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The Holy Spirit in the Church Age





This study will be limited in scope.  It will concern itself with the ministry of the Holy Spirit primarily during the Church Age.  God the Holy Spirit is one Person of the Triune Godhead, and has always existed independent of time and dimension.  He participated in the creation of all material matter, i.e., the heavens, earth and all creatures, hand-in-hand with God the Father and God the Son.  From the beginning of the dimension of time He has conducted the affairs of God, along with God the Son, as they pertain to God’s creation.  His relationship with man was essentially an external influence, and, at times a temporary internal one, prior to the dispensation of grace, otherwise known as the Church Age. 


This changed after Jesus Christ came to earth as the God-man, who upon the cross of Calvary took the sins of the world, paid the penalty-price for these sins by experiencing spiritual death and then physical death, rose after three days from the grave and ascended to the right hand of God the Father in heaven.  From this event forward, the Holy Spirit’s ministry became both an external influence over creation and a permanent internal link with all who experience the “new birth.”  This will be a comprehensive study of His ministry during the Church Age as it relates to Christians, i.e., those who have placed faith alone in Christ alone for their personal and eternal salvation.


This ministry of the Holy Spirit is fundamental to the “new birth” (spiritual birth), to success in spiritual living, to understanding Biblical doctrine and, in fact, to all aspects of the Christian’s union with God and his remaining life on earth.  It is noteworthy that Christianity is not a “religion,” which is man’s attempt to gain the approbation of God by his own merits or by doing “good works.” 


Christianity is a permanent union or relationship with God by the effectual working of the Holy Spirit as a result of a person’s faith alone in Christ alone for his personal and eternal salvation.  Without “saving faith” exercised by the will of an individual, which comes as a direct result of the convicting power of the Holy Spirit, there can never be eternal life for the person no matter how good his intentions or how many great and noble deeds he performs.  Salvation, as with all aspects of Christianity, centers on the Person and work of Jesus Christ.




There are misconceptions among Christians regarding the Person and work of the Holy Spirit.  One of these is that the Holy Spirit is an “it,” and not a Person.  Another is that the Holy Spirit is divisible and thereby divides Himself among all Christians.  Still another is that the Holy Spirit is somewhat like a fluid that fills up and empties out of a Christian as if the Christian is a spiritual cavity.  Along with this concept, there is the perception that the Holy Spirit can “fall anew” on the Christian upon his request in the administration of God’s plan (will) during the Christian’s sojourn upon earth.


The Holy Spirit is not an “it.”  He is a Person and should always be referred to with the personal masculine pronoun.  To refer to Him with the neuter pronoun “it” is to deny personality to the third Person of the Godhead.  This impacts on various Bible doctrines, not the least of which, is who uses whom in Christian service.  The concept of the Holy Spirit as an “it,” which equates to some form of impersonal and supernatural force, proliferates the view that Christians use this power in spiritual service.  On the other hand, to see the Holy Spirit as a Person encourages the Biblically correct view that the Holy Spirit uses the Christian in spiritual service.


It is true that in the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible the neuter pronoun is used in various locations in reference to the Holy Spirit  (Romans 5:5; 8:16, 26; 1 Corinthians 6:19; 2 Timothy 1:14; 1 Peter 1:11 and 1 John 3:24).  Nouns in the Greek are in one of three genders.  They are masculine, feminine or neuter—depending upon their alphabetic ending.  The word “spirit” (Gk. pneuma from pneo, “to breathe) is neuter, but the Greeks did not consider that which was designated by the word as being an inanimate object and therefore impersonal.  Just as the Greek word for “wine” (Gk. oinos) is masculine and the Greek word for “wisdom” (Gk. sophia) is feminine, it does not mean that the Greeks ascribed personality to either of these words.  The Greek word for “child” (Gk. brephos) is neuter, but the Greeks never thought of a child as an inanimate object.  The gender of a personal pronoun in the Greek is determined by the gender of its antecedent, but the conveyance of meaning is often idiomatic.


Whereas the use of the gender is decisive in English, it is necessary to consider Greek idiom when translating gender, which establishes the presence or absences of animation when translating Greek to English.  “Idiom” is a construction or expression peculiar to a particular language, which if brought over literally into a second language, would give a wrong impression or meaning.   The task of the translator is to bring over “the thought” from one language to another and not to be bound by a literal translation that would convey an incorrect meaning.  The translator must find the expression in the second language that accurately conveys the meaning that the idiom articulates in the first language.


This is particularly true when translating passages about the Holy Spirit.  A careful study of God’s Word establishes that the Holy Spirit is a Person and not an impersonal force.  He has personality, He has various duties and He maintains a personal relationship with every believer in Jesus Christ.  The word “house” is translated from two separate Greek words, one masculine and one famine.  To refer to a house as a “he” or “she” in the English language would be incorrect.  In all cases a “house” is an “it.”  In English the appropriate pronoun used to refer to the Holy Spirit should be masculine in nature, thus showing that He is a Person, since this is exactly the meaning that the Scriptures convey.


The Holy Spirit, who is a Person and who is indivisible, does not divide Himself among believers.  A Christian does not have part of the Spirit of God, which part or portion fluctuates depending on the number of believers at any given time.  One believer cannot lay claim to any more or less of the Holy Spirit than any other believer.  The Holy Spirit is a “whole Person,” and He indwells “in total” each and every believer in Jesus Christ.  This is a mystery and it is inconceivable to the human mind; just as the concepts of the Trinity, of eternity, and of the omnipresence of God are all mysterious and inconceivable to man’s fallible reasoning powers—but, they are nevertheless true.


Because the Holy Spirit is a Person and cannot be divided and because a believer is not a container that can be filled and emptied depending upon circumstances, it is incorrect to understand that the Holy Spirit is some form of impersonal force that ebbs and flows in varying degrees throughout a believer’s earthly sojourn.  It is true that the Apostle Paul instructed the believers at Ephesus to be “filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18).  What did he mean?


A comprehensive study of the words “fill,” “filled,” “full,” and “fullness,” a misleading translation used in many Bible versions, pertaining to the relationship between the believer and the Holy Spirit is undertaken in Untranslatable Riches from the Greek New Testament by Kenneth S. Wuest.  In every case when these words are used to refer to the affiliation between the believer and the Holy Spirit, it speaks of the Holy Spirit “controlling” or “totally influencing and directing” the believer.


“We must not think of the Holy Spirit filling our hearts as water fills a bottle, or air, a vacuum, or a bushel of oats, an empty basket.  The heart of a Christian is not a receptacle to be emptied in order that the Holy Spirit might fill it.  The Holy Spirit is not a substance to fill an empty receptacle.  He is a Person to control another person, the believer.  He does not fill a Christian’s life with Himself.  He controls the person.


The heart is a symbol used to refer to the will, the reason, and the emotions.  Thus, the Holy Spirit possesses or controls the volitional, rational, and emotional activities of the believer who is said to be filled with Him.  He brings all these into the place of obedience and conformity to the Word of God.  Therefore, when we speak of a Christian filled with the Spirit, we are referring to the control which a divine Person, the Holy Spirit, has over a human being, the believer.”

(Untranslatable Riches from the Greek New Testament by Kenneth S. Wuest)


It is therefore correct to translate Ephesians 5:18, Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery.  Instead, be controlled by the Spirit.  Even in the King James Version this verse is clear when one considers the use of the words “drunk” and “filled.”  The Apostle Paul did not say, “Do not be filled with wine . . . but be filled with the Spirit.”  He purposefully used the word “drunk,” which refers to a condition whereby a person is “controlled by” or “influenced by” another substance.  He in effect is telling them that they are not to be controlled by wine, but instead they are to be controlled by a divine Person, the Holy Spirit.  Having established this as the correct interpretation regarding the “filling of the Holy Spirit,” this study will henceforth use the words “control,” “controlled,” or “controlled by” regarding this very critical doctrinal truth.


