Section 5: The Holy Spirit
Week 1: The Holy Spirit’s Nature
Day 2: The Holy Spirit Is a Person
Luke 12:11-12; John 14:25-26; Rom. 8:15-17
Iron Man is my favorite superhero, but that hasn’t always been the case. As a kid, I didn’t pay much attention to him. As an adult, however, I’ve become hooked on the Iron Man movies. One of the things I like about Iron Man is that he is basically a normal guy with a really cool suit of armor. I’m never going to have genuine super powers. I’m never going to have x-ray vision or the ability to fly. But… I might be able to get my hands on a suit of armor one day with some high-tech gadgets like the repulsor beams that shoot out of Iron Man’s hands. I could definitely use a pair of those.
At times, we fall into the trap of thinking of the Spirit as a force or power – a repulsor beam of sorts emanating from the hand of God. Now, the Holy Spirit certainly does have power, but if we focus on that fact alone we can easily lose sight of an important reality. The Holy Spirit is a person, not a force. A he, not an it.
That simple truth has important ramifications for our understanding of the Spirit’s work. Because he is a person, the Holy Spirit works in our lives in personal ways. We know, for example, that the Holy Spirit helps us grow in our understanding of Scripture. How does he do that? Does he plug an Ethernet cable into our brains and download the information? No. He works in a much more personal way.
Here’s an example from my own life:
A while back, I had a particularly hectic week. I had a lot of writing to get done and I also had several projects I was working on for my former law firm. On top of all of that, I had a number of projects around the house that were screaming for my attention. When I have weeks like that, I tend to get frazzled. Even when I have some down time, I’m still thinking about the next thing on the schedule. That means I don’t relax a whole lot. I learned some interesting things throughout this particular week, though, that helped me handle it all with a better attitude than I normally would.
The lessons actually started the Saturday before when I ran across an article that explained the reason some people seem to be able to pour so much more time and energy into achieving professional goals than others in their field. According to the author, these “overachievers” are often driven by a fear of failure. That fear makes them willing to sacrifice time, sleep, money, even relationships to ensure they don’t fail.
The next day our pastor preached on the book of Ruth. He pointed out that she is listed in Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus, so her life obviously had great significance. But she didn’t know that. She just lived her life faithfully. It was up to God to do something with it. He explained we need to adopt a similar attitude. We all want significance. But, rather than striving to achieve it on our own, we’re better off doing whatever God calls us to do, and leaving the significance of it up to him.
The next day I was reading a commentary on Hebrews, and the author explained that our failure to trust God typically leads to spiritual fatigue. I couldn’t help but connect that with what I had heard in the sermon the previous day and with what I had read the day before that: When we don’t trust God, we feel like we need to be the one to guarantee our significance. Because we fear what will happen if we’re not successful in that quest, we expend a lot of resources trying to make sure we’re successful. In the end though, that’s a recipe for emotional and spiritual exhaustion because we can never guarantee success – there are too many factors outside of our control. We can rest easier, however, when we leave all of that in God’s hands. He’s in control anyway. So we might as well accept it and take advantage of the peace that can come from it.
I was reminded of that truth a number of times throughout the week as my to-do list kept growing. It helped me keep a proper perspective on things.
What was going on there? The Spirit was using the events in my life to help me not only understand God’s Word but to incorporate it directly into my life. It’s as if he was saying, “Do you see that? Do you remember what your pastor said on Sunday? Do you remember what you read yesterday? See how that applies here?”
The Holy Spirit is personally involved in our lives. He knows everything we’re going through. He knows what has gone well and what has gone poorly. He knows what we’re reading in our daily devotionals, he knows what sermons we’re listening to, and he knows what we’re thinking about throughout the day. More importantly, he knows the message we need to hear from God in the midst of everything else that is going on in our lives. And because he is intimately involved in our lives, he knows exactly what we need to hear in order to understand the message God has for us. He doesn’t mechanically download that message into our brains. Instead he talks to us personally in the midst of the day-to-day circumstances of our lives. That’s why the Bible describes his work as witnessing, teaching, and convicting (Luke 12:12, John 14:26, 16:8-11, Rom. 8:16). Those are personal ways of communicating.
When you come to a better understanding of the Bible and how to apply it to your life, do you think of it as the Holy Spirit communicating personally with you? If not, why not?
Watch for those “ah hah” moments or times where the Holy Spirit links things together for you. What is he trying to show you?