A Time of Temptation
“And immediately the Spirit driveth him into the wilderness. 13 And he was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted of Satan; and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered unto him.” (Mark 1:12-13)
Following the baptism of Jesus, the Bible tells us that the Lord was driven by the Spirit to go into the desert. The word for “driven” means, “to be compelled”, and draws attention to the Person and Work of the Holy Spirit.
As we consider the Scriptures as a whole, we find many truths about the Holy Spirit. Since the subject is so large, we will confine ourselves to one major observation: the Personality of the Holy Spirit.
The Bible clearly teaches the Holy Spirit of God is a Person, as much as the Father and Son are Persons.
The Holy Spirit is not a nebulous cosmic force, or power. Rather, He has all the attributes of a person.
The Bible teaches that the Holy Spirit has a mind. He thinks. He knows things. He is able to articulate His thoughts.
“And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God” (Rom. 8:27)
The Holy Spirit searches out the human mind to reveal things. “But God hath revealed them [His truth] unto us by His Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God” (1 Cor. 2:10).
While studying Romans 1:17, the mind of Martin Luther was suddenly illuminated by the Holy Spirit with spiritual understanding that “the just shall live by faith.”
Whatever gospel truth you know today has been revealed to you by the Holy Spirit illuminating your understanding.
Not only does the Holy Spirit have a mind, He also has a will. You have a will, and so does the Holy Spirit. With your will you make choices. Sometimes you make a good choice. Sometimes you make a bad choice. Your choices reflect your will. Your will reflects what you think is in your best interest, because no one ever acts contrary to their will. It is impossible to do so.
In like manner, the Holy Spirit has a will. He exercises His will. For example, it is the Holy Spirit who assigns every Christian their spiritual gift.
At the moment of salvation, it is the Holy Spirit who decides who will get whatever spiritual gift they might have. This truth is taught in 1 Corinthians 2:11. “But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.”
Some people have the spiritual gift of helping others. There are individuals who want to do good to other people.
Prior to Hurricane Matthew in 2016, a Christian brother called and asked if I had a need. I told him that shutters needed to be put on the house. He came over and put them up. When the storm passed by, he came and removed them. He has the gift of helping others.
Some people have been given the spiritual gift of pastor-teacher because it is the will of the Holy Spirit. Others have the gift of healing, or ministry. Some have the gift of hospitality. There is also the gift of giving. Whatever spiritual gift you have, it was given to you according to the will of the Holy Spirit.
By exercising His will, the Holy is able to guide people in their behavior. Sometimes the Holy Spirit forbids certain actions to be taken. During a missionary journey, Paul and Silas travelled through a region of Galatia. Then, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the gospel in Asia. That might sound strange, but it was the will of the Holy Spirit. You will find this truth taught in Acts 16:6, 7. Why the Holy Spirit sometimes forbids something being done might not be fully understood, but it is His will.
As the Holy Spirit forbids, He also permits. One night Paul had a vison. There was a Macedonia call. Paul heard a voice pleading, “Come and help us.” The Holy Spirit gave permission to go and help. So Paul went and preached the gospel where the Holy Spirit led (Acts 16:10).
As the Holy Spirit has a mind, and a will, so He has the power to speak to individuals. The Holy Spirit spoke to Philip in a desert. “Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot.” (Acts 8:29) The chariot belonged to an important government official who was traveling in the desert. He was reading a scroll of Isaiah the prophet. The Holy Spirit wanted Philip to witness to the official, and so the Spirit told Philip to do just that.
Again, the Holy Spirit spoke to Peter on a housetop. “While Peter thought on the vision, the Spirit said unto him, Behold, three men seek thee.” (Acts 10:19) The Holy Spirit wanted Peter to speak to the visitors, and told Peter to do so. Peter obeyed, and the church received Gentiles into its fellowship.
The Holy Spirit spoke to some elders in Antioch. The Holy Spirit wanted to separate Barnabas and Saul for the work of the ministry, and told the elders to do just that. “And as they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.” (Acts 13:2)
The Holy Spirit spoke to the members of the seven churches in Asia Minor (Rev. 2-3). To each of the seven churches we read the same words: “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches” (see. Rev. 2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22).It is important to listen for the voice of the Holy Spirit in our lives. God still talks to the person who cares to listen.