And since the Holy Spirit does not flow in and out of a believer, it is also incorrect for a believer to pray for the Holy Spirit to fall anew or afresh on him.  In fact, although the Bible speaks of being “full” of (controlled by) the Holy Spirit, there is no example in it where a Christian prays for this “filling.”  This study will show clearly that the Holy Spirit indwells the believer once and for all when the believer by faith alone accepts Christ alone as his personal Savior.  Furthermore this study will show that at this time of indwelling the Holy Spirit also seals the believer for all eternity.  From this point on the Holy Spirit remains in all His “completeness” with and in the believer. 


But this doesn’t necessarily mean that the Holy Spirit is always in “control” of the believer.  In fact, this is often not the case.  Just as the believer is given the responsibility to exercise his will in receiving Jesus Christ as personal Savior, he is given the choice to daily either permit or not permit (“grieve” or “quench”) the control of the Holy Spirit in his life.  This study will instruct the believer how to insure that he is daily controlled (“filled”) by the Holy Spirit.


Names or Titles of the Holy Spirit (Old and New Testament)


Note:  Although the word “Ghost” is used in the King James Version of the Bible in many passages to refer to the Holy Spirit, it is a translation of the Greek word “pneuma,” which is best translated “Spirit;” therefore, “Spirit” will be used in all cases in this study.


Comforter (Helper) John 7:16; 14:16
Eternal Spirit Hebrews 9:14
Free Spirit Psalm 51:12
Holy Spirit Matthew 1:18; 20; 28:19; etc.
Power of the Highest Luke 1:35
Promise of My Father Luke 24:49
Spirit of Adoption Romans 8:15
Spirit of Christ 1 Peter 1:11
Spirit of Christ Isaiah 11:2
Spirit of Glory 1 Peter 4:14
Spirit of God Genesis 1:2
Spirit of Grace Zechariah 12:10
Spirit of Holiness Romans 1:4
Spirit of Judgment Isaiah 4:4
Spirit of Knowledge Isaiah 11:2
Spirit of Life Romans 8:2
Spirit of Lord God Isaiah 61:1
Spirit of Might Isaiah 11:2
Spirit of Prophecy Revelation 19:10
Spirit of the Father Matthew 10:20
Spirit of the Lord Isaiah 11:2
Spirit of the Son Galatians 4:6
Spirit of Understanding Isaiah 11:2
Spirit of Wisdom Isaiah 11:2
Spirit of His mouth 2 Thessalonians 2:8


The Holy Spirit is God (Doctrine of the Trinity)


The Bible clearly teaches that although God is One, He manifests Himself through three distinct personalities.  They are God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.  The word Trinity, just as many other words commonly used to represent doctrine, is not mentioned in the Bible.  But the truth of the Trinity is inductively concluded and proven in many passages from God’s Word.  The plurality of God is seen in the creation of man, when God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, in Our likeness.”  It is seen in the plural form of His name, Elohim.  As the eminent theologian, Lewis Sperry Chafer, states in volume one of his Systematic Theology, It is obvious that, with reference to revelation and in passages too numerous to be adduced, there is clear reference made to distinctions in the Godhead.  The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are constantly named as separate Persons with specific operations said to be wrought by each.  All this appears in narrative, in doctrine, and in worship which is prescribed for the creature in his relation to the Creator.  All the divine attributes as well as the properties of personality are ascribed to each Person of the Godhead with so much certainty and frequency, that the fact of a triune mode of existence cannot be doubted by an unprejudiced mind.  On the other hand, disclosures equally plain and numerous are made which present God as essentially One.  These two averments [positive statements] of the Bible are alike authoritative and, therefore, to the same degree demanding as to their recognition.”


The doctrine of the Trinity is impossible for man’s finite mind to comprehend, but it is enough to know from a “trustworthy source” that the reality of it does in fact exist.  The only argument ever advanced against the concept of the Trinity is that it does not conform to reason.  The limitation therefore exists in the mind of man, but never with God.  For that matter, there are myriad concepts, both scientific and philosophical, that extend beyond the limitations of man’s mind.  Yet, because they are secular in nature, man finds no end of faith in (accepting) them.  The problem of the Trinity rests solely with the nature of man.


Although a convincing case proving the existence of the Trinity may be advanced solely from Old Testament passages, this study will limit its draw to the New Testament.  The Trinity will be seen by (1) the names of God, (2) the attributes of God, (3) the works of God and (4) the worship of God.


  1. The application of God’s name is made with reference to all three Persons of the Godhead.  There is no question of its application to the Father.  The Son is called God in John 1:1; Romans 9:5, Titus 2:13; and 1 John 5:20.  The Holy Spirit is called God in Acts 5:3-9, and He is called Lord in 2 Corinthians 3:17.  The complete designation (including all Persons of the Godhead) is stated as part of the Great Commission in Matthew 28:19.  All three Persons of the Godhead came together at the initiation of Christ’s earthly ministry at His baptism in Matthew 3:16, 17.


  1. The attributes of Deity are ascribed to each person of the Trinity, e.g.,  (a) all powerful (omnipotent)—1 Peter 1:5; 2 Corinthians 12:9; Romans 15:19, (b) all knowing (omniscience)—Jeremiah 17:10; Revelation 2:23; 1 Corinthians 2:11, (c) always and ever present (omnipresence)—Jeremiah 23:24; Matthew 18:20; Psalm 139:7, (d) holiness—Revelation 15:4; Acts 3:14; and numerous passages designating the Spirit as the “Holy Spirit,” (e) truth—John 7:28; Revelation 3:7; 1 John 5:6, (e) benevolence—Romans 2:4; Ephesians 5:25; Nehemiah 9:20, etc.  A comprehensive study of God’s Word indicates that beyond those mentioned all attributes of Deity apply to each person of the Godhead.


  1. Major works of God are ascribed to all three Persons of the Godhead; e.g., (a) creation of the universe—Psalm 102:25; Colossians 1:16; Genesis 1:2; Job 26:13, (b) creation of man—Genesis 2:7; Colossians 1:16; Job 33:4, (c) the inspiration of Scripture—2 Timothy 3:16; 1 Peter 1:10, 11; 2 Peter 1:21, (d) sanctification—Jude 1:1; Hebrews 2:11; 1 Corinthians 6:11, (e) security of the believer—John 10:28, 29; Romans 8:34; Ephesians 4:30, etc.


  1. The Worship of God involves all three Persons of the Godhead.  The angels ascribe worship to three Persons when they say, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts” (Isaiah 6:3), as do the “living creatures” in Revelation 4:8.  Prayer and worship is to be directed to the Father, in the name of the Son and in the enabling power of the Holy Spirit (John 16:23, 24; Ephesians 6:18).  This is seen in the most common benediction of the church, as recorded in 2 Corinthians 13:14.


The Holy Spirit is a Grace-Gift from God


Just as everything that is of benefit to mankind is a grace-gift from God, so also is the Holy Spirit.


Then Peter said to them, "Repent [turn from self to Christ alone by faith alone], and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for [as a result of] the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:38)


Therefore he who rejects this does not reject man, but God, who has also given us His Holy Spirit. (1 Thessalonians 4:8)


But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you . . . . (1 John 2:27)


Now he who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. And by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us. (1 John 3:24)


The Holy Spirit Generated the Physical Birth of Jesus Christ


And the angel answered and said to her, "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. (Luke 1:35)


The Holy Spirit Empowered Christ During His Earthly Ministry


And John bore witness, saying, "I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He remained upon Him. (John 1:32)


The Holy Spirit Vindicated the Deity of Christ During His Earthly Ministry


And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in the flesh, Justified [vindicated or “proven correct”] in [by] the Spirit, Seen by angels, Preached among the Gentiles, Believed on in the world, Received up in glory. (1 Timothy 3:16)


The Holy Spirit Enabled the Sacrifice of Christ on the Cross


How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? (Hebrews 9:14)


The Holy Spirit Enabled Christ to Preach to the Spirits in Prison during His Death


By whom [Holy Spirit] also He went and preached to the spirits in prison. (1 Peter 3:19)


The Holy Spirit Enabled the Resurrection of Jesus Christ


For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit, (1 Peter 3:18)


The Holy Spirit in the Church Age (His Ministries)


Pertaining to the Unsaved


The Holy Spirit Generates the New (Spiritual) Birth of the Believer


  1. Sanctification of the Unsaved by the Holy Spirit


As to His sanctification ministry, the Holy Spirit has a responsibility to the unsaved (“positional sanctification”) and the saved (“progressive sanctification”), which will be covered later in this study.  Positional sanctification refers to the Spirit’s work in bringing an unsaved person to the decision of faith in Jesus Christ as personal Savior.


