How Does The Holy Spirit Work in a Christian?


Introduction.  This morning we began a consideration of two questions which relate to our life in Christ: : 

The first—How how does sin affect the Christian?

The second (which we will consider tonight)—How does the Holy Spirit work in a Christian?


I.  Who Is The Holy Spirit?   To answer this we must first consider who the Holy Spirit is. 

A.  The God of the Bible is one God… (I Corinthians 8:6).

1.  …Composed of three persons: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19). 

2.  This is a difficult concept for mortal, finite man to grasp—but it is the teaching of Scripture. 

B.  Each person of the Godhead, has his own distinct will.

1.   Jesus in the garden, prayed to the Father, “not My will, but Yours be done” (Luke 22:42). 

2.  Jesus promised His disciples when the Holy Spirit came, “He, will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak” (John 16:13). 

C.  The Holy Spirit is not simply a different manifestation of the Father. 

1.  He is a distinct person of the Godhead. 

2.  The Father is not the Son, the Son is not the Father, the Holy Spirit is neither the Father nor the Son, yet they are not three gods—they are all one God.  


II.  The Holy Spirit’s Role in the Revelation of Scripture.  The Bible teaches that the Holy Spirit has played an active role in the revelation of Scripture throughout the history of God’s dealings with mankind. 

  1. “As they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (II Peter 1:21).
  2. “God-breathed”  (II Timothy 3:16). 

1.  In the original Greek the phrase “given by inspiration of God” is one word—theopneustos meaning literally “God-breathed.” 

2.  That means that while the books of Matthew, John, or First Peter may have been written by these apostles who bear their name, these men were directed to write the things which they wrote by the Holy Spirit. 

C.  “David in the Spirit” (Matthew 22:43).   


III.  The Holy Spirit’s Role in the Gospel.  The Bible reveals a very special role that the Holy Spirit would have in connection with the gospel of Jesus Christ.  This role was foreshadowed prophetically even before Jesus came to earth. 

A.  The prophecy of Joel.  (Joel 2:28-29).  Note the phrase “on all flesh”—we wil return to that latter.

B.  Fulfilled on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:16). 

1.  Old Testament had told of many times in which there had been a prophet or a small group of prophets, but never before had there been such a widespread outpouring of the Spirit. 

2.  The only other time had been when the Spirit “rested upon” the seventy elders in the wilderness through whom God would instruct the Israelites.  They prophesied as a demonstration that God was working through them (Numbers 11:25). 

3.  The outpouring of the Spirit on Pentecost would demonstrate much the same thing, for the twelve.   This was a new age.  It was a new time and a new revelation.  As Jesus had promised the apostles, it was not simply they who spoke,  “but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you”  (Matthew 10:20).

C.  The uniqueness of the outpouring on the apostles.  This outpouring on the twelve was a unique thing.  It did not happen to all believers. 

1.  Jesus’ promise.  (Acts 1:8).  This miraculous power was not in all believers.

2.   “Through the laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Spirit was given” (Acts 8:18). 

3.  There is no evidence in Scripture that the miraculous measure of the Holy Spirit went beyond those who received the “laying on of the apostles’ hands.” 


IV.  Holy Spirit’s work in believers in general.  If we are not careful we may confuse promises that were made to the apostles specifically with promises made to Christians generally. (John 14:16-17).  What a wonderful promise!  But was it made to believers generally or the apostles specifically?  Note: There may be some ways that the affect of the Holy Spirit’s work would act in this way, but not everything that was true of the Spirit’s work in the twelve was true of all believers.  For example, we should note a number of other things Jesus told them at this same time.  Jesus said the Spirit…


A.  “Will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you”  (John 14:16).  Who could have “remembrance” of what Jesus said? —Only those who had been with Him in the flesh.  All believers have not enjoyed this privilege. 

1.  The apostles were taught,  “Do not worry beforehand, or premeditate what you will speak”  (Mark 13:11). 

2.  Timothy was not told the same thing  (I Timothy 4:13; II Timothy 2:15). Even though he was an evangelist (II Timothy 4:5), who had received some miraculous spiritual gift through the laying on of hands (II Timothy 1:6).

B.  “The Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me”  (John 15:26). 

1.  He did so, with words  (I Corinthians 2:13). 

2.  This was not a strong feeling in the heart, but words which were understandable and revealed directly to the apostles and prophets of New Testament times. 

3.  This testimony about Jesus does not come directly to all believers, as it did to the apostles.  We understand what the Spirit has revealed about Jesus through the Bible. 

3.   “When He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth”  (John 16:13).  How much truth is “all truth”?  Is there more gospel truth that has yet to be revealed to Christians? 

1.  “His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness”  (II Peter 1:3). 

2.  “When that which is perfect is come, that which is in part will be done away”  (I Corinthians 13:10). 

3.  The Law of Christ contained in the New Testament revealed by the Holy Spirit is,  “the perfect law of liberty”  (James 1:25) —it is “that which is perfect.”


Conclusion.  Is there any sense then in which the Holy Spirit dwells in and works in believers in general?  Yes. 

A.  “The sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God”  (Ephesians 6:17). 

1.  It is impossible to separate the influence of someone from the word which they speak.  Example:  If I tell my children to do something, my words are the vehicle through which I work in them to accomplish that thing.  If I write down my instructions, and they heed those instructions, the same is true.  The degree to which they internalize my instructions is the degree to which they allow my spirit to dwell in them. 

2.  The same is true of the Holy Spirit.  Jesus said,  “the words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life”  (John 6:63). 

B.  “The word of God is living and powerful”  (Hebrews 4:12).

1.  It is this word, when heard that produces faith (Romans 10:17).

2.  It is by this word, revealed by the Holy Spirit, through the message of the gospel by which God’s Spirit has been poured out on “all flesh” (Joel 2:28).  Note: Not all flesh receives the miraculous measure of the Holy Spirit, but in offering the message of salvation to “all flesh” it is in this way that Jesus promised that the Spirit would  “convict the world of sin”  (John 16:8).

C.  God has made us spiritual beings. 

1.  We are children of the  “Father of spirits”  (Hebrews 12:9).  God knows our hearts and searches our spirits. 

2.  Proverbs tells us,  “the spirit of man is the lamp of the LORD, searching all the inner depths of his heart”  (Proverbs 20:27). 

3.  When we allow the revelation of the Holy Spirit to dwell in us it is the Spirit dwelling in us.  Paul told the Ephesians that  “Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith”  (Ephesians 3:17).  This is not a possession, but a choice. 

4.  We are led by the spirit when we “set our minds on” the things of the Spirit (Romans 8:5).  What a wonderful thought that God has revealed Himself to man and we can allow that Spirit to live in us by accepting the Spirit’s revelation in the word of God—the Bible.  When the Christian does that it is allowing the Spirit to work in our hearts.