As the Holy Spirit has a mind, a will, and a way to speak, so the Holy Spirit is to be loved. A person can love another person. Paul spoke of love for the Holy Spirit in his epistle to the Romans. “Now I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me.” (Rom. 15:30) What Paul was saying is that when Christians express love for the Holy Spirit they will pray for one another. Paul pleaded for personal prayer based on an authentic love for the Holy Spirit.
Another facet reflecting the personality of the Holy Spirit is His capacity to be grieved over sin. “And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.” (Eph. 4:30)
A rock does not grieve over sin. A force does not grieve over sin. A principle does not grieve over sin. But the Holy Spirit can be grieved when a Christian violates the known will of God.
Then, the Holy Spirit prays, and He helps us when we pray. When my children were small, I would teach them to pray by praying with them, and for them. In like manner, the Holy Spirit “also helpeth our infirmities [weaknesses]: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” (Rom. 8:26)
Now, why is it important to emphasis the personality of the Holy Spirit? The answer is this.
Our text says that it was the Holy Spirit that compelled Jesus, in the days of His humanity, to go into the desert.
It was the Holy Spirit’s will that Jesus be in a specific geographical location.
It was the Holy Spirit who made a conscious decision to send Jesus into the desert.
It was the Holy Spirit who communicated His divine will to Jesus.
As the Holy Spirit compelled Jesus, so He will compel you and I, if we do not grieve Him.
The Holy Spirit will guide us geographically. He will forbid us to go certain places, and instruct us where we should be.
The Holy Spirit will illuminate our understanding when we need instruction in righteousness.
The Holy Spirit will help us when we pray, if we rely upon Him.
The Holy Spirit will speak to our hearts, if we are willing to listen.
As you love God the Father, and God the Son, so love, honor, and respect God the Holy Spirit.
Believe in Him.
Rely upon Him.
The Holy Spirit is the promised Paraclet of Jesus. He is the gift of God, to the people of God.
Is it any wonder that Christians who understand these truths plead for the Holy Spirit to come in His power, and fullness?
Does not the church plead,
“Sweet Holy Spirit,
sweet heavenly Dove,
Stay right here with us,
filling us with Your love.
And for these blessings,
We lift our hearts in praise;
Without a doubt we’ll know
That we have been revived
When we shall leave this place.”
The life of Jesus Christ in His humanity was lived in consciousness of, and in obedience to, the Holy Spirit.
The life of the church must also be lived in the consciousness of, and in obedience to the Holy Spirit.
The first response to the Holy Spirit is to believe that He is a person, a member of the triune Godhead.
The second response to the Holy Spirit is to obey His voice to come to Christ, and be saved. “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” (Rev. 22:17)
A third response to the Holy Spirit is to let Him guide you in the will of the Lord.
Geographically, God has a place He wants you to be.
Linguistically, God has something He wants you to say.
Occupationally, God has something He wants you to do.
In the humanity of Christ, God wanted Jesus to go to the desert. The Holy Spirit led Him there.
Linguistically, God wanted Jesus to talk back to the devil by using Scripture. The Holy Spirit helped Jesus remember the Word.
Occupationally, God wanted Jesus to minister for three and one half years, and then give His life a ransom for His own. The Holy Spirit empowered, and sustained Jesus in all of this.
What the Holy Spirit did for Jesus, He will do for every Christian. But, every Christian must believe, obey, and yield to the Holy Spirit.
Perhaps God is speaking to someone, by His Spirit, today.
Can you hear His voice?
Will you obey?
Is the Spirit calling you to salvation? Come to Christ.
Is the Spirit convicting you of sin? Confess what is a burden to your conscience.
Is the Spirit telling you to go and do something? Obey Him immediately.
Is the Spirit telling you not to do something? Stop whatever is not right.
Whatever the Holy Spirit is compelling you to do, do not resist Him. Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of the living God.
Trust the Holy Spirit, and then, go in peace.