Summary: The sermon examines the concept of holiness and the work of the Spirit of God in producing holiness in the life of the believer.
The HOLY Spirit.
Dr. Roger W. Thomas, Preaching Minister
First Christian Church, Vandalia, MO
We are considering seven different names or descriptive terms for the Holy Spirit in the New Testament. So far we have examined two of the seven.
(1) The Spirit of God---the personal, powerful, presence of the Living God working in and through us. He is not an abstract force. He is the very personal and real God who loves and sustains us.
(2) The Spirit of Jesus—the continuing heavenly helper who calls attention to and reminds of what Jesus said and did in his earthly ministry. The task of the Spirit is to lead people to the Gospel of Jesus and lead them back to obedience to the teachings of Jesus. Some Bible scholars have referred to the Spirit as the “shy” member of the trinity because he seldom causes people to talk about himself, instead he turns the spotlight on Jesus. This factor is important because some mistakenly equate “spirituality” with how much a person or a church talks about the Holy Spirit. The Bible teaches us that true spirituality always causes us to talk about Jesus.
The third name brings us to perhaps the most common title. It is no accident that the most frequent term used for this ministry of God is the HOLY Spirit. I want to attempt three tasks in this message. First, define the words HOLY and HOLINESS. Second, explain their importance. Third, insist on the possibility of personal holiness in the life of the believer and the church.
We don’t use the term HOLY very often. We would be familiar with HOLY Bible. We might remember the biblical command to honor the Sabbath and keep it HOLY. The Bible says HOLY and reverend is the name of the Lord. Many use the expression HOLY communion to refer to the Lord’s Supper. A form of the same word is found in the Lord’s Prayer when it says “Hallowed be thy name.” Another form of the same word is used of believers when they are called “saints”, which really means holy ones.
So what is the meaning of the term, especially in the sense of the HOLY Spirit. First, in the phrase HOLY Spirit it is clear that we are speaking of a particular spirit. The Holy Spirit, not just any spirit. This is important since scripture also speaks of “unclean” spirits, deceiving spirits, and fallen spirits. Paul warns against those who preach a different spirit (2 Cor. 11:4). John exhorts Christians to “test the spirits” because there are many false spirits in the world (1 John 4). Isn’t spirituality, spirituality? Isn’t any spiritual experience or notion a good thing? Not at all!
We are not just talking about any spiritual power or unseen force or supernatural phenomena. We are talking about the HOLY Spirit. The Spirit whose very nature and character is HOLY.
Involved in the term is the notion of unique, something that is in a class all by itself. Or special in the sense of not common, not everyday. But behind all the uses of the word is the idea of “set apart for a purpose.” The Greeks who were not Christians used it to refer to religious things. If something were for use in a temple or for the worship of the gods, it was termed holy or consecrated. Anything else would be common, everyday, or secular. The pagans would refer to a building used exclusively for religious purposes as a holy place; a plate or utensil used only in worship was holy because it was used in coming before the gods. Our term sanctuary comes from this same Greek word. Our term sanctimonious is a derogatory term describing something that is pretending to be sanctified, to be something more than it is, to be more special than it really is.
The HOLY Spirit therefore is the Spirit that is special, set apart, or unique. We know by context that the reason is that the Spirit we are talking about is the very person and presence of God. Anything, according to the Bible’s view, that pertains to God is by its very nature HOLY.
This leads to an important difference between the way pagan Greeks used the term Holy and the way the Bible uses it. For the pagans the word never had any idea of morality, ethics, or right and wrong. In fact, most non-Christian religions, all non-biblical religions are a-moral. That is you don’t have to be particularly moral to be religious. Religion is merely a matter of ritual, ceremony, or magic. Morality and ethics belonged to another realm. In fact, many of the pagan religious ceremonies were little more than drunken orgies. And that was ok according to the thinking because religion and moral or ethical behavior had little to do with one another.