What is the role of the Holy Spirit? Why is the Spirit called the “Holy Spirit?”
God is Holy
What is the role of the Holy Spirit? First of all, the holiness of God is the only attribute that is mentioned three times in the Bible. We read Isaiah’s account of his view of the throne of God. He writes that he saw three seraphim over the throne, saying, “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory” (Isaiah 6:3). Isaiah did what the psalmist would do, and writes, “I will bow down toward your holy temple in the fear of you” (Psalm 5:7). When God is mentioned as being holy, this includes all three Persons of the Trinity, so the Holy Spirit is just as holy as God the Father and just as holy as the Son of God. They are all three co-equally God as well as holy, holy, holy.
The Work of the Spirit
The Trinity consists of God the Father, God the Son (Jesus Christ), and God the Holy Spirit, so why not the “Holy Father,” or the “Holy Son” since we call the Spirit Holy? Of course, all three Persons of the Trinity are holy, but the Spirit may be called the Holy Spirit due to the work He does in us, making us more holy over time, at least in His sanctifying work in us. Naturally, we’ll never be sinless until we enter the kingdom, but the Spirit does work in us to renew us and to conform us into the image of Christ (Rom 12:1-2). The Holy Spirit works along with the Word of God to make us more like the Son of God, although we do fall infinitely short of His glory (Rom 3:23), and there are no exceptions. He is holy…we are not (Rom 3:10-12), but the Holy Spirit uses the Word of God to point us to the Son of God. The Spirit always testifies of Christ (John 15:26), and the Holy Spirit highlights the Person and Work of Christ and seeks to glorify Him.
The Role of the Spirit
The role of the Holy Spirit is not only to bring conviction of sin, but first, He must bring us to an awareness of our sins. Before the Spirit came, we were dead in our sins and could not hear or see the need to repent (Eph 2:1-4), but God granted us repentance (2 Tim 2:24-26) through the Spirit’s birthing from above (John 3:3-7), and then the Word of God brought us to saving faith in Christ. Jesus said the gospel of the kingdom of God must include repentance and faith (Mark 1:14-15). The Holy Spirit shows us why we need to repent, and thus, why we need the Savior. We cannot even know the things of God without the Spirit of God because “Those who are in the flesh cannot please God” (Rom 8:8) as “the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot” (Rom 8:7). This means only those “who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God” and daughters of God (Rom 8:14). The Apostle Paul asked, “For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God” (1 Cor 2:11). That is a key role of the Holy Spirit. He reveals the “thoughts of God.” The Holy Spirit will convict our conscience when we’re not doing the right thing or not doing what we should do, and He is continually dealing with the sins in our life. He won’t let us get comfortable in our sins, and the Holy Spirit helps us to avoid sin, but He also prompts the believer to help someone when opportunity presents itself.
The Teaching of the Spirit
When you sit down to read the Bible, pray that the Holy Spirit will open up the Scriptures to you, because one of the roles of the Holy Spirit is to teach us all things, as Christ told the disciples before He ascended back to the Father (John 14:26, Luke 12:12). The Holy Spirit is also called the Helper and the Comforter, and teaches us about the things of God through the Word of God. He will guide us in revealing the meaning of God’s written Word (John 16:13), and will help us remember Jesus’ teachings when we need to remember them the most (John 14:26). If you want to know more about the work, role, and ministry of the Holy Spirit, read John chapters 14, 15 and 16 and Romans 8.
The Spirit as Author
Finally we know that the Holy Spirit guided the content and the assembly of the Old Testament and the New Testament. Paul reminds Timothy that he can trust the Word of God because “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim 3:16-17). The Apostle Peter says that not even one “prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Pet 1:21). We see this when “the word of the LORD came to Ezekiel the priest…and the hand of the LORD was upon him there” (Ezk 1:3). One of the roles of the Holy Spirit was that He authored all Scripture while ensuring the proper assembling of the different books of the Bible.
Did you know that we can actually grieve the Holy Spirit of God? You can quench Him, you can resist Him, you can ignore Him, you can grieve Him, and you can fail to yield to Him, but we need His work in our lives to renew our minds (Rom 12:1-2). We cannot fully know the Word without the Spirit. We cannot know we need Christ without the Spirit, and we cannot know how to grow in holiness without His prompting and convicting us of sin. That’s the role of the Holy Spirit…thus His name is what He does in us…to make us more holy than before. Not perfection or sinless-ness, but hopefully, sinning a little less over time.
Article by Jack Wellman
Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren Church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is a writer at Christian Quotes and also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Teaching Children the Gospel available on Amazon.