And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.                              (1 Corinthians 6:11)


That I might be a minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering of the Gentiles might be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.

(Romans 15:16)


The word, “sanctify” in the Greek means “to set apart,” and the word, “sanctification,” applies to the “setting apart process.”  This aspect of the Holy Spirit’s ministry is expressed in 1 Peter 1:2, “Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied”.  A person becomes a believer because he has been elected by God according to His foreknowledge, which election brings the person to “obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ [the salvation experience of faith alone in Christ alone] through [by means of] the sanctification work of the Holy Spirit.  This is further repeated in    2 Thessalonians 2:13, “But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth.”


This sanctification process (pre-salvation work) of the Holy Spirit involves a number of steps.  In John 16:8 Christ says of the coming Holy Spirit, “And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.”  The Holy Spirit brings the unsaved person under the conviction that he is indeed a sinner, that his unbelief is sin, that he can in no way by himself (good works) achieve righteousness, and that without righteousness he is bound for sure and eternal judgment. 


But along with this enlightenment, the Holy Spirit reveals to the unsaved person that Jesus Christ, by means of His sacrifice and resurrection, paid sin’s penalty-price for him, and, if the unsaved person will only accept by faith Jesus Christ as Lord and His substitution work on the cross, Jesus Christ will instantly impart His righteousness to the unsaved person and grant him permanent eternal life.


Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed, and no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit.

(1 Corinthians 12:3)


In addition to the revelation that faith alone in Christ alone is the only path to eternal life (Galatians 3:1-14), the Holy Spirit also enables the unsaved person to exercise such faith as a further grace-gift from God (Ephesians 2:8, 9).  This is accomplished at the very moment that the unsaved person, realizing his lost condition and eventual and sure judgment, makes the conscious decision (of will) to turn (the act of repentance) to Jesus Christ for his personal salvation.  At that very moment, the Holy Spirit makes it possible for the unsaved person to exercise simple and total trust in Jesus Christ for his personal salvation.


  1. Quickening by the Holy Spirit of the unsaved


At that very moment, upon the exercise of faith in Christ by the unsaved person, the Holy Spirit quickens (the spirit within man) or gives spiritual life to the person—establishing him as a “child of God” through the process of the “new birth.”


Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.  That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.  Do not marvel that I said to you, You must be born again.” (John 3:5-7)


It is the Spirit who gives life . . . . (John 6:63)


Man is composed of body, soul and spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:23) at physical birth, yet the spirit is dead as a result of the act of disobedience by Adam in the Garden of Eden soon after creation.  Everyone understands the physical body.  It is man’s contact with the physical world.  The soul contains man’s reason, will and emotions—often referred to in the secular as the “mind.”  The spirit is that inward element of man which allows him direct contact with God.  At physical birth it is dead and dormant.  Upon the positional sanctification of the Spirit of God and a person’s faith alone in Christ alone, the person’s spirit is quickened (made alive) and placed in contact with God Almighty, never to be undone.  This is the second birth of John 3.


Pertaining to the Believer


The Primary Purpose of the Holy Spirit and His Ministries


Various “Christian” denominations and sects place a major emphasis on the Holy Spirit, the “filling of the Holy Spirit,” and manifestations of the Holy Spirit, such as in healings, the speaking of tongues and other charismatic activities and actions.  This is done almost, if not totally, to the exclusion of (1) presenting the gospel of Jesus Christ and (2) His solitary and emphatic commission to His followers to love one another.  Those who follow this path claim that they are led by the Spirit of God.  They attract large crowds, and they put on enormous and flamboyant demonstrations, e.g., religious, healing and revival services.  In most case the focus during these events is centered on the individual hosting the occasion, on apparent healings, the numbers who “walk the aisles” and on the spectacle in music and boisterous preaching.


Unfortunately, many of these performances completely miss the mark.  They are not sponsored or controlled by the Holy Spirit, but by the arrogance and “human-good” (good intentions and deeds born from the sin nature) of man.  The Bible teaches that when the Holy Spirit is in control there is only one Person who is exalted and glorified.  That person is Jesus Christ.  There is only one event in all of history that the Holy Spirit will emphasize.  That event is the sacrifice Jesus Christ made on the cross of Calvary whereupon He took the sins of the world, paid the penalty-price for such sins by suffering spiritual death in the place of every person from all of time.  Not only this, but He gave up His life willingly, was buried, but then proved His Deity by rising from the grave after three days.  The message from the Holy Spirit is always one of grace, which pointedly declares that if anyone by faith alone will accept Jesus Christ and His sacrifice as full payment for his sins (a decision of will), he will have instant eternal life.


Instead of bringing attention to the preacher, to the well-orchestrated oration or to any spectacular display of emotion, the Holy Spirit will center all attention on Jesus Christ.


"But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me. (John 15:26)


"However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.  "He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you.  "All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you.

(John 16:13-15)


You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men; clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart. (2 Corinthians 3:2, 3)


By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God. (1 John 4:2)


Never forget it.  Never drift from the fact that the primary purpose of the Holy Spirit and His ministries is to point the lost world to Jesus Christ.  When the center of focus of any gathering before the lost of the world is about any member of the Trinity other than Jesus Christ, you may be certain that the gathering is not at the direction of the Holy Spirit.  This means that when anyone who conducts a service before the lost of the world only extols God the Father or the Holy Spirit, he is not doing this at the direction of the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit, in regards to the unsaved, is resident in believers to proclaim the Gospel of Grace and to glorify Jesus Christ—and never Himself.


The Absolute Necessity of the Holy Spirit


The key to a successful Christian life is the believer’s understanding of and submission to the third Person of the Trinity, which is God the Holy Spirit.  There is no issue more critical to the believer than this one.  This is seen in the Apostle Paul’s comment to the believers of the local churches at Galatia.


My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you.          (Galatians 4:19)


Here Paul is laboring with every fiber of his body and soul in love and prayers for these Christians who initially started their Christian life in the power of God’s Spirit, but who now, due to an infiltration of certain Judaizers (converted Jews who tended to interpret Christianity in terms of Judaism, with emphasis on the Law), were drifting back to legalism to please God.  At one point Christ was properly being revealed through these believers, but Paul finds that “again” he must labor intensely to bring them back to living the grace-life in the Holy Spirit so that Christ may be glorified in their lives.


The word “formed” in the Greek means to “give outward expression of inner character.”  The verse can accurately be translated, “My children [the diminutive form of the word “child” is not used in this verse], for whom I labor in birth again until Christ be outwardly expressed in you.”  The verb (formed) in this case is in the passive voice, which means that the subject (Christ) of the verb is passive—that is, inactive, but is acted upon by an outside agent.  The significance is that Jesus Christ, who indwells the believer, does not express Himself.  He gives this ministry to the Holy Spirit.  As this study has already and will further indicate, the primary responsibility of the Holy Spirit in regard to the believer upon earth is to venerate, amplify and glorify Jesus Christ—and, this is important, He (the Spirit) will never direct attention to Himself.


It is unfortunate that many well-meaning Christians become confused over this issue.  Having begun in grace and under the Spirit’s control, they are soon encouraged by demonic forces to go back to legalism and to resort to introspection and emotionalism, instead of faith and Bible doctrine, in determining spirituality.  In so doing, they disregard the Holy Spirit’s ministry, which is to take of the things of Christ, to show them to the believer and thereby express them through the believer (John 16:14).  The true Christian life is to reveal Jesus Christ in word and action and nothing more.  If the believer does not have a proper, Bible-based, understanding of and submission to the Holy Spirit, there will be little seen of Jesus Christ in his life.  Without this there may be much emotion, great emphasis on the Holy Spirit, healings and wonders; but there will be little revelation regarding Jesus Christ, His sacrifice on the cross and His love for mankind.


