The Holy Spirit
Just a heads up... this page is somewhat longer than the others on our site. It doesn't cover every single aspect of the Holy Spirit; the focus is mainly on the Holy Spirit's role in discipleship. We felt it was worth the space. This page is adapted from one of our "Hearts Up" discipleship articles published in 2010. Hope you find it useful...
One of God's "Keys" to understanding life is the Holy Spirit. This is not just because He inspired the Bible, but because He offers counsel concerning God's truth to our hearts. A big part of His role in God's discipleship plan is to teach us and challenge us to remember the things of Christ as they apply to our specific life situations (John 14:26). Let's take a look at the Holy Spirit's role in counseling us on how to follow CHRIST as His disciple.
If you are a Christ-follower, then the Holy Spirit spoke to your heart when God called you to Himself. And, with your own heart, you heard the Spirit. Someone may have assisted you in learning how to have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ, but it was the Holy Spirit using that person as His instrument to guide you. So, you "heard" the Holy Spirit with your heart while you were not yet a follower of Christ. When you responded to the Holy Spirit's voice in your heart, you became a believer in Christ, ready to learn to be a solid disciple of Christ!
From one perspective, you "switched sides" in the spiritual war. Satan doesn't like that. He tends to take a bit more interest in you because he doesn't want you being used by the Lord for His glory. The flesh seeks to minimize your connection with the Lord during trials so that you respond to trials in any way OTHER than according to the steps of faith Christ asks you to take. This is a "normal" part of spiritual warfare.
As we've discussed on previous pages, the Bible, our Minds, and our Hearts are among God's "Keys" to understanding life. God designed your mind to be able to read the Bible, His written Word. God designed your heart to be able to "hear" the voice of His Holy Spirit. However, hearing His inaudible voice does not come naturally to us, even though we now believe in Christ.
As disciples of Christ, we have to work to embrace a humble and surrendering heart to the Lord. This increases our hearts' sensitivity to the voice of the Holy Spirit within. The more we want only God's will in our lives (meaning we aren't trying to handle things on our own), the more the Spirit is able to get across to us how to let Christ live the Bible's teachings through us in the real-life trials and spiritual battles we face. This aspect of discipleship is about practical application. It simply means we are intentionally seeking to respond to the Holy Spirit, Who works to help you seek how He would have you apply Scriptural truths to a given trial.
The Holy Spirit is known as The Teacher, The Comforter, or The Guide. The Holy Spirit offers us counsel, guidance and instruction. Still, when it comes to His role in discipleship, many believers tend to consider His role to be a "behind-the-scenes" kind of role. This is probably because it is harder for us to comprehend how to relate to The Spirit, because as Spirit, He is not as "tangible" to us as is a sense of God the Father or the Son.
Why We Have Difficulty in Understanding
the Role of the Holy Spirit
Satan Muddles Things Up
The Holy Spirit provides godly influence to our lives. How that happens and how we pick up on that are the parts we usually don't understand. We typically consider the Spirit's role to be one of helping us to remember a Bible verse. Perhaps we give the Spirit credit for revealing an insight that applies to a given situation. The Bible indicates that part of what can make trials problematic is that the flesh can influence us too. In fact, Satan tempted Jesus by presenting Him with Bible verses taken out of their true context - Jesus being full of an sensitive to the Holy Spirit of God discerned the truth from the UNtruth!
A big part of being sensitive to the Holy Spirit involves discerning between His influences and those of Satan/the flesh.
Satan brings influences to bear on us. He mixes half-truths with lies, which we usually do not immediately see, in order to influence our motives and actions. If we could always see the influences of Satan/flesh, we wouldn't need the Holy Spirit!
Sometimes Satan's goals include influencing our thinking. Satan works to inspire our old fleshly selves to act in ways that we may not even recognize as being ungodly. And, Satan works to getting us to feel good about ourselves while we do it! Remember, Satan tempted Jesus with good things!
Satan can also use guilt and fear of reaching our fullest potential in Christ as a means for causing us to forget who we are in Christ. Though Satan influences us, we don't often spend time examining how that happens. Maybe weassume we will simply be able to recognize the differences between the Spirit's corrections and counsel versus what Satan offers.
The Trinity Is Not Separate, But it is!
We must be very careful. We can inadvertently perceive our One True God, Who exists in three Persons, as being separate more than He really is. As a result, this can make it difficult to discern our Christ-secured opportunities to interact, with the heart, directly with His Spirit during trials. This can happen by mistakenly thinking that when the Old Testament says God did this or that, that it means some part of God did it, as if the Holy Spirit was excluded.
