The Holy Spirit Helps The Christian

It is written:

And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever—17  the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. (John 14:16-17)

The Bible teaches us that God gives the Holy Spirit to His people when they are saved from their sins (Acts 2:38). This wonderful Gift brings great help to the child of God in this life. One example of the greatness of the Holy Spirit in the Christian life is seen in the word translated here as “Helper.” While the help from John 14:16-17 applies to the Apostles of Christ, the Holy Spirit “helps” every Christian as well.

Romans 8:12-13-Therefore, brethren, we are debtors—not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13  For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

When Jesus calls the Holy Spirit the “Helper,” what did He mean?

“But Jesus does not leave us to struggle with the Christian life alone. He would send us another Helper. The Greek word is paraklētos, which is really untranslatable. The Authorized Version renders it Comforter, which, although hallowed by time and usage, is not a good translation. Moffatt translates it as Helper. It is only when we examine this word paraklētos in detail that we catch something of the riches of the doctrine of the Holy Spirit. It really means someone who is called in; but it is the reason why the person is called in which gives the word its distinctive associations. The Greeks used the word in a wide variety of ways. A paraklētos might be a person called in to give witness in a law court in someone’s favour, or an advocate called in to plead the cause of someone under a charge which would issue in a serious penalty; an expert called in to give advice in some difficult situation, or a person called in when, for example, a company of soldiers were depressed and dispirited to put new courage into their minds and hearts. Always a paraklētos is someone called in to help in time of trouble or need. Comforter was once a perfectly good translation. It actually goes back to John Wyclif, the first person to use it in his translation made in the fourteenth century. But in his day it meant much more than it means now. The word comes from the Latin fortis, which means brave; and a comforter was someone who enabled some dispirited creature to be brave. Nowadays comfort has to do almost solely with sorrow; and a comforter is someone who sympathizes with us when we are sad. Beyond a doubt the Holy Spirit does that, but to limit his work to that function is sadly to belittle him. We often talk of being able to cope with things. That is precisely the work of the Holy Spirit. He takes away our inadequacies and enables us to cope with life. The Holy Spirit substitutes victorious for defeated living. So what Jesus is saying is: ‘I am setting you a hard task, and I am sending you out on a very difficult engagement. But I am going to send you someone, the paraklētos, who will guide you as to what to do and enable you to do it.’” (William Barclay, The Gospel of John, Volume Two (The New Daily Study Bible), 193-194 (Kindle Edition); Edinburgh, England; Saint Andrew Press)


Now, notice what Paul tells us in Romans:

Romans 8:26-Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.

The word that is used here and translated with the English “helps” is sunantilambanomai. This word has many important lessons for us:

“The word we have translated “come to the aid of” connotes “joining with to help,” “bearing a burden along with.” 80 The Spirit joins with us in bearing the burdens imposed by our “weakness.” This weakness may be specific—inability in prayer or external sufferings (v. 18)—but is probably general: the “totality of the human condition” (Dunn), the “creatureliness” that characterizes even the child of God in this period of overlap between the old age and the new. 81 This condition means that we believers do not know “what we are to pray as it is necessary.” 82 The wording of the clause indicates that it is not the manner, or style, of prayer that Paul has in view 83 but the content, or object, of prayer—what we are to pray for. 84”. (Douglas J. Moo, The Epistle to the Romans (The New International Commentary on the New Testament), 523 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, Michigan; William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company)

Sunatilambanomai is used a few times in the Greek Old Testament, as well as in the New Testament:

Exodus 18:22-And let them judge the people at all times. Then it will be that every great matter they shall bring to you, but every small matter they themselves shall judge. So it will be easier for you, for they will bear the burden with you.

Numbers 11:17-Then I will come down and talk with you there. I will take of the Spirit that is upon you and will put the same upon them; and they shall bear the burden of the people with you, that you may not bear it yourself alone.

Luke 10:40-But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.”

In all of these passages, the use of sunatilambanomai indicates that the person is being helped by someone with a burden that is too great and difficult for the person to bear alone. Please notice that the person then is helped (by invitation) by another party who is able to lend the strength necessary to provide the needed help. We still have our part to play: God does not say that He will do everything, but with His help, we can be victorious in the trials that we face.

Adding all of this together, we see some of the following things that the Holy Spirit does for the Christian:

He is called in (notice the idea of submission and freewill inherent in this);

He witnesses to our spirits (cf. Romans 8:16);

He pleads our case (similar to Jesus; 1 John 2:1-2);

He provides counsel to us when faced with desperate situations (cf. Romans 8:14);

He helps us when facing depressing and difficult circumstances (cf. Isaiah 63:1-3);

He helps us when we are discouraged and fearful (cf. 2 Timothy 1:7).

These are some of the amazing things that the Holy Spirit does in the life of the Christian, and how thankful we should be!

The Holy Spirit is given to a person when a believer in Jesus Christ repents of his sins and is baptized into union with Him (Acts 2:37-47).

Why not turn to the Lord today and be saved?

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all. Amen.

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