HOW DOES THE HOLY SPIRIT WORK?
Unfortunately, most Believers take the Holy Spirit for granted, if He is given any shift at all. Basically, the non-Pentecostal world, for the most part, ignores Him altogether. Sadder still, the Pentecostal world, which is supposed to be knowledgeable on this subject, limits Him to their prayer language, and I refer to praying with other Tongues. Some things about the Gifts of the Spirit are known as well, but even these things are, sadly and regrettably, falling by the way. Most Pentecostals simply do not know how the Holy Spirit works despite being baptized with the Spirit (Mat. 3:11; Acts 2:4). As a result of this lack of knowledge, this particular Chapter will, without a doubt, be one of, if not the most important Chapter in the entirety of this book. To know how the Holy Spirit works takes one out of the wasteland of quandary into Biblical knowledge that can change one’s life. The things we will say in this Chapter, as will become obvious, will be very, very simple but are completely unknown by virtually all of modern Christians. Once we begin to understand the Word of God as we should, it’s amazing as to how simple it really is. The problem is that preachers have a tendency to confuse the issue.
WHY DO PAUL'S WRITINGS SEEM TO BE DIFFICULT?
The truth is, Paul's writings are difficult to understand, but only if we don’t have the key that unlocks this treasure house of information.
The basic reason has to do with the fact that properly understanding the New Covenant takes us from “walking after the flesh,” to “walking after the Spirit.” To be frank, that’s a journey of a lifetime.
Walking after the flesh is that which is indicative to human beings. It refers to our education, motivation, strength, power, talent, intellectualism, etc., in other words, that, as stated, which is indicative to human beings. Functioning after the Spirit instead of the flesh is like a person who is right-handed having to function from a position of being left-handed. It can be done, but it’s not simple, quick, or easy. The fact is that most of Christendom functions after the flesh with only brief forays into the world of the Holy Spirit, which is not meant to be the Biblical norm. Instead of us coming into the realm of the Spirit, i.e., “Holy Spirit,” we try to bring the Spirit into the realm of the flesh, which will never work. The Holy Spirit, through the Apostle Paul, plainly and bluntly stated:
“So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God” (Rom. 8:8).
But then the Apostle stated:
“But you are not in the flesh (in one sense of the word is asking the question, ‘Since you are now a Believer and no longer depending on the flesh, why are you resorting to the flesh?’), but in the Spirit (as a Believer, you now have the privilege of being led and empowered by the Holy Spirit; however, He will do such for us only on the premise of our Faith in the Finished Work of Christ), if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you (if you are truly Saved). Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His (Paul is saying that the work of the Spirit in our lives is made possible by what Christ did at Calvary, and the Resurrection)” (Rom. 8:9).
WHY IS THE FLESH INSUFFICIENT?
The Apostle readily gives us the answer to why the flesh is insufficient! He said:
“And if Christ be in you (He is in you through the Power and Person of the Spirit [Gal. 2:20]), the body is dead because of sin (means that the physical body has been rendered helpless because of the Fall; consequently, the Believer trying to overcome by willpower presents a fruitless task); but the Spirit islife because of Righteousness (only the Holy Spirit can make us what we ought to be, which means we cannot do it ourselves; once again, He performs all that He does within the confines of the Finished Work of Christ)” (Rom. 8:10).
Even though we addressed it in the notes, which we copied word for word from THE EXPOSITOR';S STUDY BIBLE, still, this is so important that the following needs to be said and emphasized:
The Fall in the Garden of Eden made the physical body, in other words, what we can do as human beings, insufficient as it regards doing and living as we should, as it regards the Lord. So, if we depend upon this particular medium, over and over again the Holy Spirit through the Apostle tells us that we are going to fail.
