The Holy Spirit
Before they become believers, Jewish people cannot understand the Trinity. Some think that Father, Son and Holy Ghost means the Creator of the universe, a human hero to whom the Gentiles have attributed kind of "junior deity" status, and finally the purported ectoplasmic appearance of Jesus after the crucifixion, with rank delineated by order of mention.
As believers we realize that the term Holy Ghost is merely another way of saying Holy Spirit. In our modern language, "ghost" sounds spooky, whereas "spirit" does not. It’s easier to understand and relate the term Holy Spirit. The difficulty lies not in understanding the term, but in honoring and giving the Holy Spirit of God the obedience he wants and deserves from us.
The Holy Spirit is Creator
The very first chapter of Genesis mentions the Spirit of God hovering over creation. Genesis 1:1 tells us that God created the heavens and the earth, and the next verse introduces the Holy Spirit: "And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters."
By this we see that in no way is the Holy Spirit a "lesser deity." The Holy Spirit is the Creator, and because of that, we can fairly assume that he is also in control of each soul created at conception. That makes the Holy Spirit our designer. Then logically, only as we allow him to be entirely in control of our lives do we function as designed. Unfortunately, modern society is far from allowing God, if they believe in him at all, to have such control. The term "lifestyle" has become all-important. While it sounds innocent enough, it has come to mean "my kind of sin" by those who live for their sin. Rather than be concerned about our own lifestyles, we should be concerned about God’s style − living his way − according to his design.
The Holy Spirit is our Teacher
Not only is the Holy Spirit our designer and our creator, he is the source of our creative skills. In Exodus 31:3 we find that the Lord has filled Bezalel "with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship." Exodus 35:31 reiterates this. In this day and age, where we so prize creativity, few seem to realize that the Holy Spirit gives that creativity to whom he chooses.
Some talk about the "muse" of literature, song or drama. This Greek concept of the "muse" involves an empowering spirit entity, whether angel or demon, that takes control of skilled individuals and enables them to deliver their art, music, drama, literature, dance, etc.
We cannot say with certainty that the creativity of this world apart from the Holy Spirit is demonic. There is nothing intrinsically good or intrinsically evil about artistic portrayal. It can be used for either good or evil. Nevertheless, because Satan presents himself as an angel of shining light, those who seek to "capture the muse" and fill themselves with the spirit of creativity are likely to receive their "gift" from the father of lies rather than from the Father of Lights.
Art, in whatever form, is not so much a study or practice as it is a style. The most artistically creative people in the world seem to have been those who were undoubtedly led by the Holy Spirit to honor the Lord with their talents. Think of Wesley, Luther, Calvin and Augustine. Think of Michelangelo, da Vinci, Handel and Bach. They all seem to have been consecrated to the Lord so far as their art was concerned.
The Holy Spirit is our Communicator
What we see of God we see not because of flesh and blood but because the Father has revealed himself to us through the Holy Spirit. What we speak for God we speak not out of our own contemplation but because our hearts, our minds and our tongues have been set in motion by the hovering Spirit of creation who has come to rest upon us.
Whether it is in the matter of informing us, instructing us, indoctrinating us, illuminating the truth in us or for us, or instilling that truth in others through us − all holy communicational, holy communion is accomplished through the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is our Guide
In Numbers 8-12 we see that the visible manifestation of the Holy Spirit provided guidance for God’s people Israel . The Shekinah glory, a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night, pointed out the direction in which the people of God were to travel.
The Holy Spirit is our Burden Bearer
During the years of wandering, when the Israelites had become a burden to Moses, God provided relief by instructing Moses to select 70 elders to help him. Their most important qualification was not their natural leadership abilities, but that they would be Spirit-led and Spirit-taught administrators for God’s people. God promised Moses in Numbers 11:17 , "…I will take of the Spirit which is upon thee, and will put it upon them [the 70 elders], and they shall bear the burden of the people with thee, that thou bear it not thyself alone."
