The Holy Spirit


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Our inner being is continuously renewed by God the Holy Spirit


While the New Testament teaches believers are regenerated by the Holy Spirit in one completed action and then baptised in the Holy Spirit at one point in time often later, it also reveals the inner being of believers is continuously renewed into God’s image by the Spirit as a progressive process.

This continuous renewal is mentioned in 2 Corinthians 4:16: “…Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.” In the original Greek, the verb “is renewed” here is in the present tense and passive voice. The present tense of “is renewed” here must be taken in either a continuous or repeated sense because it is qualified by the words “day by day”. The passive voice here signifies that Another – God – is the One continuously renewing us.

Colossians 3:10 refers to believers being renewed in God’s image: “and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him.” In the original Greek, the verb “is renewed” here is also in the passive voice and present tense.


The Holy Spirit’s transformation of believers


2 Corinthians 3:18 shows that believers are being transformed progressively into God’s image by the Holy Spirit: “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.” This process of transformation begins at and continues after conversion. The progressive nature of God’s transforming of believers is seen in the use of the expression “from glory to glory” in the above verse.

In the original Greek, the expression “are being transformed into” here is in the present tense. In this verse, the present tense signifies the continuous or repeated nature of the action of being transformed into God’s image from glory to glory.

Note in 2 Corinthians 3:18, Paul said this process is happening to “we all”. In Greek, the word “all” here is “pantes” and means “everyone”. [1] Therefore, 2 Corinthians 3:18 shows not one believer is excluded from God’s ongoing process of transformation into His image. Even the spiritually immature babes-in-Christ group in the Corinthian Church were being transformed into God’s image to some degree. The “we all” of 2 Corinthians 3:18 includes them. This shows that none of the Corinthian believers were totally or absolutely carnal.

Therefore, the abused grace attitude that some born-again Christians can year after year be living a totally carnal Christian life and not be manifesting even the slightest sign of being transformed by God into His image in their minds, emotions and wills, is unbiblical nonsense. The only exception to this are backsliders such as those at the Corinthian Church. Such people were obviously transformed by God while they were walking in Christ, but after backsliding this process ceased or at least was greatly hindered in their lives. It depends on how far they had backslidden.

Note in its surrounding context, 2 Corinthians 3:18 relates to the transformation of the Corinthian believers’ hearts and minds. 2 Corinthians 3:14 refers to “minds”. 2 Corinthians 3:15 mentions the “heart”. Remember as shown in Chapter           “Regeneration”, in the original Greek the word “heart” includes the mind, will, emotions and spirit.

The transformation of believers by the Holy Spirit partly involves Him imparting God’s glory to them (see Romans 5:2, 1 Thessalonians 2:12, 2 Thessalonians 2:14 and 1 Peter 5:10). In the original Greek, the word “glory” in 2 Corinthians 3:18 is “doxa” which in this context means “of the character and ways of God as exhibited through Christ to and through believers”.[2]

The transformation of believers involves God’s character, ways and splendour being manifested through them in their earthly lives. But the fullest manifestation of our transformation by the Holy Spirit will occur at Jesus’ Second Coming when our body will be glorified when resurrected (see Philippians 3:21, 2 Thessalonians 1:10 and 1 John 3:2).

Galatians 4:19 refers to when Christ will be in future fully formed in us by God the Holy Spirit: “My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you.” In the original Greek, the verb “is formed” here is a form of the word “morphoo” and is in the passive voice. The passive voice shows the action of fully forming Christ in us is done by God.

Vine says the word “morphoo” “refers not to the external and transient, but to the inward and real; it is used in Galatians 4:19, expressing the necessity of a change in character and conduct to correspond with inward spiritual condition, so that there may be moral conformity to Christ”. [3] The word “transient” used by Vine here means “not permanent, momentary, lasting only for a short time”. The phrase “moral conformity to Christ” means being like Christ in ethical attitudes and behaviour.