Kenneth S. Wuest, regarding these Galatian Christians, puts it this way.


These are doing their best to live a good Christian life, but their own strength is not equal to the task.  The Holy Spirit does all He can for them under the circumstances.  Their lives are certainly different from what they were before they were saved.  There has been a right-about-face.  There is a certain amount of victory over sin.  They enjoy the things of God.  But as for their lives radiating the Lord Jesus, there is very little of that.  The Lord Jesus dwelling in their hearts, will not give outward expression of Himself in their lives.  He has given that ministry over to the Holy Spirit.  And if the Holy Spirit is not recognized and depended upon for this work, He simply cannot perform it, for, just as Jesus never saves a person until that person recognizes Him as Savior and by an act of his own free will puts his trust in Him, so the Holy Spirit is waiting for the Christian to recognize His ministry, and by an act of his free will, trust Him to perform it.


(And then he makes these most cogent remarks)


The Galatian Christians fell from that state of dependence upon the Holy Spirit.  Most Christians have never been in that state, and therefore have not fallen from it, but because of their ignorance of this teaching, are not the recipients of His work.  It would have been well if the one who introduced them to the Savior had then introduced them as well to the Holy Spirit.  But alas, too often the soul winner himself is not in possession of the teaching of and experience in the ministry of the Spirit to the saint.

(Untranslatable Riches from the Greek New Testament)


This study from this point on will endeavor to, at a minimum, introduce to the student of God’s Word the various ministries of the Holy Spirit as they are to be understood by and as they relate to the believer in Jesus Christ.


(Note:  Many of the following ministries take place at the moment of salvation.  Some are unilateral in nature, but some are cooperative between the believer and the Holy Spirit.  The “unilateral ministries” will be discussed prior to the “cooperative ministries.”)




The Believer is Anointed with the Holy Spirit


This happens at the moment of salvation and is permanent.  Of the two Greek words, aleipho and chrio, used in the New Testament and translated “anoint,” it is only the latter one that is used of the anointing of the Holy Spirit.  It is also used in secular writings for the application of a lotion to a sick animal, but in the Bible it is never used in connection to secular matters.  In Scripture it is confined to “sacred and symbolical anointing,” and it always refers to the application of something for a specific purpose.  In this regard it may be understood as an “empowerment,” and as an action that renders the anointed one as “holy or separated unto God.”  It parallels the anointing of priests in the Old Testament (Exodus 29:7), a symbolic action instituted by God as part of the consecration ceremony establishing Aaron’s sons as permanent priests of God.


Jesus was anointed by God with the Holy Spirit for the purposes of (1) identifying Him as Deity and (2) empowering Him for His earthly ministry, including His work on the cross of Calvary.  The Holy Spirit was a factor in our Lord’s life in the sense that He depended upon the Holy Spirit to accomplish God’s plan; so in this, Jesus Christ is the believer’s example in how to relate to the Spirit of God.


How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God [by means of the Holy Spirit] was with Him. (Acts 10:38)


The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, Because He [God the Father] 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.                             (Luke 4:18; Isaiah 61:1)


The believer, at the moment of salvation, is also anointed with the Holy Spirit for the purposes of (1) revealing Jesus Christ to the world and (2) for empowerment to withstand evil and become (progressively) sanctified (set apart as holy) unto God.


Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee. (2 Corinthians 1:21, 22)


But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things. (1 John 2:20)


But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him. (1 John 2:27)


It is interesting to note that the word translated “abides” in this verse means to abide in the sense of “to remain.”  Thus, the Holy Spirit never leaves the believer, which is further proof (see the study on Security of the Believer on that the believer is saved forever—never to be lost or unsaved again.


Kenneth S. Wuest has a very important point regarding the anointing of the believer.


The anointing with the Spirit forms the basis of all His ministry to and in behalf of the believer.  Let us remember that it is potential in its nature.  The mere indwelling of the Spirit does not guarantee the full efficacy of His work in us, since that indwelling is not automatic in its nature.  God’s ideal for the indwelling of the Spirit is found in the word translated “caused to take up His residence.”  Its root is in the word “home.”  The Spirit was sent to the believer’s heart to make His home there.  That means that the Christian must make Him feel at home.  He can do that by giving the Holy Spirit absolute liberty of action in his heart, the home in which He lives.  This means that the believer is to yield himself, all of himself, to the Spirit’s control, depend upon the Spirit for guidance, teaching, strength.  Then will the potential power resident in the presence of the Spirit in the heart of the believer be operative in his life.

(Untranslatable Riches from the Greek New Testament)


The Believer is Baptized into the Body of Christ (United with Christ) by the Holy Spirit


This happens at the moment of salvation and is permanent.  The Greek word, baptizo, is not translated in the English Bible.  The English words, “baptize” and “baptism,” are transliterations.  In translation the meaning of the word or words is brought over from one language to another; in transliteration the spelling is brought over.  To understand the meaning of a particular word, it is advantageous to look at how it is used in various writings, both religious and secular, during the time that it was used in the original text under consideration. 


To avoid duplicating a lengthy study in regards to the word, baptizo, the student is directed to Untranslatable Riches from the Greek New Testament, by Kenneth S. Wuest, to Vine’s Concise Dictionary of Bible Words by W.E. Vine, to The Complete Word Study Dictionary—New Testament by Spiros Zodhiates, Th.D., and to The New Strong’s Complete Dictionary of Bible Words by James Strong, LL.D., S.T.D.  A review of these works will show that the word, baptizo, means “to place into,” “to introduce into,” “to dip,” “to submerge,” and/or “to overwhelm.”  Another Greek word is used to convey the meaning, sprinkle, e.g., the Septuagint, Leviticus 4:6.


Understanding the meaning of the word, attention will now be directed to the various passages that disclose that the believer is baptized in (placed into) the Body of Christ, or in other words, united spiritually with Jesus Christ.  In studying these passages it is well to remember that Christianity is not a religion.  Religion is a system of beliefs, customs, procedures and practices accomplished by man to achieve the approbation (approval) of God.  On the other hand, Christianity is a spiritual union or relationship with a living Person, the Lord Jesus Christ, in which God through the Holy Spirit accomplishes what man can never do, which is to live in a manner pleasing to God.  This all begins at the moment of salvation, when a person by faith alone accepts Christ alone as his personal Savior.


For 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. (1 Corinthians 12:13)


Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?  Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.  For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. (Romans 6:3-6)


For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. (Galatians 3:27)


"For John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now." (Acts 1:5)


I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with [by means of] the Holy Spirit and fire. (Matthew 3:11, also Mark 1:8)


The Bible teaches that at the moment of salvation, the believer is instantaneously and permanently introduced into (united with) the Body of Christ.  This is a spiritual union transacted by the Holy Spirit between the believer and that mystical body of which Christ Jesus is the Head and all believers from Pentecost to the Rapture are members.  An important distinction must be made regarding this matter.  This is not a baptism “with or of” the Spirit, in the sense that the Holy Spirit is the element that is applied to the believer.  It is a baptism “by” the Spirit, which brings the believer into vital union with Jesus Christ. 


This being the case, the “baptism by the Spirit” is not for “power,” since this baptism gives or applies nothing to the believer.  God the Father, through His personal Agent, the Holy Spirit, spiritually and permanently unites the believer with Christ.  The emphasis is on unification and not empowerment.


