Have I Made the Holy Spirit My Personal Helper?
THEOLOGIANS, not to speak of people in general, have any number of ideas about the identity of God’s holy spirit. Yet, such uncertainty is unnecessary. The Bible clearly explains what the holy spirit is. Rather than being a person, as some claim, it is the powerful active force that God uses to carry out his will.
Since the holy spirit is so closely related to the accomplishment of God’s purposes, we should want our lives to be in agreement with it. We should want it to be our personal helper.
Anticipating his departure from earth, Jesus reassured his disciples: “I will request the Father and he will give you another helper to be with you forever.” And again: “Nevertheless, I am telling you the truth, It is for your benefit I am going away. For if I do not go away, the helper will by no means come to you; but if I do go my way, I will send him to you.”
Jesus gave his disciples a serious commission by instructing them: “Go therefore and make disciples of people of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy spirit, teaching them to observe all the things I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19, 20) No easy task this, for it was to be accomplished in the face of opposition.
Opposition from outside was to be accompanied by a degree of friction from within the congregation. “Now I exhort you, brothers,” Paul wrote Christians in Rome about 56 C.E., “to keep your eye on those who cause divisions and occasions for stumbling contrary to the teaching that you have learned, and avoid them.” (Romans 16:17, 18) This situation would grow worse once the apostles died. Paul warned: “I know that after my going away oppressive wolves will enter in among you and will not treat the flock with tenderness, and from among you yourselves men will rise and speak twisted things to draw away the disciples after themselves.”
God’s help was needed to counteract these obstacles. He did so through Jesus. After his resurrection, on the day of Pentecost 33 C.E., some 120 of his followers “all became filled with holy spirit.”
The disciples recognized that the holy spirit poured out on this occasion was the help that Jesus had promised. They undoubtedly now better understood the identification that Jesus had provided: “The helper, the holy spirit, which the Father will send in my name, that one will teach you all things and bring back to your minds all the things I told you.” (John 14:26) He also called it ‘the helper, the spirit of the truth.’
How Is the Spirit a Helper?
The spirit was to serve as a helper in several ways. First, Jesus promised that it would bring back to the minds of his disciples the things he had told them. By this he meant more than just helping them to recall words. The spirit was to help them to understand the deeper meaning and significance of what he had taught. (John 16:12-14) In short, the spirit was to lead his disciples to a better understanding of the truth. The apostle Paul later wrote: “It is to us God has revealed them through his spirit, for the spirit searches into all things, even the deep things of God.” (1 Corinthians 2:10) For Jesus’ anointed followers to pass on accurate knowledge to others, their own understanding needed to be well-grounded.
Second, Jesus taught his disciples to pray and to do so often. If they at times were unsure about what they should pray for, the spirit could intercede for or help them. “In like manner the spirit also joins in with help for our weakness; for the problem of what we should pray for as we need to we do not know, but the spirit itself pleads for us with groanings unuttered.”
Third, the spirit was to assist Jesus’ disciples in publicly defending the truth. He warned them: “They will deliver you up to local courts, and they will scourge you in their synagogues. Why, you will be haled before governors and kings for my sake, for a witness to them and the nations. However, when they deliver you up, do not become anxious about how or what you are to speak; for what you are to speak will be given you in that hour; for the ones speaking are not just you, but it is the spirit of your Father that speaks by you.”
The holy spirit would also help to identify the Christian congregation and move its members to make wise personal decisions. Let us discuss these two aspects of this subject in more detail and see what significance they have for us today.
To Serve as an Identifying Mark
For centuries the Jews served under the Mosaic Law as God’s chosen people. Because they rejected Jesus as the Messiah, he foretold that shortly they themselves would be rejected: “Did you never read in the Scriptures, ‘The stone that the builders rejected is the one that has become the chief cornerstone. From Jehovah this has come to be, and it is marvelous in our eyes’? This is why I say to you, The kingdom of God will be taken from you and be given to a nation producing its fruits.” (Matthew 21:42, 43) Once the Christian congregation was founded at Pentecost 33 C.E., Christ’s followers became the “nation producing its fruits.” From then on, this congregation was God’s channel of communication. To enable people to recognize this transfer of divine favor, God provided an unmistakable identifying mark.
