The holy spirit is a very important area of Christian faith, but is subject to misinterpretation and misunderstanding.  I want to briefly look at some of the Apostle Paul’s comments on the Holy Spirit, as they shed a lot of light on a correct understanding.

Although the miraculous powers given to some first century believers were the powers of the holy spirit, the holy spirit is much more than just that.  That was a passing blessing, which was a foretaste of what the saints will have when Christ rules the earth in the future.

Hebrews 6:4-5   For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come    

These miraculous powers given in the first century were to pass as Paul says:

1 Corinthians 13:8   Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.    

But although the miraculous powers passed, the faith, hope and love remained.  See 1 Corinthians 13:13. The holy spirit, or energy (power) originating from God, is very active today, both in the world and in the lives of believers.

Paul says:

Romans 8:8-9   Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.    

A clue to a more precise understanding of the spirit of God can be found by comparing Paul’s comments in 1 Corinthians 2:16, on Isaiah 40:13.

Isaiah 40:13   Who has measured the Spirit of the LORD, or what man shows him his counsel?    

1 Corinthians 2: 16   “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.    

So Isaiah refers to “the spirit of the LORD” and Paul in quoting Isaiah, says “the mind of the Lord”.  Paul is equating spirit with mind.  I think this throws quite a bit of light on the subject of the spirit and meshes in well with Jesus prayer shortly before his crucifixion on his oneness with God and the oneness of the disciples with God and with Jesus (John 17:21   that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.

If God, Jesus and the believers are all of one mind they all have the same spirit. This is something to remember whenever we read a passage about the spirit.

I believe Jesus is with us now by the working of the spirit in our lives.  Three important aspects of the spirit working in our lives:

  1. Our minds are changed to be like Jesus’ mind – we are changed to think like Jesus who was of one mind with his Father.
    • God predestined us to be conformed to the image of his son.

      Romans 8:29   For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son  . . .   

    • We must be transformed by the renewal of our minds.

      Romans 12:2 “continually be transformed by the renewing of your minds so that you may be able to determine what God’s will is”

    • We are to put on the new self by the renewal of the spirit of our minds

      Ephesians 4:23-24    be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God  . . .

      and 2 Corinthians 4:6-7

      For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. 

    • We are saved by the washing of regeneration and the renewal through the work of the spirit.

      Titus 3:5-6    he saved us  . . .   by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior  

To summarise the above points – we see that the spirit of God and Jesus changes the way we think  – from people who are of the flesh, to people who are spiritual and who develop minds like Jesus.  This happens largely by absorbing the word of God (The Bible).

Ephesians 6:17   “take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

It also happens by the care God has for us.

Hebrews 13:5-6    . . .   for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper;   . . .”

  1. The spirit is linked with prayer.
    1. Romans 8:26-28

      Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.  

      So if we have God’s spirit dwelling in us, God hears and answers our prayers.  By the way, I think the phrase  about the spirit interceding probably refers to our groanings rather than the groanings of the spirit.    There are a couple of references groaning earlier in the chapter.  So I think it is possible that vs 26 should read something like – the Spirit intercedes for our groanings too deep for words – meaning that we groan not knowing what to ask for and as Jesus and God knows the best answer – they will respond appropriately.

  2. God works with us through His power or spirit.
    • We must not just be hearers of the word. We must also be doers, and God will bless us in our doing.

      James 1:25    But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.

    • We look at the glory of the Lord and through the effect of the spirit, we are changed into the same image.

      2 Corinthians 3:18     And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

    • We are workers with God and God’s spirit dwells in us.

      1 Corinthians 3:9 & 16    vs 9  For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building.
      vs 16 Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?

So because we are God’s and we have the mind (spirit) of Christ, we can work with God in His vineyard, God through his spirit helping and guiding us.  This is the providence of God.

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