Understanding the Holy Spirit

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
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Now, dear brothers and sisters, regarding your question about the special abilities the Spirit gives us. I don’t want you to misunderstand this.

1 Corinthians 12:1

When I was a teenager, I began to hear a lot about the Holy Spirit. Some of what I heard encouraged me, such as the claim that I could experience the power of the Spirit in my own life. Some of what I heard unsettled me. I had friends who insisted that I had to speak in tongues in order to be filled with the Spirit. All of what I heard intrigued me. There was clearly more to the Christian life than I had assumed.

During my teenage years, many churches were perplexed about the work of the Holy Spirit. Some congregations even divided over this issue. Confusion abounded as some Christians delighted in their new experience of the Spirit while other Christians denied the validity of what their friends were claiming. In my own church, I heard some members talk about speaking in tongues as if it was the key to spiritual awakening. Other members told me it was "of the Devil."

Uncertainty over and disagreement about the Holy Spirit is nothing new. In fact, the first Christians in Corinth found themselves divided by their diverse experiences of the Spirit as well as by their varied understandings of those experiences. Thus, in 1 Corinthians 12-14, the Apostle Paul tackles the issue of the Spirit. He begins this passage: "Now, dear brothers and sisters, regarding your question about the special abilities the Spirit gives us. I don’t want you to misunderstand this" (12:1). The Greek of this verse reads more literally, "Now concerning spiritual things (or spiritual people), brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be ignorant." What the Corinthians needed was instruction about the person and work of the Spirit, especially with regard to what we call "spiritual gifts."

In this next series of reflections, we will examine Paul's teaching about the Spirit in 1 Corinthians 12-14. Our goal, as always, will be to grow in our understanding of God so that we might also grow in our relationship with God. Even as Paul wanted the Corinthians to understand the work of the Spirit so that they might be open to the Spirit's power, I believe that God wants to teach us through his Word about how he is at work in our lives. As we'll see, the power of the Holy Spirit is available to us, so that we might serve the Lord more effectively.

QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: How have you experienced the presence and power of the Holy Spirit in your life? What questions do you have about how the Spirit works today?

PRAYER: Gracious Heavenly Father, thank you for not wanting us to be ignorant about the work of your Spirit. Thank you for using the confusion in Corinth so that we might have the teaching in 1 Corinthians 12-14. Help us to understand truly how you want to work in us and through us by the power of your Spirit.

Lord, as you know, sometimes this issue can be perplexing, even divisive. As we seek your truth, help us to do so with humility, openness, and love. May your Spirit teach us through your Word. And may we experience deeper unity with other believers through the work of the Spirit.

All praise be to you, O God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.