What is the role of the Holy Spirit?
Now then Paul comes right into verse 16, which is tied to our lifestyle that’s going to merit rewards or lack of it, by bringing up a completely new doctrine in Scripture. You don’t find this in the Old Testament, you don’t find Jesus teaching it, Peter and the eleven don’t teach it, only Paul teaches it, and what is it? “That God Himself is dwelling in this body.” Now that’s a concept that you have to take by faith, because you didn’t feel Him move in, you don’t feel Him moving around in you, but He’s there because the Book says He is. Now let’s look at it.
I Corinthians 3:16
“Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?”
Even these poor old carnal Corinthians were temples of the living God. To every believer, the moment he believes, the Spirit comes and indwells. Now usually when I teach young people (and that doesn’t mean it doesn’t apply to older folks), but I usually tell young people, “Now look, when you go to some ungodly place, you’re not going to check God at the door. You take Him wherever you go. You cannot check Him wherever you think it’s not fit for Him to be, so you’d better be careful where you go. Because this body is the temple of the indwelling Holy Spirit and He comes the moment we believe!”
I Corinthians 3:16
“Know ye not that ye are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?”
Now that’s plain language. You don’t have to be a theologian to understand that. The third Person of the Trinity, as we refer to Him – God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit – the third Person of the Trinity comes and indwells the believer. That’s why God can know every thought. Now that’s scary, isn’t it? God knows our thoughts. God knows every place we go. He knows everything we do. Because He’s here in our heart. Now in your mind’s eye, if you will, go all the way back to when Solomon built the Temple in Jerusalem, which was going to be the dwelling place of God. When the Temple was complete, and they dedicated it, what happened? Well, the presence of God in the Shekinah Glory came right down into that Temple there at Jerusalem. The presence of God dwelt in that dwelling place, which was the Temple Now that was just a foreview of this Age of Grace where, when God saves an individual, he immediately becomes a Temple, a dwelling place. And just like the Shekinah Glory came into Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem, the Holy Spirit comes into us. Not as visibly. It isn’t manifested in much the same way, but according to the Book, this is what happens. And if the Book says it, we have to believe it. He is dwelling within us.
“Likewise the Spirit (the Holy Spirit who is now indwelling us, according to Paul’s teaching) also helpeth our infirmities (our weaknesses. There’s not much we can do about it because we’re dealing with the invisible, in the realm of the Spirit. But let God do it. God can strengthen us in our places of infirmity): for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.”
That verse is kind of hard to comprehend, except to say I think that there will come places in our lives when we just don’t know how to pray. We have an idea of what we want, but we can’t put it into words. I’ve told my classes over the years, when you get to that situation, just be quiet, shut up and let the Holy Spirit commune for you. This is not necessarily a tongues experience. That’s not what Paul is talking about. But we get to this place where the Holy Spirit actually intercedes on our behalf. Now, come back to I John. This is a different intercessory power that John talks about in his epistle.
I John 2:1
“My little children (who is he talking to? Believers! He doesn’t call the unbelieving world his children. It’s the believing element that is being addressed), these things I write unto you, that ye sin not (now what have I stressed over the years – that we are under Grace and not under law. Grace is not license. Just because we’re under Grace, just because the sin is always less than God’s Grace, that doesn’t give us license. And so John says the same thing. He begs the believer – sin not! Don’t sin!). And, if any man sin (that’s conditional. What are we going to do? We’re going to sin! You might as well admit it), we have an advocate with the Father (now what is an advocate? It’s an intercessor. We have Someone Who is interceding for us to the Father. And Who is it?), Jesus Christ the righteous:”
Absolutely He is! He is there 24 hours a day, every day of the year. I’ve told my classes over the years, and I think I’ve even said on the program, this is one of the miracles of our God. I’m sure that at any one moment of time, there are probably a million believers in all areas of the world that are approaching the throne room. But He hears every one as an individual. He doesn’t hear just a mumble-jumble of voices coming up before Him. And so when we pray we have that assurance that He hears us and He knows all about us as a person. Now, back in Romans 8, the Holy Spirit is interceding on behalf of us. And again, I think we have all three Persons of the Trinity involved, even in our prayer life. All three Persons are working for us constantly. A little later in this chapter, no wonder Paul will write, “If God be for us, who can be against us?” We’ve got all three Persons constantly working on our behalf. Let’s read on.
“And he that searcheth the hearts (this is the area in which God works. You and I can’t look on each others hearts. I can’t judge anyone, nor would I ever try. But God does) knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit (now hold it. Where, so far as you and I are concerned, is the Spirit? He’s in us. Now, that’s a concept that we cannot understand. A person of the Godhead dwelling in me? Absolutely! It’s what The Book says. And again, we take it by faith that the third Person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit is indwelling the believer. And it’s through that Holy Spirit that God searches the heart of the believer), because He (the Holy Spirit) maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.”
Does that leave out the Son? No! It just involves all three. The Holy Spirit intercedes on our behalf and the Son intercedes on our behalf to the Father. It’s just fantastic.
Now the question has come up and I think I answered it in my last newsletter, if I’m not mistaken. At the Rapture of the Church, and all the believers are taken out, does that mean the Holy Spirit is gone too? And you know, shortly after I’d sent my newsletter out with my answer, I was reading a well-known theologian and bless his heart (or mine), if he didn’t answer it just exactly the same way. And that is; that just because the Holy Spirit goes out and finishes His role as indwelling the individual believer, doesn’t remove Him from the earth. Because the Holy Spirit has always been the Omnipresence of God on the planet. You go all the way back to Genesis Chapter 1 and after the deluge of verse 2, when everything is under water, what moved upon the face of the deep? The Spirit! And so all throughout the Old Testament the Holy Spirit was evident, otherwise nobody could ever have knowledge of God. But He did not indwell the Old Testament believers like He does today. And the same way in the Tribulation – yes, as the indwelling Person of the Godhead, in the believer, that is going to end. But He’s going to remain on the earth as the Omnipresence of God or else no one would be able to be saved during the Tribulation and we know they will be. So every believer then, in this Age of Grace in which Paul is dealing, is the temple of the Holy Spirit.