THE HOLY SPIRIT ALONE CAN MAKE US WHAT WE OUGHT TO BE
This we must understand — that the Holy Spirit alone can make us what we ought to be. That’s why this Chapter is so very, very important. If we don’t know how the Holy Spirit works, while He most definitely will not leave us under such circumstances, and thank God for that, still, we will fall far short of what He can do, and wants to do, within our lives.
What we are facing in the spirit world, and I speak of the spirit world of darkness, is totally beyond our capacity. This is something the Believer must understand. That’s why Paul said the following:
“Finally, my Brethren, be strong in the Lord (be continually strengthened, which one does by constant Faith in the Cross), and in the power of His Might. (This power is at our disposal. The Source is the Holy Spirit, but the Means is the Cross [I Cor. 1:18].)
“Put on the whole Armour of God (not just some, but all), that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the Devil. (This refers to the ‘stratagems’ of Satan.)”
WE WRESTLE NOT AGAINST FLESH AND BLOOD
“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood (our foes are not human; however, Satan constantly uses human beings to carry out his dirty work), but against principalities (rulers or beings of the highest rank and order in Satan’s kingdom), against powers (the rank immediately below the ‘Principalities’), against the rulers of the darkness of this world (those who carry out the instructions of the ‘Powers’), against spiritual wickedness in high places. (This refers to demon spirits)” (Eph. 6:10-12).
At this juncture, please allow me to relate a dream which the Lord gave me many, many years ago. I think it will throw some light on the situation.
A PERSONAL ILLUSTRATION
If I remember correctly, the year was 1953. Frances and I were married in 1952, and Donnie was born in 1954. So the occasion must have been the early part of 1953.
At that time, Frances and I lived in a little tiny house trailer. I was just beginning to preach the Gospel.
Frances had already gone to bed. I stayed up, sitting in the front part of the little trailer, studying the Word of God. At a point in time, there seemed to be a most oppressive spirit that came into the room, so powerful, in fact, that I couldn’t shake it.
I left out of the little mobile home and started walking up and down the street right beside where we lived, which afforded some privacy, trying to pray. But, it was to no avail; I couldn’t seem to pray.
While Christians cannot be demon possessed (I Cor. 3:16), Christians definitely can be demon oppressed. Oppression comes from without, as demon spirits attack the Child of God, and can do so in many and varied ways. It can take the form of sickness, tremendous nervous disorder, frayed nerves, and emotional instability, and is caused, once again, primarily because the Believer doesn’t understand how the Holy Spirit works.
A short time ago while preaching on a Sunday Morning at Family Worship Center and dealing with this very subject, all of a sudden something very important dawned on me. I realized, even while I was addressing the audience, that I had not suffered one moment of demonic oppression since the Lord gave me the Revelation of the Cross in 1997. Being 2006 when I was addressing the audience that Sunday morning, that had been some nine years free of these efforts of Satan.
ALL VICTORY IS IN THE CROSS
Every single thing that the Believer receives from the Lord, and I mean everything, comes from Jesus Christ as the Source and through the Cross as the Means. In other words, it’s the Cross of Christ that makes everything possible. It was at the Cross where our Lord satisfied the demands of the broken Law, and did so by giving Himself in Sacrifice, in fact, as a perfect Sacrifice. This being done, this as well satisfied the demands of a thrice-Holy God, at least for all who will believe (Col. 2:14-15; Jn. 3:16). The Believer must understand that! It is the Cross of Christ which has made everything possible. Of course, as I’m sure the reader understands, when we speak of the “Cross,” we aren’t speaking of a wooden beam, but rather, that which Jesus there did. All of this means that in the Cross is all Salvation, in the Cross is all Victory, in the Cross is all Deliverance, in the Cross is Everything! In fact, the Believer cannot even remotely avail himself of Who Christ is, and What Christ has done, and did it all for us, unless he understands that the Cross of Christ is the Means by which all of this is carried out.
