True vs. False (III)
TRUE AND FALSE HOLY SPIRIT
(from a transcript of a sermon preached on 11/26/00 at Sovereign Redeemer Assembly)
Let's turn to 1 Corinthians 2, and I'll be reading the entire chapter:
1 Corinthians 2: (1) And when I came to you, brothers, I did not come with excellency of word or wisdom, declaring to you the Testimony of God. (2) For I decided not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ, and Him having been crucified. (3) And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. (4) And my word and my preaching [was] not in enticing words of human wisdom, but in proof of [the] Spirit and of power, (5) that your faith might not be in [the] wisdom of men, but in [the] power of God. (6) But we speak wisdom among the perfect, but not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, those being brought to nothing. (7) But we speak [the] wisdom of God in a mystery, having been hidden, which God predetermined before the ages for our glory, (8) which none of the rulers of this age has known. For if they had known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory; (9) according as it has been written, "Eye has not seen, and ear has not heard," nor has it risen up into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for those that love Him. (10) But God revealed [them] to us by His Spirit, for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. (11) For who among men knows the things of a man, except the spirit of a man within him? So also no one has known the things of God except the Spirit of God. (12) But we have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit from God, so that we might know the things that are freely given to us by God. (13) Which things we also speak, not in words taught in human wisdom, but in [Words] taught of the Holy Spirit, comparing spiritual things with spiritual [things]. (14) But a natural man does not receive the things of [the] Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he is not able to know [them], because they are spiritually discerned. (15) But the spiritual one discerns all things, but he is discerned by no one. (16) For "who has known [the] mind of [the] Lord?" "Who will teach Him?" But we have [the] mind of Christ.
Over the past two weeks, I've talked about the first two persons of the Trinity: God the Father and God the Son. We saw how Satan counterfeits each one. There is only one true God, and there are many false gods. There is only one true Christ, and there are many false christs. Today, we turn to the third person of the Trinity, which is God the Holy Spirit. There is only one true Holy Spirit, and there are many false holy spirits. In fact, just like the false gods and false christs, what most people call the Holy Spirit today is a counterfeit. The Lord willing, we will see the true Holy Spirit of the Bible and distinguish Him from all counterfeits.
The Bible clearly shows that the Holy Spirit proceeds from both God the Father and God the Son. He's called "the Spirit of God" in places such as 1 Corinthians 2:11, which we just read. And He's called "the spirit of Christ" in places such as 1 Peter 1:11.
Today, the Lord willing, we're going to be looking at three main aspects of the Holy Spirit's work. They are: the giving of life, the giving of truth, and the giving of preservation. Of course, all of these works are interrelated, but they're separated out to give us a clear understanding of the overall work of the Holy Spirit.
Let's first look at the giving of life. The true Holy Spirit gives spiritual life to dead sinners. Let's turn to John 6:63. This is the Lord Jesus Christ speaking:
John 6: (63) It is the Spirit that gives life. The flesh does not profit, nothing! The Words which I speak to you are spirit and are life.
Jesus said that it is the Spirit, not the flesh, that gives life. Now what Scripture passage does that remind you of? John 3. Let's turn over there. When Jesus talked to Nicodemus, what did He say about the flesh and the Spirit? Let's look at verses 5 through 8:
John 3: (5) Jesus answered, Truly, truly, I say to you, If one is not generated out of water and Spirit, he is not able to enter into the kingdom of God. (6) That having been generated out of the flesh is flesh, and that having been generated out of the Spirit is spirit. (7) Do not wonder because I said to you, You must be generated from above. (8) The Spirit breathes where He desires, and you hear His voice; but you do not know from where He comes, and where He goes; so is everyone having been generated from the Spirit.
One is not able to enter the kingdom of God unless what happens? Unless the person is born of water and Spirit. The water and the Spirit go together. The Jews understood the water to be a purification, a sanctification, as we see throughout the Old Testament. This purification pointed to the cleansing work of the Spirit, as Ezekiel 36:25-27. Let's turn there:
Ezekiel 36: (25) Then I will sprinkle clean waters on you, and you shall be clean. I will cleanse you from all your defilement and from all your idols. (26) And I will also give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit within you. And I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give to you a heart of flesh. (27) And I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you shall keep My judgments and do [them].
Washing of the water of the Spirit is also mentioned in 1 Corinthians 6:11:
1 Corinthians 6: (11) And some [of you] were these things, but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and in the Spirit of our God.
Let's also read Titus 3:5:
Titus 3: (5) not by works in righteousness which we had done, but according to His mercy, He saved us through [the] washing of regeneration and renewal of [the] Holy Spirit,
So it is the Holy Spirit who gives life to a dead sinner. When the Holy Spirit works in a sinner, that sinner comes to life. That sinner is sanctified - purged, cleansed - from the defilement of sin. But is that sinner given life and cleansed, and then goes on his merry way just as before? Does he just continue believing the same thing he believed before? Does he just continue acting the same way he did before? This is where we get to the second main aspect of the Holy Spirit's work. The Holy Spirit gives TRUTH. And He gives TRUTH to the MIND of the one who has been regenerated.
