Lesson 13: The Effects of the Holy Spirit
Ephesians 1:13, 14
What would you think if I called you up one Saturday afternoon and asked you if you would like for me to come by and take you out for a ride in my new car.” You would probably agree and start waiting for me to show up, wouldn’t you? But after half an hour went by and I still hadn’t showed up you would start to wonder what was going on, wouldn’t you. Then after another 15 or 20 minutes without me arriving you would probably call me on your cell phone and ask where I was. But the biggest shock would be when you finally saw me coming around the corner pushing my new car! Well you can let the rest of that scenario play out in your own mind, but needless to say you would begin to worry about me for more reasons than one.
But actually that is no more ridiculous than the way many Christians act about the Holy Spirit who comes into their lives to empower them to live as God’s own children. Many, perhaps most, Christians have never been taught about the indescribable gift God has given us with the presence of the Holy Spirit living within us. They move on through life, basically just going through the motions of spiritual things, trying to live the Christian life under their own power, apparently with no idea of the spiritual power that is theirs. This kind of relationship with the Holy Spirit is just as ridiculous as my story of pushing my new car over to your house to show it to you; the very opposite of the purpose of having a car.
A similar but equally important illustration has to do with the importance of the scripture in our everyday lives. Every new car (and almost every other mechanical device) comes with an owners’ manual. Now it is possible to drive your new car a hundred thousand miles or more without ever opening that owner’s guide, or even knowing that it is included for that matter, but to get the optimum service from that car you will be wise to study that manual carefully and to refer to it any time you have a problem or question about the car.
Now the same thing is true about the believer and his Bible. The Bible is literally the owner’s manual, specifically designed for our daily life. And to top it all off God has given us a 24 hour a day “hotline” for unexpected problems. And the name of that “hotline” is the Holy Spirit. And the passages we will look at today deal with the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
The specific verses that we want to look at are verses 13 and 14 of Ephesians chapter 1:
That we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory (13) in whom 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 (14) who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.
As I hope you know by now, verses 3 through 14 of Ephesians chapter 1 constitute the longest sentence in the entire New Testament (at least in the Greek text) And they also contain the most thorough discussion of salvation. We have been looking at this long sentence almost line by line for the past several studies. And this analysis of the passage shows all three members of the Godhead at work in our salvation. The whole concept of salvation began with God the Father. And we have been referring to His work as “the blueprint of salvation” in verses 3 through 6a. Then the second person of the trinity is, of course, the Lord Jesus Christ. And he provides the basis of our salvation through His shed blood on the cross. And in our last study we saw that the third person of the trinity, the Holy Spirit, provides the “badge” or the “seal” of our salvation by coming to live within each of us. There are many ways that we might know that a person is or is not a believer, but the one that scripture specifies is his presence in our lives. It is beyond the scope of this study, but the way in which the Holy Spirit gives proof of our salvation is the changes that He brings into our lives and even our personalities. Farther over in the New Testament, in the book of Galatians, we will see that the Holy Spirit produces “fruit” in our lives. It lists such things as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. These are things that people can see in our lives and lifestyles, especially if we did not have them before we came to Christ. I have heard many stories of how the changed lives of Christians has brought others to want to know Him and receive Him as Savior.
In our last study we saw that 2nd Timothy 2:19 gives another effect of the Holy Spirit in our lives, and that is the reassurance in our own hearts that “the Lord knows those who are His.” Romans 8:16 agrees with this when it says
Likewise also the Spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are the sons of God.
So in our study today we want to see yet another effect of the Holy Spirit’s presence within us. We find that one in John 14:16, 17. In these verses the Lord Jesus is preparing the disciples for His return to heaven. And of course you can imagine the shock and dismay this brought to them. But in verse 16 He said,
And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another helper, that He may abide with you forever (17) even 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.
In verses 2 and 3 of this chapter He had made the famous promise:
“I go to prepare a place for you and if I go and prepare a place for you I will come again and receive you unto myself, that where I am there you may be also.
So here He is promising to give them a substitute during His absence. And there are two points to note about that. First, you need to know that the word “another” is the translation of the Greek word “allas.” This word means “another of exactly the same kind.” That means that Jesus does in the hearts of believers the same kinds of things that He did for His disciples when He was on earth with them. Can’t you just imagine the peace and joy and strength the disciples must have felt when they were in the presence of Jesus? Well, that is the same kind of effect the presence of the Holy Spirit produces in our lives, if we will just realize it. The second thing to know about the Holy Spirit is that although He is invisible to humans, He is a person. He is just as much God as the Lord Jesus Christ is. We know this from the fact that He is consistently referred to as a person in scripture; He has the characteristics of “personhood;” mind, emotions and will; He influences people and situations; and so forth.
Not only does He live within us, but that fact provides some other effects. Romans 8:26, 27 mentions one of them.
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weaknesses, for we know not what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. (27) 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.
