What Does The Holy Spirit Do?

In this study, we’re going to cover four things the Holy Spirit does:

1) The Holy Spirit Reveals God’s Will
2) The Holy Spirit Applies Salvation
3) The Holy Spirit Indwells Us
4) The Holy Spirit Give Us Spiritual Gifts

And along the way we’re going to contrast how the Spirit did these works in the Old Testament and how He does these works in the New Testament and today.

1) The Holy Spirit Reveals God’s Will

Specifically He reveals God’s command of Acts 17:30 that “all men everywhere repent.”

The Holy Spirit “convicts the world of sin, and righteousness, and judgment,” in John 16:8. In other word the Spirit show us that we are sinners, separated from God, and that forgiveness is found through Christ.

In the Old Testament He convicts through the prophets who 2 Peter 1:21 tells us “spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.”

In the New Testament He convicts through the apostles who in John 14:26 the Sprit, “taught them all things, and brought to their remembrance all things that Jesus said to them.”

And in Ephesians 4:11 we see that He convicts through us today by given gifts to some to become “evangelists, pastors and teachers.”

1 Corinthians 2 show us that another aspect of the Spirit revealing of God’s will comes by opening our hearts to spiritual truths. This gives us the ability to both understand and respond to God’s calling.

So the Holy Spirit reveals God’s will to Man by using messengers who faithfully proclaim His Word and by giving him the ability to understand their message.

2) The Holy Spirit Applies Salvation

The Holy Spirit applied salvation to both Old and New Testament believers. The difference being that in the Old Testament believers looked forward to what Christ would do whereas in the New Testament and today we look back on what He has done.

Now 1 Corinthians 6:11 tells us that we were “washed, sanctified, and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.”

So once the Spirit has convicted us of our sin, and has given us the ability to understand the gospel, He washes us of our sin once we respond. He does this by sanctifying us, which means He sets us apart from the world and unto God to receive salvation and become more like Him.

Then we’re justified, or declared innocent of sin. This is done when the Spirit takes Christ’s perfect sacrifice and credits it to our account. This means that when God looks upon us He sees Christ’s perfection and not our imperfection.

3) The Holy Spirit Indwells Us

This is the area where we see a fascinating difference between how the Spirit worked in the Old and New Testament.

In the Old Testament the Spirit didn’t dwell “in” the believer He dwelt “with” the believer. We see this in Exodus 25:8 when God says, “Let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them.”

Again in Deuteronomy 12:5, “You shall seek the place where the LORD your God chooses, out of all your tribes, to put His name for His dwelling place; and there you shall go.”

And again in 1 Kings 8:13 where Solomon, after building the Temple, says, “I have surely built You an exalted house, and a place for You to dwell in forever.”

Now compare that to the dwelling of the Holy Spirit in the New Testament. Jesus says in John 14:17-18, “The Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.”

Again in 2 Cor 3:16, “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?”

And again Ephesians 1:13-14, “You were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance.”

The hope of the Old Testament believer lay in the fact that God was “over there” in the Temple. But he could only get so close because of the restrictions of the Law and His presence was limited to Israel. But the hope of the New Testament believer and for us today lays in the fact that God dwells “in us”.

We are “part of the body of Christ” which is made up of people of nations, tribes and tongues. The Old Testament believer was limited to how close he got to God. But through Christ we can “come boldly to the throne of grace.” He has promised to never “leave us or forsake us” and His continual presence guarantees our salvation.

4) The Holy Spirit Give Us Spiritual Gifts

This is another area where we see an interesting difference between the Spirit’s Old and New Testament work.

In the Old Testament the Holy Spirit indwelled believers and gave them gifts only on special occasions. But the indwelling wasn’t always permanent as we see in 1 Samuel 16:14 when “the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul” and again in Judges 16:20 when Samson “did not know that the LORD had departed from him.”

Additionally the Holy Spirit only gave gifts to certain people for specific tasks. For example in Numbers 11 Moses and the seventy elders are given the Holy Spirit to rule the people. Or in Genesis 41 where Joseph is said to have the Spirit of God within him because of his ability to interpret dreams.

Now let’s compare this to how the Holy Spirit gives gifts in the New Testament and today.

We’re blessed with “every spiritual blessing” Ephesians 1:3 tells us. Those blessings come by the will of the Father, through the work of the Son and are applied by the power of the Holy Spirit.

All believers now have the Holy Spirit, Eph1:13 tells us, when “having believed in Christ, we are sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise.”

Each person has a purpose and has been given whatever gift is necessary to complete that purpose. These gifts enable us to perform the “good works, which God prepared for us beforehand” and produce the fruits of the Spirit which is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

The Holy Spirit lives within the believer in 1 Corinthians 6:19, causes our sinful nature to be born again in Titus 3:5) baptizes us into the family of God in 1 Corinthians 12:13, helps us to understand the Bible in 1 Corinthians 2:9-13, guides us in Romans 8:14, strengthens our faith in Ephesians 3:16-19, and serves as the guarantee of our salvation in Ephesians 1:13-14.

