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Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Don Stewart :: The Holy Spirit and Us

Don Stewart :: How Does the Holy Spirit Help Free the Believer from Sin?

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How Does the Holy Spirit Help Free the Believer from Sin?

The Holy Spirit and Us – Question 18

When a person becomes a Christian they immediately receive the Holy Spirit. Consequently, they begin to live an entirely new life. However they do not ever become perfect in this life. The sin and weaknesses that are inherited with our fallen nature remain with each believer until death.

One of the ministries of the Holy Spirit is to free the believer from sin. We can make a number of important observations about this.

The Believer Is Set Apart for God’s Service

The Bible says that the Holy Spirit came to make believers holy, or set apart for God’s service. The Bible says the following about this important truth.

The Holy Spirit Teaches Us God’s Truth

The Holy Spirit has been given to believers for a number of reasons. One of them is to teach us the truth of God. On the night of His betrayal, Jesus gave the following promise to His disciples concerning the ministry of the Holy Spirit.

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you (John 14:26 NASB).

The Holy Spirit will teach believers the truth of God’s Word. This will allow each of us to be taught of God.

The Spirit Sets Apart Believers for God’s Service

As we are being taught of God the Holy Spirit sets us apart for service to God. The idea is that we will become more Christlike in our behavior so that we can honor Him. The writer to the Hebrews wrote how the Spirit of God sets apart, or sanctifies those who have believed in Christ.

For the one who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one Father. For this reason Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters (Hebrews 2:11 NRSV).

We are now part of God’s family, brothers and sisters in Christ. We have been set apart from the sinful world to do His work.

Believers Are Disciplined for Their Sin

As members of God’s family we are disciplined by Him when we sin. We read in Hebrews how we are disciplined by the Lord for our own good.

For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share his holiness (Hebrews 12:10 NRSV).

We are disciplined when we sin against the Lord. In other words, we bring God’s discipline upon ourselves when we behave sinfully. Again, this discipline is to help us live for Christ in a way that is pleasing to Him. It is for our own good.

The Need for Holiness Is Stressed

Peter wrote about the need for holiness on the part of the believer.

But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God—who chose you to be his children—is holy. For he himself has said, “You must be holy because I am holy” (1 Peter 1:15-16 NLT).

We are set apart, as God’s children, to be holy.

In the Book of Revelation we read of the acknowledgement of the holiness of the Lord.

And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!” (Revelation 4:8 ESV).

The holiness of the Lord is stressed in Scripture. Thus, as His children, we are likewise to be holy.

He Progressively Sets Apart Believers

The Holy Spirit does not work in a magical manner that immediately removes all problems and temptations from our midst. He works progressively in strengthening believers through tests. Overcoming sin is a continually struggle for the believer.

The Holy Spirit Continues the Good Work Throughout Our Lives

The Holy Spirit does not merely do one work and then abandon the believer. He continues the good work which He has begun. Paul wrote.

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:6 ESV).

God will not abandon the work that He has started.

Believers Will Grow in Knowledge of the Lord

Those who have been “born again” as Christians continue to grow in their knowledge of the Lord.

Peter gave the analogy of a newborn desiring milk.

You must crave pure spiritual milk so that you can grow into the fullness of your salvation. Cry out for this nourishment as a baby cries for milk (1 Peter 2:2 NLT).

As children begin by drinking milk, the new believer begins their life by partaking of the milk of God’s Word.

We Will Produce Christian Character

The goal is for each believer to produce the fruit of the Spirit or a Christian lifestyle that reflects the Lord Himself. The Holy Spirit works on the believer producing Christian character. Paul wrote the following to the Romans.

For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:2 ESV).

He has set us free from sin and from death.

Paul also wrote to the Romans how we have an obligation to serve the Lord and not our own sinful interests. He put it this way.

Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation— but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live (Romans 8:12, 13 NIV).

To live spiritually we must be led of the Holy Spirit.

The Fruit of the Spirit Will Be Produced

As we have stressed, the goal is to become like Jesus Christ in our behavior. This means we will produce the “fruit of the Spirit.” To the church at Galatia Paul wrote.

The old sinful nature loves to do evil, which is just opposite from what the Holy Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are opposite from what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, and your choices are never free from this conflict. But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives, he will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Here there is no conflict with the law (Galatians 5:17, 22, 23 NLT).

This should be our goal; to produce the fruit of the Spirit in our lives.

In sum, the Spirit of God does indeed help set us free from our sinful lifestyle. However, He does not do it alone. We must cooperate by submitting to Him and allowing Him to change our lives so that they will become more like Christ.

Summary – Question 18
How Does the Holy Spirit Help Free the Believer from Sin?

When a person trusts Jesus Christ as Savior they become a Christian. God then gives His Holy Spirit to that person. While the individual has new spiritual life in Jesus Christ their old sinful nature still remains. Among other things, the Spirit of God has been given to the believer to help free them from their past sinful ways. Three things must be stressed.

First, the Holy Spirit does this by setting the believer apart for God’s service. He teaches us the truths of God. We know what we are supposed to do and what we are not supposed to do. Scripture says that we are to be holy, or set apart, for God’s service. In other words, our character should reflect His.

The Spirit of God continues the good work that He began throughout the person’s entire Christian existence. It is progressive. It does not happen all at once. We learn to become free from sin as we grow in our knowledge of the Lord. It is a process that continues our entire life.

The result of this process is the production of the fruit of the Spirit in the life of that person. These are the things which reflect the character of God. They include love, joy, peace, patience and self-control.

What Is the Fruit of the Spirit? ← Prior Section
Can a Person Impede the Work of the Holy Spirit? Next Section →
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