THE HOLY SPIRIT: What We Get Wrong (Part 1 of 2)

Matt Evans

Posted March 12, 2019
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I believe there is no greater need for Christians and churches than to realize the purpose, power, and potential of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

He is essential in our salvation, critical to our spiritual growth, vital to understanding God and His love, and catalytic in missions and evangelism. It’s so important in our relationship with God that we are told to be continually filled with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18), keep in step with Him (Galatians 5:25), be led by the Spirit (Romans 8:14-15), and do nothing but by Him and His power (Zechariah 4:6).

Yet the Holy Spirit can be grieved, resisted, and quenched. We can be ignorant of Him (Acts 19:1-2), and we can also ignore Him. So significant is the Holy Spirit, Jesus said blasphemy against the Spirit is the only “unforgivable sin” (Mark 3:29).

Surely these truths should awaken us to the wonderful—albeit mysterious—reality of the Holy Spirit. In these next two blog posts, we will explore important truths about the Holy Spirit and practical ways to live in union with Him.

What We Get Wrong About Holy Spirit

We often treat the Holy Spirit as less important than the Father and the Son.

This was actually a 4th century heresy called, Macedonianism. The Holy Spirit is fully God, shares all the attributes of the God-head, and is equal to the Father and the Son. However, we often focus more on God as a Father and as a Savior-King when God is also an invisible Spirit who was active in Creation and in our redemption and now indwells all believers.

John 14:15-17 (NIV) — If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept Him, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. But you know Him, for He lives with you and will be in you.

We think of the Holy Spirit as an experience, feeling, manifestation, spectacle, or like the “Force” (in Star Wars).

Certainly the Holy Spirit can be experienced, influence feelings, and manifest Himself in a variety of ways. But more than any of those things, He is sovereign and divine, a real Personality, and part of the Trinity. We can have a dynamic relationship with God through the Holy Spirit just like we can with the Father and the Son.

We must simply have faith—without feelings or experiences—that the Holy Spirit is God and indwells all true Christ-followers. Living by this truth is crucial and essential to walking with God. Faith in the Holy Spirit comes before an experience of the Holy Spirit.

Romans 8:9 (NLT) — You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. (And remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them do not belong to Him at all.)

We diminish the relationship between the Holy Spirit and the Word of God.

We do this primarily in two ways. First, we let weirdness and extremes concerning what happens “when the Holy Spirit shows up” count more than the Word of God. The Word is our authority and we must let the Word set our expectations and beliefs about the Holy Spirit.

Second, we try to experience the Holy Spirit apart from the Word or the Word apart from the Spirit. The truth is that the Spirit inspired the Word of God and then calls it His “sword.” They work together inseparably.

John 6:63 (CSB) — The Spirit is the One who gives life. The flesh doesn’t help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.