The Holy Spirit affects us in three major ways:
- The Holy Spirit with us
- The Holy Spirit upon us
- The Holy Spirit in us
This diversity shows how rich God is. And, just for discussion’s sake, which, amongst these three aspects, would you prefer to find the Holy Spirit ministering to you in if you were asked to choose only one?
Well, none is less needful, but we shall soon see why having the Holy Spirit in us is of the uttermost importance to the born-again believer.
The Holy Spirit with us. When the Holy Spirit comes to be with us He convicts us of many things, as we read in John 16:8-11. The Holy Spirit with us affects even the un-Godly as we see in verses 8-9:
“8 And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: 9 Of sin, because they believe not on me…”
The ministry of the Holy Spirit with us is therefore broad and all-encompassing.
The Holy Spirit on us. When the Holy Spirit comes upon us, the first sign that He is upon us is that we speak in tongues. Speaking in tongues is a gift of the Holy Spirit, and it has many benefits. In the first place, God, being Spirit, desires that we communicate with Him in spiritual language, and that is why He has given us the gift of tongues. It is far more edifying spiritually to speak to God in tongues than in any earthly language. That is what the Bible says in 1 Cor. 14:1-4.
Secondly, tongues are used to bring prophecy to the church. God uses the ministry of speaking in tongues to bring a direct message from His heart to the church. God then uses other ministries within the church to interpret those tongues. God is so rich!
One of the best examples of this in the Bible is the case of Balaam’s donkey. The donkey wasn’t human, but he spoke in human language when the Holy Spirit came upon him. Now, no donkey will inherit God’s heavenly Kingdom; but the Holy Spirit came upon the donkey and the donkey spoke in tongues and saved Balaam’s life!
As I said, Balaam’s donkey is not going to heaven. That means a donkey cannot be spiritual. Speaking in tongues, therefore, or prophesying in tongues does not mean you are spiritual. Sometimes someone – a preacher, or a believer – can have a rotten spiritual lifestyle, and he knows it. But yet he preaches and miracles happen in his services and, unfortunately, he believes that this makes him spiritual or acceptable to God. But no; that is just the Holy Spirit upon him operating on behalf of God. Again, God is so rich in grace He can allow these kinds of things to happen.
What makes a man acceptable to God, though, is something entirely different, and it is what we will look at next.
The Holy Spirit in us. The Holy Spirit in us is what pleases God most. Why? It is because the heart of man is the place where God has chosen to make His dwelling place. That is an incredible fact, but it is true. God has chosen to live in men’s hearts! When we say God has made the heart His dwelling place, it is talking about man’s spirit.
I am sure none of us would love to live in a dirty house. God therefore works very hard to clean His house. The Bible says,
“Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord” (Heb. 12:14).
A clean heart is a holy heart! People love talking about grace, but here and elsewhere, scripture makes it clear that grace comes with a responsibility. We are commanded to be holy if we ever hope to “see the Lord”! The permissive grace that many people love talking of is certainly not of God.
Something – a change – definitely needs to happen in our hearts. The Holy Spirit in us is where God operates upon our hearts to bring about this change. Here God reveals to us the reality of the spiritual life. He shows us, just as He did with the Apostle Paul, how much we must suffer for the gospel’s sake.
What does it mean to suffer for the gospel’s sake? It is the cleansing process. It is the uprooting of the old man of our carnal nature. True Christian life is a transformation. God wants our hearts to be transformed to become like His – pure and holy.
God knows, for example, that if I have envy in my heart I will not inherit His eternal life. But He knows exactly what is needed to transform me. God therefore gets to work to deal with my envy. He raises up a huge stumbling block in my life to deal with that envy. As long as I am willing, God will use that stumbling block to chip away at my envy down to its roots. God’s working in my life becomes my “thorn in the flesh”, but it produces the sweet fruit of a sanctified life.
It was for this reason that the early apostles welcomed suffering in their lives. They knew what it would do in them. It would transform them!
May we allow the Holy Spirit to have His way in us. He is there to sanctify us. Suffering – giving up our earthly rights – may last for a night, but the morning is coming. The reward for this sanctification is unfathomable.
[Below: The old Indian Quarter in Musoma Town]