It is easy to misunderstand the role of God's Spirit. Every time we read a story where God did this or that, the entire Trinity is not named individually as being involved. We might assume that the Persons not mentioned were not involved. This could not be farther from the truth.
Seeing the Trinity as separate can affect the real-life application of our Christian faith in ways that can mirror that of pagan religions, which serve multiple gods! Obviously this is not something any of us wants to do, even unintentionally.
The Deceiver's goal is to get us to see the Holy Spirit as being more distant from the more familiar Father and Son than He is. Satan's goal is for us to believe the Holy Spirit is less directly involved in the discipleship process than He really is. When we believe this, we assume that we'll automatically respond to the Spirit and discern His influence just because we are indwelt by Him.
Who Is The Holy Spirit?
We know we are disciples of Christ. We are to learn from what Jesus said in the Bible. In this way, part of being discipled is quite clear in that we learn from what God has said in the Bible. But that's not all, we'll look at a couple Bible passages, in a second, which show the connection between The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit = The Spirit of Christ = The Spirit of God
Bear in mind that when Jesus is speaking (in the verses below), He speaks often from the perspective of the Person of the Son. We may refer to one of the three Persons, based on the perspective of God to Whom we are relating, but that does not leave out the other two, whether we are thinking of them or not. The perspective from which we may approach God may accentuate the distinction of the three Persons, but this never actually means there are three distinct gods of the Christian faith.
Helper = Spirit of truth = Helper Who will indwell believer
Helper = Holy Spirit = The Teacher of all things
So, if the Holy Spirit really does try to relate with, and guide us, in a more interactive way than what we may have recognized, then the following fundamental, yet important, question comes up...
How Are We "Discipled by the Holy Spirit"
Yet Are Called, "disciples of Christ?"
- The Spirit of truth focuses on the Person of Jesus, not Himself, by taking that which is of Jesus and disclosing it to His disciples, i.e., disciples of Christ - like you and us. (But don't forget 1 Thessalonians 5:19, which says it is possible to quench the Spirit!)
While we are called, "disciples of Christ," this does not mean the Holy Spirit doesn't fill a vital, highly interactive role in discipling us. The simple reason is because the Spirit does not focus on Himself, but on Jesus.
- A person cannot deny Christ yet claim the Spirit of God because...
Spirit = Spirit of God = Spirit of Christ
- Peter is saying that the prophets of the Old Testament, who spoke of the sufferings of Christ, had the Spirit of Christ within them.
- This is the same Spirit of Christ Paul indicates we have in us, and He is also known as the Spirit of God (Romans 8:9 above).
- Isaiah is one of the prophets to whom Peter refers (Isaiah 52-54). Yet Isaiah himself says it is Jehovah (יהוה), or Yahweh, Who declares the things he is prophesying about (Isaiah 52:5). Jehovah is the Hebrew word for the personal name of God in the Old Testament.
- Peter and Isaiah refer to the same God, but each refers to different Persons in the Godhead.
Spirit of Jehvoah = Spirit of Christ
Relationships within the Godhead Make
PERSONAL DISCIPLESHIP by the Holy Spirit possible
The ultimate written authority for how we are to live is the Bible. It was authored by the Holy Spirit (the Spirit of Christ, the Helper, the Teacher). THE ultimate authority for how we are to live, however, is the Spirit of God Himself (1 John 3:24). The Holy Spirit inspired the written Word AND works to communicate to our hearts. The Spirit of Christ resides within us seeking to teach us all things that we need to know to live as His disciples. Discipleship that focuses on connecting with God in trials, being transformed in trials, and being guided by the Lord in trials must focus on increasing our sensitivity to the Holy Spirit. The Spirit's role as The Teacher is to help us live as disciples in practical ways as uniquely made children of God.
When we are confronted with real-world choices that carry spiritual implications between God's Truth and Satan's UNtruth, there are relationships between our God-designed hearts and minds that we need to understand. These relationships are linked to the relationships between the "One in three Persons" of God, Who seeks to lead us. Together, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit enable us to be discipled through the heart during trials!
The Godhead Facilitates Personal Discipleship through the Heart
Via Roles and Relationships
Feelings 101: Pain to Peace is a self-paced course designed to help you get better at connecting with the Holy Spirit's specific counsel. It walks you through how to discern everything the Holy Spirit seeks to communicate to you in a trial. If you are interested in opening your heart more to discerning what the Spirit of Christ seeks to reveal to you in trials, you'll want to take on that course.