Another important effect of the Holy Spirit living within us is in John 14:26
If you have been a believer very long you have probably run into one of these situations in your own life or in the lives of other Christians that are so complex or so baffling that you don’t even know where to start in your praying about it. But what a blessing it is to know that in those kinds of situations the Holy Spirit takes over and presents our needs to the Father perfectly! Another of God’s “tender mercies.” So no matter how many others may be praying for us, or with us the Holy Spirit ensures that the Father knows the need and is how best to meet it.
Still another of the effects of the Spirit within us is in John 14:25, 26:
These things I have spoken to you while being present with you. (26) 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 have said unto you.
This is a wonderful promise, and a very practical one. Every time you read the Bible you should pray and ask the Holy Spirit to help you to understand it. Another part of that promise is that not only will the Holy Spirit give you understanding of it, but it says He will bring it to your mind when you have a need for it. I can’t tell you the number of times I have been studying in preparation for a message and some scripture will come to my mind that ties in with what I am studying. Likewise I have had many experiences in which I am facing a decision or give advice to someone that the Holy Spirit will remind me of a verse or an incident from the Bible that fits the situation exactly. And by the way, I am thankful that in my childhood and teen-age years my parents enrolled me in a scripture memorization program. Although I often have trouble remembering the reference, I am thankful for all of those things that the Spirit has brought back to my memory just at the moment I needed them. This is another of the many reasons we should spend time reading and studying God’s Word: it is the material which the Holy Spirit uses to guide and direct us.
The summary of all of the things that the Holy Spirit accomplishes in us and through us is referred to as “fruit” in Galatians 5:22
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. Against these there is no law.
The word “but” at the beginning of this verse indicates that the attributes of verse 22 are in contrast to the ones before it, verses 19 through 21. We might call those “the fruit of human effort” and it is quite a list:
Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, and the list goes on for another verse or two. But the fruit of the Spirit is what everybody would like to be.
Now we have seen an example of the seal of our salvation, and the effects of His work in our lives but there is one more point that we need to notice and that is the enjoyment of the Spirit; 4 things to know about living with the Holy Spirit’s presence.
The first is “do not resist the Holy Spirit.” Acts chapter 7 tells the story of the first Christian martyr, Stephen, an evangelist. He had been falsely accused of blasphemy and the judge asked him if he had any last words for the crowd. Without taking time for all the details, one of the things he said was that those who were falsely accusing him had a history of rebellion against God He gave a number of examples and then concluded with the words
You stiff necked and uncircumcised in heart and mind and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you.”
He was talking about all of the times that the religious leaders absolutely refused to believe what God’s prophets were telling them. It is one thing to fail to understand something the Bible says, but to understand what it says and refuse to do it is what Galatians 5 calls “resisting” the Holy Spirit. I am convinced that one of the reasons some Christians don’t enjoy their Christian life is that they simply refuse to do what the Bible tells them to do.
Another instruction is in Ephesians 4:30: And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”
The verses above and below this one illustrate what it means to grieve the Holy Spirit. They are all about lying, stealing, anger, gossip, bitterness, and wrath. Wouldn’t it grieve you if someone you loved did things completely contrary to your nature and standards?
Another one is in Ephesians 5:18 – And do not be drunk with wine in which is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit.
The primary application here is not a prohibition against drunkenness, even though the scripture is full of warnings of the dangers of alcohol. The primary lesson of this verse is the filling of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer. We should allow the Holy Spirit to take control of our
hearts and lives, just as a drunk person is under the control of alcohol. Think about some of the parallels here: alcohol is a substance that comes into the drinker from an outside source and takes control of him or her. It, then causes the drunk person to do things they would not ordinarily do.
A final warning is I Thessalonians 5:19 – Do not quench the Holy Spirit. This instruction comes toward the end of a list of spiritual activities. So from that context I take it to mean “do not ‘put a wet blanket’ on spirit led activities.” One of many examples of quenching the Holy Spirit is a situation in which a friend is excited about some new truth or some action that the Holy Spirit is calling him to do and his friend who is a believer is not very positive about it or not as excited as his friend. This doesn’t mean that we have to believe everything another believer tells us or to be as excited as he is in every situation. But we need to be very careful about discouraging another believer in something that the Holy Spirit may be leading him to do.
Have you ever stopped to contemplate the wonderful fact that God Himself, in the person of the Holy Spirit lives within you?
One of the early leaders of the first century Christians, St. Augustine, who before his salvation had been a notorious sinner, once told the story of how he had been tempted to sin in a certain way after he became a Christian. But then he stopped to think about the presence of the Holy Spirit and he said to himself, “Thou fool!” thou art carrying God around with thee!”
One last thing to remember here: fruit grows, it cannot just be “installed.” it is the result of perhaps years of walking in the spirit, prayer and study, and our response to all of those. So let’s make it our aim to allow the fruit of the Spirit to begin its growth in our hearts.