Do you know what the Holy Spirit really IS? Do you realize the POWER it can make available to you?
ARE YOU plagued with fears, worries and personal frustrations? Do you have bad habits which seem almost impossible to break? Do you have an exciting, challenging PURPOSE in life? Or are you often despondent over the emptiness and boredom of the routine existence in which you find yourself? The Christ of your Bible said: "I am come that they might have LIFE, and that they might have it more ABUNDANTLY" (John 10:10). Jesus also stated: "God is Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth" (John 4:24). Are you ABLE to worship God "in spirit"? Do you know what the Holy Spirit really is? Do you fathom the POWER that is available to bless and enrich your life through that Spirit? These are vital questions you need to UNDERSTAND!
A Christian MUST Have the Holy Spirit
Speaking through the Apostle Paul, God says in Romans 8:9: "Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is NONE of His." In other words, if a man does not have God's own Spirit, he does NOT belong to God or to Christ, he is NOT converted, he is NOT truly a Christian. Do YOU have God's Spirit? Throughout this very 8th chapter of Romans, the Apostle Paul is contrasting the Spirit-led mind with the carnal, or natural physical mind of man which is basically in rebellion against God. Notice verse 6: "For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is LIFE and PEACE." One who is carnal — CUT OFF in rebellion against God and His way, is going to end up in DEATH. But one who is truly spiritual experiences the blessings of life and peace — a type of full life and real peace of mind which carnal people are not able to fathom or understand. Why does the carnal mind end up in death? "Because the carnal mind is ENMITY against God: for it is not subject to the LAW of God, neither indeed can be" (verse 7). Here, in plain language, God shows that those who are rebellious against obeying His LAW have "carnal" minds — minds HOSTILE and ANTAGONISTIC against the law and way of Almighty God. A Spirit-led mind, then, by contrast, would be one that is submissive and obedient to the laws and ways of Almighty God the Creator. As this passage clearly indicates, it is led in that way by the Holy Spirit. And, as Paul states in verse 14: "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God" — they are true Christians!
How to Receive God's Spirit
But if the true Christian is one who is OBEDIENT to God and His law through the Holy Spirit in him, how does he receive the Holy Spirit in the first place? In the first inspired sermon of the New Testament Church, Peter showed the people that they had rejected God, His prophets, and killed the very Messiah. They asked: "Men and brethren, what shall we do?" (Acts 2:37) "Then Peter said unto them, REPENT, and BE BAPTIZED every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ 'for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" (verse 38). To receive God's Spirit, one must completely REPENT of breaking God's Law! For baptism is performed "for the remission of sins," and the Bible states: "Sin is the transgression of the law" (I John 3:4). So to receive God's Spirit, you must REPENT of breaking God's law in the letter and in the spirit as it was magnified by Jesus Christ. Then you must be BAPTIZED in water as a symbol of your willingness to BURY your old self and rise up to walk in newness of life with Christ (Rom. 6:3-4). Acts 5:32 speaks of the Holy Spirit, "whom God hath given to them that OBEY him." You must come to KNOW that God exists as the SUPREME SPIRIT PERSONALITY who sits at — tile controls of this universe — that His way is right and good, and gin to OBEY Him, before you are given His Holy Spirit.
God's Spirit BLESSES You
Now notice the direct blessings, guidance and strength that you can receive through the very Spirit of God. Jesus said: — "If ye love me,. keep my commandments and I will pray the Father, — and lie shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever; even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him; but ye know him for he dwelleth with you, and shall be IN you" (John 14:15-17 ). It is a spirit of TRUTH that we receive from God. It guides us to see and understand truth. It is also called a "Comforter." In this forlorn, loveless age, the comfort and PEACE that is given through a real knowledge of God and His Spirit is truly a wonderful thing. Later, Jesus stated: "If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him" (verse 23). But HOW are Christ and the Father going to dwell within each individual Christian who keeps and obeys their inspired words? It is through the very Spirit of God — the Comforter — whom Jesus said shall come "that he may abide with you forever" (verse 16). Christ continued: "But the Comforter, which is the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you" (verse 26). The Holy Spirit is to TEACH us God's truth and help us understand the PURPOSE of our lives and of human existence. It will help us remember the Bible and the spiritual lessons we should have learned. In other words, God's Holy Spirit will help you UNDERSTAND the Bible, remember it, and LIVE it! It will also help you GROW in understanding of spiritual truth and of the amazing prophecies of the Bible that are now being worked out here below! "Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you INTO all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but what so-ever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come" (John 16:13). One reason more professing Christians aren't able to GROW constantly in grace and knowledge and understanding of prophecy is that they are not EMPOWERED by God's Holy Spirit to grasp and understand the Bible and to overcome themselves in living it.