This understanding may lead to confusion when one reads Matthew 3:11 (see above), where the reader is prone to see John the Baptist comparing water (the element in which one is baptized) with the Holy Spirit.  The English translation of this verse leads to the conclusion that the Holy Spirit is the element with which one is baptized by Christ.  But a study of the Greek text in light of Greek grammatical rule indicates that the Holy Spirit is in fact the divine Agent who Himself baptizes, the purpose of which is to place the believer into vital union with the Body of Christ.  For a thorough treatment of this passage in the original language, see Untranslatable Riches of the Greek New Testament by Kenneth S. Wuest (long time Greek scholar at the Moody Bible Institute, Chicago, Illinois).


The Believer is Indwelt by the Holy Spirit


This happens at the moment of salvation and is permanent.  In addition to anointing the Christian and baptizing him into the Body of Christ, the Holy Spirit takes up residence in the believer.  According to some Greek scholars, Wuest in particular, this indwelling has its root in the word, “home,” and is best understood as “making oneself at home.”  The idea is that although the Holy Spirit never departs the believer, He can either be made to “feel at home” or “not feel at home.” 


This then would be similar to the “fullness of or being controlled by the Spirit,” which will follow.  If this is in fact the case, i.e., the quality of “indwelling” being changeable, then it rests upon the believer to affect the difference.  This will be covered in the section on the fullness of or control by the Holy Spirit.


"He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water."  But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. (John 7:38, 39)


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. (John 14:17)


But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. (Romans 8:9)


Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?

(1 Corinthians 3:16)


Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? (1 Corinthians 6:19)


And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, "Abba, Father!" (Galatians 4:6)


But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you . . . . (1 John 2:27)

Now he who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. And by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us. (1 John 3:24)


Without doubt God would have the believer to understand that on the day of salvation the Holy Spirit entered and made His abode in him.  In this regard and in accordance with (the above) 1 Corinthians 3:16, it is important for each believer to know with absolute certainty that no matter where he goes, what he does or what he thinks or speaks, the Holy Spirit is there to experience the same.  And since the Holy Spirit is in fact the Deity, it stands to reason that whatever the believer does, thinks, says, or wherever he goes, God is no less with him to experience the same.  A very sobering thought!


The Believer is Sealed with and by the Holy Spirit


This happens at the moment of salvation and is permanent.  In fact, this is what makes salvation eternal, or, to put it another way, this is what secures the believer for all eternity.  Once a person truly (by faith alone) accepts Christ as personal Savior, he can never go back to a “lost” condition.  He is saved and he will stay saved. 


The “security of the believer” doctrine is hotly contested by several religions and should the student of this study wish to investigate it more fully, see the study entitled “Security of the Believer” in the topical Bible study section on the web site,


The fact is that once the Holy Spirit anoints, enters (indwells) and baptizes the believer, He also seals the believer until the day of his “completed redemption.”  This doesn’t preclude the believer from limiting the Holy Spirit’s influence in his life, nor does it preclude the believer from committing sin.  It only insures that eventually the believer will end up in heaven at the side of Jesus Christ.


Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee. (2 Corinthians 1:22)


Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. (2 Corinthians 5:5)


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.

(Ephesians 1, 13, 14)


And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

(Ephesians 4:30)


At the moment of salvation faith, the believer is instantaneously sealed by God utilizing the Holy Spirit as both the instrument of sealing and the seal Himself.  This is God’s way of locking up His precious package for all eternity with a spiritual lock composed of God Himself.  This is the believer’s (the “purchased position”—by the blood of Christ on the cross) guarantee of his inheritance, which is that he will be redeemed before God to the praise of God’s glory.


The Believer is Adopted by God by means of the Holy Spirit


This happens at the moment of salvation and is permanent.  Upon receiving Christ as personal Savior, the believer receives the “Spirit of Adoption” and thereby inherits all the riches and benefits of being a genuine child of God.


For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, "Abba, Father."  The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs--heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.  For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. (Romans 8:15-18)


The Greek word, huiothesia, translated “adoption,” from huios, “a son,” and thesis, “a placing,” signifies to place as a son with someone to whom he does not naturally belong.  Hence huiothesia is never affirmed of Christ—for He alone is the natural Son of God.  But as with Roman law, this term applies to every “born again” child of God—meaning that a son so adopted had in its entirety the position of a child by birth, with all the rights, privileges and obligations pertaining to such a birth.


But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.  And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, "Abba, Father!" Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ. (Galatians 4:4-7)


The believer’s relationship to God as a “son of God” is based on the grace of God, a right secured by the payment Christ Jesus made on the cross of Calvary some 2,000 plus years ago.  Because of this, the Holy Spirit who lives within each child of God bears witness with the believer’s spirit enabling the believer to claim God as Father.  This is a relationship with a beginning but with never an ending.


The Believer is Granted Personal Access to God by the Holy Spirit


This happens at the moment of salvation and is permanent.  Based on the all the ministries previously discussed, the believer has a personal relationship and continuous access to God the Father.  It is an access that was secured by Christ and since Christ, the natural Son, has access to the Father, so each believer, as an adopted son, has this access to the Father.  Each believer, as a co-equal member of the “household of God, may go freely before the Father’s presence at any time and without appointment.


For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.  Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God. (Ephesians 2:18, 19)


The Believer is Provided One or More Spiritual Gifts by the Holy Spirit


This happens at the moment of salvation and is permanent; although, the development of this gift is a cooperative effort between the believer and the Holy Spirit.  Every believer is “called of God” to emulate Jesus Christ in his life and to devote himself to a life of service to God.  To emulate Christ by service to God, the Holy Spirit distributes at least one gift to every believer.  He may in fact grant more than one or many gifts to the believer, as was the case with the Apostle Paul.


For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ has not accomplished through me, in word and deed, to make the Gentiles obedient-- in mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God, so that from Jerusalem and round about to Illyricum I have fully preached the gospel of Christ. (Romans 15:18, 19)


And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power. (1 Corinthians 2:4)


There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.  There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord.  And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all.  But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.  But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills. (1 Corinthians 12:4-11)


The believer’s gift may be one of effectively presenting the gospel (soul-winning), it may be one of teaching God’s Word (doctrine) or it may be one of organization and leadership in financial matters as they relate to the local church.  The gift may be one of writing, of preaching, or a number of other myriad talents.  But all gifts are given by the Holy Spirit and are the soul purpose of glorifying Jesus Christ and building the Body of Christ.


The proper and effective utilization of God’s gift varies directly with the degree the believer allows the Holy Spirit to fill (control) his life.  The use of the gift depends on the believer’s confession of known sins and continuous dependency (in faith) upon the Holy Spirit to use the gift to the glory of Christ.


The Believer Receives Fruit of the Holy Spirit


Closely associated with the gifts of the Spirit are the fruits of the Spirit.  Not only does a believer obtain ministering gifts from the Holy Spirit, he will also, when controlled by the Spirit, reflect the fruits of the Spirit.  They are love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, righteousness, gentleness, self-control, hope [confidence], wisdom, truth and faith (Galatians 5:5, 22, 23; 2 Corinthians 4:13, 14; Romans 5:5; 15:13, 30; Ephesians 1:17-21; 5:9 and Colossians 1:8).


The Believer will be Resurrected or Changed by the Holy Spirit


The Holy Spirit quickened (made alive) the physical body of Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit will also quicken or change the physical bodies of all believers at the Rapture.  See 1 Corinthians 15:35-56 and 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18.


And since we have the same Spirit of faith, according to what is written, "I believed and therefore I spoke," we also believe and therefore speak, knowing that He who raised up the Lord Jesus will also raise us up with Jesus, and will present us with you. (2 Corinthians 4:13, 14)




(Note:  By “cooperative,” it is meant that it takes an active participation by the believer for these ministries to be fully administered.  This is the reason for the word, “may” as used in all titles.)


The Believer (may) be Controlled (“Filled”) by the Holy Spirit


This study will consider the “filling or fullness of the Holy Spirit” as the first of the “cooperative ministries,” since it is probably the one most mentioned, most abused and most misunderstood.  Furthermore and at the end of this segment, specific actions will be delineated that, if taken, will insure the “fullness of the Holy Spirit” in the believer’s life.