God’s glorious work in believers’ minds


The New Testament has wonderful teaching about how God works in believers’ minds by His Spirit. Luke 24:45 refers to Jesus Christ supernaturally opening the minds or understanding of believers so they could understand the Scriptures. 1 Corinthians 2:16 refers to the “mind of Christ” which is the attitudes of Jesus Christ which He imparts to believers by His Spirit.

2 Timothy 1:7 declares: “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” This verse is referring to the powerful influences or real effects of the Holy Spirit on the minds of all believers right from the point of conversion.

Hebrews 8:8-12 and 10:12-16 promise that God will work powerfully in the minds and hearts of all believers. Hebrews 8:10 says: “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.” God here promises that He would put His laws in the minds of all New Covenant believers. This passage applies to believing Israelites and to those non-Israelites who have spiritually become part of the Israel of God (see Galatians 6:16). In the original Greek, the word “mind” above in verse 10 is a form of the word “dianoia”. The Greek word “dianoia” means the “faculty of understanding, reasoning, thinking and deciding”. [4]

1 John 5:20 translates a form of the word “dianoia” as “understanding”, when it says God has given believers an understanding to know Jesus Christ: “And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ…” It is right to desire to know God and Jesus Christ more. But it is wrong to think that there are any new converts whom God has not already given an understanding which has begun to reveal to them how to know Him.

As soon as believers receive the Holy Spirit in the born-again experience at conversion, the Spirit imparts an understanding or thoughts to their mind about how to know Him. But this does not mean the minds of believers enter a state of sinless perfection and an accompanying perfect knowing of God and Christ at conversion.


Filled continually with the Holy Spirit


In Ephesians 5:18, God commands us: “…be filled with the Spirit.” These words were written to believers who had already been regenerated by the Holy Spirit (see Ephesians 1:13-14). In Ephesians 5:18, God’s command to be filled with the Holy Spirit is in the present tense. In Greek, the present tense mostly refers to ongoing actions. Therefore, Ephesians 5:18 is a command for us to be filled by the Holy Spirit every moment of every day.

Being filled by the Holy Spirit daily is not merely a result of asking God to fill us. Being filled by the Holy Spirit results from us allowing Him to rule us more deeply, from obeying God’s commands in the Scriptures more thoroughly, from praying in the Spirit, from worshipping God often (see Ephesians 5:19) and from thanking Him in all circumstances (see Philippians 4:4-7).

Being filled with the Holy Spirit also relates to not resisting the Holy Spirit’s guidance and rule in your life (see Acts 7:51) and not grieving Him in any way. In the section “One key to revival”, we will examine some of the ways we can grieve the Holy Spirit.

One of the keys to whether we will be filled with the Holy Spirit is the degree we surrender or yield ourselves to God. Acts 6:5 links being full of faith with being filled by the Holy Spirit. Faith involves believing God’s promises and teachings found in His written Word. But faith also relates to unconditionally surrendering every part of our lives to Him.

The great Welsh revivalist, Evan Roberts preached:

“God has been calling for years. We have been saying ‘No’. If we are children of God, let us obey. What should you think of a father who had a son and asked him to do something, and he said ‘No!” all day; what should you think of that son? He is not worthy to be called a son because of his disobedience. But that is old history, and it is true today.

We pray ‘Send us power down!’ There is no need. The Holy Spirit is with us. I realise that He is here. We need not to pray that He should come. If you read the second chapter of Acts, you will find that He has been sent. We have an account that He came. Have you an account that He went back? Our prayer should be ‘Open our hearts to receive Him!’ He presses hard on the door of your heart but He cannot get in. It is open to everybody else, but not to Christ. Must He call again and again and find us disobedient? The Spirit is calling continually, but I thank God that He is here today. I am glad to find you in the Spirit today. Obey Him! Rest upon God. That will be that place for you. What joy to be in heaven resting upon Him forever! Just roll your burden upon Him. The Spirit calls continually, calls everybody. That is the danger – not heeding the voice.” [5]

1 Thessalonians 5:19 commands us: “Do not quench the Spirit.” We quench the Holy Spirit in our lives whenever we do not rely on His strength and wisdom and whenever we say “no” to whatever He tells us to do.