Let's turn to John 14:16-17:
John 14: (16) And I will petition the Father, and He will give you another Comforter, that He may remain with you to the age, (17) the Spirit of Truth, whom the world cannot receive because it does not see Him nor know Him. But you know Him, for He abides with you and shall be in you.
Here, and in John 15:26, The Holy Spirit is called the Spirit of TRUTH. And the world cannot receive the Spirit of Truth because it does not see Him or know Him. So what is this saying about the world of the ungodly? It DOES NOT HAVE the Spirit of Truth. An ungodly person DOES NOT HAVE the Holy Spirit. What does a godly person have? The Spirit of Truth. So does a godly person have the truth? Yes. Keep this in mind as we go through other passages and as I talk about the false Holy Spirit later. Let's now turn to John 16:13:
John 16: (13) But when that One comes, the Spirit of Truth, He will guide you into all Truth, for He will not speak from Himself, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will announce the coming things to you.
For now, let's focus on the first part. What does the Holy Spirit do? He GUIDES HIS PEOPLE INTO ALL TRUTH. And 2 Thessalonians 2:13 says that God chose us from the beginning to sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth.
Now let's go back to 1 Corinthians 2, which is the passage that I read right at the beginning. This is a very important passage when it comes to the Holy Spirit's work and what it means to a believer. Let's first read verse 9:
1 Corinthians 2: (9) according as it has been written, "Eye has not seen, and ear has not heard," nor has it risen up into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for those that love Him.
Now if it just stopped there, someone could argue that we can't know the works of God. But look at verse 10:
1 Corinthians 2: (10) But God revealed [them] to us by His Spirit, for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God.
And then he goes on to explain how it is that those who have the Spirit KNOW the things of God. Verses 11 and 12:
1 Corinthians 2: (11) For who among men knows the things of a man, except the spirit of a man within him? So also no one has known the things of God except the Spirit of God. (12) But we have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit from God, so that we might know the things that are freely given to us by God.
Do you see that? The Spirit of God KNOWS the things of God. So those who HAVE the Spirit of God KNOW the things that are freely given to us by God! Doesn't this just crush the argument of the God-hating Calvinists who say that a person can EXPERIENCE the grace of God without KNOWING the grace of God? They say that a person can EXPERIENCE salvation by grace alone but still BELIEVE in salvation conditioned on the sinner. This is hogwash. Those who have the SPIRIT of God KNOW the things that are freely given to us by God. They KNOW sovereign grace. They KNOW the true gospel of salvation conditioned on the atoning blood and imputed righteousness of Christ ALONE. Let's go on to verse 14:
1 Corinthians 2: (14) But a natural man does not receive the things of [the] Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he is not able to know [them], because they are spiritually discerned.
What does this say about those who do not have the Spirit of God? It says that the things of the Spirit - which are the doctrines of free, sovereign grace given to us by God - are FOOLISHNESS to him and he CANNOT know them, because only those who have the HOLY SPIRIT know them. So is the Holy Spirit working in those who are ignorant of the work of Christ that demands and ensures the salvation of all whom Christ represented? No. Let's go on to verse 15:
1 Corinthians 2: (15) But the spiritual one discerns all things, but he is discerned by no one.
Those who have the Holy Spirit JUDGE RIGHTEOUS JUDGMENT. If one does NOT discern and judge between good and evil, saved and lost, then he DOES NOT have the Holy Spirit. Now verse 16:
1 Corinthians 2: (16) For "who has known [the] mind of [the] Lord?" "Who will teach Him?" But we have [the] mind of Christ.
We actually have the mind of Christ! How can that be? Because the Holy Spirit knows the mind of Christ, and we have the Holy Spirit! Some people use the first part of this verse to try to prove that Christians cannot know God's mind. They also use Isaiah 55:8-9. Let's turn over to Isaiah 55:8-9 for a minute:
Isaiah 55: (8) For My thoughts [are] not your thoughts, nor [are] your ways My ways, says Jehovah. (9) For [as] the heavens are high from the earth, so My ways are high from your ways, and My thoughts from your thoughts.
Now compare this with the Scripture we just read in 1 Corinthians 2. 1 Corinthians 2 says that through the Holy Spirit we KNOW the things of God and we HAVE the MIND OF CHRIST. So Isaiah 55:8-9 CANNOT be saying that those who have the Holy Spirit do not have the thoughts of God. And if we look at it in its context, we will see that God is talking to the WICKED in Isaiah 55:8-9. In verse 7, God says, "Let the wicked forsake his way and the vain man his ..." What? His THOUGHTS! The wicked man is to forsake his THOUGHTS, because GOD'S thoughts are not the WICKED MAN'S thoughts. Once a man is indwelled with the Holy Spirit, he has within him a being that KNOWS the things of God and KNOWS the mind of Christ.
