“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”~2 Corinthians 3:17-18
Who is the Spirit and what does He do? We know from this phrase that the Lord is the Spirit–Jesus. The Holy Spirit is a person, the third member of the Trinity or personhood of God. Within the Trinity you have God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. He (not it!) is the invisible presence of God.
There’s a lot that can be said about the Holy Spirit and this is by no means an extensive list of who He is and what He does. But as I was doing some reading and researching, there were three things that stuck out to me, three common ways that the Spirit works in our lives:
The Holy Spirit Gives Life.
In Romans 8 Paul gives a very good explanation of the life-bringing work of the Spirit. In verses 1-2 he says that “There is therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ from the law of sin and death.”
The reality of life on earth is that there are only two paths we can choose from–the path of sin and death or the the path of life. Because of the fall and man’s disobedience, we come into this world already on the path of death. We are separated from God. But God in His infinite grace and love made a way for us to walk the path of life in the giving of His Son Jesus Christ: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
Life! Eternal life! Unending life in the presence of God! We are saved when we call on the name of Jesus, repent of our sins, and proclaim Him as Lord of our lives. And when we do that, something special happens: He gives us His Spirit.
The night Jesus was betrayed, He was teaching His disciples, preparing them for what was ahead. As He walked through the garden with them He said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth…I will not leave you as orphans…These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. 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 that I have said to you” (John 14: 15-17a, 19, 25-26).
Jesus was going to be leaving them, fulfilling His purpose of coming. He’d be nailed to a cross, buried in a tomb, and raised again on the third day and ascend to the Father. But for those who believed–His disciples–He gave them the same Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead: “But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you” (Romans 8:10-11).
The Spirit gives us life and life abundant. In Christ we have new life. The old is gone, the new has come! This life isn’t something we have to wait for until we get to heaven. Eternal life and life abundant begin right here, here in the presence of Christ with His Spirit dwelling within us.
And that brings us to the second work of the Spirit.
The Holy Spirit Dwells Within Us.
While we may not always see Him as clearly as we do in the New Testament, the Holy Spirit is at work in the Old Testament too. Multiple times Scripture says that the Holy Spirit came upon people like Gideon, Jephthah, and Samson, Saul and David. The Spirit of the Lord settled on these people for a time and worked through them, directed them, helped them to judge and to rule righteously and do the miraculous. It is also recorded in the Old Testament that the Lord gave instructions for a tabernacle and later a temple to be built where His presence dwelt.
The Spirit of the Lord was present and dwelling among His people.
When we get to the New Testament, we see that happening on an even greater scale. When Jesus ascends He gives His Spirit, not to just one person, but to all who believe in Him. There was no longer a need to go to the temple to encounter God because He literally took up residence in our hearts.
When we accept Christ into our hearts, He sends His Spirit to dwell within us. Our bodies become His temple, His dwelling place: “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God?” (1 Corinthians 6:19).
This is intimate. I mean think about it: Jesus came to earth as Emmanuel–God with us–and when He ascended to the Father, He left a piece of Himself behind, His Spirit, to not just dwell with us, but in us.
With His Spirit in us, we can more clearly see the third work of the Spirit.
The Holy Spirit Testifies For Us.
I’ve heard it explained before that, in a way, the Spirit acts as an engagement ring–proof that we belong to Christ and He is coming back for us. The work of the Spirit in our lives is physical proof of Christ’s presence.
Galatians 5:22 gives examples of the type of proof or fruit that is present in our lives when the Holy Spirit is dwelling in us. We love, we are joyful and patient and kind; we are good and faithful and have self-control. On our own apart from God, these things aren’t truly there. We don’t really know how to love. We don’t know what true joy is. And Lord knows we are definitely not patient! But the presence of God’s Spirit dwelling in us gives evidence of these things in our lives.
The Spirit of the Lord also testifies that we are children of God: “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption, as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba Father!’ The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God” (Romans 8:14-16).
Remember when Jesus explained to His disciples that He would not leave them as orphans? Christ is coming back to claim us as His own. But the Spirit also testifies to that fact now. When we accept Christ, we are brought into His family as sons and daughters of the Father. We are His children! Princes and princesses of the King of Kings!
What power! What love! What life! What intimacy!
The Lord is the Spirit and He is giving us life as we believe in Him. Life here and now! And not only that but He dwells within us where He will stay forever. God promises to be with us, to never leave us or forsake us. He does that through the presence of His Spirit. His Spirit also testifies to the fact that we are His, like an engagement ring or signed adoption papers! We belong to God. We are His and He is ours and nothing can separate us from His love!
Live in His love!