Revelation 3:19-20 reveals repentance is a key to experiencing manifestations of the Spirit of Christ's wonderful Presence in our lives: “…Therefore be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.” Experiencing manifestations of Christ's Presence more is linked to the degree we have a changed heart attitude to sins, trusting in and obeying Him more.

Many Christians say they want more of the Holy Spirit, but sadly do not really want Him to rule more of themselves and their daily lives.


A test


We can test the degree the Holy Spirit is filling us at a point of time by:


·         the amount His fruit is being manifested in our lives. Galatians 5:22-23 records what His fruit are: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.”

·         the frequency and duration of known sin in our lives. Galatians 5:19-21 lists some of these sins.

·         the degree we hate sin. 1 Corinthians 13:6 says in part that love “does not rejoice in iniquity” (N.K.J.V.) or “does not rejoice in unrighteousness” (N.A.S.B.). Paul’s words here reveal that someone who is truly walking in Holy Spirit-inspired love at a particular time will not be joyful in any way about:


1.       memories of past sins in their lives. For example, they will not rejoice at all in the thoughts of their past sexual immorality, drunkenness or drugtaking.

2.       war, the suppression of the poor, abortion, the breakdown of families or any other social evils.

3.       any evil actions done by individual unbelievers or believers they know.


·         the degree we periodically experience heartfelt grief and sorrow about the various forms of wickedness and sin in the lives of others. This is totally opposite of gloating over or enjoying hearing about the wrong things others do. Gossips and proud busybodies like doing the latter. Some claim to be filled with the Holy Spirit at present but they do not grieve about the evils in the world. Such people only imagine they are presently filled with the Holy Spirit. In 2 Corinthians 2:4, Paul speaks of his attitudes and feelings towards the sinful mess which had occurred at the Corinthian Church: “for out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote to you…” In 2 Corinthians 11:29, Paul said “…Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn?” Read Romans 9:1-3 also.

·         by the degree we are truly joyful when others come to know Jesus Christ and do the things which please Him. Refer to Paul’s comments in 2 Corinthians 2:3, 7:7, 7:9, Philippians 2:2, 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20, 2 Timothy 1:4-5 and Philemon 7 and John’s in 2 John 4 and 3 John 3-4.

Being filled and ruled by the Holy Spirit is a glorious privilege which believers have.


Pleasing the Holy Spirit


We must aim to please the Holy Spirit continually. Pleasing the Holy Spirit involves:


·         obeying the instructions of the Scriptures. Note the Spirit inspired the Scriptures (see 2 Peter 1:20-21 and 1 Peter 1:10-11).

·         obeying His inner guidance (see John 10:3-4, 1 Kings 19:12 and Romans 8:16) which will never contradict the teachings of the Scriptures and

·         relying upon His infinite strength in everything we do (see Romans 8:5).


Living and walking in the Holy Spirit


A key aspect of the practical outworkings of sanctification and righteousness in the lives of New Testament believers relates to God the Holy Spirit. It is impossible to live a holy right Christian life in a practical sense without the continual strength, wisdom, love and other attributes of the Holy Spirit being outworked in our lives by Him. Galatians 5:16 shows it is only as we walk in the Holy Spirit, we will not be ruled by the flesh: “…Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.” In Greek, the word “walk” above is a form of the word “peripateo” which in this context means “to maintain a certain walk of life and conduct”. [6]

Galatians 5:25 also commands us to walk in the Spirit: “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” In Greek, the word “walk” above is a form of the word “stoicheo” which means “to live in conformity with some presumed standard”. [7] The absolute standard is God’s written Word.

When we walk, we depend on our legs to enable us to reach our destination. Walking in the Holy Spirit means totally depending on Him to enable us to get to the destinations God has planned for us. This is an active reliance which leads to obedience, not a false “do nothing” quietistic attitude. Quietism involves the wrong idea that trusting in and depending on God does not involve active obedience to His known will.