The "Fruit" of God's Spirit
People today WANT the blessings that would come from God and His Spirit. But they want to get these blessings their own way! They fail to realize that only by SURRENDER to their Maker and God and through receiving His Holy Spirit can they have the deep inner happiness, peace of mind and joy' in life which everyone craves so much. But if one has surrendered to God in REPENTANCE and BAPTISM, he is promised to receive the very Spirit of God — the very LIFE and NATURE of God which is placed in His begotten children. Notice the wonderful "fruit" or RESULT of God's Spirit in the minds and hearts of human beings. "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance" (Gal. 5:22-23). The first and most important result of God's Spirit in the life of a human being is LOVE. This is a world based on competition, selfishness, greed and HATE. We are approaching the very epitome of hate — human annihilation through the next world war! The result of God's Spirit is exactly the opposite! The love that we receive through God's Spirit is not just another form of human love, but, "the love of GOD is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given unto us" (Rom. 5:5). What is this divine love that comes from God? The inspired answer is found in I John 5:3: "For this Is the love of God, that we KEEP HIS COMMANDMENTS: and His commandments are not grievous."
How God's Love Is Channeled
The love of the true Christian, then, is expresses in OBEYING the commandments of Almighty God. This loins down the riverbed or channel of the Ten Commandments. First, it is expressed in outgoing concern, adoration and WORSHIP toward our Heavenly Father. For Jesus said that the first and greatest commandment is to rove God with all one's being (Mat. 22:37). Next, this divine love from God is expressed in compassion, concern, kindness and service toward fellow man. For the second great command is: "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself" (Mat. 22:39). Through expressing the divine LOVE of God in keeping His commandments — in concern and service toward God and fellow man — comes deep-down joy and peace of a nature that is never experienced by selfish, carnal-minded men cut off from God and the true purpose of their lives. The qualities of long-suffering, gentleness and goodness are simply an added expression of that divine love which need not be expounded here. Notice that FAITH is one of the fruits of God's Spirit. Again, here is something the world has precious little of today. People seem to believe in nothing but themselves! And they have become mighty discouraged in that vain process. They do not really KNOW God. They are drifting about in an empty, black world. They are HELPLESS and yet they do not know where to turn! God's Spirit will impart a sense of KNOWING God — a personal contact with Him that cannot be obtained any other way. For His Spirit is His very nature that He places in us so that we can call Him "Abba, Father." The quality of "meekness" is mentioned next. In this age of hate and violence, this characteristic of humility, and the realization of one's own shortcomings is very sadly needed. It is a quality which enables one to see himself for what he really is — and thereby enables him to grow and become what he should be in the purposes of his Maker. Last of all, but far from least, is temperance, or SELF-CONTROL. Do you have the STRENGTH of character to overcome personal weaknesses, bad habits or a rotten temper? This quality of God's Spirit gives you the POWER to control yourself! This is one of the most important attributes that could be given to any human being! The wisest man who ever lived was inspired to write: "He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city" (Prov. 16:32). This divine gift of SELF-CONTROL enables the drunkard to quit drinking, the smoker to quit smoking, the man who is weak to become STRONG. It gives spiritual backbone and POWER to men and women who have surrendered their lives to the true God and are faithfully relying on His strength to help them live the balanced, happy, ABUNDANT lives which He has promised!
The "Gifts" of God's Spirit
The 12th chapter of I Corinthians is devoted to describing and explaining the "gifts" or spiritual TOOLS which God gives to those in His Church to do the WORK of the, body of Christ, the true Church of God. Paul states: "But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal" (verse 7). In other words, these spiritual gifts are given to each man in order to profit the whole body — the whole Church of God. Notice these gifts that come through God's Spirit: "For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit" (verse 8). The word "word" in this verse comes from a Greek expression meaning utterance or forth-telling. The emphasis is on the minister in God's Church being given the ability to speak or utter WISDOM or KNOWLEDGE — as the case may be. Notice that wisdom is put FIRST. It is most important, for a great deal of knowledge without wisdom could be a very dangerous thing. Wisdom is the ability to understand all of the facts bearing on any situation and make the right DECISION as course of action should be followed. A true minister, or one in high office of authority such as the President of the United States or the Prime Minister of Great Britain, needs a great deal of wisdom. And deep spiritual wisdom comes only from GOD through His Spirit!
