The Holy Spirit 2


© Rosemary Bardsley 2023

In the previous study we saw the critical role of the Holy Spirit in bringing us to salvation. In this study we look at God’s on-going goodness towards us in the presence of his Spirit within us. Without his presence we would be unable to glorify him as we live as his children in the world.


The New Testament is consistent in its teaching that neither God the Father nor Jesus the Son has left us alone, to live for him in a hostile world. He has put his Spirit within us: he lives within the individual believer and within groups of believers gathered together as the church.

How do these verses teach that Christians individually and corporately are the dwelling place of the Spirit of God?
Ezekiel 36:27

John 14:17

Romans 8:9

Romans 8:11

1Corinthians 3:16

1Corinthians 6:19

Ephesians 2:21-22

A.1 Father, Son and Spirit present in the believer and the church
It is also the clear and consistent teaching of the New Testament that the presence of the Spirit within the believer and the church is also the presence of the Father and the Son.

In these verses which person [or persons] of the Trinity is said to be present in the believer through the presence of the indwelling Spirit?
John 14:16

John 14:17

John 14:18

John 14:20

John 14:23

John 14:28

John 15:26

John 16:7

John 16:13

1John 3:24

1John 4:13

These verses help us to see two important truths:

[1] That we must never minimize the significance of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is God. Just as to see and know the Son is to see and know the Father, even so to have the Spirit dwelling within us is to have the Father and the Son dwelling within us. This is an awesome thing: God comes to us and makes us his dwelling place, a thing we should never treat with contempt thinking it is ‘just the Spirit’. To be indwelt by the Spirit is to be indwelt by God.

[2] That to seek an experience of God beyond this indwelling is an ungrateful rejection and inferred reduction of the complete salvation he graciously gives us in his Son. This indwelling is the promise of both the Father and the Son. It is the culmination of the saving action of the Father and the Son. It is the restoration of the human relationship with God for which we were created, but which we rejected and therefore forfeited in Genesis 3. It is the life of union with God which was always his intention for us. It is the end result of the Gospel that Paul summarizes with the words: Christ in you, the hope of glory [Colossians 1:27].



When Jesus spoke to Nicodemus in John 3 about the flesh/Spirit contrast, he made it quite clear that if a person views life and reality from a flesh-only perspective they will never see nor enter the kingdom of God, indeed, it is an impossibility. Flesh gives birth only to flesh. Spirit gives birth to spirit. There are two competing and contrasting perspectives here. There are two distinct worldviews here. Jesus did a similar thing with the Samaritan woman in John 4 – drawing here out of her earth-bound perspectives and into a Spirit-generated perspective.

When we come to Paul’s letters that we see this flesh/Spirit contrast more fully expressed. The person who is flesh-only, and who strives to relate to God on a flesh-only basis is in an impossible position spiritually. The person enlightened and regenerated by the Spirit of God, and indwelt by the Spirit of God, has by the Spirit been placed in an entirely different relationship with God. The mindsets of these two positions, these two ways of relating to God, are diametrically opposed.

From these verses, list the contrast between relating to God on the basis of our own achievements (‘flesh’) and relating to God on the basis of our Spirit-given union with Christ.
Romans 8:1, 2

Romans 8:3, 4

Romans 8:5 – 8

Romans 8:9 – 11

Romans 8:12 – 15

2Corinthians 5:16, 17

Galatians 3:2 – 5

Philippians 3:3 – 9

Before our conversion we stood alone and exposed in the presence of God – simply ‘flesh’, trying, if we were religious, to gain and maintain a relationship with God by our own ability to keep his Law. This was an impossible quest that kept us enslaved and condemned. After our conversion we live in a relationship of acceptance with God in which we know our own perceived law-keeping is worthless, and in which we depend not on ourselves but on Christ through the revelation, regeneration and indwelling of the Spirit. We no longer relate to God kata sarka – according to flesh, but kata pneuma – according to Spirit. We have ceased to give significance to our own works.



Just as it is the Holy Spirit who reveals the Father and the Son to us in bringing us to salvation in Christ, so it is the Holy Spirit who continues to teach us the message and the meaning of Jesus Christ and his death.

What do these verses teach us about the teaching/instructing ministry of the Holy Spirit?
Ephesians 3:14-19

Ephesians 6:17

1Thessalonians 4:8

1Thessalonians 5:19-20

1Timothy 4:1

Revelation 2:7,11,17,29; 3:6,13,22

As we have done before in relation to the Spirit revealing Christ to us, so here we must again return to 1Corinthians 2:6-16. Here we see our dependence on the Holy Spirit for our on-going ability to understand and know the truth revealed in and through Jesus Christ. Contrary to popular cultural belief, absolute truth actually does exist. It is the Holy Spirit who guides us into an understanding of the truth revealed in both the Old and New Testaments.



