Nicodemus was a ruler of the Jews. Rumors had reached him of the new miracle-working teacher and his interest was stirred, so he sought out Jesus under the cover of night. He said to Jesus, “ ‘Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.’ Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.’ ” John 3:2, 3. Nicodemus became a little sarcastic, so Jesus made His point more emphatic: “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” Verse 5.
If you have been born again and received the Holy Spirit into your life, eternal life has already begun for you. Every other gift that God wants to give to you comes through the gift of the Holy Spirit. In The Desire of Ages, 388, it says, “It is through the Spirit that Christ dwells in us; and the Spirit of God, received into the heart by faith, is the beginning of the life eternal.” If the Holy Spirit is not in you, eternal life has not yet begun for you and never will begin, until the Holy Spirit comes into your life.
Amazing things happen when you receive the Holy Spirit. “In describing to His disciples the office work of the Holy Spirit, Jesus sought to inspire them with the joy and hope that inspired His own heart. He rejoiced because of the abundant help He had provided for His church. The Holy Spirit was the highest of all gifts that He could solicit from His Father for the exaltation of His people. The Spirit was to be given as a regenerating [to bring something back to life] agent, and without this the sacrifice of Christ would have been of no avail.” Ibid., 671.
Without receiving the Holy Spirit, the sacrifice of Jesus will be of no avail to you.
“The power of evil had been strengthening for centuries, and the submission of men to this satanic captivity was amazing. Sin could be resisted and overcome only through the mighty agency of the Third Person of the Godhead, who would come with no modified energy, but in the fullness of divine power. It is the Spirit that makes effectual what has been wrought out by the world’s Redeemer. It is by the Spirit that the heart is made pure. Through the Spirit the believer becomes a partaker of the divine nature. Christ has given His Spirit as a divine power to overcome all hereditary and cultivated tendencies to evil, and to impress His own character upon His church.” Ibid.
Whatever inherited tendency to evil you struggle with, if you receive the Holy Spirit you can overcome all inherited and cultivated tendencies to evil. Isn’t that exciting news? You are not stuck if you receive the Holy Spirit.
It is amazing how much the apostles dwelt upon this subject. If you go through the different letters and books of the New Testament, you will find them making some reference or statement in regard to the Holy Spirit over and over again. Let’s look at several:
“But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. Therefore, brethren, we are debtors—not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, ‘Abba, Father.’ The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.” Romans 8:11–16.
It is through the power of the Holy Spirit that we put to death the deeds of the body and overcome sin. We cannot do it by ourselves. None can overcome unless they receive the Holy Spirit.
Paul had a lengthy discussion about the Holy Spirit to the church in Corinth: “But as it is written, ‘Eye has not seen nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.’ But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so, no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” I Corinthians 2:9–14.
In I Corinthians chapters 12, 13 and 14, the apostle Paul has three chapters devoted to a discussion of the Spirit, the gifts of the Spirit, and the things the Spirit wants to do in each person. He makes it very clear in I Corinthians 12:4 and 7 that every Christian is to receive the Holy Spirit.
Paul teaches that it is through the Holy Spirit that we are sealed. A special seal is placed on all those who live to see Jesus come again. This is described in Revelation 7 and 14. “Who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.” II Corinthians 1:22. It is the evidence that you have eternal life. Paul says the same in Ephesians 1:13: “In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in Whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise.” The Holy Spirit is the seal, the guarantee, the down payment, the assurance that you are going to have eternal life. Without the Holy Spirit you have no assurance.
In talking of the Holy Spirit, Paul also mentions the danger of some who will receive the wrong spirit. He said, “But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted—you may well put up with it!” II Corinthians 11:3, 4.
There is going to be a great deception at the end of the world. The whole world will feel and believe that they have received the Holy Spirit. Jesus said this was going to happen: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ ” Matthew 7:21, 22. Notice how these people prophesy. They really believe they have received the Holy Spirit, which tells them that they prophesy through the Spirit. The problem is, the spirit under which these people prophesy is not the Holy Spirit, but a different spirit.
Sadly, Jesus explains, “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ ” Verse 23. All who receive the Holy Spirit into their lives will be led to keep the law of God, and if the spirit you have received is not leading you to keep the law of God, it is a spurious spirit.
There are two supernatural spirits contending to take control of the world. In the last ten chapters of the book of Revelation it is very clear that in the last days almost the whole world will be following the wrong spirit. It is critical to ask yourself the question, Is the spirit that I have received leading me to keep the law of God or not?
To the many different churches, Paul wrote over and over again about the Holy Spirit in his letters. He told the Galatians about the Holy Spirit: “I say then: walk in the Spirit and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.” Galatians 5:16–18. This is misinterpreted as meaning the law no longer has to be kept. But what Paul says here is that if the Spirit is leading, you will keep the law and not be under its condemnation.
