By Margaret Bronson
Sometimes I feel far from God. I have felt the heartbreak of His silence. I have acted on impulse when I feel no direction from God. Too often I live my life as though God is not right here with me, always available and always caring for me, ministering to me, and working in my life. The Holy Spirit is God Himself, placed within believers to transform us into the likeness of God and comfort us until we are fully united with God in Glory.
Defense of the Holy Spirit as a Person
Because the Trinity is never explicitly defined in Scripture, there are some who question the personhood of the Holy Spirit. They say He is merely the spirit of God, a different manifestation of God the Father rather than an equal person to the Father and the Son.
Where can we find scriptural basis for the Holy Spirit’s personhood?
- The Holy Spirit has a will: “But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.” 1 Corinthians 12:11
- The Holy Spirit has a mind: “For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.” 1 Corinthians 2:10
- The Holy Spirit has feelings: “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God.” Eph 4:30
- The Holy Spirit has fellowship with us: “Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit…” Philippians 2:1
We also know that the Spirit is equal to the others from different passages throughout Scripture that reference all three members of the Trinity (Matt 28:19, Luke 3:22, John 14:26, 15:26, Acts 1:4, 2:33, 10:38, Rom. 1:4, 2 Cor. 13:14, Heb. 9:14, 1 Pet. 1:2).Since the Holy Spirit is a person, there are some delightful implications for our life!
The Function of the Holy Spirit in a Believer’s Life
One of the Holy Spirit’s primary functions is to dwell within the believer as God in man. Within the life of the believer, the Holy Spirit serves several functions:
- The Holy Spirit comforts us and reminds us of our place in God: “For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, ‘Abba, Father.’ The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.” Romans 8:15–16
- The Holy Spirit helps us learn and remember truth:“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” John 14:26
- The Holy Spirit cares deeply for us and prays for us: “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.” Romans 8:26
- The Holy Spirit Sanctifies us through Scripture: Read more about how here!
- The Holy Spirit Changes Us: Jesus’ atoning work on the cross changed who we are in the sight of God. Through Christ’s work, we are declared righteous. However, here on this earth we still have our unrighteous past and ongoing tendency to continue in unrighteousness. The Holy Spirit works to change us here on this earth. He changes our actions, our thoughts, our wishes, and feelings. He remakes us to be like Christ.
As believers, we know the destination is ultimately Christlikeness. While Scripture functions much like a map, telling us where to go and how to get there, the Holy Spirit functions more like a guide walking the path with us. But, I often act like a lone ranger, assuming that I have to figure everything out on my own. I try to devise the way forward by the stars or the mossy side of the tree. I act as though God is far away, impersonal, and unavailable. It’s as though God the Father demands obedience, Christ saved us and took away our disobedience, and now we just have to try our hardest to obey. But the truth is, the Holy Spirit is God with us, come to dwell in the temples of our lives and minister to us. He has not given us some servant or some emissary to do His work, but He gives us HIMSELF. If you feel far from God, it is not because He is far from you, but, most likely, you aren’t adhering to the prescribed means of communing with God.
The prescribed means of communing with God–and being changed–are by spending time in God’s word, prayer, and communing with others who have the Holy Spirit inside them. When we consistently turn to Him, God produces in us the fruit of the Spirit in our lives (Gal. 5:22-23). He is God within us, working and moving, enabling us to love God and conforming us to His image. The Holy Spirit, God Himself, illuminates Scripture for us, and the lies we believe are corrected as we begin to think more like God.
Like any other relationship, it grows far deeper when we are intentional to faithfully participate in it. Unlike other relationships, despite our unfaithfulness, the Holy Spirit is faithful to serve us. One of the most useful books I have read on the subject of spiritual disciplines is, Spiritual Disciplines, by Donald Whitney. This book has helped me make my relationship with the Holy Spirit an intentional part of my life, folded into everything I do, rather than an afterthought only when I am desperate.
When I act like a lone ranger, it is because I have forgotten that God has not left us alone with the expectation that we will become like Him by our own merit or force of will, to fumble around in the dark as we seek to obey Him or to bang our heads against the wall trying to interpret Scripture. He is here with me, and He promises that the good work that has been started in me WILL result in my sanctification and reflection of Him to the world. I am not alone. I have God the Holy Spirit dwelling inside of me, personable, approachable, and looking for me to fellowship and commune with Him.