Many Christians seem to have the idea that the Holy Spirit is an "it," a manifestation of the power of God or the gift of tongues. But the Holy Spirit is none of these. He is the third Person of the Godhead, a divine Person with a plan for our lives.
And He doesn't come to us haphazardly; He is a Person of purpose. God has an eternal plan and purpose for every individual who accepts Jesus as Lord and Savior. The Holy Spirit is God bringing that purpose to reality as we learn to yield to His will for our lives.
Paul asked the Corinthians, "Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you?" (1 Cor. 6:19, NKJV). The Holy Spirit does not reside in the church building; He lives in us. Though He resides in our spirits, His work is limited by what we allow Him to do through our souls and bodies.
That is why we need to die to our soulish nature; it is so we can cooperate with Him to accomplish His purpose. Our carnal minds need to be renewed by the Spirit of God within us to think His thoughts. Our wills need to be yielded to Him to obey His will. Our emotions need to be filled with the love of God. The Holy Spirit helps to ensure that these things happen by setting up residence within us and making His "temple" a place of discernment; victory over sin; refreshing; healing and deliverance; soul-winning and missionary zeal; warfare against strongholds; and total restoration.
A Place of Spiritual Discernment
One of the first things the Holy Spirit does when He comes to dwell in our hearts is to make them places of spiritual discernment. The Holy Spirit living in us gives us the ability to discern what spirit we are encountering in a certain situation: the Holy Spirit, an evil spirit or the human spirit. Though everyone may not operate in the gift of discerning of spirits, when the Holy Spirit comes into our hearts, He brings His divine ability to discern.
Spiritual discernment is paramount in considering the purposes for the coming of the Holy Spirit because until He comes to us, we are living under the influence of another spirit. Paul declared, "And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience" (Eph. 2:1-2, NASB).
Before our salvation, we were cooperating with the spirit of this world that is inspired by Satan. So our inner man was under the influence of that spirit. If we are going to submit to the Holy Spirit, He has to be able to teach us to discern which spirit is to abide there.
The Holy Spirit will put a caution in our minds when we hear something that is not quite right. Those checks become safeguards that keep us from error. We need to learn to listen to those impressions and then learn to test them, trying the spirits.
A Place of Victory Over Sin
The Holy Spirit came to make us victorious over sin. The Scriptures teach, "For sin shall not have dominion over you" (Rom. 6:14, NKJV). There is the power of sin, the pollution of sin and the penalty for sin. God came to deliver us from all the dominion of sin.
When people do not live victoriously, they are not walking in the Holy Spirit. Even if they speak in tongues as an evidence of having received the baptism of the Holy Spirit, they may not be walking in the Spirit. He came to make this temple a place of victory over sin, and having that victory means we are walking in the Spirit.
Does that mean we won't ever sin again? No. But sin does not have to control us. As we yield to the Holy Spirit, He delivers us from sin, and we don't have to live in it. He changes our desires so we don't want to live the way we did under sin.
We don't have to have people watching us to make us keep the rules. We walk obediently because the victory is dwelling in us. We don't have to be restricted to turn off immoral programs on television. Our own desires scream against them. The Holy Spirit is controlling our desires and enabling us to hate the things God hates. So He came to give us that victory until sin no longer has dominion over us.
A Place of Refreshing
The Holy Spirit makes our hearts ready to receive the refreshing rain that God promises. He knows that without rain, we can't produce fruit. He knows that unless we have showers, our hearts will get hard.
Have you ever seen rain fall when the ground was so hard that the water didn't soak it? That is a picture of people who come to church when the Spirit is moving and the rain of His presence rolls off like water off a duck's back because their hearts are too hard to receive it.
The rain of the Spirit brings repentance. Repentance will break up the soil of the fallow ground. He comes in conviction to our temples and prepares them as places where the showers of the latter rain of refreshing can fall.
A Place of Healing and Deliverance
The Holy Spirit has come to make our temples places of healing. Jesus is the Anointed One who brings healing and deliverance to captives. He acknowledged the fact that the Holy Spirit empowered Him for every good work when He stood up in church to read, "'The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives" (Luke 4:18).
