The Holy Spirit at Work
in Our Lives
By Peter Amsterdam
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God’s presence on earth within the Old Testament was seen in the pillar of fire and cloud, in the thunder and lightning on Mount Sinai, in the burning bush. Jesus was God’s presence on earth during His lifetime. Since the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit has dwelt in those who have been born of the Spirit, those who have entered the kingdom of God through acceptance of Jesus as their Savior. God’s Spirit dwelling in believers has been the main manifestation of God’s presence on earth since the time of Jesus’ ascension to heaven.1
The Holy Spirit is present in believers and influences our lives in a number of ways. Our telling others about Jesus and God’s gift of salvation is empowered by the Spirit. Our interaction with other Christians in fellowship, worship, and working together in outreach, church, or ministry, is enhanced through the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
The Spirit plays an important role in our personal walk with the Lord, our spiritual growth, and the manner in which we live our lives in conjunction with God’s will and ways. God’s Spirit guides, directs, and leads us as individuals. The Spirit teaches us and gives us understanding. Through the Spirit we receive assurance that we are God’s children, that we abide in Him and He abides in us.
The Spirit’s role in witnessing
Right before ascending to heaven, Jesus instructed His disciples to go back to Jerusalem and “wait for the promise of the Father,” letting them know that they would be baptized with the Holy Spirit.2 He then explained that when the Spirit came upon them, they would receive power to witness.3
On the day of Pentecost the Spirit came upon the disciples, and over time they became witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and throughout the known world. There are numerous accounts of the apostles and disciples witnessing in the power of the Holy Spirit.
The Spirit of God who worked through the early church to reach others, who performed miracles through them, who caused them to bravely proclaim the message even in the face of opposition and martyrdom, dwells in Christians today. The commission given to the first disciples, as well as all disciples since that time, is to share the gospel with others—and the Holy Spirit gives us power and anointing to do so.
One author wrote that the Holy Spirit is a “missionary Spirit.” When Christians are willing to share the gospel with others, God’s Spirit can and will charge people with power to move beyond themselves and become a witness.4
The commission to witness is clear, the power to witness is present in the Holy Spirit, and when we do our part, when we choose to share the gospel with others, we are empowered and anointed by the Spirit to deliver the message to the lost and needy. Through your witness, others hear the voice of God’s Spirit calling them to salvation, to become God’s children, to live with Him forever.
The gifts of the Spirit
The Holy Spirit gives us gifts to equip us for ministering to others, both those we witness to and other Christians we are in service and fellowship with. The gifts of the Spirit are spoken of and named in six different passages in the Epistles.5 These listings name a variety of gifts, as well as some offices or callings such as apostle or evangelist, and state that these gifts are given for the common good.6
The gifts listed are the callings of apostles, prophets, teachers, as well as miracles, healings, helps, administration, tongues, word of wisdom, word of knowledge, faith, distinguishing of spirits, interpretation of tongues, evangelist, pastor, encouraging, contributing, leadership, mercy, marriage, celibacy, speaking, and rendering service. The last two, mentioned in 1 Peter, can be seen as encompassing the gifts in general terms.
“As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.”7
All these gifts can be used in our ministry of reaching others with the gospel and in service to the Lord and one another. Each is a gift the Holy Spirit gives to individuals. They are all gifts from the hand of God and have great value in our lives and service to others.
The presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives brings about a progressive growth toward godliness. God is holy, and His Spirit moves us to live our lives in a manner that emulates His nature and character. We grow in our faith, in applying God’s Word in our daily living, in making choices and decisions that are in alignment with God’s will, Word, and character. As we do, we grow in holiness and “are being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”8
The fruit, or effect, of the Holy Spirit dwelling in us is that we become more loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, and we have more self-control. In short, we become more godly or holy. With our increased self-control, we are better able to resist becoming angry with others, as well as impatient, unkind, unloving, and hateful. We are less likely to act in ways that hurt others, or ourselves, through negative and ungodly actions and attitudes. We are better able to rise above our inherent human sinful nature.
