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The Holy Spirit in the life of the believer

One other claim that is sometimes made is that the Holy Spirit works with the believer to teach them truth and to help them to be better followers of Jesus - and indeed better people generally. This picture is quite the opposite of the teaching of the Bible.

The point here is that there was never a situation where the Holy Spirit forced someone to be a better servant of God. There is a whole list of people who received the Holy Spirit, but who nevertheless found themselves in error. Among these we find:


  • Bezaleel: He was filled with God’s wisdom by the Holy Spirit (Exodus 31:2,3), but failed to follow God’s way with the rest of his generation and died in the wilderness (Numbers 14:26-­30).

  • Peter: He received the Holy Spirit as one of the Apostles; at Pentecost he is the Apostle who delivers a powerful presentation of the Gospel. In spite of this there were times when he was wrong and had to be rebuked by the Apostle Paul (Galatians 2:11).

  • Solomon: Was granted wisdom by God (1 Kings 4:29-31). He was inspired to write many proverbs about the folly of chasing many women (for example Proverbs 6:24), but in spite of this he allowed women to become his downfall (Nehemiah 13:25,26).

  • Daniel the Prophet: Daniel was the writer of the book in the Bible which bears his name. He was inspired by God to predict the future. In spite of this he didn’t understand parts of his own prophecy (Daniel 12:8) and had to study other parts of the Bible to understand the message of other prophets (Daniel 9:2).


Of course, the greatest example of someone who received the power of the Holy Spirit but who failed to become godly is that of Judas Iscariot. Judas received the Holy Spirit when he was sent out to proclaim the Kingdom of God by Jesus:

"And he called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal."            (Luke 9:1,2)

The Disciples all received the Holy Spirit at this point and eleven of them went on to be Apostles who took the Gospel out into the world after Jesus’ resurrection. Judas was an exception. In spite of the fact that he had received the Holy Spirit he betrayed Jesus and participated in his arrest (Luke 22:47,48).


It is reasonable to say that followers of Jesus should follow him in a spirit of holiness, and one might describe this as having a holy spirit. This would correspond to the idea of teaching the Gospel in a loving spirit, meeting those who have oppressed the Gospel in a forgiving spirit. If we follow the teaching of Jesus as we proclaim the Gospel we may describe the process as working in a Christ-like spirit. But we must be aware that God does not give us a miraculous power within us to teach us the Gospel or to guide our thoughts.

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