Satan could attack me vehemently before I understood the Cross because I was attempting to throw him off by the means of the flesh. In fact, that’s the way that virtually the entirety of the modern church faces the evil one. It’s by the flesh, which guarantees failure. That’s the reason that Paul also said:
“For the preaching (Word) of the Cross is to them who perish foolishness (Spiritual things cannot be discerned by unredeemed people, but that doesn’t matter; the Cross must be preached just the same, even as we shall see); but unto us who are Saved it is the Power of God. (The Cross is the Power of God simply because it was there that the total sin debt was paid, giving the Holy Spirit, in Whom the Power resides, latitude to work mightily within our lives)” (I Cor. 1:18).
In other words, the Holy Spirit works exclusively within the parameters of the Finished Work of Christ, i.e., “the Cross of Christ.”
IN A DREAM I SAW THE SPIRIT OF DARKNESS THAT WAS TRYING TO DESTROY ME
The night in question back in 1953, unable, seemingly, to throw off the powers of darkness, I finally retired to bed. Sometime in the early morning hours before daylight, the Lord gave me the following dream:
In the dream I found myself in the front room of a house with which I was not acquainted. In other words, I did not know where I was or why I was there.
I remember looking around the room of the house where the dream had placed me, noting that there was absolutely nothing in the room. No furniture, no pictures on the wall, nothing! There was not even a window in the room, only a door that led outside.
My first thoughts were, what am I doing here? Why am I in this place? Somehow, I could sense a foreboding, and my thoughts were, I’ve got to leave.
I turned to walk toward the door to exit the premises when, all of a sudden, standing in the doorway was the most hideous man/beast that words could ever begin to describe.
It must have stood about six feet tall or taller, and it had the body of a bear and the face of a man. As I looked at its countenance, I’ve never seen such evil. In fact, from its eyes, which seemed to be pools of evil all directed at me, as it began to descend upon me, it seemed to say, “I have you now.”
As I looked at this creature, and as it slowly began to lumber toward me, I became so weak that I slumped to the floor. My knees simply would not hold me.
THE WEAPONS OF OUR WARFARE ARE NOT CARNAL
As I lay there on the floor too weak to get up, I began to feel around with my hand, trying to find something with which I could defend myself. There was nothing there! From that I was to learn that “the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds” (II Cor. 10:4).
This thing was very close to standing over me now, poised to deliver the death blow. Without premeditation and without forethought, I screamed as loud as I could, “In the Name of Jesus,” even though my voice was no more than a whisper.
IN THE NAME OF JESUS
When I said that Name, even in my extremely weakened condition, it carried such Power that it was like something had hit this demon spirit in the head with a baseball bat. He clutched his head and began to stagger backwards, screaming all the time.
I learned that the Power of that Name was not predicated on my personal condition, on my personal strength, etc. In other words, it carried a weight, a Power, all its own.
And now I began to gather strength and finally stood to my feet. I said it again, “In the Name of Jesus!”
When I said it the second time, my voice was much stronger now, and this man/beast (demon spirit) slumped to the floor, still screaming and clutching its head. In fact, it was writhing on the floor like a snake that had just received the death blow.
Now, instead of it towering over me, I was towering over it.
I opened my mouth and for the third time said, “In the Name of Jesus!” Even though I exerted no strength at all, my voice sounded like a veritable Niagara. It was like my voice was connected to a public address system, which made it boom off the walls.
THE SOUND OF THE MIGHTY RUSHING WIND
And then, when I uttered that Name Jesus the third time, I distinctly heard “a sound from Heaven as of a rushing mighty wind” (Acts 2:2). I didn’t see anything, but I distinctly heard it, and I knew it was the Holy Spirit.
Before my eyes, and mostly to my hearing, this “Sound” grew louder and louder as it came into the room. As stated, I saw absolutely nothing, but to be sure, what I heard I knew to be from the Lord.
The Power of that Sound hit that man/beast lying on the floor, and despite its bulk, swept it out the front door like it was a falling leaf in a March wind. I remember in the dream running to the door and looking out, seeing it wafting away on the wind until it was out of sight.
