One of the most difficult concepts to understand is the Triune God. No matter how long you’ve been a follower of Christ, trying to understand how one God can exist in three different persons is difficult. The Holy Spirit is often the most difficult member of the trinity for believers to understand. However, doing what you can to better understand the Holy Spirit and who He is can help you better understand God.
If you were asked to sit down and discuss each of the three members of the Godhead, you would probably start with God the Father or Jesus, His only begotten Son. When trying to discuss the things you know about each member of the Godhead, you may discuss the loving, forgiving, Father-like nature of God the Father. Discussing Jesus would also be relatively easy, as you could dive into Scripture and start looking at the parables that He taught or the miracles that He performed. When you were left to discuss the role and purposes of the Holy Spirit, things may become a bit more difficult.
First of all, please understand, not fully understanding the Holy Spirit is nothing to be ashamed of.
The difficulty that most believers would have discussing the Holy Spirit can be blamed on a variety of factors. In many cases, it may be because of the type of church that you grew up attending or the type that you attend now. There are some churches that simply do not spend a lot of time focusing on or learning about the Holy Spirit. Conversely, there are some churches that are completely consumed with the Holy Spirit, and the charismatic manifestation of His presence in the lives of believers.
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In addition to the congregations who either over-emphasize or under-emphasize a single member of the Trinity, there is simply a lot of misinformation about the Holy Spirit floating around. This has led to a great deal of confusion and even ignorance concerning who He is, what His presence looks like, and the role that He plays in the lives of believers today.
Instead of basing our personal theology about the Holy Spirit on what we’ve always heard or what we’ve never heard about before, let’s take a look at what Jesus said about Him. When we allow our theology to be based on the teachings of Christ, we’re in a better position to understand the Holy Spirit, which means we’re gaining a deeper understanding of who God is in our lives, and who He wants to be.
The Holy Spirit as a Counselor
John 14:16-17 (CSB)
And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever. He is the Spirit of truth. The world is unable to receive him because it doesn’t see him or know him. But you do know him because remains with you and will be in you.
Jesus tucked this little insight about the Holy Spirit into a conversation He was having with the disciples about His impending return to Heaven. While this isn’t the first time that Jesus had mentioned the Holy Spirit, nor was it the first time that we see Him at work in the New Testament, this is one of the first times that Jesus directly speaks about a role that the Holy Spirit will play in the lives of believers.
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Depending on the Biblical translation that you’re reading, you may not see the word “Counselor” in this verse. Some translations say “Advocate” while others read “Comforter.” This isn’t because any of the translations that you may be reading are wrong. Instead, it’s because of the vast nature of the word used in the original text.
If you had been standing in the crowd the day that Jesus spoke about His departure and the coming of the Holy Spirit, you would’ve heard Him use the term “paraclete.” That word, when translated into English, can be translated as any of the terms that we have discussed here. However, most Biblical scholars agree that it speaks primarily to a legal term.
If you’ve ever been in a courtroom or watched a TV show that covered court proceedings, you may have heard a lawyer referred to as “counselor.” That’s the same type of role that Jesus said the Holy Spirit will take in our lives. If you could peer into Heaven, you would see that there is an accuser (Revelation 12:10). Satan stands before God rattling off everything wrong that you do in a day. However, the Bible teaches us that we have a Counselor. That is to say, there’s Someone who stands on our behalf and declares our innocence in the face of the evidence against us.
The Holy Spirit as a Deliverer
John 14:25-26 (TPT)
I am telling you this while I am still with you. But when the Father sends the Spirit of Holiness, the One like me who sets you free, he will teach you all things in my name. And he will inspire you to remember every word that I’ve told you.
There is a lot to unpack in these two verses, so we will try to not to spend too much of today’s time looking only at this. In this passage, Jesus spoke about three different tasks completed by the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer. However, all of them tie back to the first one that He discussed. Jesus first identified the Holy Spirit as “the One like me who sets you free.” That means the Holy Spirit delivers us from captivity and bondage that is brought about by our own sinful nature.
How does He go about doing that? Jesus answered that question by discussing two more actions taken by the Holy Spirit. First of all, Jesus said that the Holy Spirit teaches us. That means that when you sit down to read your Bible, and you start understanding things that have never made sense to you before, the Holy Spirit is at work. He is teaching you!
His work isn’t completed after you learn something from Scripture. Instead, Scripture teaches us that He continues to work by remembering everything that He has revealed to you. Teaching, and then bringing those teachings to your remembrance, are both steps to helping you achieve true freedom. The Holy Spirit brings freedom because He brings a greater knowledge of God. When we know more about Him, we can better experience the brand of freedom that He offers.
The Holy Spirit as an Encourager
John 16:7-8 (TPT)
But here’s the truth: It’s to your advantage that I go away, for if I don’t go away the Divine Encourager will not be released to you. But after I depart, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will expose sin and prove that the world is wrong about God’s righteousness and his judgements.
Finally, Jesus said that the Holy Spirit serves as a Divine Encourager for believers. To encourage someone means that you put courage into them. As was the case with our second mission of the Holy Spirit, the things that Jesus said after this initial role help us better understand how the Holy Spirit does what He does.
Sin does not leave us feeling courageous. Instead, when we sin, we end up feeling a lack of courage. Where courage should be, we feel guilt, shame, and every other negative emotion. The Holy Spirit comes, reveals the areas in our lives where sin has become prevalent, and gives us an opportunity to repent of those behaviors. Once we have repented and asked for forgiveness, He can put divine courage into us.
Life can leave us feeling a lack of courage. Maybe you look at your circumstances and feel fear. If that’s the case, allow the Divine Encourager to help infuse you with courage from God.
A Closing Prayer:
Father, thank You for Your presence through the person of the Holy Spirit. Thank You for taking steps to ensure that I have a Counselor, that I am truly free, and that I can be encouraged. Help me to be more mindful of His presence in my life. In Christ’s name, Amen.