Knowledge, Faith and Healing
This is also true with spiritual knowledge. This involves a grasp of the laws and principles of the Bible — a real KNOWING of God's will and purpose. This is something that many men have sought after their whole lifetime without ever finding it! But it can come through surrender to God and the receiving of His Holy Spirit. The other gifts mentioned are faith which comes — only through God's Spirit. Then the gifts of healing — the God-given office and authority to heal the sick as Jesus Christ and His apostles did when on this earth. If you are in doubt as to whether God has taken this gift away from His people, read Mr. Armstrong's free booklet: "Does God HEAL Today?" The working of miracles is another gift that the world will soon come to realize is still in God's true Church and that He will intervene even physically in our lives and affairs when we ask Him to do so in faith according to His will. The gift of prophecy or inspired preaching is another gift very much in evidence in the true Church of God which is carrying His message to this world as a last witness in real POWER. The discerning of spirits — the ability to discern the attitude or spirit of a person whether it is of Satan or of God. This should also be possessed by those who call themselves Christians today. And last of all is mentioned the gift of tongues and the interpretation of tongues. This supernatural gift embodies the ability to speak through supernatural help a foreign language one has not physically and mentally learned, and help preach the Gospel in this way. As the end of this age approaches and even the heathen and those of languages not normally taught in schools and colleges must be reached as a last witness, this gift will undoubtedly be seen and exercised its true way more and more.
God's Spirit Imparts His Nature
The Apostle Paul said: "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 2:5). The Very MIND and. NATURE of Christ and God are available to the true Christian through the POWER of God's Holy Spirit. We can come to have better WISDOM, and KNOWLEDGE, and FAITH. As the Apostle Peter stated: "Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the DIVINE NATURE, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust" (II Pet. 1:4). As the begotten child of Almighty, you can receive His very NATURE and CHARACTER — just as a human baby receives the exact nature of his parents! You will come to think as God thinks, love as God loves, have the Power of SELF-CONTROL as He does and — more and more have His divine KNOWLEDGE, His UNDERSTANDING of spiritual things and His WISDOM to make the right decisions throughout this life now and all eternity! This should give the true Christian a tremendous confidence and FAITH in God and in His POWER working through those who surrender their lives to Him that is unsurpassed in human experience! The young evangelist Timothy was written the following inspired words by the Apostle Paul which apply to us today as well: "Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God which is in thee by the putting on of my hands. For God hath nor given us the spirit of fear; but of POWER, and of LOVE, and of a SOUND MIND" (II Tim. 1:6-7).
The Power to Actually Live as Christ Lived
Today people are fearful. They are frustrated. Their lives are empty and forlorn. They do not love others and they themselves crave affection. Millions are mixed up and have weird ideas about religion and politics. They are "blown about by every wind of doctrine." People don't know WHERE they came from, WHY they are here, or WHERE they are going. They DON'T KNOW GOD! But the Apostle Paul shows us that the very Spirit and nature of God is NOT one of fear or confusion. Rather, it is the spirit of POWER — Spiritual STRENGTH to master our human weaknesses and the temptations of the world and the Devil. It is the spirit of LOVE — the attitude of worship and obedience and adoration toward our Father in Heaven who made us and put us here, and of, concern and kindness and service toward our fellow man made in His image. The Holy Spirit is that of a SOUND MIND — a mind that grasps the real purpose of human existence in relationship to the plan and will of Almighty God, and sees each trial and test and phase in life in relationship to that purpose and has the WISDOM to make right decisions accordingly. Would you like to have the tremendous UNDERSTANDING of God and life and the unparalleled strength of CHARACTER that can be had only through the power of God's Spirit? Then OBEY your Maker! REPENT and BE BAPTIZED by a true servant of the Living God as He has commanded! Carefully read the articles every month in The PLAIN TRUTH magazine to find out more of the details of God's will and to prove to yourself WHERE God is working today! Don't "kid" yourself. Be honest with God and with the Bible. Seek God and His Spirit with all your might — in diligent Bible study, in prayer and fasting, and obey each spiritual truth as God reveals it to you! Seek God's Spirit with all your might. Exercise it. Use it. If you truly yield yourself to God arid His will, you will receive it — and it is POWER UNLIMITED!