Q&A: Holy Spirit Restraining Evil

Holy Spirit Restraining Evil

What are some ways that the Holy Spirit restrains evil and promotes goodness in humanity at large?

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Answer

Yeah, we look at God's work in creation and the role of the Holy Spirit to be involved in daily life, and we wonder, how does he restrain evil and promote good? Because we have to assume that good things are done by God, and the person doing it would be the Holy Spirit. And many evils that could take place don't, by the action of God. So, we can guess from examples that are given in the Bible to things that are happening in life where the Holy Spirit prevents the apostles from going into an area. And that wasn't an evil thing, but it is something where he is forbidding a particular action. So then, you connect that with Joseph's brothers wanted to murder him but then they're diverted from doing that, who did that? How did that happen? Or the multiple times that they sought to kill Jesus, but somehow he escaped? And we don't have to look into human power to do that. We can see that the Holy Spirit is influencing, he is speaking to people's hearts, he is stirring them, provoking them, various unrecognized ways of working, where God's purposes are still moving forward. And so, broadly speaking, evils that otherwise would happen but don't fit God's purposes are going to be prevented, and evils that still may serve God's purposes, like the cross, he's going to let them go. And then we know from Ephesians 2:10 that all the good things that we do have been prepared beforehand that we would walk in them. So, we can say that all the good things that Christians are doing are motivated by the Spirit, and certainly for the nonbeliever as well. So, he is hidden and constantly at work to do all these good things.

Answer by Dr. John McKinley

Dr. John Mckinley is the Associate Professor of Biblical and Theological Studies at Talbot School of Theology, Biola Universtity in La Mirada, California and is affiliated with the Evangelical Theological Society.