spirit there passed a Being as real as the Christ who came to John on Patmos, and from that moment a new secret has been the charm and glory and strength of my life and testimony … I have learned the secret, 'I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me'." (Prayer and Life's Highest; Paul Rees, p. 83)

The Holy Spirit gives the Christian strength to accept trouble without defeat, and to accept success without pride. Take the latter idea. When life heaps honors and favors upon a man, there is the temptation to become spiritually proud. It is when one becomes esteemed in the eyes of the public that one can too easily forget that true greatness is measured in terms of service and not in terms of popularity. In a letter a few weeks before his death, the sainted F. B. Meyer wrote the following to a friend: "I am now 82, and in a nursing home. I want to tell you what the Spirit of God has been showing me lately. That I have acquired a reputation for sanctity by my books. This may grow upon me. It makes one want to creep into heaven unnoticed" . (Aldersgate Studies in Christian Holiness, p. 109) The Holy Spirit enables a believer to accept success with humility.

"Father, because of your wonderful indwelling Spirit, I am able to cope with anything that life can hand me. I can accept sorrow without bitterness, trouble without despair, success without pride. During changing circumstances, I serve a changeless God! Glory!"

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: Through Christ's indwelling Spirit I can be what God wants me to be, and do what God wants me to do!

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John 16:12-15

The Counseling Work Of The Holy Spirit

Our Scripture reading for today indicates that the Holy Spirit guides the believer into all things. No greater or wiser Counselor can be found than the Holy Spirit. God has promised to guide the earnest seeker of Truth: "I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye." (Psalms 32:8) Towards the end of George Muller's life, he said, "I never remember in all my Christian course, a period now of sixty-nine years and four months, that I ever sincerely and patiently sought to know the will of God by the teaching of the Holy Ghost, through the instrumentality of the Word of God, but I have always been directed rightly." (Prayer and Life's Highest, p. 120; Paul Rees) "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths." (Proverbs 3:5-6)

The Christian life is not a static life; rather, it is a dynamic life with new depths to reach, new horizons to find, and new capacities to develop. It is the Holy Spirit who helps the open minded Christian to find truth, to recall truth, to understand truth, to defend truth, and to spread truth. A stubborn will and a closed mind destroy all receptive powers and make it impossible to receive God's communications.

There are several ways by which the Holy Spirit communicates God's will to the believer.

There is the counsel of others. Consulting a wise, experienced, and tested friend and counselor will oftentimes save one from many a pitfall and from many a heartache. Read Proverbs 11:14 and Proverbs 12:15.

The Holy Spirit often works through circumstances to reveal God's will to the sensitive Christian. Because God is sovereign, the Christian knows that God controls nature with its laws and history with its events. If the Christian knows that God is big enough and powerful enough to control the laws of nature and the events of history, the Christian also knows that God is loving enough and Fatherly enough to control the circumstances of life which determine personal destiny.

There is prayer. It is the Holy Spirit who enables the true believer to pray effectively. "The Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express." (Romans 8:26, NIV)

The Bible is another means that the Holy Spirit uses to give guidance and counsel to the Christian. The Psalmist looked to the Word for guidance, and so can every modern-day believer. "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path… The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple." (Psalms 119:105, Psalms 119:130)

"Father, help me to be open-minded to receive your truth, tender-hearted to experience your love, and strong-willed to obey your commands. In Jesus' name. Amen."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: Easy guidance comes to those who are easily controlled by the Holy Spirit. I will keep the reins of my life in the hands of the Holy Spirit today!.

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Acts 1:1-8

The Communicating Work Of The Holy Spirit

Jesus, just before His ascension, spoke of the Holy Spirit's ministry: "But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Spirit is come upon you; and ye shall be my witnesses …" (Acts 1:8) The rushing mighty wind on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2) symbolizes the power of the Holy Spirit–the power to witness. Throughout the Book of Acts, one can see the Holy Spirit's communication of the Gospel through the lives of the disciples.