As we yield to the Spirit’s guidance in our daily lives, as we make the right moral choices by applying the principles of God’s Word, we progressively grow in our walk with the Lord. The Holy Spirit works within us to help us make the right choices by empowering us to resist sin, to choose to act in a more godly manner. Sin, and the temptation to sin, is never eradicated from our lives; but as we grow spiritually, with the help of the Holy Spirit, we are better able to stand firm against it, to not yield to it.
The Spirit’s presence
Throughout the book of Acts, the Holy Spirit came upon believers, and it was clear that they were filled with the Spirit. “God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to His will.”9 The Spirit’s presence in this day and age continues to manifest itself in the lives of believers in a variety of ways. This manifestation is seen in the spiritual gifts given by the Holy Spirit and in miracles, signs, and wonders.
Internally we see the Holy Spirit’s presence in our lives through the witness the Spirit bears within us that we are God’s children and He is our Father10; that we abide in God and He abides in us11; and through the guarantee or down payment on the promise of eternity with the Father. “It is God who … has also put His seal on us and given us His Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.”12
Keeping the presence of the Spirit in our lives
A beautiful quote from author Wayne Grudem says:
To be filled with the Holy Spirit is to be filled with the immediate presence of God Himself, and it therefore will result in feeling what God feels, desiring what God desires, doing what God wants, speaking by God’s power, praying and ministering in God’s strength, and knowing with the knowledge which God Himself gives.13
As Christians, we have the privilege of the Holy Spirit of God dwelling within us. We’ve been given the honor of our body being a temple of the Holy Spirit, of having God’s presence in our lives.
While God’s Spirit is present in our lives, the degree of the manifestation of the Spirit’s presence depends on us as individuals, on how much we open ourselves up to the Spirit’s influence. In the Old Testament, there are examples of some who had the Holy Spirit’s presence and influence in their lives, but whose sins caused the Spirit to depart, such as Samson and Saul.
In the New Testament we are told to not grieve the Holy Spirit or quench the Spirit. The Greek word that is used for quench in Paul’s first epistle to the Thessalonians is sbennymi, which means to extinguish, suppress, or stifle, which Paul cautioned them not to do in relation to the workings of the Holy Spirit both within and through them. “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”14 The Spirit of God is not forced upon us; however, the influence of the Spirit can be diminished by our lack of receptivity—through deliberate sin, lack of interest, disobedience, or unbelief.
The benefits of the Holy Spirit’s active involvement in our lives are many. The Holy Spirit influences our lives for good; helps us to be more effective witnesses and to better minister to others; causes us to be more godly and to resist evil and sin; and makes us tabernacles, or dwelling places, for God, so that others can see Him in us and thus be drawn to Him. This “gift of the Father” which has been bestowed upon us is the priceless gift of the presence of God in our lives.15 What an honor.16
Originally published July 2013. Adapted and republished March 2020.
Read by Gabriel Garcia Valdivieso.
1 Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids: InterVarsity Press, 2000), 636.
2 Acts 1:4–5.
3 Acts 1:8.
4 J. Rodman Williams, Renewal Theology: Systematic Theology from a Charismatic Perspective, Vol. 2 (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996), 249.
5 See 1 Corinthians 12:8–10, 28; Ephesians 4:11; Romans 12:6–8; 1 Corinthians 7:7; 1 Peter 4:11.
6 1 Corinthians 12:4, 7, 11.
7 1 Peter 4:10–11.
8 2 Corinthians 3:18 NIV.
9 Hebrews 2:4.
10 Romans 8:16.
11 1 John 3:24.
12 2 Corinthians 1:21–22.
13 Grudem, Systematic Theology, 649.
14 Ephesians 4:30.
15 James 1:17.
16 The overall concept of this article was based on “The Work of the Holy Spirit,” from Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (Grand Rapids: InterVarsity Press, 2000).