Ask the Pastor
Dear Pastor Charles:
I have a question that keeps bothering me that none of my Christian friends seem to be able to answer to my satisfaction. They tell me that when someone becomes a Christian, the Holy Spirit indwells that person and convicts them of wrongdoing. It sounds to me like they are talking about their conscience. Could that be the same thing as the Holy Spirit? I know this is probably a dumb question but I really would like to know. Thanks. Confused.
I know that you have heard this before but there really is no such thing as a dumb question as long as it is asked in sincerity. Actually, this is a very good question and one that I doubt the average Christian can really answer effectively. Your friends are correct when they tell you that the Holy Spirit ‘indwells’ you when you become a Christian. Unfortunately, if you are not familiar with Christian terminology this can be somewhat mystifying.
First of all, we need to establish just Who this Holy Spirit is. You can find Him introduced in the first two passages in the Bible, Genesis 1:1-2, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.” This Spirit of God is one in the same as the Holy Spirit your friends are referring to. In the New Testament, Jesus sheds more light upon the Holy Spirit in John 4:24, “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” So you see my friend, this Holy Spirit who comes to dwell within you is none other than God Himself. Isn’t that incredible? The same Spirit who moved over the waters at creation now comes to live inside of everyone who invites Jesus Christ to come into their lives as Lord and Savior. The fact that the immense, creative power of God Who lives inside of those He calls His own, simply amazes me.
Jesus said that He must depart in the flesh in order for the Holy Spirit to come. He referred to the Holy Spirit as the “Helper or Comforter”. John 16:7, “Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.”
So, Jesus ascended into Heaven and afterward the Holy Spirit came into the lives of His Apostles. The Book of Acts records this in Acts 2:1-4, “When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.”
Jesus had already told them to wait for the coming of the Holy Spirit before they did anything. Acts 1:4-5, “And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” Jesus went on to say that they would receive power from the Holy Spirit for the specific purpose of being His witnesses to the entire earth. Acts 1:8, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
So now you know that the Holy Spirit is given to true believers in Christ for specific purposes. There are too many purposes to mention with all of their Scripture references here, however, here are a few.
The Holy Spirit:
-seals believers for eternal life (Eph 1:13 & 4:30)
-teaches and confirms biblical truth to believers (John 16:13)
-leads and guides believers ( Acts 16:6-10)
-comforts and protects believers (John 16:7).
Concerning your specific question of whether or not a person’s conscience is the same as the Holy Spirit, you can see that they are totally different. Before I became a follower of Christ my conscience was not bothered in the least by some of my actions. I had my own ideas about what was right and wrong, good and bad. However, after the Spirit of God came to dwell, or to live within me, my perception of right and wrong came more into line with God’s standards. Now, when I consider an action that might be contrary to God’s will or God’s Word, I get a reminder from the Holy Spirit living within me that God would not approve. Consider these Scriptures and discuss them with your Christian friends again. Jesus spoke these words concerning the Holy Spirit. John 16:8-12, “And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world (meaning Satan) is judged. “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.”
So I have one more question for you, my dear confused friend; Do you believe what Jesus, and your Christian friends, have said about the Holy Spirit of God? The answer to this question will not only determine where, and with whom, you spend all of eternity, but also how you live your life here in this world. So, in the most high power of the Holy Spirit of God, I ask if you are ready to receive Him today? The Apostle John said of Jesus in John 1:12-13, “But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” Talk to God today, right now, and tell Him you believe. Tell Him you want to be His child. Ask Him to come into your heart to dwell within you.
I promise He will hear you and answer your sincere prayer of faith. I know this because He answered mine. He opened my spiritual eyes, cleaned me up inside and sent me on a life long journey that is far more exciting and rewarding than anything I could ever have imagined or hoped for. Also, I know that when I pass from this life I will live forever in His presence with an eternal mission given directly by Him. He will do the same for you too.
Go and share your decision with your Christian friends, or with a pastor, or with me, so that you may be helped and guided in your new journey of faith.
May God richly bless you! I pray that you will come to know how very much God loves you through His Spirit who will come to live within you.