The good news of the gospel is for the poor. The "poor" does not refer to people who do not have material possessions, but to those who recognize their need for God.
As we can understand from the passage in Luke 4, the healing that the Holy Spirit came to set up inside us is not limited to physical distresses. He came to bring divine help to the mind, to the will, to the emotions—to any part of us that has been injured or bruised.
In whatever way we are lame or crippled--physically, mentally or emotionally—He has come to bring divine enablement. We do not need to wallow in self-pity over our emotional hurts or use the past as an excuse for present failure.
We hear the cry so often today, "I was abused." Though it is true that many have suffered deeply from traumatic experiences, it is equally true that the Holy Spirit came to bring healing. If, as Christians, we haven't experienced His healing in certain areas of our lives, is it not that we haven't allowed Him to do that healing work in us? We need to find a place of forgiveness and yieldedness to His love and power that will free us from the effects of our past.
You may ask me, "Have you ever been hurt or rejected or abused?" Of course I have. "Have you ever had anybody do something to make you bitter?" Of course I have. But I did not have to succumb to bitterness and other negative strongholds, for I discovered Somebody living in me who can handle it.
I have been given grace to forgive, and that becomes my key to the healing of my hurt. The healing of the Holy Spirit is for even the deepest pain: bruisings, batterings, broken hearts. He came to make us whole, not only in our bodies, but in our psyches and emotions as well. Though we are powerless to heal ourselves, the Holy Spirit brings healing by His divine power.
A Place of Soul-Winning and Missionary Zeal
The Holy Spirit comes to set up a zeal in our hearts for winning the lost to Christ. Jesus promised the disciples, "But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me" (Acts 1:8).
One of the sure proofs that He has come to our hearts is that we become witnesses. Where do we begin to be witnesses? Jesus said we begin in our Jerusalem, the place where we live—in other words, our home base.
Your world is where you personally touch lives. The zeal and power to witness to your world is evidence that the Holy Spirit has come. It is the Holy Spirit's business to win the world to Jesus.
Jesus commissioned His disciples to go to all the world. A Spirit-led life will have that mandate. A Spirit-led church has the same mandate to go into all the world with the gospel. Where the Holy Spirit is working, He is working to bring souls of men to Jesus.
A Place Where Strongholds of Satan Are Conquered
Conquering strongholds is different from gaining victory over sin. I know that some say the church is not to be militant, that we are to be lovers of the Lamb, cultivating a relationship with our heavenly Bridegroom.
I agree with them that we are to be in love with Jesus, but I disagree with the extreme of saying we are never to be involved in spiritual warfare. God gave the church the power over Satan. He deputized us, equipped us, and sent us out with authority over devils and diseases.
The church is learning both to worship the Lamb and to do warfare—not by our power, but by the power of the Spirit. It is God who pulls down strongholds, but He has to do it through the church. If we can stand against the enemy with vessels that are clean and release the Holy Spirit in us, He will pull down the strongholds of the enemy.
In the 1500s, the queen of England said she feared the prayers of John Knox more than she feared the whole enemy's army. He was a man of God who knew God's power over the enemy.
What does the enemy think of us? The church is not a weak, passive, defeated group of people. The church is the body of Christ anointed by the power of the Holy Spirit to preach the gospel to the poor, to set the captives free and to tear down strongholds. The Holy Spirit gives us authority to take back what the devil stole.
A Place Where Backsliding Can Be Removed
The Holy Spirit comes into our lives to bring restoration to our souls. Everything the enemy has perpetrated against the human race, God has purposed to restore.
Jesus came to undo, outdo and overdo everything the devil ever did. The Holy Spirit is restoring us to relationship with God the Father and God the Son, teaching us to walk with Him in obedience and to enjoy the kingdom of God in righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.
These are the wonderful purposes of the Holy Spirit in coming to redeem a life from the power of sin. As He accomplishes them, we begin to walk more fully in the Spirit and to live in such a way as to fulfill the unique plan God has for each of us.
Fuchsia Pickett was a noted Bible teacher and author of numerous books, including Receiving Divine Revelation and Presenting the Holy Spirit, from which this article is adapted.