I want to use a couple of other key words that are used in connection to the Holy Spirit, and explain them a bit more.
The biggest word that I first want to highlight about the Holy Spirit is HELPER. When Jesus was about to leave this earth, He told His disciples about the Holy Spirit, and Jesus called Him a Helper. Jesus says this in John 14:16 – I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever. We should probably underline this description of the Holy Spirit because this was the VERY FIRST introduction of the Holy Spirit by Jesus to His disciples. So this was clearly a critical trait about the Holy Spirit.
Now we can so easily pass over this word, without really embracing the role of the Holy Spirit as a Helper to us. So let’s think about just our day today. Did we look to the Holy Spirit as a real Helper that we had with us? Did we ask Him to help us today, as we walked down the street, or as we were tempted at work, or as we were at home with our children?
We can be so quick to connect the Holy Spirit FIRST to speaking on tongues, or raising the dead, or healing the sick (because that’s how most of Christendom tends to see Him). And I think the devil would love it if we only thought of the Holy Spirit and His gifts, and didn’t see Him primarily and first as a Helper!
Also, please note that Jesus describes the Holy Spirit as ANOTHER Helper. In order to be another Helper, there had to be a first Helper. Who was that first Helper? Jesus of course!
Now think about the lives of the disciples with Jesus around. Was there a storm He didn’t quell? Or a question He didn’t answer? Or a problem He didn’t solve? Jesus was the perfect Helper for three and a half years, faithfully walking alongside the disciples and helping them.
But now Jesus was going to be leaving them. But Jesus told the disciples not to fear. Yes, He was going, but He was going to send ANOTHER Helper to take His place. And this new Helper was as powerful to help as Jesus was! ABSOLUTELY! The Holy Spirit was part of the Trinity, and He was as powerful and capable as Jesus had been to the disciples.
So I hope that we will ALL look to the Holy Spirit as being, at least, an equal substitute to Jesus physically being with us. Imagine how stress-free and worry-free your life would be if you were living in Jerusalem 2000 years ago, and were one of Jesus’ disciples. After the first few months of seeing Jesus solve every single problem that came your way, you would stop doubting His power. And you would sure that as long as you followed Jesus, He would take care of everything that came your way that day. Right? Well, it is exactly the same way for us today – because of the Holy Spirit that has been give as ANOTHER HELPER to us!
So with that as a preface, I want to talk about one specific thing the Holy Spirit helps us with.
The Holy Spirit is a Helper who washes us and makes us new
We have previously seen the connection between the Holy Spirit and water from John 7:37-39 – where Jesus said that those who thirst and believe in Him will have rivers of living water would flow from our innermost being
because of the Holy Spirit given to us. So the symbol of the Holy Spirit quenching our (and others’) thirst for God is immediately understood by the symbol of water as a thirst-quencher.
But I want to leverage the symbol of the Holy Spirit and water, to highlight a key action of the Holy Spirit and His work in our lives.
See these words of Paul to Titus – Titus 3:4-6 – But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior.
Paul is describing the way in which we are saved. Now we must first remember that the act of salvation is not a past act alone. It is a past, present, and future act. God wants us to save us COMPLETELY from sin – such that sin has absolutely nothing to do with us. So God wants to save us from the PENALTY, the POWER, and even the PRESENCE of sin. We know that this has not happened in any of our lives. The only place that the presence of sin is absent from is in heaven. So we will be completely freed from the very presence of sin only when we get to heaven (in the future for all of us who are still alive). But for those of us who are Christians, God has removed the penalty of sin (a past event for those of us who come to God in the finished work of Jesus Christ). But now He wants us to allow His Holy Spirit in the present to help us demolish the power of sin in our lives.
And it is this past, present, and future attitude towards our salvation that I want to bring to our attention as we consider this act of washing of the Holy Spirit. And I want to highlight this one phrase at the end of verse 5 as it relates to our holistic salvation: the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit.
Regeneration: This word describes a new creation and a new beginning. And as some of us may know, the Bible tells us in no uncertain terms that the life of a Christian involves being born again (John 3:3-8). And Paul also tells me that if all who are in Christ are NEW creations (2 Corinthians 5:17 – Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come).
So there’s a fundamentally brand new IDENTITY that the Holy Spirit seeks to do in us. Yes, He washes us of all our horrendous past actions, but it’s so much more than that. He washes us of our past identity before we came to know Christ personally. Our identity is the very way by which we define ourselves and look ourselves. The Holy Spirit washes us and gives us a new identity.
So that identity that was mangled because of all the evil things your parents said and did to you is washed and regenerated into a brand new identity by the Holy Spirit. And that identity that you think about yourself because of your skin color, your education, your brain capacity, your income level, etc – are all also washed and regenerated by the Holy Spirit. And what comes out of this washing is a brand new identity – a Son of the Living God, and a younger brother of Jesus Christ (1 John 3:2-3; Romans 8:29). Skin color, ethnicity, intelligence, past traumas, etc – are all washed away and throw away.
Can we say that we have fully embraced this kind of washing that the Holy Spirit? We might believe that we are born again, but do we recognize that our old identity has been WASHED AWAY? I can tell you from my own life that this is something I have to fight to remember. So it is good for us to often remind one another of this wonderful washing of regeneration by the Holy Spirit.
Renewing: The washing by renewing is also important. Because I continue to sin and continue to corrupt myself despite my regenerated new identity, I need continuous washings of renewal as well. We all continue to stain ourselves by so many ugly sins that I think we will quickly admit that we are in need of constant renewals.
So we can praise God that He has not left us without hope. He has send us a Helper in the Holy Spirit, who is always prepared to wash us and renew our hearts from all sin and to restore us back to a full devotion to Jesus. Can we say that we embrace this washing of renewal of the Holy Spirit as well? Some of us might comfort ourselves that we are regenerated beings, and we might have put away our past identity to embrace our new identity of being fully accepted by God because of Christ. But we may be presently languishing in lukewarmness towards God. If so, then we must embrace the washing of renewal by the Holy Spirit.
So I hope that we will take these two words of the Holy Spirit with us. He is a HELPER, and He seeks to constantly help us by WASHING us for our regeneration and our renewal.
©Copyright – Sandeep Poonen
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