God’s Holy Spirit is the crucial element that makes the New Covenant workable, in contrast to the Old Covenant that failed because of Israel’s disobedience. Hebrews 8:10 (which quotes Jeremiah 31:33) states, “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord; I will put My laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to Me a people.”
Receiving God’s Spirit begins the process of having His laws in the mind and written in one’s heart. The absence of this vital element is why ancient Israel continually disobeyed God, as does modern Israel today. God inspired Moses to record, “O that there were such a heart in them, that they would fear Me, and keep all My commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children forever” (Deut. 5:29). The reason Israel failed to fear and obey God was that “the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be” (Rom. 8:7). Spiritual survival depends on the following conditions: “But you are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man has not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His” (Rom. 8:9).
This lesson focuses on this most central element. Scripture shows that the Holy Spirit is the power that emanates from God. The resurrected Christ promised His disciples, “But you shall receive power, after that the Holy Spirit is come upon you” (Acts 1:8). Christ had a full measure of that Spirit during His physical life, with which He healed the sick, crippled and blind. He also stilled a violent storm and even raised the dead, yet He explained, “I can of mine own self do nothing…” (John 5:30). Christ performed miracles after acknowledging that this power never came from within: “… the Father that dwells in Me, He does the works” (John 14:10). The Holy Spirit is the means through which the Father transmitted power to Christ. An earnest amount of this Spirit of power is made available to each true Christian in this age.
Upon seeing, hearing and feeling the thunderous roar of a wonder such as Niagara Falls at close range, one can sense the impact of tremendous power. Scriptures actually compare the Holy Spirit to flowing water—even, “rivers of living water” (John 7:38). We begin this lesson by focusing on the power emanating from God, by which He sustains His creation.
Comment: It is clear that the Holy Spirit is the very power of God by which He created all things. The Holy Spirit is definitely not a member of a mystical trinity, on an equal basis with the Father and Christ. The fact that the Father is greater than Christ (John 14:28) nullifies that false concept.
The miraculous acts of creation show the unfathomable power of the Holy Spirit. It was by this power that Christ was able to keep the Ten Commandments perfectly. What is most fascinating of all is that a measure of this very power can enter our minds, and even this measure can grow and expand.
(4) Does God also sustain the creation by the power of the Holy Spirit? Nehemiah 9:6.
Comment: The Holy Spirit sustains the entire creation. It emanates from God, permeating everything. It is present everywhere (Psa. 139:7-9).
All the myriads of galaxies have required a level of sustenance in order to be preserved in tact across billions of years. The relatively recent delicate ecosystem of plant and animal life upon the earth has been preserved for thousands of years. Yet, mankind, under Satan’s influence and without the guidance of the Holy Spirit, has put the earth in a state of turmoil. We will see how this condition has developed, and how it will later be rectified.
(1) Did God offer Adam access to His Holy Spirit? Genesis 2:9.
Comment: The Tree of Life offered access to the Holy Spirit and to eternal life. The Scriptures show elsewhere that the Spirit gives life (II Cor. 3:6); “he that sows to the Spirit shall reap life everlasting” (Gal. 6:8); and “to him that overcomes, I will give to eat of the tree of life which is in the midst of the paradise of God” (Rev. 2:7).
(2) What other choice was Adam given besides the Tree of Life? Genesis 2:15-17.
Comment: God’s instructions to Adam were to not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. This tree represented man’s determination of what is good and what is evil, and what is right in his own eyes, independent of God’s instructions.
(3) What tree did Adam and Eve choose when put to the test? Genesis 3:6.
Comment: Under the sway of Satan, Eve chose to eat of the wrong tree, and so did Adam, shortly thereafter. Satan contradicted God by his assertion in verse 4, “you shall not surely die.” Satan was saying in effect, “you can’t rely on God’s word.”
Besides the influence of Satan, Adam and Eve’s own human reasoning also led them to make the wrong choice. In the ecstasy of intellectual vanity, they used human reason in choosing the forbidden tree. They rejected the Tree of Life, by which they would have received God’s Spirit and eternal life. Instead, since they chose to follow Satan’s lie, they eventually died. Since that time, mankind has followed the same path.
Comment: Ancient Israel proved that human “steam” is not enough. Their example was recorded for our admonition, “upon whom the ends of the world are come” (I Cor. 10:11).
(3) Did God give His Spirit to various prophets and individuals with whom He was working during the time of the patriarchs and of ancient Israel? II Peter 1:21; I Samuel 16:13; Daniel 4:18; Micah 3:8.
Comment: These scriptures are just a few of many showing that God gave His Spirit to a select few according to His Plan. Daniel 4:18 comes from the words of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, who only had limited understanding of the true God, and would expectedly use such a term as “the spirit of the gods” in describing God’s Spirit in Daniel.
(4) In Acts 1:8, Christ promised, “But you shall receive power after that the Holy Spirit is come upon you…” What series of events had to precede the Holy Spirit being made available to Christ’s disciples? John 7:37-39; 16:7.
Comment: These scriptures show that Christ had to “go away” and be glorified before God’s Spirit could be given. Only after His death, resurrection and ascension to Heaven could the Holy Spirit be made available. The term “belly” in John 7:38 comes from the Greek word koilia, which means “abdomen,” usually figuratively translated “heart.” Also, the term “ghost”(vs. 39), from the Greek word pneuma, should have been translated “Spirit.”