The teaching given to us by the Spirit includes how to live as God’s dearly loved children. He does not just tell us how to live; he also enables us; he changes us so that our minds and actions are increasingly conformed to the mind and actions of Jesus Christ. This impact was anticipated in the prophetic expectations of the Spirit, where God said ‘I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws’ [Ezekiel 36:27]; ‘I will put my law in their minds and write in on their hearts’ [Jeremiah 31:33].

How do these verses explain this impact and action of the Holy Spirit in the life of the individual believer?
2Corinthians 3:17-18

Galatians 5:16, 22 – 26

The Holy Spirit changes us from the inside out – transforming us bit by bit into the image of Jesus as he teaches us about him, and producing the ‘fruit’ in our lives that is the evidence of his presence within us, the evidence that we have indeed been redeemed and reconciled to God. Because this transforming work of the Spirit involves our response, and is evident to others, we find that some New Testament Christians were described as ‘full of the Spirit’ (e.g. Acts 6:5), and that we are commanded to ‘be filled with the Spirit’ (Ephesians 5:18). The Greek words used refer to an on-going quality of a life in which the Spirit’s transforming work is obvious. [Reports of empowerment by being filled with the Spirit use a different word; see this study.]



A small number of verses identify the Holy Spirit as the basis of inter-personal Christian fellowship or unity:

Ephesians 4:3-4: because there is ‘one Spirit’ [along with various other unifying facts] believers are to ‘make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit’.

In 2Corinthians 13:14 Paul’s final greeting prays for ‘the fellowship of the Holy Spirit’ to be with all his readers.

In Philippians 2:1 Paul bases his encouragement to the Philippians to humbly care for each other’s interests on the fact of their common ‘fellowship with the Spirit’.

Thus the indwelling Spirit, along with our union with Christ, is the basis of Christian unity and the motivation for practical Christian unity expressed in mutual love and concern.



In the chapter in which Paul speaks most of the Holy Spirit [Romans 8] he also speaks of the Holy Spirit’s ministry to the believer in the context of suffering.

Having just taught that the indwelling Spirit testifies that the believer is a child of God enjoying an intimate relationship with the Father [8:14-16], Paul then goes on to say that this relationship in which we are identified as co-heirs with Christ will of necessity involve suffering [verse 17].

In 8:18-39 Paul teaches that suffering is common not only to all people but to the whole of creation – a condition resulting from the human fall [Genesis 3] which will not be removed until the consummation of all things at the end of the age. Thus suffering must not be seen by the believer to indicate a severance of the believer from the love of God. Nothing – not even suffering – has the power to do that.

In the interim, in this life in which suffering in some form or other is the inevitable common lot of believers and unbelievers alike, the Holy Spirit has a specific ministry to believers:

The Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness [8:26].

When our suffering is so heavy or complex that we don’t even know how or what to pray, the Holy Spirit intercedes for us [8:26].

He does so without words, without speech of any kind [8:26].

In doing so he groans – just like the creation [verse 22] as it suffers, just as we do when we suffer [verse 23]. This assures us that the Holy Spirit within us feels with us in our suffering. He knows. He suffers. [Note the significance of ‘in the same way’ in verse 26.]

His intercession for us is thus not based on any divine ignorance of our human suffering, but on God’s intimate knowledge of our hearts [8:27]. [Let us not forget here that the incarnate Son of God was pressured in every way, just as we are, and so is able to sympathize with our weakness (Hebrews 2:10-18: 4:14-16), and that the Holy Spirit within us is the Spirit of Jesus.]

His intercession for believers is also based on his divine perspective [8:27]. [Note: the Greek text reads ‘according to God’; it does not include the words ‘the will of’. This is an interpretation added by translators.]

Peter, also, encourages believers who are suffering because of the name of Christ by assuring them that ‘the Spirit of glory and of God’ rests on them [1Peter 4:14], and that they therefore ought not to be ashamed, but to praise God that they bear that name [verse 16].



It is the Holy Spirit who enables/empowers us in various aspects of our lives as his children:

Jesus promised that when he poured out the Spirit the disciples would ‘receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you’ and that as a result of this they would be his witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the ends of the earth [Acts 1:8].

In Acts various disciples were on occasion ‘filled with the Spirit’, which enabled them to speak boldly.

In Romans 15:13 Paul prayed that his readers would ‘overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit’.

Paul said that when he brought the Gospel to the Corinthians his message and his preaching were ‘a demonstration of the Spirit’s power’ [1Corinthians 2:4].

It is by the Spirit that we have the power to understand how great is the love of God for us – something we could never do without his enabling (Ephesians 3:16 – 19).

God (Father, Son and Spirit) gives various gifts to believers for the good of the church -1Corinthians 12:4-11.



In this on-going work of the Spirit of God within us it appears that God has thought of everything. He has not left us alone to work out for ourselves how to live as his children in this world. Everything we need to honour him, everything we need to survive spiritually, he is at work in us to accomplish. As Jesus said: ‘I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you’ – John 14:18. And as Paul reminds us ‘he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus’ – Philippians 1:6. How good is our God!

Which work of the Spirit of Christ in you speaks most strongly of the goodness of God?