Engage with the Holy Spirit
- Thursday, July 10, 2008
Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Graham A. Cole's new book, Engaging with the Holy Spirit: Real Questions, Practical Answers, (Crossway Books, 2007).
The Holy Spirit is the part of God who lives right inside of you. Yet the Spirit’s work can seem mysterious when you’re trying to engage with it.
No matter what challenges you face figuring out how to relate to the Holy Spirit, you can overcome them and discover a closer relationship with God through the power of His Spirit.
Here are six crucial questions to ask that will help you learn how to engage with the Holy Spirit:
“What is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit?” This occurs when someone persistently rejects Jesus, and thus the Spirit who testifies about Him. It’s a person deciding to settle his or her heart against God. This is the one unforgivable sin, since without repentance, there can be no forgiveness. But the good news is that, if you’re worried that you may have blasphemed the Holy Spirit, you most likely haven’t. That’s because someone who is troubled enough to worry about committing that sin isn’t in persistent rebellion. Being angry with God, having doubts about Him, or expressing sorrow or disappointment don’t constitute blasphemy. God understands the reality of your difficult thoughts and feelings, and He even encourages you to express them. Blasphemy happens only if you reject Jesus completely.
“How May We Resist the Holy Spirit?” This happens when people resist the Bible – the Word of God, which the Spirit has inspired – by refusing to apply its truths to their lives. In the face of unbelievers’ apathy or even hostility toward Jesus, the Holy Spirit calls you to be bold about living out your faith and sharing it. You resist the Spirit when you refuse to speak the truth and let it guide your actions. But when you faithfully interpret and apply biblical truth, you’re inviting the Spirit to do amazing work in your life.
“Ought We to Pray to the Holy Spirit?” Praying directly to the Holy Spirit is fine if you’d like to, since God is a trinity, and the Spirit is just as much a part of God as the Father and the Son. But since there are no biblical precedents or explicit biblical commands of praying to the Spirit, you don’t have to pray to the Spirit. Praying to God or Jesus will involve the Spirit as well. The Holy Spirit always directs your attention back to the Father and Son. Your prayers – as well as your love, worship, praise, thanks, and everything else you offer to God – will bless all parts of Him, including His Spirit.
“How Do We Quench the Holy Spirit?” This means nullifying the Spirit’s work in your congregation by ignoring the preached or read Word of God (the Bible) that stirs your conscience, or by opposing ministries that reveal your life is out of moral sync with God’s revealed will. But as you seek to obey the Spirit’s guidance, you need to make sure that what you’re hearing is truly from the Holy Spirit and not from evil instead. Don’t be naïve or gullible, vulnerable to falling prey to false teaching or prophecy. Instead, test the spirits and pray for the discernment you need to be wise about what the Spirit is really saying to your church. Be open-minded, yet wise, about the Spirit’s work in your congregation.
“How Do We Grieve the Holy Spirit?” This occurs when there’s moral disparity between what people say they believe and how they actually behave. Wrong attitudes and actions cause the Spirit to feel grief and compel Him to withdraw. Realize that morality matters. Do your best to be obedient to God in every part of your life, and to treat others in the body of Christ well. Aim to grow in holiness.
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