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Can you lose the Holy Spirit?

The Holy Spirit is the helper, comforter, and counselor Jesus promised believers (John 14:16, 26, 15:26) and a part of our Triune God (Matthew 28:19). When you receive salvation by placing your faith in the saving grace of Jesus' sacrifice, your body becomes a temple for the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16, 6:19-20). That means that the Holy Spirit indwells your physical body along with your soul. The Bible teaches that the Holy Spirit also gives us spiritual gifts and talents (Hebrews 2:4), and once He is there, He will never ever leave us.

The Holy Spirit's Role: Old Testament vs. New Testament

In the time of the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit would come and go into anyone for God's specific purposes (Judges 3:10; 1 Chronicles 12:18). The Holy Spirit’s presence in people was not permanent in those times, and He chose to freely come and go at will (1 Samuel 16:14; Judges 16:20).

The Holy Spirit performed important duties in this way. He guided people, instructed the Prophets to proclaim God’s truth, and inspired scribes to write what would become the Scriptures we rely upon today (Ezekiel 11:1-2; 1 Samuel 16:13; 2 Peter 1:21).

Since Jesus' death and resurrection, the Holy Spirit has worked in a different way in the lives of Christians. The Holy Spirit now indwells believers, and His indwelling is permanent. Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit’s indwelling would be permanent, assuring that He will never leave us (John 14:17). The Amplified Bible translation gives us a nice reminder of the eternal nature of the Spirit’s presence: “He lives with you [constantly] and will be in you” (John 14:17 AMP).

The transition between how the Holy Spirit worked in the Old Testament versus the New Testament is seen in Acts 2. The disciples were gathered for the celebration of Pentecost, a Jewish holiday that takes place 50 days after Easter. They were waiting for the gift Jesus promised them—the Holy Spirit. When the Holy Spirit "came upon" them, it was in a frenzy of wind and fire! (Seriously, go read Acts 2; it's amazing!) Many other things happened, but the main result was love, courage, and boldness to proclaim the Gospel.

The Holy Spirit & Salvation

God draws a person to Him, and Jesus is the doorway to God's forgiveness (John 14:6). The Holy Spirit oversees the entire journey of a lost person to the point of accepting salvation through Jesus Christ (Titus 3:5), and at that moment, the Holy Spirit takes residence within them.

A person only has the indwelling of the Holy Spirit if they have received the gift of salvation. If a person has not received salvation through Jesus Christ, then they do not have the Holy Spirit. Once received, the Holy Spirit will remain with us forever (John 3:1-21). Since we cannot do anything to earn salvation, as it is a permanent gift, there is no way for us to "lose" our salvation (Ephesians 2:8-9).

We are all sinners in need of a Savior (Romans 3:23), yet our sinfulness will never "cancel out" our salvation. Remember, we cannot lose the Holy Spirit, and we cannot lose salvation. Once a person has been saved from the punishment for their sin, they stay that way for all eternity. Ephesians 1:13 tells us that the Holy Spirit marks us with a seal. Think of the seal as a lock that can never be broken. This seal is the guarantee that we will never lose our salvation.

If you're wondering, no you cannot “break” the seal of the Holy Spirit. Losing the Holy Spirit would mean losing salvation and that cannot happen. You either have the Holy Spirit or you don’t. Once you have Him, you cannot lose Him. The Holy Spirit guides, instructs, and convicts us, but He will never leave us—even if we do something bad. (Which, let's face it, we will eventually! See 1 John 1:8.)

The Holy Spirit & You

While the Holy Spirit will never leave us, Ephesians 4:30 speaks of how we might "grieve" the Spirit when we sin. To "grieve" the Spirit means that we bring Him great sorrow over our sinful choices. 1 Thessalonians 5:19 speaks of "quenching" the Holy Spirit, which is another way of saying that we ignore His guidance and go our own way.

If we do these things, the Holy Spirit will not leave nor will we lose salvation, but they are things we ought to avoid doing as much as possible. Grieving and quenching the Spirit hurts our relationship with Him, making it harder to hear Him or follow Him in the future. Think of it like this: If you rebel against your parents, they may be upset with you, but they won’t kick you out of the family. God will never kick you out of His family once He has called you His son or daughter (1 John 3:1-2; Psalm 103:17-18).

As finite humans, we cannot fully know if a person has the Holy Spirit or not. There are plenty of people who do good things but don’t have the Spirit. As hard as it sounds, if a person truly believes the Holy Spirit has left them, they may never have had Him in the first place (1 John 2:19).

If you feel this way, examine your life for signs of the Holy Spirit. Remember, you don't have to be a perfect follower of Christ to receive salvation and the Holy Spirit. In fact, God is constantly using broken people (in the Bible and today!) for His glorious purposes. As you continue in your faith, the Holy Spirit can and will guide you toward becoming more Christlike.

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TL;DR

No, you cannot lose the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the mark of our salvation, guaranteeing God's promise of eternal life with Him (Ephesians 1:13). Your sin may bring sorrow and grief to the Holy Spirit, but you still cannot lose Him or drive Him away (Ephesians 4:30; 1 Thessalonians 5:19). Losing the Holy Spirit would be the same as losing salvation, which cannot happen (Ephesians 2:8-9). Once you are saved, the Holy Spirit indwells you and will never leave you (John 14:17).

By: Vivian Bricker

Vivian loves learning, studying the Word of God, and helping others in their walk with Christ. She is dedicated to helping people learn more about Jesus and is ready to help in any way she can. Her favorite things to do are spending time with her family and friends, cooking, drawing, and spending time outside. When she is not writing, you can find her soaking up the sunshine or going on an adventure.

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