Do I Have the Holy Spirit?

By J.


Photo by ferdinand feng on Unsplash

A professing Christian once asked me, "When I read the Bible, I'm not particularly fired up or hungry for God's word. Is this because I haven't yet received the Holy Spirit?" Not necessarily!

The Bible does not portray receiving the Holy Spirit as though it is only for the mature or super-spiritual believer. Every believer receives the Holy Spirit when God brings about regeneration in them. You may have heard people refer to regeneration as being "born again" or "new birth". Just like how birth does not come from our own decisions, regeneration is the sovereign act of God by his Spirit in which the believer is cleansed from sin and made spiritually alive. Jesus said: "You should not be surprised at my saying, 'You must be born again.' The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit." (John 3:8) The expression 'born again' in the original Greek means either 'again' or 'from above'. It conveys the idea of a top downwards movement. Consequently, it is God that gives new life, and it is God who sends the Holy Spirit to bring new life. Jesus likens the Holy Spirit to the wind because we don't see where it comes from. Yet, the working of the Holy Spirit will be evident in the life of the believer bringing transformation and illumination over a period of time.

When you receive the Holy Spirit at the new birth, there may not be immediately apparent effects. My experience is that when I look back over a time that I notice how the Spirit has been changing my thinking, attitudes and behaviour to conform with God's will. These changes are the evidence that God's Spirit indeed is dwelling in me.

The transforming work of the Holy Spirit applies to our attitude of reading the Bible. Some people will get fired up and hungry for God's word as soon as they receive the Holy Spirit, while for many others, the effect is much less immediate. When we put our faith in Christ, we become spiritually alive, yet our lives still need untangling from sin – for we often desire what is easy over what is holy. We may also find we're not reading the Bible because Satan wages spiritual battle on believers, trying to keep us busy with other tasks, even good and worthwhile tasks.

As we come up against these obstacles, the Holy Spirit within us will patiently be transforming our attitudes and our practices, including our desire for reading God's word. But that doesn't mean I sit back and do nothing. I find I need to set a time and place where I read the Bible daily. I also need friends to read with to keep me accountable. When I lack motivation, or the text is difficult to understand, I need to push on and continue reading. As I persevere, the Holy Spirit illuminates my understanding, and more and more, I catch myself enjoying the Bible. Our interest and motivation levels will always fluctuate. But if the passage I read today was 'boring' and didn't speak to me, I keep reading knowing that sometime later as I'm going through life, the Holy Spirit might bring that passage to mind and suddenly it might come to life as my eyes are opened to its relevance.

As believers, we have received the Holy Spirit. Yet we need to be continually filled again and again with the Spirit. So, let us take hold of Jesus words of promise in Luke 11:13, "If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!" So, if you have asked God for the Holy Spirit, have faith that God will give the Spirit to you.

©2019 by Croydon Hills & Wonga Park Anglican Church.

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