The Apostle Paul instructs Christians to be “filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18), to “walk in the Spirit” (Galatians 5:16), and to be “led by the Spirit” (Galatians 5:18)—all such designations indicating the same thing.  So what does it mean to be filled by, walk in and to be led by the Spirit of God?  A detailed study of the words in various Greek-English lexicons and under the tutelage of several Greek scholars reveals clearly that these words, especially the words, “filled” and “fullness,” are best translated “controlled by.”


So instead of thinking of the Holy Spirit as a mystical substance that comes and goes, filling a believer as water fills a bottle, the Holy Spirit must be understood as a Person who may control (use) the believer in Christian service to glorify Jesus Christ.  In fact, in the best known verse regarding this issue, Ephesians 5:18, Paul says, And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit.  Paul compares the state of being drunk with wine as the same type of state when filled by the Spirit of God.  In essence he is saying that instead of being controlled by an over indulgence in alcohol, the believer should be controlled by the Spirit of God.  The order is always the Person of the Spirit using the believer and never the other way around.


Since the Spirit of God indwells the believer upon the salvation experience, one may understand that at that specific moment the believer is in fact filled or controlled by Him.  Unfortunately due to the young believer’s ignorance of Bible doctrine along with Satan’s attempts to immediately destroy the believer’s testimony and spiritual development, the young believer sins, failing to take God’s remedy for known sin in his life, and also fails to understand the necessity for faith (as in the salvation experience) in order to live the “Spirit-filled” Christian life.  This being the case, the young Christian usually experiences a variety of failures and may even take several prodigal journeys before God through various means brings him back into proper spiritual fellowship.


To reemphasize, there are no Scriptural grounds or examples for tarrying or praying for the fullness of the Spirit.  They tarried at Pentecost, but only for the Person of the Spirit.  Nowhere in the Bible will you find anyone waiting and praying for the “fullness of the Spirit.”  Once the Person of the Spirit came, He came in all His fullness—as a complete Person.  Once a person accepts Christ as Savior, the Spirit comes completely and indwells the believer.  It then is only a matter of how controlling the Spirit is in the believer’s life.  It is true that there are cases recorded in the book of Acts where the Spirit came as a result of the “laying on of hands” (Acts 8:17; 19:6), but these were all events of transition involving matters consistent with the new dispensation, usually requiring the laying on of hands for proper identification before the Spirit could be given.  There is no such requirement today.


The Believer’s Protocol for the Fullness of the Holy Spirit


The filling of or control by the Holy Spirit should be a daily and normal experience in the Christian’s life.  It is never based on feeling or ecstatic emotions.  It is not something to agonize over, nor is it something that requires lengthy hours in prayer.  In fact, if anyone is in agony over a believer being controlled by God’s Spirit, it is the Holy Spirit Himself.  In James 4:5, it states, “Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, ‘The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously’?”  The meaning of the verse, verified by Greek exposition and a study of the context, is that the Spirit of God passionately desires to have control over the thoughts, words and deeds of these believers who, on the contrary, were allowing their sin nature to have sway in their lives.  The Holy Spirit is in constant agony regarding His responsibility in controlling and sanctifying the believer to a higher plane of spirituality.  The bottom line is that He wants to provide in, through and for us what we are helpless to do ourselves—which is to live a life pleasing and committed to Jesus Christ.


So what can the believer do in order to insure a continuous fullness of (control by) the Spirit of God?  It is not to spend hours in prayer begging God for His fullness.  It is not working oneself up into an emotional state or depriving oneself in various self-sacrificial decisions.  In brief, it is not a protocol of “works.”  Amazingly, it is a procedure quite similar to the way a person is saved.  This should be of no surprise, since all goodness from God to man is of grace and is based on His Word.  The steps follow.


First, the believer must realize that sin is the only hindrance to the Spirit’s control in the believer’s life.  There is one remedy for sin in the believer’s life, and it is found stated most clearly in the book of 1 John.


If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)


An expositional examination of this verse, using the original Greek language as a basis, renders this verse unmistakably, as follows.


If we admit to and take responsibility for our known sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our known sins and to cleanse us from all unknown and forgotten sins.


Daily, as God reveals our sins to us, we are to admit to Him and take responsibility for these sins.  We are to offer no excuses or fallacious rationale for the way we have behaved.  This is in direct contrast to present day methodology where no one is ever at fault for their wrong doings, since these can always be blamed on something else, such as genealogy or environment.  On the other hand, God would have us be mature in our approach to Him and “own up” to those sins we know that we have committed.  This is not particularly an emotional “crying out” over a protracted period of time for God’s forgiveness; although, we will surely be sorry for having committed sin against God.  It is in a brief moment of time simply “taking God at His Word” (an act of faith) and believing that when we confess or admit to Him the sin, He instantly forgives us the sin.  At this point there should be no doubt that He has done just that.  The point is that immediately when you confess your known sins to God, you are to understand (believe) they have been totally forgiven (wiped out).  You are not to then belabor the point with God.  To bring them up to Him again is to doubt His Word and thereby His character.


Not only does He forgive your known sins upon your confession of them, but He also promises that He will cleanse you (forgive you) of those sins you cannot remember or have never understood as sin—all unrighteousness.  To say it succinctly, He wipes the slate clean.  At the moment of this forgiveness, you have removed all road blocks that would impede the full flow of God’s Spirit (John 7:38, 39) in your person and life.  Yet, there is one more step for the believer to take to insure this flow.


Second, just as in the act of salvation, the believer is to accept God’s Spirit and His control by faith alone.


As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him. (Colossians 2:6)


An examination of this one verse within its context reveals that the principle in the Christian life is not of self-generated works or good deeds, but it is of “faith.”  Just as a person can only be saved by “faith,” so is that person to live the Spirit-controlled life for Jesus Christ only by faith.  If the believer feels he must do it himself, he is going back to legalism, and works or “human good” can never please God or achieve any of His objectives.  Once a Christian rids known (and unknown) sin from his life, he then only has to believe (have faith in) God’s Word, which says that the Spirit will control him.  This will not be accompanied by a rush of emotion (euphoric state) or some mystical experience fraught with unknown words or confusing gyrations.  It will be a calm and sure revelation of God, through His Holy Spirit, living righteously through the body of the believer.


Kenneth S. Wuest says it this way.


The believer is exhorted, “Be filled with the Spirit” (Eph. 5:18), or as we have translated it, “Be controlled by the Spirit.”  The tendency of the unsaved person is seen in the words of the hymn, “I was a wandering sheep, I did not love the fold, I did not love my Shepherd’s voice, I would not be controlled.”  This tendency is broken when a sinner is saved, in that God breaks the power of the sinful nature, which nature had exerted absolute control over him, and gives him His own divine nature.  The believer is then exhorted to be controlled by the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit’s ministry is to maintain in the actual experience of the Christian, that which God did for him the moment He saved him.  The Holy Spirit suppresses the activities of the evil nature whose power was broken, and produces His fruit in the life.  The very fact that an individual is exhorted to do something, demands as a logical accompaniment, that person’s exercise of his will in the doing of that thing.  That is, the believer here is not automatically controlled by the Spirit just because the Spirit indwells him.  The control which the Spirit exerts over the believer is dependent upon the believer’s active and correct adjustment to the Spirit.  The Lord Jesus did not save us until we recognized Him as the Savior and put our trust in Him for salvation.  Just so, the Holy Spirit does not control us in the sense of permeating our will, reason, and emotions, until we recognize Him as the One who has been sent by the Father to sanctify our lives, and trust Him to perform His ministry in and through us.  There must be an ever present conscious dependence upon and definite subjection to the Holy Spirit, a constant yielding to His ministry and leaning upon Him for guidance and power, if He is to control the believer in the most efficient manner and with the largest and best results.  The Lord Jesus waited for you and me to recognize Him as Savior before He saved us.  The Holy Spirit indwelling a believer is waiting to be recognized as the One to come to that believer’s aid.  Salvation is by faith from start to finish.  It is a work of God for man.  But God waits for man, unsaved or saved as the case might be, to avail himself of the salvation he needs, by means of faith.


