What does the Holy Spirit do?

The Holy Spirit is our helper. He is called the 'paraclete' which means helper, counsellor, advocate or supporter. To summarise the ways He is our helper, I have summarised them under six headings, each starting with a letter from the word HELPER. So, how is the Holy Spirt our helper? Well the Holy Spirit:

1. Highlights our sin

John 16:5-11 says, "But now I am going to him who sent me, and none of you asks me, 'Where are you going?' But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. 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. 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 is judged."

The Holy Spirit, convicts the world of sin, righteousness and judgement. The Spirit highlights our guilt and sin, so that we see our need to rely on Jesus. This is why Jesus says that it is better that He goes and that the Spirit comes (John 16:7).

As Christians, a key role of the Spirit is to convict us and keep showing us our sin. He will cause us to hate our sin and show us the judgement it is worthy of, so that we see our need to always rely on Jesus. He will cause us to be poor in spirit and see that we cannot offer anything to make us right with God. We need the Holy Spirit to highlight our sin, because our hearts are corrupt and blind without His enlightening.

2. Enables new life

The Holy Spirit brings the new birth. He enables rebirth to be possible and this is what we desperately need after our guilt has been revealed to us. In John 3:5-8 we read, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water (flesh) and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirt. …(wind).” And John 6:63 says, “The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing”.

The Spirit gives us new life. He causes us to be born again, born of the Spirit, where we are given a new heart and new desires (see Ezekiel 36:22).

3. Lives in us intimately

The Holy Spirt dwells in us and therefore God dwells in us! In John 14:17b we see how we will “know the spirit, for he lives in you and will be in you.” Because of this, Jesus is able to say that He is not leaving them. In John 14:18-20 He says, “I will not leave you as orphans, I will come to you. Before long the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live you also will live. On that day you will realise that I am in the Father, and your are in me and I am in you.”

People understand these verses to refer to either one of three comings. Either it refers to His resurrection, His Second coming or that Jesus in some sense is coming in the Spirit. From the context, we see that He has clearly been talking about the Spirit. When the Spirit comes, He will carry on the work and words of Jesus in His followers. So, this sense, when the Holy Spirit comes, it is like Jesus has come. Though we know that the Holy Spirit and Jesus are two distinct persons as was said in the article "Who is the Holy Spirit?"

In the end, the key point here is that the Spirit dwells in us. We are to have an intimate relationship with Him, depending on Him as our helper and relying on His wisdom as our counsellor.

4. Produces fruit

Galatians 5:22-24 says, The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control… Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”

The Spirit bears fruit in the Christian. To keep in step with the Spirit is to live displaying the fruit of the Spirit, and therefore reflect Christ. This is one of the key ways that we can know that we have God's Spirit in us. By the fruit He produces and way He works in our lives.

It's just like a boy flying a kite. When he gets the kite into the air, it is windy around him. The kite then rises high into the sky, but eventually the wind around the boy stops. Despite this, the kite still bobs around, flying high in the sky. This is because it is still windy up high where the kite is, and the boy knows this because of the work that the wind is doing. It is keeping his kite up. Similarly, we can know and see the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives and in the lives of others, by looking at the work He does in them. When the Holy Spirit dwells in someone, He will change them and transform them to become more like Jesus.

5. Educates us about Jesus

This is one of the key roles of the Holy Spirit. He teaches and guides us in the way of Jesus and God’s Word. In John 14:26, we have seen how the Holy Spirit will teach us and remind us of what Jesus has said.

In John 16:12-14 we read, “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you.”

The Spirit will continue the work of Jesus. He seeks to bring glory to Jesus by making His words known. The key role of the Spirit is to point to Jesus, and make known what He has said.

And the way the Spirit reveals the truth about Jesus, is just like all the lights on a billboard. These signs are often made up of hundreds of LED lights. Their function is to make the message on the sign clear, not to obscure the message, and not to draw attention to one individual light. The Holy Spirits role is the same. His role is to bring glory to Jesus as He testifies about Him and reminds us of what He has said (John 14:16, 16:4, 16:12-14).

Therefore, we can know that the Spirit won’t go against what Jesus has done or said! Knowing this should help us be able to discern what is true, when people come saying that God's Spirit taught me this or that. If it isn't in line with the words of Jesus and doesn't draw attention to Him, when they have heard should be disregarded, because it is not from the Spirit.

6. Readies us to serve

It is a great blessing to know that the Spirit readies us to serve. It is in the Spirits power and strength that we are able to serve. In John 15:26-16:7, we see the disciples are told about the Holy Spirit so that they will not go astray, but instead will be enabled to testify about Jesus.

Also, throughout the Bible, we see that the Holy Spirit will give us boldness, help us pray, give us the words to speak in tough situations, help us evangelise, give us assurance, removes fear and sadness, and gives us different abilities to be able to serve God (Romans 8:26-27, Zechariah 4:6, 1 Corinthians 12, etc).

We must rely on the Holy Spirit as we serve, not ourselves. If we serve on our own strength, we will not last, and we will not be profitable. We will be like an oil wick, burning with no oil. We will quickly burn out and be ruined. This is what our service and ministries will be like if we are running on our own strength.

But if we rely on the Holy Spirit to fuel us, we are like a wick that will not burn out because it is fuelled by the oil. The Holy Spirit is like the oil, and if we are to be profitable and endure in serving, we must rely on Him. Without the Spirit we are useless, can do nothing and will not last.


Christian, know today that the Holy Spirit is your helper. Rely on Him, serve with boldness, speak the truth with courage and risk it all for Jesus. Seek first God's kingdom and live a radical life serving Jesus, because the Holy Spirit is our HELPER who:

  • Highlights our sin

  • Enables new life

  • Lives in us intimately

  • Produces fruit

  • Educates us about Jesus

  • Readies us to serve

Article by Will AitkenNovember 22, 2021