What comes to mind when people talk about the Holy Spirit? I tend to think of John’s gospel, where Jesus tells us that He’s going away, but He won’t leave us as orphans because His Spirit will come and remind us of everything He’s said to us (John 14:18, 26). I think of Him as a constant companion; my Comforter, but one of His less popular roles is that of Challenger.
I’m reading the book of Micah at the moment. That’s in the Old Testament, before the birth of Jesus. Jesus hadn’t yet promised that His Spirit would testify about Him. In the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit wasn’t with people constantly; He came on certain people for specific purposes. In Micah 3:8-11, Micah says: “But the LORD’s Spirit has filled me with power, goodness, and strength. So I can tell Jacob about his crimes”. He goes on: “Leaders of Jacob and rulers of Israel, listen to me! You hate the right way of living! If something is straight, then you make it crooked! You build Zion by murdering people. You build Jerusalem by cheating people! The judges in Jerusalem accept bribes to help them decide who wins in court. The priests in Jerusalem must be paid before they will teach the people. People must pay the prophets before they will look into the future”. This isn’t so far-removed from today. I remember being at a gathering once where somebody said that unless we gave to the preacher, we wouldn’t receive any blessing from his words. I think Micah would have hated that.
There’s a lot of talk these days about the love of God – and where would we be without it? – but we also shouldn’t forget the call to right living. I know that as long as we’re following Him, Jesus doesn’t condemn (Romans 8:1), but the Holy Spirit still convicts. He still pricks our consciences when we overreact or think wrong thoughts, otherwise how would we grow? How would we increase from one degree of glory to another?
Jesus said that in order to enter the kingdom of God, someone must be born again – born naturally, and then born spiritually (John 3:3-5). In other words, if you’re a Christian, you’ve come to faith because the Holy Spirit has started working in your life. He’s convicted you, and you’ve realised your need for Jesus to take away all your past failings, but that’s just the start. “You accepted Christ Jesus as Lord, so continue to live following Him” (Colossians 2:6).
The Holy Spirit produces fruit in our lives: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). I can celebrate all of that, but I’m equally grateful for the way He guides me, and helps me to live for God.