Four Roles of the Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit plays a number of roles in the Christian’s life. Present from the start (Genesis 1:2) the Spirit is eternal and an equal part of the Trinity. It is through the Spirit that we begin to understand God’s will in our lives, that we bear fruit (Galatians 5:22-25) and live into the commandment to love one another. The Holy Spirit works as teacher, comforter and interceder and identifies us to God as one of His. 

1. Teacher

Before Jesus left His disciples, He let them know that He wasn’t leaving them to figure things out on their own. Instead, in John 14:26, He promised them a teacher would come to guide them and make plain all that He had told and shown them. That teacher would be the Holy Spirit. In John 16:13 the Spirit is referred to as the Spirit of truth. Why? Because it is through the Spirit that we learn the truth that only comes from God.

2. Comforter

The same Greek word (paraclete) that is translated as comforter is also translated as helper or advocate. In essence, it means one who is called to our side. When Jesus left, He did not leave us alone to fend for ourselves in a world that had fallen away from God’s truth. The Spirit was sent to walk with us, to guide us, to comfort us, to advocate on our behalf and to lead us to truth. 

3. Interceder

First Corinthians 2:10-11 identifies the Holy Spirit as our interceder. The Spirit reveals to us the thoughts of God and searches our own thoughts. When we lack the words, the Spirit even offers up prayers on our behalf (Romans 8:26-27). In the same way, when we don’t know what to do, the Spirit intercedes and leads us in the direction of God’s will. The Spirit intercedes to God on our behalf, and to us on God’s behalf. 

4. Mark of Salvation

Ephesians 1:13 (MSG) says, “It’s in Christ that you, once you heard the truth and believed it (this Message of your salvation), found yourselves home free — signed, sealed, and delivered by the Holy Spirit.” The Holy Spirit is given to all who believe in God. Just as we wear name tags to identify who we are, the Spirit is like a label identifying us as belonging to God. The work of sanctification is helped through the guidance of the Spirit while the presence of the Spirit, thanks to the redeeming work of Christ, labels us as justified. 

As Jesus-followers, we have been left with a powerful gift. The Holy Spirit is not a prize, a Jiminy Cricket or a silent partner. There is power there. Annie Dillard said it best in “Teaching a Stone to Talk,” “On the whole, I do not find Christians, outside of the catacombs, sufficiently sensible of conditions. Does anyone have the foggiest idea what sort of power we so blithely invoke? Or, as I suspect, does no one believe a word of it? The churches are children playing on the floor with their chemistry sets, mixing up a batch of TNT to kill a Sunday morning. It is madness to wear ladies’ straw hats and velvet hats to church; we should all be wearing crash helmets. Ushers should issue life preservers and signal flares; they should lash us to our pews.” The Holy Spirit is powerful, equipped with all truth and advocating on our behalf. 

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