When is the last time you begged God for help? Whether it is understanding Scripture, or applying it to your life. Or whether it is a desire to kill a particular sin, or asking Him for an open door to share the Gospel, how often do you spend a little time begging Him for help?
I mean, are we able to do anything spiritual apart from the Holy Spirit’s help?
I read a quote recently that filled me with conviction.
John Owen, speaking about the ministry of the Holy Spirit, said,
For a man solemnly to undertake the interpretation of any portion of Scripture without invocation of God, to be taught and instructed by His Spirit, is a high provocation of Him; nor shall I expect the discovery of truth from anyone who thus proudly engages in a work so much above his ability.
And as Dale Ralph Davis says, “we are guilty of arrogance, not merely neglect, when we fail to beg the Spirit’s help in the study of Scripture.”
I’d like to remind you of a simple truth that we all tend to neglect, that is that we must be dependent on the Holy Spirit for help in three major areas of life.
We need help when we are exposed to God’s Word
When we truly grasp our utter inability to not only apply God’s Word to our lives, but even to understand it (1 Cor. 2:14), it becomes much easier to depend on the Holy Spirit for help. It is so easy to read chapters of the Bible without requesting the Holy Spirit’s help. Some pastors even prepare whole sermons without ever asking the Holy Spirit to illumine their minds. Thousands, if not millions, of people drive to church each Sunday morning without ever asking the Holy Spirit to use the message that they will hear to penetrate their hard hearts and cause them to be transformed.
So many of us, even those of us who go to “solid churches” where the Word is preached and our pastor faithfully seeks to craft sermons that will be an encouragement to our soul, desperately need to be asking the Lord to change us! Perhaps especially those of us who are constantly sitting under solid expository preaching, since it is so easy for our hearts to become dull. Since it is the Holy Spirits who leads us into truth (John 16:13) It is foolish and outright dangerous to show up and hear God’s Word, or read it in our devotions, without asking the Lord to illumine our hearts and change us to love Him more.
We need the Spirit’s help in our battle against sin
Before salvation, we couldn’t stop sinning. We were a slave to it (Romans 6:20). Now that we are believers and have received new hearts, it is the Spirit that works in our hearts to convict us of sin (John 16:8). It is only because of the Holy Spirit that we are able to say no to sin. Yet, it is so easy to walk through life without ever asking the Lord to help us in our constant battle against the flesh.
As Spurgeon so eloquently said, “If he gives you the grace to make you believe, he will give you the grace to live a holy life afterward.”
Simply put, the Lord desires us to be holy and he has given the Holy Spirit as the helper in making that come to pass. We will never be perfectly holy like Him on earth, but we will eventually in Heaven. Knowing that the Holy Spirit is within us and desires us to be holy is a much needed motivation to say no to sin (1 Cor. 6:19-20). We must be constantly reminded of this truth, and we must be constantly asking the Father to cause the Spirit to expose our hearts, to help us, and cause us to hate and kill sin.
We need the Spirit’s help to share the Gospel
When is the last time you asked God to give you the words to say while in a conversation with an unbeliever? If you haven’t had any conversations lately, when is the last time you prayed for an open door? If you’re finding that you’re not evangelizing, then I must ask you if are you relying on the Holy Spirit? The Bible calls you to be involved in evangelism, perhaps not as often as your pastor or the missionary you support, but you are called to be evangelizing those in the circle that God has sovereignly placed you in.
You must share the Gospel as an ambassador of Christ, you don’t have a choice (2 Cor. 5:20). And without the Holy Spirit you cannot. That is precisely why you must be constantly aware of your need of His help and be constantly relying upon Him for this important task!
Hudson Taylor famously told a fellow missionary, “Brother, if you would enter that Province, you must go forward on your knees.” How foolish would it be to do evangelism, and not be asking the Holy Spirit—the only One capable of replacing hearts of stone with hearts of flesh (Ezek. 36:26)—to help you to reach the souls around you. Remember your need to evangelize, and most importantly, your need for the Holy Spirit!
These are truths we all know and love, but, more often than not, we can neglect. It is imperative that we are always alert to the fact that in our own power we can do nothing (John 15:5), but only through the Holy Spirit, we can actually glorify our Father in Heaven. Be encouraged, and the next time you are exposed to the Word, your sin, or to an unbeliever, ask God to allow the Holy Spirit to change you, help you, and encourage you toward faithfulness.