I awakened myself that early morning hour, praising the Lord with other Tongues. I knew that the dream was from the Lord. I knew that He was telling me something; however, at that time, I had no idea as to what it was.
As the years would pass, and the Lord would use us to touch much of this world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, I came to understand that power of darkness that tried to destroy me. But, above all, I came to understand the Power of the Name of Jesus, which was of far greater magnitude than that of demon spirits. Yet, at the same time, I have learned that the forces arrayed against me and, in fact, every Believer, are so far beyond our capacity, as a mere human being, to oppose. In other words, if we try to oppose the powers of darkness by the means of the flesh, we will be defeated every single time. I had to learn that the hard way, and I greatly suspect that such is the occasion for every Believer as well. In other words, we don’t learn these things quickly or easily.
In that dream that night, I learned what the mighty Name of Jesus could do, and I learned the Power of the Holy Spirit. What is impossible for us is nothing for Him. Of course, and as the reader understands, the Holy Spirit is God!
WILLPOWER IS NOT ENOUGH
Regrettably, most Christians are trying to live for God by the means of willpower. If they speak to someone about difficulties, most of the time, they will be told to “try harder.” The truth is that they can try as hard as they might, but all to no avail!
Many Christians think that when they give their hearts to the Lord, their willpower is greatly strengthened. It isn’t! You have the same willpower now that you had before you got Saved. And, if you try to live for God by the means of willpower, which, in effect, is the flesh, you will fail every single time, no matter how hard you try. Paul told us this in the great Seventh Chapter of Romans. This Chapter portrays snapshots out of the Apostle’s own life and experience of trying to live for God before he understood the Message of the Cross. To be sure, and regrettably, it was a life of failure.
And yet, when he wrote these words, he full well understood God’s Prescribed Order of Victory, but the Lord allowed him to give an example of his own experience that it might be an encouragement to us.
Before understanding the Cross, Paul tried to live for God by his own personal strength, i.e., “his willpower.” He found to his dismay that it was woefully insufficient. He said:
“For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwells no good thing (speaks of man’s own ability, or rather the lack thereof, in comparison to the Holy Spirit, at least when it comes to spiritual things): for to will is present with me (Paul is speaking here of his willpower; regrettably, most modern Christians are trying to live for God by means of willpower, thinking falsely that since they have come to Christ, they are now free to say ‘no’ to sin; that is the wrong way to look at the situation; the Believer cannot live for God by the strength of willpower; while the will is definitely important, it alone is not enough; the Believer must exercise Faith in Christ and the Cross, and do so constantly; then he will have the ability and strength to say ‘yes’ to Christ, which automatically says ‘no’ to the things of the world); but howto perform that which is good I find not (outside of the Cross, it is impossible to find a way to do good)” (Rom. 7:18).
As we stated in the notes, while the will is most definitely important, within itself, it is incapable of carrying out that which we must have. For that to be done, and I speak of Victory over the world, the flesh, and the Devil, the Holy Spirit Alone can carry out such direction of Victory within our lives.
IS THE WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT AUTOMATIC?
No! The Work of the Holy Spirit is not automatic.
Stop and think a moment. If the Work of the Holy Spirit within our hearts and lives were automatic, then there would never be another failure on the part of the Child of God. We would never take a wrong direction; we would never fail the Lord, etc., but, we know that’s not the case, don’t we? While the Holy Spirit is God and, as such, can do anything, still, He has an agenda within our hearts and lives, and that is that we develop as we should in the Lord, coming from dependence on the flesh to dependence on the Holy Spirit. As we have stated, that is not a quick or uneventful journey. John Newton, who wrote “Amazing Grace,” said it well. He wrote:
“Thro’ many dangers, toils and snares,
“I have already come;
“’Tis Grace hath bro’t me safe thus far,
“And Grace will lead me home.”