(Untranslatable Riches from the Greek New Testament.)


There is nothing more to add.  There are only two steps for the Christian in achieving the Spirit-controlled life.  They are the confession of sins and the acceptance of control by faith.  Both steps require the Christian to believe (acts of faith in) God’s Word and therefore the process is totally one of grace through faith.


The Believer (may) be Sanctified by the Holy Spirit


As mentioned previously in this study, the Holy Spirit has a dual role when it comes to sanctification.  He performs “positional sanctification” on the unbeliever by bringing him to eventual saving faith in Jesus Christ.  The Holy Spirit also performs “progressive sanctification” in the believer, which is His effort to increasingly mold the believer into the image of Jesus Christ.  It is God’s way, utilizing His Spirit resident in each believer, in setting the believer apart, as a holy vessel pleasing to Him.


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.                (2 Corinthians 3:18)


Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. (2 Corinthians 4:16)


Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.  (1 Thessalonians 5:23)


The progressive sanctification ministry of the Holy Spirit is specifically designed to combat sin in the believer’s life and to bring the believer into a purer state of holiness.  But as other “cooperative ministries” of the Holy Spirit, e.g., the fullness of the Spirit, the fellowship of the Spirit, He is only able to accomplish this ministry in cooperation with the will of the believer.  As the believer is judicious in confessing any known sins in his life and as he depends (a submission of faith) upon the Holy Spirit for this ministry, the Holy Spirit is enabled to progressively transform and renew the believer into the image of Christ.


It is important to note that the primary way the Holy Spirit sanctifies or sets a believer apart unto a life of holiness is through Bible doctrine.  If Bible doctrine is not resident within the believer’s soul, the Holy Spirit is limited in His ability to influence the believer to higher plateaus of spiritual maturity.  It is therefore critical that a believer submerge himself in God’s Word.  Nothing will take its place.  If a believer is to know the “mind of Christ,” he must regularly study Bible doctrine.  This was a specific prayer of Christ.


Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.

 (John 17:17)


The Believer (may) have Fellowship and Communion with the Holy Spirit


The Bible informs the believer that he may have fellowship and communion with the Holy Spirit.  Of course the degree of this fellowship and communion is in direct proportion to the believer being controlled by God’s Spirit.


Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. (Philippians 2:1, 2)


The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. (2 Corinthians 13:14)


The question is, “What is meant by the fellowship and communion of the Holy Spirit?”  Both words are a translation of the same Greek word, koinonia, and its meaning is somewhat different than the present day’s understanding of the words fellowship and communion.  In today’s environment these words are more centered on the social aspects of these words, i.e., a gathering together for the sole purpose of enjoying each other’s company, a relationship centered on companionship, friendliness and sociability.  This is far from the meaning of this word in the New Testament.  The reader is directed to an expanded definition of this Greek word in Vine’s Concise Dictionary of Bible Words by W. E. Vine and to a most detailed study of the word in Untranslatable Riches from the Greek New Testament by Kenneth S. Wuest.  Both references, and others, agree that the meaning of the word has the following meaning, “a joint-participation, belonging in common to, a partnership, association, intercourse, sharing, a relation between individuals which involves a common interest, a mutual purpose and a mutual active participation in that interest and purpose, as well as in each other.”


Therefore when one speaks of being in fellowship or communion with the Holy Spirit, it is not for companionship or the sharing of a friendship.  Many go astray when they seek association with the Holy Spirit as an end in itself.  Doing this, they open themselves up to the snares of Satan and the influence of evil spirits.  The New Testament has no such fellowship or companionship with anyone that would be on par with that which the believer shares with Jesus Christ.  Remember, the Holy Spirit’s mission (purpose) is to call attention to Jesus Christ, to glorify the Son of God, and never Himself.  The Holy Spirit will always keep Himself in the background, while He insures that Jesus Christ is always central in the life of the saint.


The fellowship or communion with the Holy Spirit is a joint-participation with Him in carrying out the objectives of the plan of God to the lost and to the saved of the world.  To be in fellowship or communion with the Holy Spirit is to be in “partnership” with Him in reaching the unsaved for Jesus Christ and in contributing to the progressive and continual sanctification of those who are saved.


Again, Kenneth S. Wuest says it most meaningfully.


Therefore, when Paul speaks of a certain fellowship of the Holy Spirit that obtains in the lives of the saints, he refers to the relationship between the Spirit and the saints which involves a common interest and a mutual, active participation in that interest.  That is, as the result of the Spirit’s work in regeneration and in His control over the saint as the saint is definitely subjected to Him, there has been brought about in the life of the saint, a joint-participation on the part of the believer with the Holy Spirit in an interest and a mutual and active participation in the things of God and the work of God in saving lost souls.  It is a partnership, so to speak between God and the believer.  Paul speaks of this in the words, “We are laborers together with God (1 Cor. 3:9).  Another interest held in common is the Christian life and testimony of the believer.  The Holy Spirit is desirous of producing the highest type of Christian experience in the life of the believer, and the believer has the same interest, and shows it by maintaining an attitude of dependence upon and trust in the Holy Spirit to produce that life in him.  This fellowship is a co-operation on the part of the saint with the Holy Spirit in His work of sanctification.  When Paul in his apostolic benediction prays that the communion of the Holy Ghost be with all the saints, he is asking that this mutual interest and activity may continue and become more rich and effective in the lives of the saints.


In brief, the believer’s fellowship and communion with the Holy Spirit isn’t a “buddy-buddy” relationship, which often characterizes earthly relationships between humans.  It is more of a “business relationship,” in which the believer maintains a close and actively working partnership with the Holy Spirit in the accomplishment of God’s plan.  Other cogent passages of Scripture that bear on this subject are Acts 2:42; Galatians 2:9; 1 Corinthians 1:9; 10:16; 2 Corinthians 6:14; 8:4; 9:13; Philippians 1:5; 3:10; 1 John 1:3, 6, 7; Philemon 6; Romans 15:26; Hebrews 13:16.


The Believer (may) be Instructed in Learning Bible Doctrine by the Holy Spirit


One of the primary responsibilities of the Holy Spirit in cooperation with the believer is the teaching and leaning of Bible doctrine.  It is of utmost importance that the believer, no matter his stage of spiritual maturity, continues to be formed into the image of Christ.  To do this, he must progressively achieve a deeper understanding of the “mind of Christ;” and, in order for this to occur, he must learn Bible doctrine.  Fortunately, for the one who is easily bored with the mundane and shallow, this will not be the case in this activity.  It will be an exciting and never-ending experience.  It will be one that will challenge the believer from the day of his conversion until the day he stands before Jesus Christ in heaven.  But the believer must know that it is only by studying in the “fullness of the Spirit” (under the Spirit’s control) that he will be able to rightfully divide and comprehend the Word of Truth.


But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. (John 14:26)


But as it is written: Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him."  But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.  For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God.  Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.  These things we also speak, not in words which man's wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. (1 Corinthians 2:9-13)


Study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth. (2 Timothy 2:15)


That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. (Ephesians 1:17-21)


Nothing takes the place of studying God’s Word.  In fact, believers today are able to learn the “mind of Christ” even more completely than the early apostles who walked with Jesus while He was on earth.  Today the believer has the complete and infallible canon of Scripture, authored by none other than God the Holy Spirit.  Not only this, but He is available at the believer’s call to instruct the believer in His holy Word.


The Bible is composed of 66 separate books written by the Holy Spirit through 40 plus different human authors.  It is one integrated whole and centered around one event, a love letter from God written over 2,000 years ago on an old Roman rugged cross, on a peak called Golgatha on Mount Moriah in Jerusalem.  That love letter (event) was the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, whereby He paid for the sins of the world in order that whosoever by faith alone would receive Him would gain eternal life.  The Bible details the beginning of the heavens and the earth and man all the way to the eventual new heavens and new earth on which man will eventually reign with Jesus Christ.  It is a very comprehensive record, and one that only the Holy Spirit can adequately teach.  Why the Holy Spirit?


