Some of my friends believe that the Holy Spirit changes their nature and keeps them from sinning. Is there any evidence for this in the Bible?
There is widespread belief that those who are converted receive help from the Holy Spirit. The Spirit enters their hearts at the time of their conversion, they believe, and are immediately given full knowledge of correct belief, right and wrong, and guidance in what they should and should not do. If this be true, one wonders why the diverse beliefs among so-called Christians, also the widely differing views on issues of all types. Were all guided by the same spirit, it would seem that all should agree, and walk by the same rules.
The Holy Spirit, according to the Scriptures, was not given for this purpose. During His ministry, Jesus promised it, for the primary purpose of giving perfect recall to those who would be writing the sacred Scriptures, so that the text that they wrote would be absolutely reliable (John 14:26). It was given to the apostles to “confirm” their words (Mark 16:20), to demonstrate the authority behind their words. No where in Scripture do we find evidence that the Holy Spirit restrained an individual from sinning, nor can we think that that was its purpose.
God has never seen fit to use miraculous means to make men and women righteous. Throughout 6000 years, righteousness has always been an individual matter, requiring individual cooperation and obedience. Contrary to popular belief, God does not compel or make anyone righteous. We read that “Cain, who was of that wicked one and murdered his brother” (1 John 3:12). Also that Abraham’s faith was reckoned unto him for righteousness (Rom. 4:9), and that the promise was confirmed to him “because you have done this thing…because you have obeyed My voice” (Gen. 22:16, 18).
Paul said clearly that everyone will be judged for the things done in his body, whether good or bad. The responsibility is on each one individually (2 Cor. 5:10).