California megachurch pastor Greg Laurie taught his congregation about the role of the Holy Spirit in a believer's life, and also explained what the Bible means by the unforgivable sin of blaspheming against the Holy Spirit.
It's a little tricky to wrap our minds around God as the Holy Spirit, Laurie, the senior pastor of the California-based Harvest Christian Fellowship, said in a message titled, "The Holy Spirit and You."
He said the Holy Spirit, who is co-equal with God the Father and God the Son, has a distinct personality and is God.
The Bible says we can grieve the Holy Spirit, he added. Only a person close to you can be grieved by you, he pointed out, and said the Holy Spirit is not an "it" or a "force." He has intellect, will and emotion.
Why did the Holy Spirit come?
The pastor read out John 14:16-17, "I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you."
The original word for "Helper," as used in the passage, means an advocate or a new friend, or someone who helps alongside us, Laurie explained.
"The Holy Spirit comes to our side, studies our case, and helps us to plead this to another," he said. "One stands at the right side of the Judge, ready at any moment to plead our case — Jesus. The other stands by our side, directing, pleading our case — the Holy Spirit."
Pastor Laurie then read Romans 8:16, "The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God."
The Bible says we are children of God, but something inside of us also says we are children of God, and that's because of the Holy Spirit, he explained.
The Bible says we are "sealed with the Spirit, Laurie told the congregation, based on Ephesians 1:13-14, "In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation — having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God's own possession, to the praise of His glory."
Sealed with the Holy Spirit "means God has put a mark of you," a mark of His ownership, he explained. "When the devil comes to wreak havoc in our lives, he is stopped cold."
The Holy Spirit is like a "down payment" that God has given to reassure us that He will keep all the promises He has made, he added.
The Holy Spirit also teaches us, Pastor Laurie continued, quoting John 14:26, "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you."
The Holy Spirit can open up passages to us in an incredible way as we study and read the Bible, the pastor said.
The Holy Spirit also helps in our prayer and obedience to God, Laurie added, quoting John 14:15-16, "If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever."
In the Old Testament, we were given commandments to keep, but in the New Testament, the laws are written in our hearts and we obey them out of our love for God, and not out of fear, the pastor explained.
The Holy Spirit also empowers us for service, Laurie said, and quoted John 14:17, "That is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you."
The pastor also read Acts 1:8, "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth."
He continued, "That same power that came at Pentecost is available for believers today."
However, we can resist the Holy Spirit, and even insult Him, Laurie said, and warned that we can even blaspheme the Holy Spirit — the only sin the Bible says is unforgivable.
Mark 3:28-30 says, "'Truly I say to you, all sins shall be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin' — because they were saying, 'He has an unclean spirit.'"
Laurie said many Christians ask him about it.
But if you're concerned about having blasphemed the Spirit, you have not blasphemed, the pastor said, and explained that someone who has blasphemed the Spirit wouldn't care about it. "It's a sin that only a non-believer can commit," as it means "conscious denouncing and rejection of God."