  1. Because He is the Author of the Bible.  Acts 1:16; Ephesians 3:5
  2. Because He is the Author of prophecy.  John 16:13; 1 Timothy 4:1; 1 Peter 1:10, 11; 2 Peter 1:21
  3. Because He is truth.  John 14:16, 17; 16:13; 1 John 2:27; 5:6-8
  4. Because He is God.  2 Corinthians 3:17, 18


A recommendation from the author of this study:  Secure a copy of Learn the Bible in 24 Hours by Dr. Chuck Missler (  You will not regret it.


The Believer (may) be Directed by the Holy Spirit


As the believer is controlled by the Holy Spirit, he will be directed (time and place) by the Holy Spirit.  Acts 8:29, 39; 10:19, 20; 11:12; 13:2; 21:4


The Believer (may) be Assisted in Worshipping God by the Holy Spirit


As the believer is controlled by the Holy Spirit, he will be assisted in his worship of God the Father.


"But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.  "God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth." (John 4:23, 24)


For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. (Philippians 3:3)


The most frequently used Greek word in the New Testament that is translated “worship,” and is used in the first passage above, is proskuneo.  This word is composed of the Greek words, pros, “towards,” and kuneo, “to kiss.”  This indicates that true worship is having genuine devotion toward God, an activity that is only possible when we are assisted by the Holy Spirit.  The Greek word for “worship” used in the second passage is latreuo, meaning “to render service or homage.”  This indicates that true worship involves serving God, and again, this is an activity that is only possible when we are assisted by the Holy Spirit.  True worship relies on being controlled by the Spirit of God.


The Believer (may) be Assisted in Prayer by the Holy Spirit


Just as in worshipping God, being directed by God and being instructed in God’s Word are all contingent upon being controlled by the Spirit of God; so also is an effectual prayer life for the believer.


And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints. (Ephesians 6:17, 18)


But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit. (Jude 20)


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.  Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God. (Romans 8:26, 27)


The word for “helps” in the above passage literally means in the Greek, “to lend a hand together with, and at the same time with one.”  This goes hand-in-hand with the true concept of fellowship and communion with the Holy Spirit.  The believer’s prayer life is a partnership with the Spirit of God.  He lends each believer a “helping hand” in not only knowing what to pray for, but in knowing how to pray for it.  Additionally, and since the Holy Spirit knows the believer even better than the believer knows himself, the Holy Spirit intercedes for each believer before God in accordance with the will of God.  This means not only that it is God’s will that the Holy Spirit looks after the believer and prays for him, but that each prayer is structured in total conformity to God’s plan for the believer’s life.  Because of this, Paul then can say in verse 28, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”


The Believer’s Faith (may) be Strengthened by the Holy Spirit


The Christian life is a life of faith—not works.  True works are the result of faith.  The principle of faith is of critical importance in living righteously for Jesus Christ.  It is not uncommon for a person, once “born again” by faith, to start the “Christian journey” on faith, only to lapse back again into legalism and works.  Legalism or the need to do good works or deeds by one’s human power leads only to self-inflation (exaggerated ego or pride) and is ultimately and completely self-defeating to the spiritual life.  It is important that a believer should “want” to live for Christ, not feel that he “has” to live for Him.  The difference pivots on whether or not the Christian is living by faith—for to live by faith is to be controlled by the Holy Spirit.  The believer must look away from himself and look only to the Holy Spirit to live the life of Jesus Christ through him.  And this is a product of faith—not “human good.”


And even in this, the Holy Spirit helps the believer, that is, the Holy Spirit helps the believer to understand what is and to “muster” (draw from within and exercise) the proper faith.  Again, this goes hand-in-hand with being controlled by the Holy Spirit.


And since we have the same Spirit of faith, according to what is written, "I believed and therefore I spoke," we also believe and therefore speak. (2 Corinthians 4:13)


For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God. (Ephesians 2:8)


For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. (Galatians 5:5)


That He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith . . . . (Ephesians 3:16, 17)


A Few Additional Facts Regarding the Holy Spirit


The Grieving and Quenching of the Holy Spirit


The Holy Spirit is a Person.  He has feelings just as humans have feelings.  He is God (the third Person of the Trinity) and He created mankind in His image.  Part of the image is the soul, that aspect of man that embodies reasoning, will and emotion (feelings).  Because the believer has feelings, he can relate to the following two passages.


And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. (Ephesians 4:30)


Do not quench the Spirit. (1 Thessalonians 5:19)


In the Greek, the meaning of “grieve,” lupeo, is “to cause pain and sorrow.”   The meaning of “quench,” sbennumi, is “to hinder.”  In regards to these issues, the believer can affect the cooperative ministries of the Holy Spirit in his life.  Both grieving and  quenching the Holy Spirit are the result of sin in the believer’s life.  This is why it is critical for the believer to utilize the formula in 1 John 1:9 on a daily basis.  The believer must confess all known sin, so that God may forgive all known and unknown sin in the believer’s life.  Then when this limiting factor, which can cause pain to the Spirit of God, is out of the way, the believer may by faith be filled (controlled) by God’s Spirit and empowered for spiritual life.


The Blaspheming of the Holy Spirit


"Assuredly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they may utter; "but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is subject to eternal condemnation" -- because they said, "He has an unclean spirit." (Mark 3:28-30)


Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed, and no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit. (1 Corinthians 12:13)


Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace? (Hebrews 10:29)


The sin of “blaspheme against the Holy Spirit” is a sin that only an unsaved person can commit.  It relates to the person and work of Jesus Christ, and most specifically, it is refusing the Holy Spirit’s convicting power in testifying that Jesus Christ is God and that His sacrifice on the cross of Calvary is efficacious (effectual) for the forgiveness of sin.  Once a person turns down the workings of the Holy Spirit, which is attempting to bring him to Christ, there is no forgiveness of sin and only eternal damnation ahead.  The Bible is unclear as to whether a person may blaspheme against the Holy Spirit more than once, but this is entirely possible, i.e., the unsaved may do so until the door of physical death.  At that point, there is no more hope.


The Holy Spirit and the Antichrist


And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming. (2 Thessalonians 2:8)


It is encouraging to know that when the Antichrist (lawless one) is eventually revealed upon earth’s stage in accordance with copious prophecy throughout God’s Word, and the time appears to be quite near, he will eventually be destroyed by the breath (Spirit) that comes out of the mouth of Christ.  Victory over Satan and all his forces has been predetermined and is certain.  Eternal bliss for all believers in Jesus Christ is preordained.


1 John 5:6-8 (An Exposition)


This is He who came by water and blood--Jesus Christ; not only by water, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who bears witness, because the Spirit is truth.  For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are One.  And there are three that bear witness on earth: the Spirit, the water, and the blood; and these three agree as one.


There is actually no reason to include this passage in this study except for the fact that it contains reference to the Spirit of God and the fact that it is not the easiest New Testament passage to understand.  This explanation may or may not be helpful to the Bible student, but it is offered as a possible interpretation.


The term “water” in Scripture is often used to represent the Word of God.  It is also used to represent the Spirit of God.  Additionally, the writer believes it represents “physical birth,” as in John 3:5, 6, Jesus answered, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. "That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.  In the above passage in 1 John it is believed by this writer that “water” refers to the physical birth of Christ, the virgin birth.


The “blood” speaks clearly of the death of Jesus Christ.  It speaks of his substitution death on the cross by which he paid the penalty-price for the sins of all mankind.  This “blood” (His death) and the “water” (His virgin birth) both refer back to 1 John 5:5, Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?


In brief, the last sentence of the passage is saying that the Spirit, the virgin birth and the susbstitution death of Jesus Christ, all three, agree as to the deity and work of Jesus Christ.


(Final Note:  A concerted effort and many, many hours have gone into making this study all-comprehensive regarding the subject.  It nevertheless is a never ending topic of God’s Word.  All comments or suggested additions to this study are welcomed by the author.  Please send any and all through the e-mail link on