Comment: Although the New Covenant has not yet officially begun, this will occur in the soon-coming millennium, as the Holy Spirit is made available to all humanity. To have the Law of God written in one’s heart is to live the meaning of I John 5:3: “For this is the love of God that we keep His commandments…” To become perfected in love is to be perfect in obedience to God’s Law.
(6) Will God’s Spirit become available for all who desire to receive it? Joel 2:28-29.
Comment: These verses reflect the time when those who live into the millennium will experience truly abundant and fulfilled lives.
Note that verse 28 begins, “And it shall come to pass afterward…” This shows that only after these people receive a certain level of preliminary knowledge and understanding of God’s truth can they receive the Holy Spirit. Also, after they have their basic physical necessities restored, they can begin to focus more clearly on the spiritual level.
Comment: From the beginning of His physical life, Christ was strong in God’s Spirit because He was not only begotten physically by the Spirit, but begotten spiritually, as well.
Comment: To be strengthened and inspired by God’s Spirit caused the youth to learn the truths of God and history of mankind at an unprecedented rate. His knowledge and understanding of Scripture stunned the Jewish religious leaders.
(3) To what extent did Christ have the Holy Spirit? John 3:34.
Comment: Christ possessed the full measure of the Holy Spirit, through which He was able to perform unprecedented miracles and healings. His discernment of the thoughts and intents of others was keen and precise. He spoke with resounding authority, for He was the God of the Old Covenant, by whom God the Father had created the worlds.
Comment: Christ set the standard we are to follow. By the mouths of false accusers, He endured injustice (suffering wrongly), as we must do. When suffering, He did not threaten, but rather submitted to “not My will, but the Father’s will be done.”
(5) Does Christ live His life over again through true Christians? Galatians 2:20.
Comment: By continuing to seek God’s way throughout life, one can gradually take on the mind of Christ (Phil. 2:5) through the infusion of God’s Spirit.
Comment: As our High Priest, Christ has been interceding on behalf of true Christians—for their forgiveness upon repentance, their healing, and their spiritual strength and wisdom. Since Christ lives to make intercession for us (Heb. 7:25; 4:14-16), He understands our limitations, having suffered while in the flesh. We have every reason to succeed and overcome with such an advocate, who is ever willing for us to succeed with the spiritual power He makes available to us.
(1) Did Christ instruct His disciples to await the arrival of the Holy Spirit? Acts 1:8.
(2) When gathered together for Pentecost in Jerusalem in A.D. 31, amidst many Jews also gathered there, what happened to the 120 disciples? Acts 2:1-4.
(4) Besides the miracle of speaking in unknown languages, and Peter’s bold testimony before thousands, what other events transpired that day? Acts 2:41-42.
(5) By what power was Peter able to speak so boldly and assuredly as never before? Acts 4:8.
(6) After being threatened by Jewish authorities shortly after Pentecost, the disciples later came together to pray for strength. What signs did God give that He heard their prayer? Acts 4:31.
Comment: “The place was shaken” actually meant that God sent forth earthquake tremors. Besides this physical sign, the disciples were “filled with the Holy Spirit.” They were given an additional measure of the Holy Spirit besides the initial amount given on the Day of Pentecost. God is no respecter of persons. If we pray as fervently as these disciples, we too can receive more of God’s Spirit.
(1) Does the Holy Spirit inspire an attitude of love, power and sound-mindedness? II Timothy 1:6-7.
(2) Are God’s servants to focus on their own talents and skills to accomplish His Work? Zechariah 4:6.
(4) What characterized the ministry of Paul as he preached the gospel? Romans 15:19.
Comment: Because of the prevailing characteristic of peace the Spirit brings to the mind, Christ referred to it as the “Comforter.” He told the disciples, “And I will pray the Father and He shall give you another Comforter that it may abide with you forever” (John 14:16).
The term “another Comforter” meant that the Holy Spirit would bring them peace and assurance just as Christ had done during His time with them. The Comforter is also called “the Spirit of truth” (John 15:26).
(6) Were there some things that Christ could not communicate to the disciples until they had the Holy Spirit within them? John 16:12-13.
(7) Does the Holy Spirit compensate for the inability of the natural human intellect, communicating directly to God what we are otherwise incapable of expressing? Romans 8:26-27.
Comment: The Holy Spirit will not be offered freely to everyone until the millennium, at which time it will be poured out upon “all flesh.” In this age, only those called by God to fulfill a particular purpose are given the Holy Spirit. These are the firstfruits called to help rule in the soon-coming kingdom of God.
Unlike those in the millennium and those in the general resurrection to occur later, those called in this age will have a much more difficult path—having to resist Satan, his world and the flesh—but they will be given a far greater reward for all eternity.
(2) What must those called in this age do to receive more of the Holy Spirit? Luke 11:9-13.
Comment: Some have erroneously looked upon the process of receiving the Holy Spirit as an end in itself, giving them an inside track to seek God on their own terms. Those who are called and who seek and ask God from a motive of sincerity and purity because they want to get into harmony with God’s will for all eternity are the ones who will thrive and grow upon receiving His Spirit.
Comment: Besides the inward man being renewed on a daily basis, and being transformed by a renewing of the mind, we must seek God on a personal basis.
To study more into the subject of the Holy Spirit, please read our booklets What Do You Mean “Water Baptism”? and What Is True Conversion? These booklets give a thorough and systematic study of the subject of conversion and the central role of the Holy Spirit in that process.