Engaging the Holy Spirit
One of the last things Jesus did before His crucifixion was introduce His disciples to the Holy Spirit. We find much of this teaching in John 14, 15, and 16 as Jesus explains He is going away, but when He does, they will not be alone because He will send the third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit. He says that this is even better than having Jesus’ physical presence because the Spirit will live within them, will never leave them, and will be their teacher, guide, and comforter. And that’s exactly what happened a few weeks later at Pentecost: The Holy Spirit entered the followers of Jesus and has been indwelling Christians ever since.
Puritan writer John Owen comments that at the time of our salvation, the Holy Spirit is given to us and we receive Him “as a vessel receives water” (1). Paul, too, describes God’s love being poured out on us through the Holy Spirit. The picture is one of passive receiving of this gift of grace.
We receive this gift by faith and then are to respond by becoming sensitive to and obeying the Spirit’s leadings in our life. If we don’t honor the Spirit’s presence within us, we will grieve Him as Paul warns in Ephesians 4:30. Owen says, “Hence is that great weight . . . laid upon our not grieving the Spirit – because he comes to us in the name, with the love, and upon the condescension, of the whole blessed Trinity.” To grieve the Holy Spirit is to grieve the entire Trinity.
So, how do we actively attend to the Holy Spirit within us?
Make the time to cultivate an intimate personal relationship with Him. Sometimes we hear God as we go throughout our days, but only if we have learned to recognize the sound of His voice by listening in the quietness of our times alone with Him. Our prayers should be two-way communication. We talk to our Father in heaven, then we listen for His response through the Holy Spirit.
Listen for him continually. As we engage in the activities of our lives, we learn to be attuned to God’s voice. He will direct our paths, speak through our thoughts, and bring verses of Scripture to mind.
Worship Him for being who He is. God loves to hear us say “thank you” and He loves to receive our praises and our worship. He knows that when we praise Him, we open pathways of communication so He can reveal more about who He is and what He desires in our relationship to Him.
Want His will alone. God says we will find Him when we seek Him with all our hearts. That means, we listen for the Spirit’s voice not for our own selfish purposes, but to know Him, to submit to His will, and to act on His direction. (2)
When we do that, we will not grieve the Spirit. Instead He will be pleased!
(1) John Owen, Communion with God (Fearn, Ross-shire, Scotland: Christian Focus Publications), p. 353.
(2) Beverly Van Kampen, The GodSense Journey: Exploring Sacred Pathways, 2016, pp. 31-32.