At Pentecost the holy spirit enabled the disciples to speak in languages they had never learned, causing onlookers to react with astonishment and ask: “How is it we are hearing, each one of us, his own language in which we were born?” (Acts 2:7, 8) The ability to speak in unknown languages, along with the “many portents and signs [that] began to occur through the apostles,” led some three thousand persons to recognize that God’s spirit was truly operative.
Also, by bringing forth “the fruitage of the spirit”
Members of the early Christian congregation accepted the leading of God’s holy spirit and took advantage of the help it offered. While Christians today realize that God is not now raising the dead and performing miracles as in the first century, they allow the fruitage of God’s spirit to identify them as being genuine disciples of Jesus Christ.
A Helper in Making Personal Decisions
The Bible is a product of holy spirit. Thus, when we allow ourselves to be persuaded by the Bible, it is as though the holy spirit were instructing us. (2 Timothy 3:16, 17) It can help us to make wise decisions. But do we let it?
What about our choice of occupation or employment? Holy spirit will enable us to view a prospective job from Jehovah’s standpoint. Our employment must harmonize with Bible principles, and preferably it ought to help us pursue theocratic goals. The salary or the prominence and prestige connected with a job are truly of lesser importance. More significant is whether it provides us with the necessities of life and allows us sufficient time and opportunity to fulfill our Christian obligations.
A desire to enjoy life is normal and proper. (Ecclesiastes 2:24; 11:9) So a balanced Christian may pursue recreation for refreshment and for enjoyment. But he ought to choose recreation that reflects the spirit’s fruitage, not the kind that features “the works of the flesh.” Paul explains: “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, and they are fornication, uncleanness, loose conduct, idolatry, practice of spiritism, enmities, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, contentions, divisions, sects, envies, drunken bouts, revelries, and things like these.” Becoming “egotistical, stirring up competition with one another, envying one another” are also to be avoided.
It is similar with regard to choosing friends. It is wise to choose them according to spirituality, not according to outward appearance or possessions. The man David was obviously God’s friend, for God described him as being “a man agreeable to [his] heart.” (Acts 13:22) Ignoring outward appearance, God chose David to be king of Israel, according to the principle: “Not the way man sees is the way God sees, because mere man sees what appears to the eyes; but as for Jehovah, he sees what the heart is.”
Thousands of friendships have faltered because they were based on outward appearance or on possessions. Friendships based on uncertain riches can end suddenly. (Proverbs 14:20) God’s spirit-inspired Word advises us that when choosing friends, we should pick those who can assist us to serve Jehovah. It tells us to concentrate on giving rather than on receiving because giving brings greater joy. (Acts 20:35) Time and affection are among the most precious things we can give our friends.
To a Christian seeking a marriage mate, the Bible provides spirit-inspired advice. In a way, it says: ‘Look beyond the face and the figure. Look at the feet.’ The feet? Yes, in this sense: Are they being used to carry out Jehovah’s work of preaching the good news, and are they thus comely, as it were, in his sight? Are they shod with the message of truth and the good news of peace? We read: “How comely upon the mountains are the feet of the one bringing good news, the one publishing peace, the one bringing good news of something better, the one publishing salvation, the one saying to Zion: ‘Your God has become king!’”
Living as we do in “critical times hard to deal with,” we need help in doing God’s will. (2 Timothy 3:1) The helper, God’s holy spirit, gave powerful support to the work of Christians in the first century, including being their personal helper. Diligently studying God’s Word, a product of holy spirit, is a prime way that we too can make the holy spirit our personal helper. Have we?
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