Who Is The Holy Spirit?

Think about the last time you went to a sporting event. After the game did you say, “Wow, the lighting in the arena was really great!” Of course not. The light was there in the background allowing you to clearly see the players. In the same way the Holy Spirit acts as a light that allows us to see Christ clearly.

The Holy Spirit points us towards Christ by testifying of Him in John 15:26 and convicting the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment” in John 16:8.

Because His role is to point us towards Christ instead of Himself many people misunderstand who the Holy Spirit is. Cults, for example, present Him as merely a force or power and as a result deny the Trinity. It’s critical that Christians understand who the Holy Spirit is and are able to see from Scripture why we believe what we do about Him. So we’re going to take some time and, from the Bible, establish two points:

1) The Holy Spirit Is A Person
2) The Holy Spirit Is God

While this won’t be an exhaustive list of proof texts it’ll be enough to give you a flavor of what the Bible teaches.

1) THE HOLY SPIRIT IS A PERSON

By “Person” I mean the Holy Spirit is not an inanimate force, like many cults teach, but a being with intelligence, emotion and will. The Holy Spirit is not an “it” but a “he”.

In Scripture we see the Holy Spirit exhibiting attributes of a person.

For example He displays His will in 1 Cor 12:11 distributing gifts to “each one individually as He wills.” And in Acts 13:2, “As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’” And again in Acts 16:6 where Paul and Timothy, “were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia.”

He teaches in 1 Cor 2:13, “These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches.”

And He shows emotion in Eph 4:30, “do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”

Will, intelligence and emotion are all attributes of a person.

In Scripture we see the Holy Spirit performing the actions of a person.

He convicts the world in John 16:8, “And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.” He performs miracles in Acts 8:39, “Now when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away, so that the eunuch saw him no more; and he went on his way rejoicing.”

He helps us by interceding on our behalf in Rom 8:26 “Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.”

And He guides us into truth in John 16:13, “However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth.”

Convicting, interceding and teaching are all actions of a person.

In Scripture we see the Holy Spirit treated as a person.

He is obeyed in Acts 10:19-21, While Peter thought about the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Behold, three men are seeking you. Arise therefore, go down and go with them, doubting nothing; for I have sent them. Then Peter went down to the men”

He is lied to in Acts 5:3, “But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit.” He is resisted in Acts 7:51, “You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit.”

And He is blasphemed in Matthew 12:31, “Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men.”

Obeying, lying to, and blaspheming are things we do to a person.

So now that we’ve established that the Holy Spirit is a person let’s be more specific.

2) THE HOLY SPIRIT IS GOD

He is the third member of the Trinity, equal to God the Father and God the Son.

In Scripture we see the Holy Spirit referred to as God.

He’s mentioned alongside the Father and Son in Matthew 28:19 “Make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”. Again in Isaiah 48:16 when Christ is speaking, “Come near to Me, hear this: I have not spoken in secret from the beginning; From the time that it was, I was there. And now the Lord GOD and His Spirit Have sent Me.”

And again in 2 Cor 13:14, “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”

These verses show the Holy Spirit is God, yet separate from the Father and Son.

He is called God in Acts 5:3-4 when Peter says to Ananias, “Why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself? You have not lied to men but to God.” And again in Heb 3:7-8, “Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says: “Today, if you will hear His voice Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, in the day of trial in the wilderness.” This is a quote of Psalm 95 where God is clearly the speaker. But the writer of Hebrews attributes this quote to the Holy Spirit thus claiming the Holy Spirit is God.

In Scripture we see the Holy Spirit displaying the attributes of God.

He is omniscience, or all-knowing in Isaiah 40:13, “Who has directed the Spirit of the LORD or as His counselor has taught Him?” And again in 1 Cor 2:10, “But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.”

He is omnipresent, or in all-places in Psalm 139:7, “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence?”

And He is omnipotent, or all-powerful in Luke 1:35 where an angel is speaking to Mary, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you.”

Omniscience, omnipresence, and omnipotence are attributes of God alone.

In Scripture we see the Holy Spirit performing the actions of God.

He is the Creator of the world in Genesis 1:1-2, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.”

He resurrected Christ and will resurrect us in Romans 8:11, “If the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.”

He is the one who applies salvation in Titus 3:5, “According to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit.”

He is the seal and guarantee of our salvation in Ephesians 1:13-14,”In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.”

Creating, resurrecting, applying and sealing salvation are actions of God alone.

And so we see that the Holy Spirit is a person and is God. You’ll notice that our case doesn’t rest on one verse but instead is the result of comparing Scripture with Scripture. Our interpretation is based on the whole of Scripture and not just an isolated verse.

