Understanding the Ministry of the Holy Spirit
On the eve of His crucifixion, Jesus told His disciples it would actually be to their advantage for Him to go away. Imagine their shock at these words from their Lord!
John 16:7 — “But I tell you the truth: it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor (Holy Spirit) will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.”
His Presence and Power
Jesus was forecasting the indwelling ministry of the Holy Spirit that would occur some 50 days later. Until this point, the disciples had experienced Jesus’ ministry when they were physically in His presence-His teaching, discernment, guidance, protection, power, grace, love and truth. But now, in these key statements that are recorded in John, Jesus began pointing to the work that the Spirit would do on His behalf, after He had left them.
John 15:5 — “I am the Vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in Me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing.”
A Life of Dependence
The constant indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit in the believer’s life accomplishes what Jesus proclaimed to His disciples. What word best describes the relationship of the branches to the vine? Dependence! Apart from the life-giving Vine, the branch is unsustainable. Our salvation (spiritual Life) is initiated and sustained by God-His finished work, not ours. Our relationship to Him to is one of dependence! Apart from Him we can do nothing of eternal value.
A Promise and a Command
In Scripture (Ephesians 5:18) we are commanded to be filled with the Holy Spirit. But what does it mean to be filled with the Spirit? It doesn’t mean that we somehow get more of the Holy Spirit, but it means that He gets more of us. He, from the moment of our salvation, always indwells us fully. He is always “resident,” but not always “President.” To be filled with the Holy Spirit means we yield to Him, or live in dependence upon Him rather than ourselves. We yield our desires, passions, gifts, fears, and reputations to Him. And through yielding to Him, we experience His power and His fruit in our lives.
Appropriated by Faith
Being filled with the Spirit is an intentional choice on our part as believers. It involves the key aspects of “desire,” “confession,” “yielding,” and “faith.”
1. Desire – “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they will be filled” (Matthew 5:6).
2. Confess – Confession involves three components:
- Call it sin (acknowledge your sin before God)
- Call it forgiven (acknowledge His forgiveness that is already true)
- Call on God to change you (acknowledge only God’s power to effect change in this area of your life)
3. Yield – Surrender control of your life to Christ according to the command of God. (Romans 12:2)
4. Faith — Finally, we are filled with the Holy Spirit by faith. By faith we first yielded to God in salvation, acknowledging that we could not satisfy God’s standard on our own. Now again, we acknowledge that it is impossible to fully please Christ on our own; we need the Spirit’s power.
By faith ask God to fill (direct and empower) you with the Holy Spirit. Ask God to be “President, not merely resident” in your life. Remember, being filled does not mean getting more of Him; but giving Him more of you-your yielded, dependent life!
For more insight, familiarize yourself with the Holy Spirit booklet, produced by Campus Crusade for Christ. (http://www.cru.org/training-and-growth/classics/the-spirit-filled-life/)