There are other passages in Scripture that show us exactly WHAT truth the Holy Spirit gives us. Let's go back to John 15:26:
John 15: (26) And when the Comforter comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of Truth who proceeds from the Father, that One will witness concerning Me.
The Holy Spirit witnesses concerning Jesus Christ - who He is and what He did. So everyone who has the Spirit believes in the person and work of Jesus Christ - that He is the God-man mediator who came to establish a righteousness that ensures and demands the salvation of all whom He represented. Let's go down to chapter 16 and start with verse 7 and go through verse 14:
John 16: (7) But I tell you the truth, it is advantageous for you that I should go; for if I do not go away, the Comforter will not come to you. But if I go, I will send Him to you. (8) And having come, that One will convict the world concerning sin, and concerning righteousness, and concerning judgment. (9) Concerning sin, because they do not believe into Me; (10) and concerning righteousness, because I am going to the Father, and you no longer see Me; (11) and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged. (12) I have yet many things to tell you, but you are not able to bear now. (13) But when that One comes, the Spirit of Truth, He will guide you into all Truth, for He will not speak from Himself, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will announce the coming things to you. (14) That One will glorify Me, for He will receive from Mine and will announce to you.
Here is another very important passage about the Holy Spirit's work. The Holy Spirit convicts of sin, righteousness, and judgment. This could be a whole sermon in and of itself, but briefly, this means that the Holy Spirit's work consists of convincing sinners that they by nature are void of a righteousness that answers the demands of God's law and justice and that sin deserves everlasting punishment in hell, that salvation is only through the work of Christ revealed in the gospel and that righteousness deserves everlasting life in heaven, and that Satan has been condemned at the cross and all who follow his lie of salvation conditioned on the sinner are lost and will be judged to hell with Satan at the final judgment. EVERY BELIEVER knows this, because it is the HOLY SPIRIT who convinces them of this. We also see in verses 13 and 14 that the Holy Spirit does not speak from Himself; He only speaks what He hears, and what He hears is what glorifies Christ. He speaks of the glory of Jesus Christ that is revealed in the gospel - how God is just to justify the ungodly based solely on the work of Christ, the work of the sinner totally and absolutely excluded so there is no glory for any sinner but only for Christ. The Holy Spirit speaks this to every one of His people.
The third main aspect of the Holy Spirit's work in the lives of God's people is His work of preservation. There are two aspects of preservation, which are objective and subjective. Objectively, the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit is an earnest of our inheritance. Let's read 2 Corinthians 1:22:
2 Corinthians 1: (22) even He having sealed us, and having given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.
Now over to Ephesians 1:13-14:
Ephesians 1: (13) in whom also you, hearing the Word of Truth, the gospel of your salvation, in whom also believing you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, (14) who is an earnest of our inheritance, to [the] redemption of the purchased possession, to [the] praise of His glory.
What is an "earnest"? Well, let me give an illustration. Think of a person who wants to buy a car from another person. Okay? This person gives the seller his antique rug and says to the seller, "I am going to buy this car from you. If I don't you can keep the rug." That rug is an EARNEST. Of course, an earthly illustration falls way short of this earnest that the Bible talks about. We are given the Holy Spirit as a PLEDGE or a GUARANTEE that God will bring us to heaven. The Holy Spirit is a reminder of God's promise of final glory to us. Subjectively, the Holy Spirit keeps us from sinning any sin that is indicative of lostness. This includes the sin of confessing a false gospel. We went over this in the previous series, so I'll not go into all the verses. Let's just read a few.
Psalm 121: (1) I will lift up my eyes to the hills; from where shall my help come? (2) My help [comes] from Jehovah, the Maker of the heavens and the earth. (3) He will not give your foot to slip; He who keeps you will not slumber. (4) Behold, He who keeps Israel will not slumber nor sleep. (5) Jehovah [is] the One keeping you; Jehovah [is] your shade on your right hand. (6) The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night; (7) Jehovah shall keep you from all evil; He shall keep your soul. (8) Jehovah shall keep your going out, and your coming in, from now on and till forever.
John 10: (4) And when he puts forth his own sheep, he goes in front of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. (5) But they will not follow a stranger, never! But [they] will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of the strangers.
Jude 1: (24) Now to Him being able to keep you without stumbling, and to set you before His glory without blemish, with unspeakable joy; (25) to the only wise God, our Savior, [be] glory and majesty and might and authority, even now and forever. Amen.
The Holy Spirit is an earnest of our inheritance and keeps us from sinning damnable sins.