He told them, “Do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation.” Ephesians 5:18. It is almost impossible to translate with one English word. It means that a person is so debauched, or so defiled or ruined, that there is no hope for them anymore. It is a very strong word, one without an exact equivalent in the English language. Paul says, “Don’t be drunk with wine” [that is, utter moral depravity], but rather “be filled with the Spirit” (verse 18, last part).
To the Thessalonian church he wrote, “For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance, as you know what kind of men we were among you for your sake.” I Thessalonians 1:5. The gospel that Paul preached was with the power of the Holy Spirit.
He further said, “Do not quench the Spirit.” I Thessalonians 5:19. So it is possible to quench the Spirit. Ellen White confirms this: “When the early church became corrupted by departing from the simplicity of the gospel and accepting heathen rites and customs, she lost the Spirit and power of God.” The Great Controversy, 443. Once they had lost the Spirit and found they had no power, they sought the power of the state to control the people.
Anytime the church seeks the power of the state to enforce their will on their own people or on others, you can know for sure that it has lost the Holy Spirit. When the Holy Spirit governs the church, that church will not need the power of the state to enforce its will, because the people will be under conviction and do God’s will without force. They won’t need it. The apostles did not need it. After Paul describes the great apostasy that is coming, he then says, “But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth.” II Thessalonians 2:13.
Notice that salvation comes through the Holy Spirit. Sanctification comes through the Holy Spirit. In the New Testament the Holy Spirit acknowledges that there are other spirits that are not holy. “Now the Spirit [the Holy Spirit] expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons.” I Timothy 4:1. That has already happened, and it is not over yet. Look at what Paul said: “That good thing which was committed to you, keep by the Holy Spirit Who dwells in us.” II Timothy 1:14. Remember, every command in the Bible is a promise.
God never gives a command without making the way possible to fulfill that very command in your life. This is a wonderful promise. Writing to Timothy, Paul tells him that he has received certain knowledge of truth and spiritual blessings through the power of the Holy Spirit and to keep what he has received. There are a lot of Christians today who do not keep what they have received, and they are losing it. It is important that when you have received spiritual truth and knowledge that you don’t lose it, that you keep it.
One way people lose the blessings that God has given to them is to understand truth, but fail to implement that truth into their lives. There is a saying that if you don’t use it, then you will soon lose it!
“Now he who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. And by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us.” I John 3:24.
Jesus Christ wrote to the seven churches and to each it is said, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” Revelation 2:7. In Revelation 22:17 we read: “And the Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let him who hears say, ‘Come!’ And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.”
The Spirit of God says to the people of this world, “Come!” We live in a world where often there are signs that say, “Stay Out” or “Do Not Enter.” We build all kinds of fences and barricades and lock our doors to keep people away from us. But God, the sovereign of heaven, through the Holy Spirit, at the very end of the Bible says to the inhabitants of this world, “Come!” He loves us and wants us to abide with Him.
Are you willing to do whatever you need to do so you can receive the Holy Spirit? Paul says, “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit.” Ephesians 4:30. It is by the Holy Spirit that we are to be “sealed for the day of redemption” (verse 30, last part), so it is necessary to know how not to cause this grief.
We are told that, “The willful commission of a known sin silences the witnessing voice of the Spirit and separates the soul from God. Jesus cannot abide in the heart that disregards the divine law. God will honor those only who honor Him.” The Signs of the Times, June 19, 1884.
There will be many who say to Jesus, “Well, I had the Spirit; I was working miracles, and I was prophesying, and I was casting out demons in Your name.” Jesus will say, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!”
A while ago I knew of a lady who was into the New Age movement. She was not married to the man with whom she lived. Somehow they were induced to go to a Christian meeting. It was not a Seventh-day Adventist meeting, and when the preacher made an altar call inviting the audience to surrender their lives to Jesus and follow Him and have eternal life, this couple went forward and made a commitment to follow Christ. Putting aside their New Age ideas, they gave their hearts to the Lord. Now, they were Christians! They were both given Bibles, and that night when they got in bed, before they went to sleep, the lady opened her new Bible to read something. The first text she opened was about not committing adultery. Immediately she slammed it shut.
Later she told the story: “I couldn’t open the Bible any day without it telling me something was wrong with committing adultery, or being in fornication, and living in sin.” Each time the same thing happened, and it was evident that the Holy Spirit was working on her heart. She decided to go all the way with Jesus. Unfortunately, her partner was not under the same commitment, and their relationship ended. It was the Holy Spirit that convicted her to quit her former life of adultery and be filled with the Spirit.
