The Role of the Holy Spirit in the Christian Life

The role of the Holy Spirit in the Christian life is multifaceted: to give life, power, purification, revelation, and guidance to believers.[1] In this essay, I will explain each of these characteristics and how they are important in the counseling process.

God gives life to all creatures. The psalmist said, “When you send forth your Spirit, they are created (Ps. 104:30).” It’s vital to understand that if God ceased to exist, every sentient being in this universe would perish (Job. 34:14-15). All of the creation relies on God to enjoy life. A Christian, however, enjoys the gift of new life in regeneration that unbelievers don’t possess.

When speaking to Nicodemus, Jesus said, “Unless you are born again, you can’t see the kingdom of God (Jn. 3:3).” In counseling, it’s important to remind the counselee that the only way to change effectively is to be given new life through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ.

The Holy Spirit gives power to the Christian. When Jesus was speaking to His disciples, he promised them: “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you (Acts 1:8).” This power helps us utilize our spiritual gifts, overcome sin, and discern spiritual warfare. For further study, I wrote a daily devotional on the power of the Holy Spirit.

Effective counseling cannot be done without the power of the Holy Spirit. As Jay Adams said, “Anyone who fails to submit to this power will not be able to change their personality in a positive manner.”[2]

Purification is an essential ingredient to the role of the Holy Spirit. The Bible says the Spirit “convicts the world of sin and of unrighteousness (Jn. 16:8-11). It is only when the Christian admit their guilt and confesses to their Heavenly Father that the work of the Spirit can begin. Paul says to the Corinthians, after they repented, “You were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God (1 Cor. 6:11).

Moreover, after the Holy Spirit purifies us from our sins, He transforms our hearts and mind to conform to the image of God through the fruits of the Spirit: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal. 5:22-23).” While we meet with our counselees, it’s important to emphasize that the Christian life is not only about putting “off” the old man but putting “on” the new man in Christ Jesus (2 Cor. 5:17).

Scripture makes it clear that another role of the Holy Spirit is to reveal God’s truth, which is found in the written word. God’s word came about because “men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit (2 Pet. 1:21).” Consequently, all Scripture is God-breathed, which means the Spirit teaches, rebukes, and corrects us on how to properly understand the revelation of God’s ultimate plan (2 Tim. 3:16). In counseling, it’s vitally important to realize the Spirit’s counseling work is ordinarily performed through the ministry of God’s word.[3]

Finally, the role of the Spirit of God is to guide and direct His people. Throughout the Old Testament, the spirit came upon prophets. For instance, “the Spirit of the Lord came upon Ezekiel, specifically telling him to rebuke the Israelites for killing many people in the city and filling its street with the dead (Ezek. 11:5-6).”

In the New Testament, after Jesus was baptized, the Spirit led him out into the wilderness (Mk. 1:12). In the epistles, Paul writes that Christians ought to walk by the Spirit, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh (Gal 5:16). It’s clear that God desires counselees to listen for the guidance of the Spirit through prayer, Scripture, like-minded believers, and any convictions from the inner self that aligns with the Bible.

[1] Grudem, Systematic Theology, p.634-656. These five characteristics of the Holy Spirit: life, power, purification, revelation, and guidance are found in Chapter 30: The Work of the Holy Spirit.

[2] Jay Adams, Competent to Counsel (Zondervan, 1986), p.20.

[3] Ibid., 23.

6 thoughts on “The Role of the Holy Spirit in the Christian Life

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  1. Thanks for the great insight! Love this: “Moreover, after the Holy Spirit purifies us from our sins, He transforms our hearts and mind to conform to the image of God through the fruits of the Spirit”

    Appreciate your reference to Wayne Grudem. He is my favorite Theologian.

    Blessings from mighty King Jesus.


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