We've seen what the true Holy Spirit does. But the Bible says that there are false spirits. First Timothy 4:1 says that some cleave to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons. And remember in last week's sermon, in 2 Corinthians 11:4, that Paul talked about another Jesus? Well, right after that, he talks about "another spirit."
How can we tell the true Holy Spirit from all false spirits? It is by DOCTRINE. The true Holy Spirit is the Spirit of TRUTH. All false spirits are spirits of LIES. So one thing we can say about false spirits is that they will give people belief in the false gods that I talked about two weeks ago and the false christs that I talked about last week. But there are other things that are particular to the Holy Spirit that I'd like to mention. I want to talk about some who say they believe in the Holy Spirit but attribute things to the Holy Spirit that are against His nature. And as I hope you remember, anyone who does this is an idolater.
Let's first talk about a phrase we hear a lot in so-called "sovereign grace" circles. That phrase is "Holy Spirit conviction." You see it with the puritans a lot. In most cases, this is what they mean by "Holy Spirit conviction." They mean that before someone finds rest in Christ alone (thus, before he believes the gospel), he has great struggles with sin and his own sinfulness and has great disturbances in his mind about what God requires and what his sin deserves. He does something like cry on his bed all night or go without food for days or cry out in despair, not knowing what to do. They call this "Holy Spirit conviction." They'll say, "He has such a sense of his own sin and depravity and misery. He must be under Holy Spirit conviction." Some will go so far as to say that this Holy Spirit conviction can ultimately be resisted and the person go back to living an unregenerate life. Well, I'm here to tell you today that this is the conviction of a FALSE Holy Spirit, NOT the true Holy Spirit. What have I just shown you about the true Holy Spirit? The Bible clearly shows that when the Holy Spirit works on a sinner, He gives that person a knowledge of the TRUTH of Jesus Christ's work as the only ground of salvation. Now if a person is weighed down under a deep sense of sin and doesn't know where to turn, is the Holy Spirit doing this work? May it never be! The Holy Spirit's work is an EFFECTUAL work that enables the sinner to believe the TRUTH. If a person does not know that the atoning blood and imputed righteousness of Christ alone is the only answer, then he continues to believe a lie, and the Holy Spirit does not lead a person to a lie. The false religionists who hold to this kind of so-called "Holy Spirit conviction" turn to people like the Ethiopian eunuch and the Philippian jailer to try to prove their points. They say that while these men were searching for the truth, they were under "Holy Spirit conviction." Some of them will say that the Spirit had actually quickened them during this time, and that there was a period of time that elapsed between being given life by the Spirit and believing the truth. Well, Mark 16:16 and Romans 10:3 smash this lie to pieces. God says that those who do not believe the gospel are unregenerate and those who are ignorant of the righteousness of God are unregenerate. When the Ethiopian eunuch asked Philip about Isaiah 53, and when the Philippian jailer asked Paul and Silas what he needed to do to be saved, they were ignorant of the righteousness of God. They were lost. There was no Holy Spirit work in them, only a false spirit. The TRUE SPIRIT convinces men of SIN, of RIGHTEOUSNESS, and of JUDGMENT. Would you say that a person who is in deep despair over his own sin and can't find a way out has been convinced of righteousness? Of course not. He is yet dead in his sins.
And speaking this, the last thing I'd like to say about false spirits is that they do not convict of sin, righteousness, and judgment. A false spirit convicts a person that he has a free will to either choose or reject Christ. A false spirit says that some of what comes from the flesh is spirit. A false spirit convicts a person that sin does not demand everlasting punishment in hell. A false spirit convicts a person that there are not certain sins that are indicative of lostness. A false spirit convicts a person that a regenerate person can sin the sin of confessing a false gospel or can sin the sin of following a false christ. A false spirit convicts a person that everything that is repented of at conversion needs to be repented of again and again, including repenting of dead works and fruit unto death. A false spirit convicts a person that the atoning blood and imputed righteousness of Christ alone is not enough to make the ultimate difference between heaven and hell. A false spirit convicts a person that the Holy Spirit does not guarantee final glory for all whom He indwells. A false spirit convicts a person that the work of Christ does not demand the salvation of all whom He represented. A false spirit convicts a person that not all who believe in universal atonement are lost. A false spirit convicts a person that a regenerate person can confess a false gospel, or, as one lost Calvinist said, "a believer can speak as an unbeliever would speak." And I could go on.
The distinction is clear. The true Holy Spirit is one who gives life, gives truth, and gives unconditional preservation. A false spirit is one who convicts without giving life, gives life without giving truth, and gives preservation conditioned on the sinner. Which spirit is inside you right now? You CAN know which it is. The Bible shows that you can know by what doctrine you believe. May you experience true Holy Spirit conviction. Amen.