In Romans 8:13, Paul indicates it is only by the Holy Spirit’s Presence and influence we can put to death the sinful desires of the flesh which are trying to express themselves through our human bodies: “…if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.”



Walk in the Holy Spirit and not in pagan Greek or Hindu practices


In the original Greek, the word “pneuma” can mean “spirit” referring to the human spirit or “Spirit” referring to the Holy Spirit. There are no distinguishing marks on the letters of the Greek language in which the New Testament was written which enable the reader to determine whether the writer is referring to “Spirit” or “spirit”. As a result, one American author argues Galatians 5:16 should be translated: “But I say, walk by the spirit (that is not the Holy Spirit...that is the recreated spirit) and ye shall not fulfil the desires of the senses.”

But this is a pagan Greek dualistic interpretation of Galatians 5:16 which infers the physical realm of the senses is evil and cannot be ruled and filled by the Holy Spirit. Also it implies the Christian life is not walking in the Holy Spirit, but involves concentrating on our human spirit.

Galatians 5:16 is referring to the Holy Spirit ruling and filling not just our spirits, but also our minds, emotions, wills, senses and bodies. It is a form of idolatry to focus on our human spirit as much or more than on the Holy Spirit.

Jesus Christ was ruled and filled by the Holy Spirit (see Luke 4:18 and John 1:32). But being filled and ruled by the Holy Spirit does not mean just living in the spiritual realm. Demons live in the spiritual realm but they are not filled with the Holy Spirit.

Jesus allowed the Holy Spirit to dominate all aspects of His activities in both the spiritual and natural realms. Jesus continually permitted the Holy Spirit to rule His spirit, will, mind, emotions, physical body and its senses.

Many Christians mistakenly think that walking in the spiritual realm is the same as walking in the Holy Spirit. Walking in the Holy Spirit involves allowing Him to be Lord over not just our spirit, but also over our mind, emotions, will, physical body and its senses.

In Romans 6:13 and 12:1, God commands us to yield or present our bodies to Him for His use and service. He does not command us to yield our bodies to our human spirit. Romans 8:14 says sons of God are led by the Spirit of God: “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.” This verse does not teach that believers are led by their human spirit.

Romans 8:16 reveals God’s Spirit can speak through our human spirit, but this is not the same as us being led by our human spirit. This is just as God can guide us through dreams and visions, but we are not led by dreams and visions.

Those who speak of us as believers being filled by the Holy Spirit only in our human spirit and not also of us allowing our mind, emotions and body to be ruled and filled by Him are teaching a mixture of pagan philosophy and the Bible. 1 Corinthians 6:19 speaks of our physical bodies being in a collective and individual sense a Temple containing Holy Spirit: “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you…”

I have heard churchgoers say, “Turn off your mind and allow your spirit to function.” If by this, they mean, “Do not allow the fleshly unbiblical reasonings of your mind to prevent you from worshipping and being more yielded to God,” this is fine. But if they mean stop thinking so that we can enter the spiritual realm, this has its roots in pagan Greek philosophy, Hinduism or other Eastern pagan religions.

For example, the Hindu book, the Dharmashastras teaches that one of the supposed means to becoming spiritual and godly is letting our minds go blank through shutting off our thoughts and bodily desires. [8] Christian meditation does not involve letting our minds go blank. Instead it involves having our minds ponder and mutter the meaning of the Scriptures to ourselves.

In Mark 12:30, Jesus Christ commanded us to love God with all of the different parts of our being and with not just our spirit: “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. This is the first commandment.”


The crucial necessity of the Holy Spirit


All believers need to rely greatly on the Person of the God the Holy Spirit living in them by His unmerited grace. There are many reasons for this. Some of the main ones are without the Holy Spirit, we cannot:


·         understand properly or receive the things of God (see 1 Corinthians 2:14).

·         call Jesus Christ Lord in a way acceptable to God (see 1 Corinthians 12:3).