The Holy Spirit Unifies the Body of Christ
Not only does the Holy Spirit help us bear our burdens, he makes us of one accord and helps us lift those burdens together. In Ephesians 4:3 Paul alludes to this in admonishing the Ephesian church: "Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."
The Holy Spirit is the Facilitator
We read in Zechariah 4:6 that when there was great puzzlement as to a vision, there came the ringing message, "Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts."
That particular interpretation deals with Zerubbabel’s understanding a vision. Yet the meaning of those words goes far beyond that situation to tell us that God himself, through the Holy Spirit, is the great facilitator.
The Holy Spirit is the Empowerer
Then we come to the New Testament where in the book of Acts, chapter 1, the disciples also are wondering about what the future holds. "Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel ?" they ask Jesus.
He replies, "It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. But ye shall receive power, after the Holy Spirit is come upon you. He tells them that they must wait for the Holy Spirit to come upon them. He alone will give them the marching orders that will take them to the uttermost parts of the earth for God.
The Holy Spirit is the Life Changer
The word was not, "And then you ought to be witnesses to me…" or "Then you should be witnesses to me…" or " I want you to be witnesses to me …." rather, "after the Holy Spirit is come upon you… ye shall be witnesses unto me." They could refuse service only by refusing the gift of the Holy Spirit.
THE HOLY SPIRIT TODAY
So here we are today. And we must ask ourselves why we see so little of the power of the Holy Spirit − not necessarily what goes on in praise and prayer services, but the long-range moving power − the power of wisdom and of burden-bearing, whereby the weak become strong and accomplish mighty things for God.
The answer must be: Because we have not allowed room in our lives for the Holy Spirit. Within the boundaries of our souls we have crowded so many things, so many notions, but worst of all, so many selfish sins. We need to be emptied of self in order to be filled with the Spirit. We need an inner housecleaning job so that God’s Spirit can dwell within us.
The answer must continue: Because many fear the Holy Spirit. They do not dread being haunted by a ghostly apparition, like the erroneous concept some unbelievers may have of the Holy Ghost, but neither do they harbor a healthy respect for God and his power − the fear of the Lord that Scripture teaches is the beginning of wisdom.
Those who fear yielding to the Holy Spirit fear being defrauded. They are afraid that if they give the Holy Spirit sway in their lives, they will lose control − and well they might. Yet that is exactly what God wants. He wants us to yield to his Spirit, that he may lead us in ways that will please him. We owe the Holy Spirit this allegiance because together with the Father and Son, he is the ruler of all creation. There must be the willingness on our parts, not only to be redeemed and cleansed by the blood of the Savior, but to move ahead, as the Israelites in the wilderness followed the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night.
There is a sobering lesson to be learned from the wilderness wanderings. For more than two years the Israelites tarried at Sinai and formed themselves into armies to take the land. Sustained by God’s provision of manna, they prepared for battle. When their training was complete, when each tribe had an army and a general and a duty, and victory lay ahead, the mixed multitude complained. (Numbers 11:4-6)
They said, "Who shall give us flesh to eat? We remember the fish which we did eat in Egypt freely; the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlic. But now our soul is dried away; there is nothing at all, besides this manna, before our eyes." Scripture says that the Lord’s anger was "kindled greatly" because of this complaining.
God’s people, believers who seek God’s blessing rather than his displeasure, must be willing to yield complete control to the Holy Spirit and to whatever he has in store, as well as where he leads. We must willingly follow him, with or without "the melons and the leeks and the garlic and the fish." We must be willing to be fed by God on a diet of manna if that is what he chooses for us.
We must be willing to rearrange our lives if necessary, to allow the Holy Spirit to control us. Then we will move out into all the nations of the earth and bless the name of God among them. Then we will not only enjoy the blessing of serving God, but others will rise up and call us blessed as we minister God’s fullness and blessing to them.