The Spirit that sets believers apart

Many believers today are of the opinion that the Holy Spirit did not work among God’s people until the day of Pentecost described in Acts chapter 2.

Acts 2:1-4 – When the day of Pentecost had arrived, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like that of a violent rushing wind came from heaven, and it filled the whole house where they were staying. They saw tongues like flames of fire that separated and rested on each one of them. Then they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them.

And yet we find David claiming that God’s Holy Spirit was with him in his day.

Psalm 51:10-11 – God, create a clean heart for me and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not banish me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.

In fact, we find the Spirit of God has been present and active since the very opening verses of the Bible.

Genesis 1:1-2 – In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness covered the surface of the watery depths, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters.

Now, believers today might concede and say something like, “Well, yes, God’s Spirit has always been present, but he has not come to live inside believers until the day of Pentecost in Acts 2.” But is this really the case?

Numbers 11:16-17 – The LORD answered Moses, “Bring me seventy men from Israel known to you as elders and officers of the people. Take them to the tent of meeting and have them stand there with you. “Then I will come down and speak with you there. I will take some of the Spirit who is on you and put the Spirit on them. They will help you bear the burden of the people, so that you do not have to bear it by yourself.

Now if we are going to get into the semantics of whether the Spirit was IN or ON people, I think we will be missing the point, and quite honestly, we will be missing a beautiful continuity all throughout God’s Word, as well.

The Spirit of God is his Presence, active and working within his created order to maintain his purpose and will. The Spirit of God is the Spirit of holiness, the Presence that separates and distinguishes the profane from the sacred, the mundane from the spiritual.

When the Spirit of God acts in Creation, we consider the miraculous to be taking place. From the act of Creation itself, to guiding Israel through the wilderness, to speaking through Moses and the prophets, to anointing all of his people with knowledge, wisdom, and insight, the Spirit of God is the “thing” that distinguishes God’s people from the rest of the people living on the planet at any given time. This is what gives the Bible its uniqueness in its worldview, and what separates its adherents from all others.

How can we know if we “have” the Holy Spirit working in our lives? Well, primarily we have to recognize that the Spirit of God is not a possession we “have.” If we choose to abide in his ways as revealed through Yeshua, we are promised he will choose to abide with us.

1 John 2:3-6 – This is how we know that we know him: if we keep his commands. The one who says, “I have come to know him,” and yet doesn’t keep his commands, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps his word, truly in him the love of God is made complete. This is how we know we are in him: The one who says he remains in him should walk just as he walked.

When we keep his word, we obey his commands, and our lives should look like Yeshua’s. In his departing words to his disciples recorded for us in John’s gospel in chapters 14-17, Yeshua teaches about the intimate and powerful ways that God will continue to work through his people when they are obedient to God’s commands as he had related to them during his ministry among the people of Israel.

John 14:15-17 – “If you love me, you will keep my commands. “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever. “He is the Spirit of truth. The world is unable to receive him because it doesn’t see him or know him. But you do know him, because he remains with you and is in you.
John 15:26-27 – “When the Counselor comes, the one I will send to you from the Father ​– ​the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father ​– ​he will testify about me. “You also will testify, because you have been with me from the beginning.
John 16:13 – “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth. For he will not speak on his own, but he will speak whatever he hears. He will also declare to you what is to come.

The Spirit of holiness is the Spirit who would cause the disciples, and subsequently all believers, to testify to the Messiah-ship of Yeshua. This is an earmark of the Spirit’s work in our lives: testifying that Yeshua is the Messiah of God, sent to save his people from their sin.

The Spirit of holiness is the Spirit of truth, and the Spirit cannot direct believers of Messiah into falsehood. He was to declare to the disciples what was to come, and we have those declarations recorded for us throughout the New Testament writings as historical validations of all that was foretold.

1 John 2:20-21, 27 – But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth. I have not written to you because you don’t know the truth, but because you do know it, and because no lie comes from the truth. … As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you don’t need anyone to teach you. Instead, his anointing teaches you about all things and is true and is not a lie; just as it has taught you, remain in him.

The Spirit of God is what sets God’s people apart from all others. When we claim to believe in Yeshua as the Messiah of God, we are taking part in the miraculous fulfilling of God’s purpose in the world. As we remain “in” the Holy One, he remains “in” us. The Spirit of God is active today among his people, continuing to set standards of righteousness and belief in the Messiah for each new generation through what has been revealed to his set-apart people, his holy people, throughout the ages.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive at https://core-of-the-bible.simplecast.com/ or your favorite podcast streaming service. Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

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