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10 Myths about the Ministry of the Holy Spirit

May 22, 2011

Religious people tend to view the Holy Spirit as a kind of Divine Bookkeeper, a recorder of men’s sins. But if Jesus did away with sin once and for by the sacrifice of Himself (He 9:26), what’s left for the Holy Spirit to do? He must be unemployed!

In Part 1, we looked at 10 myths surrounding the Person of the Holy Spirit. In this post we’re going to look at 10 myths regarding the ministry of the Holy Spirit…

Myth 1: The Holy Spirit teaches me to keep the commandments
Truth 1: The Holy Spirit guides you into a relationship with Truth Himself (John 16:13-14)

What did Jeremiah (31:33) mean when he prophesied that the Spirit would write His laws in our hearts? Was he promoting a relationship with the rules? No. Jesus is the law-keeper who lives within. Think of the Holy Spirit as a match-maker wooing you to Jesus. As we rest in Jesus and let Him live His life through ours (Galatians 2:20), we find ourselves keeping the commandments effortlessly. “For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” (Romans 8:3-4)

Myth 2: The Holy Spirit is like a Divine Policeman enforcing law and order
Truth 2: The Holy Spirit strengthens, encourages and prospers the church (Acts 9:31)

Since many believers have been brought up on a diet of law and obligation, it is natural to think of the Holy Spirit as a Policeman enforcing God’s commands. But this is confusing covenants. How does the Holy Spirit strengthen and build up the church? Principally by revealing more and more of Jesus (John 16:14, Philemon 1:6). The Holy Spirit is so good at what He does, that Jesus said that it was for our good that He leave so the Spirit could come (John 16:7). Think about that! We’re better off now with the Spirit than we were with Jesus in the flesh.

Myth 3: The Holy Spirit is unpredictable, sort of the solo agent of heaven
Truth 3: The Holy Spirit speaks the words of Jesus and the Father (Matthew 10:20, John 14:26)

They really are all on the same team.

Myth 4: The Holy Spirit is mysterious and secretive – He’s hard to figure out
Truth 4: The Holy Spirit gives us wisdom and revelation (John 16:14, Ephesians 1:17)

The Holy Spirit is in the business of making known to us the mystery of God’s will (Ephesians 1:9, Daniel 2:19, Romans 11:25). Jesus said the Holy Spirit would guide us, not into some truth, but into all truth (Jn 16:13). He is not the author of confusion – that would be the devil. Rather, the Holy Spirit is the One who helps us make sense out of all Jesus said and did and everything that is about to happen (John 16:13, MSG). He really is the most wonderful Guide. Keep in step with the Spirit and you’ll never put a foot wrong.

Myth 5: The Holy Spirit scares me
Truth 5: The Holy Spirit releases rivers of peace and joy (Romans 14:17)

The Holy Spirit is the most powerful Being in the universe and He is for you (Romans 8:31). Some translations call Him “The Friend” for He truly is the great Friend of sinners (leading them to Jesus) and saints (encouraging and guiding us). He never leaves us for He is the Friend who sticks closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24). Jesus said the Spirit would be in us like a river (John 7:38). Just as a river needs to flow, so too does the Holy Spirit desire to flow out of you to refresh and bring life to others. One emotion which is consistently linked with the Holy Spirit is joy (Luke 10:21, Acts 13:52, 1 Thessalonians 1:6). If there is no joy in your walk, lean on the Holy Spirit. Believe that He is with you and in you to strengthen you with the Lord’s joy. If you are timid in your witness, understand that God has not given you a spirit of intimidation (2 Timothy 1:7). His kingdom is characterized by righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

Myth 6: The Holy Spirit is in the background somewhere – I’m not sure what He’s up to
Truth 6: The Holy Spirit actively partners with us and empowers us to be bold witnesses (2 Corinthians 13:14, Acts 1:8)

In Greek the Holy Spirit is described as a paraclete (Johnn 16:7). The image is of a soldier who partners with us side-by-side in combat like Jonathan’s armor-bearer (1 Samuel 14:7). And what a Powerful Partner He is! He never loses, He bears no scars, and His enemies have already been defeated! If you are saved then you already are acquainted with His work, for you could never have confessed Jesus as Lord without His help (1 Corinthians 12:3). (Have you ever thanked Him for that?) Many Christians know what it is to walk in the authority of Jesus’ Name, but they do not fully operate in the power of the Spirit. They’re like a cop with a badge but no gun. Jesus gave us authority (Luke 10:19) but said the Spirit would give us power (Acts 1:8). When the Spirit came on Saul in the Old Testament, the Bible says he was turned into another man who was empowered to do “whatever the occasion demands” (1 Samuel 10:6-7, NKJV). Similarly, in the new covenant the Spirit turns you into a new creation who is empowered to preach and demonstrate the gospel of the kingdom (1 Corinthians 2:4). This includes healing the sick, driving out demons, and raising the dead, as the occasion demands (Matthew 10:8). See Acts 3:11-16 for a picture of what this looks like.

Myth 7: The Holy Spirit leaves me speechless and anxious
Truth 7: The Holy Spirit gives you words to say so you need not worry (Mark 13:11, Luke 12:12)

Do you have an opportunity to speak but you’re stuck for words? Never fear for He is here! The gospel message is conveyed with words and wonders and the Holy Spirit provides them both. Trust Him – He’s really in you and with you! – and ask for His wisdom. He gives generously (James 1:5) and His wise words come pre-packaged with boldness (Acts 4:31).

Myth 8: The Holy Spirit is a euphemism for the warm fuzzies I experience in the mood music that follows the preaching
Truth 8: The Holy Spirit reinforces the preaching of the gospel with signs and wonders (Romans 15:19, 1 Thessalonians 1:5)

The modern church has diluted the role of the Holy Spirit to accommodate their limited experience of the supernatural. But Jesuspromised that “signs will accompany those who believe” (Mark 16:17). What miracles were attributed to the Holy Spirit in the book of Acts? All of them! It’s the book of His acts. Every time the good news is preached, the Holy Spirit is looking to confirm the message with signs following. His ministry is revealed in a Show and Tell gospel. “With that, Peter, full of the Holy Spirit, let loose…” (Acts 4:8, MSG). Cool huh?

Myth 9: The Holy Spirit crushes me with impossible demands – He teaches me how to die daily
Truth 9: The Holy Spirit raises the dead, makes us new, gives life, warns us of dangers, and frees us from the burdens of religion (Romans 8:11, Titus 3:5, Acts 15:28, 20:23)

More covenant confusion! The ministry of the law brings death and condemnation, but the ministry of the Spirit brings life and righteousness (2 Corinthians 3:6-9). True, He’ll let us come to the end of ourselves so that we might learn to trust Him. But He loves you just the same whether you stay in the boat or dance on the water. He comforts, He doesn’t condemn. Jesus promised life in abundance (John 10:10). The Holy Spirit delivers on that promise by replacing fear with courage, weakness with strength, and death with resurrection life (Acts 4:8-13, 2 Corinthians 1:9, 12:10).

Myth 10: The Holy Spirit gives different groups different revelation which is why we have different denominations
Truth 10: The Holy Spirit baptizes us into one body (1 Corinthians 12:13)

There is one body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all (Ephesians 4:4-6). We see the distinctions and call them “flavors,” but God sees one body with many members (Romans 12:5). God gives diverse gifts for a common purpose – that we might mature and reach true unity in the faith. Unity will happen when we believe exactly what the Son of God believes and know accurately what He knows concerning us (Ephesians 4:13). The Holy Spirit produces unity in the body, not division.

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