All right, verse 6 (of II Thessalonians chapter 2) is where we quit in our last study, how that there has to be a restraining force now, beginning at some point in human history to hold everything in check lest things start rolling too fast and the anti-Christ would make his appearance before the right time. I think that is all that is implied here, is that God has instituted a restrainer so that the anti-Christ could not be brought on the scene ahead of time. Hopefully, we made plain that the restrainer is the work of the Holy Spirit, as he indwells you and I as believers.
In closing of the last lesson, I mentioned that even in Israel tonight, with the tremendous chasm between the secular ( how shall I call it), the unbelieving Jews. They take no respect for the Scriptures, the Old Testament, as they are secular. They don’t take God in their lives at all. In fact I was reminded, as I read that little article, when Iris and I were in Israel the very first time. That goes back too many years! We came out of the hotel dining room after dinner and a well dressed, Jewish business man said “You are from America, aren’t you?” We said, “Yes.” He said, “What do you think of our little country?” Well we were impressed with how far they had come in just those few years after the Six Day War. So, I just earnestly said, “It’s amazing what God has done here!” Do you know what his answer was? “God didn’t have a thing to do with it. We did it.”
Well, see that’s the secular attitude. They think God has nothing to do with it. But you see, on the other hand, you have that percentage in Israel who are still, what we would call religious. They are Orthodox and they are still spending their time in the Old Testament scriptures. But, it’s gotten to the place that the secular part of Israel will be for anything that the religious segment is against. And visa versa. Whether it’s political, economical, moral, whatever. As soon as those Rabbi’s express themselves, the secular world comes up against it.
Well you see, we are in the same situation in America. Not quite to that extreme, but we are up against the same thing. Just as soon as we try to oppose something, then we are just called mean spirited. We are just simply against everything. Well, of course we are. It is our responsibility as believers to stand against these things that we know are Biblically wrong. Yet our nation has become so secular now, that regardless of what the outcome may be, they are going to be counter against us, simply because we are standing on the Scriptures. But, this is our role. This is why God has left us here. We can be used of the Holy Spirit to be a restraining force to hold back these forces of evil. Because we know, that the minute we are out of here (and we are going to see that in the next verse) that the wickedness is going to run rampant across the planet. And, that is what justifies the wrath and vexation of God. Now verse 6.
II Thessalonians 2:6-7a
“And now ye know what withholdeth (or the one who restrains) that he (the anti-Christ) might be revealed in his time. (or not before the time.) 7. For the mystery (or the secret) of iniquity doth already work:…”
Now there is probably a debate, “When does Paul feel this mystery of iniquity began?” Did it begin as soon as he went out among the Gentile world with the Gospel? Possibly, but I prefer to think that this mystery of iniquity actually began at the tower of Babel. And, my reason for thinking that is every false religion, even our modern day cults (and throw them in with the Oriental religions) – they all have their roots going right back to the tower of Babel. Everything false goes back to the tower of Babel. Then if you have done any study at all of these false religions, you will notice that almost all of them, at the core of their belief system, are what they call, the mysteries. Now, you just think for a minute. The Oriental religions are mystery religions. And it is simply because only the inner sanctum of their priesthood have access to these mysteries. You will find this, all the way up through every false religion. And so this is what makes me think that this term mystery refers to all these false pagan religions that even Paul was confronting now, face to face, by bringing these people out of it. Indeed, the mysteries of paganism, of false worship, have been already revealed and were on the scene as Paul wrote this letter.
II Thessalonians 2:7a
“For the mystery (secret) of iniquity doth already work:…” It was permeating the whole human race. Now the next part is also interesting. There is a lot of debate over it, but I believe if you just look at it in the big picture, that Paul is dealing with the Body of Christ being taken out before this final seven years of wrath comes in. So he says in verse 7.
II Thessalonians 2 : 7b
“…only he who now letteth (hindereth) will let (hinder) until he be taken out of the way.”
Now those are personal pronouns. So again, I am thinking you have to give the credit to the Holy Spirit. The personal pronoun that “he who now hindereth,” the indwelling Holy Spirit, is the same Spirit that we saw in verse 6 “will hinder.” He’s never going to stop. He’s never going to give up. I have always felt that this hindering work of the Holy Spirit is such that until the Body of Christ is gone, it’s going to be like a dam in the river. And the iniquity is just piling up and piling up, just like a large reservoir. All right, so look at the verse again.
II Thessalonians 2 : 7b
“…only he who now letteth (hindereth. Now I know that the King James says letteth, but again if you have a Bible with a marginal, they have all realized that the word meaning has changed 180 degrees. So the person of the Holy Spirit who) will let, (hinder) until he be taken out of the way.”
Now, if the Holy Spirit is working in the believer today to withstand the forces of wickedness, then it stands to reason that as soon as he is taken out, it will be like the floodgates of wickedness that will come over the world.
The Holy Spirit today in the Age of Grace points people to God, the Son. This is the work of the Holy Spirit, to point lost people to the Son. For we believers, it’s the Holy Spirit’s work to teach and encourage and reprove us, so that we might in turn bring honor and glory to the Son.