WHAT IS THE GRACE OF GOD?
The Grace of God is simply the Goodness of God extended to undeserving Saints. In other words, the Lord has many wonderful, good, and beautiful things to give to us, which we could never merit, no matter what we do. However, we limit Him as to what He can do for us and, in fact, desires to do, simply because we don’t understand the Way and the Means that Grace operates.
How does it operate?
The Lord doesn’t demand very much of us. If He did, most of us, and perhaps all of us, would fall by the wayside, but He does demand one thing, and this is critical to our Living for God, at least living successfully.
He demands that the Cross of Christ ever be the Object of our Faith. We must understand that the Grace of God, i.e., “the Goodness of God,” is made available to us strictly by and through the Cross of Christ. In other words, it’s the Cross that gives the Lord the legal means to do all that He does for us. As we’ve stated, while Christ is the Source of all Grace, it is the Cross which is the Means by which this Grace is given to us. This demands that the Cross of Christ ever be the Object of our Faith.
That’s why Paul also said:
“Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the Gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the Cross of Christ should be made of none effect” (I Cor. 1:17).
Was Paul denigrating Water Baptism? No!
The great Apostle was simply telling us that the emphasis in life and living must always be centered up on the Cross of Christ and never on other things, such as Water Baptism, as good and wonderful and Scriptural as those things might be in their own right.
We must ever understand that whatever it is we need from the Lord, and, in fact, we need everything, such cannot be merited, no matter what we do. We must understand that it’s always a free gift, and the way this free gift is received is simply that our Faith be placed in the Means by which it comes to us, which is the Cross of Christ (Rom. 6:1-14; 8:1-2, 11; I Cor. 1:17, 18, 23; 2:2; Gal., Chpt. 5; 6:14; Eph. 2:13-18; Col. 2:14-15).
No, the Holy Spirit doesn’t just work automatically within our hearts and lives. As we have stated, He doesn’t demand much of us, but He does demand one thing, and that is not debatable. It is that our Faith be exclusively in Christ and what Christ has done for us at the Cross. We are to maintain our Faith in that capacity even on a daily basis (Lk. 9:23; 14:27). With our Faith properly placed, the Lord can and will do mighty things for us.
FAITH IS THE KEY
Faith is the key, but we must always understand, it is Faith in the correct Object, which is the Cross of Christ.
Every human being in this world has faith; however, for the most part, it’s not the Faith that God recognizes. In fact, more books have been written on Faith, concerning the Lord, in the last fifty years than all the balance of the Church Age put together. Regrettably, most of the things in those books are not Biblical.
The only Faith that God will recognize is Faith in Christ and what Christ has done for us at the Cross. That and that alone must ever be the Object of our Faith and must be such on a continuing basis. Concerning this, Paul said:
“What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, has found? (Having stated that the Old Testament teaches that God justifies the sinner on the Faith principle as opposed to the merit principle, the Holy Spirit now brings forward Abraham.)
“For if Abraham were justified by works (which he wasn’t), he has whereofto glory; but not before God (the boasting of Salvation by works, which God will not accept).”
ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD
“For what says the Scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for Righteousness (Gen. 15:6 – if one properly understands this Verse, he properly understands the Bible; Abraham gained Righteousness by simple Faith in God, Who would send a Redeemer into the world [Jn. 8:56]).”
“Now to him who works (tries to earn Salvation) is the reward (Righteousness) not reckoned of Grace (the Grace of God), but of debt (claiming that God owes us something, which He doesn’t!).
“But to him who works not (doesn’t trust in works for Salvation), but believes on Him Who Justifies the ungodly (through Christ and the Cross), his Faith is counted for Righteousness (God awards Righteousness only on the basis of Faith in Christ and His Finished Work)” (Rom. 4:1-5).