If there is some sin in your life that you are tightly holding on to, it will prevent you from receiving God’s precious gift, His Spirit. Be willing to let it loose and get away from it today, before the voice is silenced forever.
A mother was counseled, “Constant faultfinding is wrong, and the Spirit of Christ cannot abide in the heart where it exists.” The Adventist Home, 272. Constant faultfinding is wrong.
A physician was counseled. “We are not to allow our perplexities and disappointments to eat into our souls and make us fretful and impatient. Let there be no strife, no evil thinking or evil-speaking, lest we offend God. My brother, if you open your heart to envy and evil surmising, the Holy Spirit cannot abide with you.” Counsels for the Church, 175.
Paul told the church in Corinth that they could not have fellowship with both God and the devil; they must choose. “Rather, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to demons and not to God, and I do not want you to have fellowship with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord’s table and of the table of demons.” I Corinthians 10:20, 21.
“I heard another voice from heaven saying, ‘Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues.’ ” Revelation 18:4. God separates His people from sin and sinners to protect them from the plagues that will fall at the end of time. The Holy Spirit will not abide with sin, period. Sin must be gotten rid of both in the life of the Christian and also the church to have the presence of Christ.
“We are bidden of God to hold ourselves separate and distinct from these men who have not given heed to His warnings.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 7, 196. We are to be a separate and distinct people.
Every soul who, in the light now shining on their pathway, continues in sin will be blinded and will accept Satan’s delusions. Paul taught this in II Thessalonians 2:1–12.
Personal religious experience is needed in every church. We have the assurance that in this age of the world the Holy Spirit will work with mighty power unless, by our unbelief, we limit our blessings and thus lose the advantage we might obtain. “Unless the revival of the Spirit of God shall come, all their profession will never make the members of the church Christians. There are sinners in Zion who need to repent of sins that have been cherished as precious treasures. Until these sins are seen and thrust from the soul, until every faulty, unlovely trait of character is transformed by the Spirit’s influence, God cannot manifest Himself in power.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 1, 366.
God wants to give His Holy Spirit to His people. And we are going to receive it just as soon as we are in a condition to receive it.
“There is more hope for the open sinner than for the professedly righteous who are not pure, holy, and undefiled. …
“The spiritual anointing of the Lord will never come to self-sufficient men and women. … You will certainly be weighed in the golden scales of the heavenly sanctuary and be found wanting.” Ibid., vol. 1, 366, 367.
“What kind of witnesses are we for truth and righteousness? Are we striving with all our God-given powers to reach the measure of the stature of men and women in Christ? Are we seeking for His fullness, ever reaching higher and higher, trying to attain to the perfection of His character?
“When God’s servants reach this point, they will be sealed in their foreheads. The recording angel will declare, ‘It is done.’ ” Ibid., vol. 1, 370. Would you like to be in that group of people?
When that happens, it will not be generations until Jesus comes; it will be right around the corner. Jesus wants to come more than you want Him to come. We talk about being disappointed because the Lord hasn’t come. Jesus Christ is the One Who is disappointed. He has the power to raise all the dead in the cemeteries, but He delays till His people are ready.
“Satan is working that the history of the Jewish nation may be repeated in the experience of those who claim to believe present truth.” Ibid., vol. 17, 13. Whether he will succeed depends on the choices that you and I are making today.
“The great burden of every soul should be, Is my heart renewed? Is my soul transformed? Are my sins pardoned through faith in Christ? Have I been born again? Am I complying with the invitation, ‘Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest [Matthew 11:28]?’ ” Ibid. vol. 17, 23.
Ask yourself, Have I received the Holy Spirit, or am I just pretending religion? Without the Holy Spirit, all religion is a pretense and worth nothing.
“Sin is degrading, and there is no place for it in heaven.” Ibid., vol. 16, 274. All the trouble we have in this world is because of sin. Ellen White wrote a letter August 13, 1900. It says, “As the last conflict with Satan will be the most decisive, the most deceptive and terrible that has ever been, so also will his overthrow be the most complete.” Ibid., vol. 10, 317.
My mother used to tell me over and over again that the path of truth and the path of error is going to be so close together that you will not be able to tell the difference without the Holy Spirit.
After quoting Revelation 18:1–8, Ellen White said, “This terrible picture drawn by John to show how completely the powers of earth will give themselves over to evil, should show those who have received the truth how dangerous it is to link up with secret societies or to join themselves in any way with those who do not keep God’s commandments.” Ibid., vol. 14, 152.
Are you willing to forsake your sins so you can receive the Holy Spirit?
(Unless appearing in quoted references or otherwise identified, Bible texts are from the New King James Version.)
Pastor John J. Grosboll is Director of Steps to Life and pastors the Prairie Meadows Free Seventh-day Adventist Church in Wichita, Kansas. He may be contacted by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org, or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.