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Essentials of Discipleship: Seminar 8 - The Holy Spirit

Last Sunday, Deacon Leow Wen Pin taught on the topic of "The Holy Spirit" and how the thinking of the Holy Spirit can change our spiritual growth and lives.

Question 36 of the New City Catechism asks: "What do we believe about the Holy Spirit?", the answer to which is: "That he is God, coeternal with the Father and the Son, and that God grants him irrevocably to all who believe."

Most of us believe that the Holy Spirit is God, but we often leave out the Holy Spirit from our daily lives. We easily forget that our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit, and that when we sin, we are defiling the temple of the Holy Spirit.

In particular, Wen Pin examined the specific sin of spiritual pride, and how a better understanding of the Holy Spirit can help us fight spiritual pride. Unsurprisingly, spiritual pride often comes about when we think of ourselves as better as others; we often feel proud of the areas of spirituality we are good in and subsequently use that as a reason to criticise others. Perversely, we turn the good gifts God has given us into a basis for our sin. How then can we handle the good gifts God has given us with humility rather than pride?

In 1 Corinthians 12-14, we see that Paul was eager to counter traits of spiritual pride among the Corinthian church, who were evidently proud about various spiritual gifts they possessed, including the gift of speaking in tongues. Paul exhorted the Corinthians to remember what their past was like, to see how God's grace has redeemed them and transformed them, and how they must thus be merciful and gracious towards those who may be younger in the faith. Paul reminded the Corinthians that all believers have the Holy Spirit, and therefore no one Christian has an exclusive claim on the Holy Spirit or can consider himself to be more spiritual than others.

Like the Corinthians we easily forget that spiritual gifts are exactly that: they are gifts, things given to us. We cannot take any credit for them and therefore we should not use them to elevate others above ourselves. Spiritual pride can also have the opposite effect of self-exclusion when we refuse to participate in church life because we feel inadequate and do not want to risk being looking small in the eyes of others.

We must seek to counsel those among the church who struggle with spiritual pride as spiritual pride, if left unchecked, will harm the whole church. Spiritual pride will easily distort our view of our fellow Christians in the church, and will readily destroy the unity in the church.

We are all members of one body, the body of Christ. We should not view fellow Christians as enemies or obstacles to be overcome. Yet, this is precisely how spiritual pride leading to disunity causes us to act. A true recognition of the role of the Holy Spirit in the life of the church, can help the church to fight and overcome this. It is for this reason that, in 1 Corinthians 13, Paul exhorts the Corinthians to love one another while yet also pursuing spiritual gifts. Love bears all things and forgives all things, and thus powerfully compels unity in the body of Christ.

Hence, question 37 of the New City Catechism asks: "How does the Holy Spirit help us?". The answer to this is: "The Holy Spirit convicts us of our sin, comforts us, guides us, gives us spiritual gifts and the desire to obey God; and he enables us to pray and to understand God’s Word."

How completely does our life reflect the three persons of God? Do we pray to the Holy Spirit to come and work in our lives? We should always be inviting the Holy Spirit to work in our lives and in the lives of the fellow Christians around us. In particular, we should, in a recognition of the Holy Spirit that in dwells in all of us, see ourselves as a part of one body, the body of Christ.

This is a very important lesson, and we encourage all members of our church who did not attend the DS session to watch the teaching videos online on our church's website. The password to view the video is available from the members of the DS Committee.

Today, Elder Wee Thiem Heng will be teaching on another very important topic: "The Bible". There will only be one session taught, at 11:15am.

The Discipleship Seminars Committee