JUSTIFICATION BY FAITH
The great Apostle then said:
“Therefore being Justified by Faith (this is the only way one can be justified; refers to Faith in Christ and what He did at the Cross), we have peace with God (justifying peace) through our Lord Jesus Christ (what He did at the Cross):
“By Whom also we have access by Faith into this Grace (we have access to the Goodness of God by Faith in Christ) wherein we stand (wherein alone we can stand), and rejoice in hope (a hope that is guaranteed) of the Glory of God (our Faith in Christ always brings Glory to God; anything else brings glory to self, which God can never accept)” (Rom. 5:1-2).
THE OBJECT OF FAITH
The great Apostle now tells us, as a Child of God, what the Object of our Faith must be. He said:
“What shall we say then? (This is meant to direct attention to Rom. 5:20.) Shall we continue in sin, that Grace may abound? (Just because Grace is greater than sin doesn’t mean that the Believer has a license to sin.)
“God forbid (presents Paul’s answer to the question, ‘Away with the thought, let not such a thing occur’). How shall we, who are dead to sin (dead to the sin nature), live any longer therein? (This portrays what the Believer is now in Christ.)”
THE CROSS OF CHRIST
“Know you not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ (plainly says that this Baptism is into Christ and not water [I Cor. 1:17; 12:13; Gal. 3:27; Eph. 4:5; Col. 2:11-13]) were baptized into His Death? (When Christ died on the Cross, in the Mind of God, we died with Him; in other words, He became our Substitute, and our identification with Him in His Death gives us all the benefits for which He died; the idea is that He did it all for us!)
“Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into death (not only did we die with Him, but we were buried with Him as well, which means that all the sin and transgression of the past were buried; when they put Him in the Tomb, they put all of our sins into that Tomb as well): that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the Glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life (we died with Him, we were buried with Him, and His Resurrection was our Resurrection to a ‘Newness of Life’).”
“For if we have been planted together (with Christ) in the likeness of His Death (Paul proclaims the Cross as the instrument through which all Blessings come; consequently, the Cross must ever be the Object of our Faith, which gives the Holy Spirit latitude to work within our lives), we shall be also in the likeness of HisResurrection (we can have the ‘likeness of His Resurrection,’ i.e., ‘live this Resurrection Life,’ only as long as we understand the ‘likeness of His Death,’ which refers to the Cross as the means by which all of this is done)” (Rom. 6:1-5).
Coming up in a particular Pentecostal Denomination, I often heard preachers mention “Resurrection Life.” Looking back, I know that most of them were, in a sense, denigrating the Cross of Christ because they would mention that, in essence, they had gone beyond the Cross and were now living the “Resurrection Life.” Regrettably, that is the thinking of most Christians as it regards Resurrection Living.
The reader must understand, and unequivocally so, that in order to have this “Resurrection Life,” which the Lord most definitely wants us to have, and which we can have, we must first realize that it is made possible solely by the Cross of Christ. That means that if the Believer doesn’t understand this, he will definitely not enjoy Resurrection Life, and because he will be trying to live this through the flesh.
We must know, first of all, that we have been “planted together (with Christ) in the likeness of His Death,” which Paul gives us in Romans 6:3-5, and then, and only then, can we live this Resurrection Life. It is all predicated on the Cross of Christ.
Secondly, we must understand that while the Resurrection of Christ, the Ascension of Christ, and the Exaltation of Christ were all of vast significance, still, they were the result of the Cross of Christ and not the cause. In other words, and we say it again, the Cross of Christ is the “Means” by which all things were done, and we mean all things.
So, again we make the statement that the Work of the Holy Spirit in our lives is not an automatic work. For us to have all that He can do, and please believe me, He can do anything, we must ever understand that He does these things on the premise of Christ and what Christ has done at the Cross. That’s what gives Him the legal means of all that He does. It only requires of us a small thing, and that is that our Faith be exclusively in Christ and the Cross and nothing else.
(This message was derived from the book, “Brother Swaggart, Here Is My Question About The Holy Spirit”.)