ISSUE: 2021, Volume 18, Issue 4
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Throughout the pages of the word of God the Holy Spirit is mentioned. In the book of beginnings, Genesis, He is moving across the face of the deep, Gen. 1. 2, and in Revelation He joins the bride in saying ‘come’, Rev. 22. 17. One writer referred to the Holy Spirit as the forgotten God, and, while we may not go that far, is it possible that He has been neglected in our lives?
The word ‘spirit’ is often synonymous with horror movies, dark arts, and paranormal activity. We must not think of the Holy Spirit as a mysterious force or subjective influence, but as a real person and fully God who is operational in the world, the church, and the individual.
People have bodies, yet a body does not define a person. When we consider the Holy Spirit, the Bible mainly uses personal pronouns such as 'He' and 'His' to describe the Holy Spirit. In the Upper Room discourse between the Lord and His disciples, He tells them that He will depart, and the Comforter will come, John 16. 7. Disappointment, alarm, and fear would have filled the room but in fifteen verses, 14. 16-31, there are twelve instances of personal pronouns which all emphasize that the One who is coming is not a force but a person who has the same nature as the Lord Jesus.
There are personality terms used when describing the actions of the Holy Spirit; intelligence, will and emotional language are employed in the context of His work. When speaking of the distribution of spiritual gifts, we read, 'all these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills', 1 Cor. 12. 11 ESV. In connection with God’s revelation, Paul teaches us that, 'the Spirit searches all things, yea, the deep things of God', 2. 10. This emphasizes the wisdom and intelligence of the Spirit who communicates the truth to the people of God. Cogitation and revelation are hallmarks of a real person, not an inanimate force. Paul also warns the Ephesians, 'grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption', Eph. 4. 30. Whilst it is sobering to consider that a Christian can grieve God, the verse also accentuates that an inanimate influence cannot experience grief; the Comforter can. These three qualities highlight the truth that God’s Spirit is a real person.
The Holy Spirit is God and therefore all-powerful. In Acts chapter 5, when Peter confronts Ananias, he asks him, 'why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself?' v. 3 NKJV, and then continues by saying, 'You have not lied to men but to God', v. 4 NKJV. Peter was highlighting the seriousness of their sin by reminding them of the deity of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is also referred to as the ‘eternal Spirit’, Heb. 9. 14; this is another title which underlines His power and deity, since only God is eternal.
The power of the Holy Spirit was demonstrated in creation and in resurrection. In the second verse of the Bible, we learn that ‘the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters’, Gen. 1. 2. The Spirit of God is also referred to as ‘the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead’, Rom. 8. 11 NKJV. In this we can see the unity and fellowship of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in their work as different aspects of creation and resurrection are attributed to them.
Paul teaches us that the day we trusted the Lord Jesus we were sealed by the Spirit of promise, Eph. 1. 13. To be a Christian is to possess the Holy Spirit, ‘But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his’, Rom. 8. 9. As the children of God, we ought to show this in our daily lives. We are commanded to walk in the Spirit, and display the fruit of the Spirit, Gal. 5. The picture of fruit reminds us of a tree; the fruit indicates what type of tree it is. Paul contrasts the works of the flesh with the fruit of the Spirit in the expectation we submit to God’s work in our lives and display the evidence of His Spirit. The sealing of the Spirit is a unique event which takes place at the moment of conversion. However, walking in the Spirit is a daily choice. In yielding to the Spirit, we are controlled by Him and can experience greater freedom from sin and boldness to witness for Christ. In the book of Acts, we recognize that the power in the gospel came not from the apostles, but we read they were men filled with the Holy Spirit, Acts 4. 8, 31. Let us have a greater appreciation of the person and work of God’s Spirit and be thankful for His work in our lives.