The Work of the Holy Spirit

The Work of the Holy Spirit

In the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit came upon those who had specific God-given tasks to accomplish. For instance, the Holy Spirit came upon Bezaleel, a master-craftsman, who would oversee the construction of the tabernacle, its furniture and artefacts (Exodus 31). David recognised the influence, workings and importance of the Holy Spirit when following his adultery with Bathsheba he cried out that God would not take the presence of the Holy Spirit away from him (Ps 51:11). No doubt the presence of the Holy Spirit was something that David had come to enjoy and value, and did not want to go through life without His presence. The value of Holy Spirit’s presence can also be seen in the life of Jesus, who only commenced His ministry following the Holy Spirit descending upon Him at His baptism (Luke 3:21-23). 

Jesus never wasted His words, and the night before His death He gave His disciples some significant teaching on the Holy Spirit and His role after Jesus had left. “But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counsellor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me; in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned” (Jn 16:7-11 ANIV).

Jesus stated that it was good that He leave - many do not understand this, and wish that Jesus was still present with them, even though Jesus says otherwise. This is also supported in the word that Jesus uses to describe the Holy Spirit, something that his hearers would have understood but has been lost in translation. He describes the Holy Spirit as someone who would be a mirror image of Him - helping, comforting and instructing people just as if He, Jesus, were doing it. Therefore if you want to get to know what the Holy Spirit is like - take a good look at Jesus and you will begin to recognise what the Holy Spirit is like! For example, Jesus didn’t come to condemn the world (Jn 3:17-19), and the Holy Spirit would be just like Jesus! Jesus also informs the disciples of some of the Holy Spirit’s characteristics. He would be their guide (Jn 16:13), their help and comfort (Jn 14:16) and their teacher (Jn 14:26). In fact Paul points out that the Holy Spirit wants to be our best friend by fellowshipping, communing and partnering with us continually (2 Cor 13:14). 

However, in spite of Jesus’ instructions there is still a lot of misunderstanding, particularly in relation to John 16:8-11 - “When he [the Holy Spirit - author added] comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me; in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned” (ANIV). There are those who on reading this have concluded that the role of the Holy Spirit is to convict men and women of every sin they commit, by making them feel guilty and uncomfortable whenever they step out of line. If we read on, Jesus clarifies that the sin that the Holy Spirit will convict a person of is their refusal to recognise, accept and trust who Jesus really is! In other words, the Holy Spirit wants to reveal and make Jesus real to you!

If the Holy Spirit’s role was something other than what Jesus refers to in John 16:8-11, this would be a clear contradiction of Romans 8:1 which says, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,” (ANIV). A person does not go to hell because they commit the sin of greed, stealing, lying, sleeping around, adultery or any other sin; but they go to hell because they refuse to accept God’s gift of salvation through Jesus Christ. When a person commits sin the guilt, condemnation, insecurity and feelings of unworthiness they often experience is because their own conscience is making them feel that way, and not the Holy Spirit. Paul points out that some have lost their faith because of the way they have ignored their consciences (1 Tim 1:19 TLB). 

From my observations of scripture as well as experience, I have noticed that the Holy Spirit is amazingly positive, unlike the devil who is always negative! Yet religion has often misrepresented the Holy Spirit as being responsible for the times when a person’s conscience condemns them. Once again the apostle Paul points out in his instructions on the gift of prophecy, its purpose is for “edification, exhortation and comfort” (1 Cor 14:3) of believers - or building up, stirring up and cheering up. Lastly, let’s not forget that following a person’s conversion the Holy Spirit comes to live in every believer as a guarantee of what is to come (2 Cor 1:21-22), meaning getting to know how wonderful is our loving Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ (Jn 17:3) who loved us and washed us free from sin and its penalty!