·         be transformed into Christ’s glorious image (see 2 Corinthians 3:18).

·         worship God properly (see Philippians 3:3).

·         pray properly (see Romans 8:26-27).

·         know God’s will (see Romans 8:14).

·         overcome the flesh’s evil influence (see Galatians 5:16).

·         cast demons out (see Matthew 12:28).

·         witness well to the unsaved (see Acts 1:8 and Matthew 10:20).

·         preach the Gospel effectively (see 1 Corinthians 2:4 and 1 Thessalonians 1:5).

·         or keep a hold on the wonderful things God has given you through His grace (see 2 Timothy 1:14).


It is no surprise Hebrews 10:29 calls God the Holy Spirit “the Spirit of grace”. He is continuously expressing and imparting various marvellous expressions of God’s grace to those who choose to have a trusting faith in Jesus Christ. We must continually rely on the Holy Spirit and receive the various free gifts of His grace.


One key to revival


The reviving life of the Holy Spirit is blocked or greatly hindered by sin. This is why any church which sincerely desires revival needs its people to turn from their known sins. If the people of a local church do not turn from their known sins, the Holy Spirit will be greatly grieved and will not have clean vessels to use in bringing the lost to Jesus Christ.

In Ephesians 4:30, Paul told the Ephesian Christians: “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” But note in the surrounding context of the above verse, Paul lists many sins which would grieve the Holy Spirit (see Ephesians 4:25-5:14). These sins are lying, anger, stealing, being lazy, not helping those truly in need, using corrupt or evil words, being bitter, fighting, desiring to inflict harm or revenge on another person, not being kind and compassionate to others, not forgiving others who hurt or treat us wrongly, not really loving others, being involved in any form of sex outside marriage, participating in any form of sexual uncleanness or obscenity, [9] being covetous or greedy about anything, foolish talking and telling or listening to filthy stories, coarse or dirty jokes.

It is little wonder that one of the main emphases in the preaching of great revivalists like Wesley, Whitefield, Jonathon Edwards, Peter Cartwright, Finney, Spurgeon, F.B. Meyer, Moody, Evan Roberts and Torrey was turning away from known sins.


Bible Study Questions


1.         Explain what 2 Corinthians 4:16 and Colossians 3:10 teach about what God is doing to believers.

2.         Does 2 Corinthians 3:18 say that the Holy Spirit is not transforming spiritually immature babes-in-Christ into the Lord’s image? Give Biblical proof for your answer.

3.         Is 2 Corinthians 3:18 only referring to the Holy Spirit transforming believers’ spirits? Provide Biblical proof for your answer.

4.         Explain what Galatians 4:19 teaches.

5.         Discuss three or more verses which refer to God working in believers’ mind by His Spirit.

6.         What are some of the Biblical means by which believers can be daily filled with the Holy Spirit?

7.         By what Biblical standards can we test to see if the Holy Spirit is filling us at a point of time?

8.         How can we please the Holy Spirit?

9.         Explain what Galatians 5:16 and Romans 8:13 teach us.

10.     What does walking in the Holy Spirit mean?

11.     Why is it wrong to teach that Galatians 5:16 refers to (a) walking in our human spirit or (b) walking solely in the spiritual realm?

12.     What are some of the things we cannot do without the Holy Spirit?

13.     In its context, what are some of the sins Ephesians 4:30 reveals we can grieve the Holy Spirit by if we commit them?


[1] Bauer, page 632.

[2] Vine, pages 267-268.

[3] Ibid, page 252.

[4] Louw and Nida, pages 324-325.

[5] James A. Stewart, “Invasion of Wales by the Spirit through Evan Roberts”, Christian Literature Crusade, Fort Washington, page 72.

[6] Perschbacher, page 323.

[7] Louw and Nida, page 505.

[8] “New Catholic Encyclopedia”, Volume 6, McGraw-Hill Book Coy, New York, 1967, page 1126.

[9] This today would include willingly watching movies or television shows with graphic sexually immoral scenes in them.

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