Christianity 101: Baptism of the Holy Spirit

I indeed baptize you with water; but One mightier than I is coming, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. Luke 3:16

Baptism of the Holy Spirit involves the Holy Spirit doing at least three things:

1) Applying salvation to the believer
2) Giving the believer gifts that are to be used to serve others
3) Bringing the believer into the family of God

1) Applying salvation to the believer

When we come to Christ for forgiveness the Holy Spirit “credits” His sacrifice to our account. This means that when God looks upon us He sees Christ’s perfection and not our imperfection.

We find the Holy Spirit applying salvation to the believer in 1 Corinthians 6:11:

You were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

And again in Ephesians 1:13-14:

You were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance.

2) Giving the believer gifts

Baptism of the Holy Spirit also involves giving spiritual gifts to the believer which are to be used to serve one another. We find this in 1 Corinthians 12:4-7:

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men.

Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.

3) Bringing the believer into the family of God

Finally Baptism of the Holy Spirit involves being brought into the family of God. We find this in 1 Cor 12:13:

By one Spirit we were all baptized into one body–whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free–and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.

The Holy Spirit In The Life Of Christ

The Holy Spirit in the Birth and Childhood of Christ

In Luke 1:35 the angel Gabriel announces to Mary, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.”

Then in Matthew 1:20 an angel says to Joseph “Do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.”

In these verses we learn that the Holy Spirit “overshadowed” or “conceived” Jesus. This is a key point when trying to understand how Jesus can be human yet also be without sin.

Mankind was made in the image of God which means we’re spiritual beings. The problem is that the image of God in us has been tarnished by sin. So when humans reproduce they pass on that tarnished spiritual image. That’s why David says in Psalm 51:5 that “in sin my mother conceived me.”

But Jesus wasn’t conceived through humans, He was conceived through the Holy Spirit. He’s fully human, but because He didn’t inherent our sin nature, instead of being predisposed to sin, Hebrews 7:26 tells us that he was “separate from sinners”. The result is what we see in Hebrews 4:15 Jesus was “tempted as we are, yet was without sin.”

Moving to Jesus’ childhood Luke 2:52 tells us that “Jesus increased in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and men.” Luke 2:40 says the same thing saying the “Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.” You hear people ask all the time what did Jesus do during His childhood and here we have our answer. He increased in “wisdom and stature and in favor with God and men.”

Now it’s important to note here that this verse and others like it are referring to Jesus’ human nature. Jesus is fully God and fully Man. As God He’s unlimited in His power and knowledge. But as Man He willingly laid aside His position and Philippians 2:7 tells us “emptied Himself, taking the form of a bondservant.”

Jesus, when He took on a human nature, willingly limited Himself and needed to grow physically, mentally and spiritually, but did so without ever sinning.

The Holy Spirit aided Him every step of the way. In Isaiah 50:4 we find Jesus saying that “The Lord GOD has given Me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him who is weary. He awakens Me morning by morning, He awakens My ear to hear as the learned.”

From 1 Corinthians 2 we know that the Spirit helps us to understand spiritual truths. In the case of Jesus it seems He received unique personal training.

So in His birth and childhood the Holy Spirit aided Jesus by separating Him from sinners and by teaching Him what He is to say.

That leads us to…

The Holy Spirit in the Ministry of Christ

When Jesus was baptized in Luke 3:22 we read that “the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form like a dove upon Him, and a voice came from heaven which said, ‘You are My beloved Son; in You I am well pleased.’”

In our lives the Holy Spirit always meets with resistance because of our sin so our gifts and works are limited. But because Jesus knew no sin, when the Spirit descended upon Him, He was able to work fully and completely through Him.

Isaiah 11:2 gives us some insight here. We’re told that “The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, counsel and might, knowledge and of the fear of the LORD” came upon Him and we see these things throughout His ministry.

Jesus summarizes how He uses these gifts in Luke 4:18-19: “The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.”

So in His ministry The Holy Spirit led Jesus and empowered Him to preach and perform miracles and free us from sin.

This leads us to…

The Holy Spirit in the Death and Resurrection of Christ

The Holy Spirit is referred to as the “Comforter” in John 14:26. Ephesians 3:16 tells us the Holy Spirit strengthens us. If He comforts us how much more must He have comforted Jesus throughout His ministry and especially as His crucifixion drew near? How much more must He have strengthened Jesus as He agonized in the garden of Gethsemane?

Not only did the Spirit sustain Jesus Hebrews 9:14 tells us Jesus offered Himself through the Spirit. Whereas earthly alters were used by the priests to make sacrifices the Holy Spirit, in some mysterious way, acted as a spiritual alter to accept Christ’s sacrifice once and for all. Then finally in Romans 8:11 we see that the Spirit raised Christ from the dead.

So in His death and resurrection the Holy Spirit comforted and strengthened Jesus, acted as the alter through which Christ offered Himself and raised Him from the dead.

And we’re told this same Holy Spirit who reveals Christ, who applies salvation, who gives gifts, who empowers us, who teaches us, who comforts us, who strengthens us, this same Spirit is in us and loves us and is the guarantee of our salvation.