When Jesus was about to ascend to Heaven, He told the disciples that He would not leave them comfortless — He would send to them a helper. On the day of Pentecost in Acts 2, He fulfilled His promise by sending to them the Holy Spirit. The fearful disciples who were hiding in the upper room for fear of persecutions suddenly became courageous and began to preach to their persecutors to repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus.
The accounts in Acts demonstrate the might of the Holy Spirit. Unlearned and ignorant men became very powerful and turned cities and towns upside down because they received power after the Holy Spirit came upon them.
In this present generation, it seems as if we have lost understanding of the omnipotent power of the Holy Spirit that has resulted in our inability to rely on Him absolutely for all the help we need in times of trouble. The Holy Spirit was sent to help, direct, defend, teach and comfort us. The universal Church is going through turbulent and challenging time, and unfortunately most Christians do not know who The Holy Spirit is, His ministries and how to harness and appropriate the help and the defense which He graciously provides.
The Holy Spirit has the power to handle the people of the world and the persecutors of the Church. The ministry of the Holy Spirit is not restricted to the Church. The Holy Spirit has a ministry to the world, and works wonders among the lost. He convicts, converts, compels, and constrains the people of the world.
When Paul was arrested, the Church rested: "Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace and was strengthened. Living in the fear of the Lord and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it increased in numbers" (Acts 9:31). It was the Holy Spirit who convicted and converted Saul of Tarsus and made him a vessel unto honor. The present-day church can rely absolutely on the Holy Spirit to do to our persecutors what He did to Saul. We can pray fervently for the conversion of those persecuting the Church instead of praying for them to die, as some do in Nigeria.
Without a doubt, the Church has many enemies. Regardless, we should be strengthened by the promise of God in the book of Isaiah: "So shall they fear the name of the LORD from the west, And His glory from the rising of the sun; When the enemy comes in like a flood, The Spirit of the LORD will lift up a standard against him" (Isaiah 59:19). It is obvious that the Holy Spirit is our formidable defender in times of trouble. He lifts standards against intimidations, legislations, and attacks of the enemy that are programmed against the Church.
The ministry of the Holy Spirit involves stopping those who seek to destroy believers, and compelling them to do some unbelievable things. When King Saul sent three batches of his men to capture David, The Holy Spirit compelled them to join the company of prophets and they prophesied and did not return. When Saul did not see them, he decided to go after David himself and ended up stripping himself naked and prophesying all day and all night under the influence of the Holy Spirit (1 Samuel 19:20-24). This was a big surprise to the Israelites, and they came up with this proverb: "Is Saul also among the prophets?"
Why is it difficult for those persecuting the church these days to be arrested by the Holy Spirit? Is it that the potency of the Holy Spirit is diminishing or is it that the human instruments that are supposed to pull down the power of the Holy Spirit are found wanting? Perhaps we need to check to know what has gone wrong. Are we sure we are not grieving the Holy Spirit? For the fact that many of us do not even believe in His existence is enough reason for Him to rescind His helping activities to us.
Paul rebuked Elymas when he stood on the way of the Gospel: "Then Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked straight at Elymas and said, ‘you are a child of the devil and an enemy of everything that is right! You are full of all kinds of deceit and trickery. Will you never stop perverting the right ways of the Lord? Now the hand of the Lord is against you. You are going to be blind for a time, not even able to see the light of the sun.’ Immediately mist and darkness came over him, and he groped about, seeking someone to lead him by the hand" (Acts 13:9-11).
If we humble ourselves to be filled with the Holy Spirit we can confront the persecutors of the church the same way Paul confronted Elymas. The Holy Spirit is readily available to defend the Church, but we must acknowledge His presence, revere Him, and fear Him. Instead of depending on the flesh, the Church must understand that we cannot win the battles confronting us by political power and military might, but by the Spirit alone.