Depending on the denomination (or individual congregation within a denomination) in which you were raised, your perception of who the Holy Spirit is and what part He plays in your life will vary. Your focus on the gifts of that Holy Spirit may fall at one extreme or the other, and anywhere in between.
In Acts chapter 19, verses1-6, author Luke writes about Paul’s traveling to Ephesus and coming upon several believers along the coast. He asked them if they received the Holy Spirit at the time they believed. “No,” they answered, “we haven’t even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” These men had heard the message of repentance from John the Baptist but not the message of salvation through Jesus Christ. Once they heard, they were baptized into the Lord’s name and received upon themselves the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
Today, while most churches quote scriptures about the Holy Spirit living in us, far too many do not teach what is meant by the phrase. As a result, there are believers who don’t yet fully understand that the Holy Spirit is living inside of them, and has been since the day they first believed. Jesus tells us in John 16:7, “… it is best for you that I go away because if I don’t, the Advocate [Holy Spirit] won’t come. If I do go away, then I will send Him to you.”
Jesus knew we could not be the kind of witnesses God desires of us if we are not first filled with the Holy Spirit. He knew He had to leave in order for believers— of every tribe and nation—to have the Holy Spirit dwelling in them, to help them fulfill God’s plan for redemption throughout the ages.
No doctrine, false doctrine: it’s hard to say which is more injurious. As mentioned earlier, we received the Holy Spirit (and His gifts) at the precise moment we first believe in Jesus with our hearts. As we then walk with Him, we are filled with the Spirit, again and again, thus empowering us to accomplish the plans that God has for us. When we don’t obey, we grieve Him; when we choose to work in our own strength, we grieve Him. Even when we quench the Spirit, however, He does not leave us.
“The Spirit is God’s guarantee that he will give us the inheritance he promised and that he has purchased us to be his own people.” (Ephesians 1:14a)
In His Divine plan, God the Father sent God the Son to die for our sins. After the Son ascended to the right hand of the Father, the Father sent the Spirit to indwell believers here on earth. It is the believers who make up the body of Christ, the Church. The Church then are the hands, feet, and mouths by which Christ impacts the world. But in order to do this, the Church must know and fully embody the Holy Spirit of God. The Church has that power. The Spirit is here for every believer. It’s time to loose Him to be the Helper Jesus promised that He would be.