Section 5: The Holy Spirit
Week 4: The Holy Spirit’s Work in the Life of the Believer
Day 2: The Holy Spirit’s Role in Helping Believers Understand the Bible
1 Cor. 2:6-16
When we discussed the Holy Spirit’s nature, we highlighted the fact he is a person, not a force. As a result, he works personally in our lives. We pointed specifically to his role as teacher. What does he teach us? He doesn’t teach us about math. He doesn’t teach us about science. He teaches us to understand the Bible. Why? Because that is where God has revealed himself. The Holy Spirit wants us to understand the Bible because he wants us to know God.
Why do we need his help though? We can read. Isn’t that all we need. So long as I commit to reading the Bible, won’t I be able to understand everything I need to know? No. Remember, we’re not only finite, we’re also sinful and fallen. When we looked at the Bible’s clarity earlier, we noted the importance of being willing to have our views corrected and to give up the things we cherish. The trouble is we aren’t willing to do those things naturally.
Go back to the example we used of Jesus’ teaching on forgiveness. When Peter asks Jesus how many times we ought to forgive someone, Jesus says we should forgive them seventy times seven. Seventy times seven is a figurative way of saying, “As many times as it takes.” Many have trouble understanding Jesus’ teaching here. It’s not that we don’t understand the words that are coming out of his mouth. The problem is we don’t understand why he would say that. It feels wrong to many of us. We don’t want to forgive people who hurt us even once, much less seventy times seven times.
How do we overcome that internal resistance? Through the Spirit’s work. He helps us to see our own sinfulness and need for forgiveness. As we see ourselves more clearly, we begin to see God more clearly and better understand the depth of his grace. If God is willing to forgive us, despite the depth our sin, how can we refuse to forgive others? By shining a light on our sinfulness and, more importantly, on Christ’s sacrifice, the Holy Spirit changes our hearts.
The specific way the Spirit accomplishes that in the life of any given believer will differ depending on their individual circumstances. Maybe at just the right moment, he reminds you of the time you betrayed a friend and it cuts you to the quick. Or maybe he reminds you of a time when someone forgave you and you’re ashamed at how slow you are to forgive others. Maybe he simply helps you see the extent of Christ’s suffering for you on the cross.
However he does it, changing the heart is a major part of what the Spirit does. It’s the primary way he helps us understand the Bible better and, in so doing, helps us know God better.
Review the list you created yesterday of the Spirit’s work in your life.
How many of those items relate to a heart change within you? How did that heart change shape your understanding of God’s teaching? How did it affect your relationship with him?