To be filled with the Holy Spirit is to be filled with power, boldness, and greater love, enabling one to witness effectively to his fellowmen, whether that witness is in word or in deed. Says Bill Bright, "It should be made clear that to be 'filled with the Spirit' does not mean that we receive more of the Holy Spirit, but that we give Him more of ourselves. As we yield our lives to the Holy Spirit and are filled with His presence, He has greater freedom to work in and through our lives, to control us in order to better exalt and glorify Christ". (Ye shall Receive Power, p. 13)

Every Christian needs to be filled with the Holy Spirit in order to be an effective witness. Says Dr. R. A. Torrey, "I have gone through my Bible time and time again checking this subject and I make this statement without the slightest fear of successful contradiction that there is not one single passage in the Old Testament or the New Testament where the Baptism (or filling) with the Holy Spirit is spoken of where it is not connected with testimony for service". (Ibid, p. 18) Says Dr. Oswald J. Smith, "Read the biographies of God's men and you will discover that each one sought and obtained the Endowment of Power from on High. (Ibid, p. 9)

Believers are called to be dead to self-centeredness and alive to Christ (Galatians 2:20). "The Christian's body now becomes Christ's body to use as He wills; the mind becomes His to think His thoughts; the will is now controlled by His will, the total personality, time, and talents are now completely His." (Ye Shall Receive Power, p. 10; Bill Bright)

The Holy Spirit wants to communicate God's love to the world through the instrumentality of the Christian. As Barclay points out, "Jesus Christ is no longer in this world in the body; and therefore, if He wants a task done for Him within the world He has to find a man to do it. If He wants a child taught, He has to find a teacher to teach him. If He wants a sick person cured, He has to find a physician or surgeon to do His work. If he wants His story told, He has to find a man to tell it. Literally, we have to be the body of Christ, hands to do His work, feet to run upon His errands, a voice to speak for Him". (Daily Study Bible; Corinthians, p. 126)

"Father, empower me through the sanctifying work of thy Holy Spirit, that I might witness fearlessly, live peacefully, work tirelessly, give generously, fellowship warmly, and live expectantly. Amen."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: I will use my head (intellect), my heart (affections), and my hands (will) to serve the Lord wholeheartedly in my world today!

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Discussion Questions:

Understanding The Work Of The Holy Spirit

  1. What is the meaning of the Greek word which is translated 'Convict', as this word applies to the work of the Holy Spirit among sinners?

    Answer: To bring sin to light, make an awareness of

  2. How does the convicting work of the Holy Spirit differ from the conviction which results from the application of civil laws in society?

    Answer: The Holy Spirit convicts us of personal sin, whereas the civil laws of society are more focused on our actions.

  3. What moral realities in our world today make necessary the Convincing ministry of the Holy Spirit?

    Answer: A lukewarm approach to life. We must be either hot or cold

  4. How do the negative reactions of some of Jesus' contemporaries reveal the depth of human depravity and self-deception?

    Answer: Some of them accused him of keeping bad company with publicans and sinners, and other sins. Jesus came for all people. He had to become like them in order to show them his love. He was rejected because of the complete truth in action of his life.

  5. Why are the testimonies of the disciples of Jesus, regarding the sinlessness of Jesus, so convincing?

    Answer: The disciples were with him each day. They were with him almost always. They saw how he put his own needs aside to meet the needs of others.

  6. What is the grandest demonstration of Jesus' holiness and Messiahship?

    Answer: Jesus dying on the cross for our sins, and resurrection

  7. How does the Cleansing work of the Holy Spirit apply both to the sinner and to the Christian?

    Answer: The Holy Spirit cleanses the sinner from guilt. The Spirit cleanses the Christian each day from the pollution of sin.

  8. Tell why you agree or disagree with the following statement: "Man is not only a sinner in practice who needs forgiveness, but man is also a sinner by nature who need inner cleansing". (Give Scriptural support for your answer.)

    Answer: He guides our daily walk, as states that if we give him our weaknesses, he will glorify them. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

  9. Share various ways in which the Holy Spirit accomplishes His work as Comforter.

    Answer: Gives us courage, strength, assurance, our helper, and enables us to cope with life's circumstances.

  10. From your own personal experience or from your observation of others, illustrate the truth of the following statement: "The Holy Spirit gives the Christian strength to accept trouble without defeat, and to accept success without pride".

    Answer: God has a purpose in everything that happens to us. This should keep us from defeat or pride.

  11. What relationship does the Holy Spirit have to the Word of God. as regards to the Spirit's ministry of providing guidance and counsel.

    Answer: It is the spirits instrument (instrumentality)

  12. List and describe several ways by which the Holy Spirit communicates God's will to the believer.

    Answer: Other Christian, circumstances, prayer, Reading the Bible

  13. According to Bill Bright, what does it mean to be filled with the Holy Spirit?

    Answer: To give the spirit more of ourselves

  14. Based upon a thorough knowledge of the Bible, what does R. A. Torrey say is the manifestation or evidence of the fullness of the Holy Spirit in a believer's life?

    Answer: Testimony for service – witness

  15. Through what instrumentality does God accomplish His work in His world today?

    Answer: Through the life of a Christian.

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