The cults teach that the Holy Spirit is neither divine, nor a person. For instance, the Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that the Holy Spirit is an invisible force that produces visible results, while the Mormons teach that the Holy Spirit is an influence of God completely distinct from God the Father and His Son, Jesus, who is one of many of His spiritual children. These groups also deny the deity of Jesus and thereby also deny the triune nature of God, the Trinity. However, the Bible teaches that the Holy Spirit is much more than a mere influence or force which God uses to accomplish His will – He is divine and is a Person! Deity Of The Holy Spirit The Holy Spirit is directly associated with other members of the Trinity at least sixteen times. For example, He is called “the Spirit of God” (1 Cor. 6:11 NKJV) and “the Spirit of Jesus” (Acts 16:7). Clearly, the Spirit of God has full association with other members of the Godhead (Mt. 28:19; 2 Cor. 13:14). While forgiven sinners can obtain a position of holiness in Christ through justification, individual believers are not called “holy” by name. However, “Holy” is a personal name for God, as it speaks of His uniqueness (Ps. 111:9; Isa. 57:15). Accordingly, there are approximately 80 references to “the Holy Spirit” in Scripture. God does not attribute His name to others, thus His Spirit is a person within the Godhead.
After considering the omniscience and omnipresence of God, David was prompted to praise God. Clearly, David understood that God was one with His Spirit and that no separation was possible. His praise acknowledges the deity and interpersonal qualities of the Holy Spirit: “O Lord, You have searched me and known me. You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off. You comprehend my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word on my tongue, but behold, O Lord, You know it altogether. You have hedged me behind and before, and laid Your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain it. Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence?” (Ps. 139:1-7).
Clearly, the Holy Spirit has divine attributes consistent with each member of the Godhead. These are:
- Omniscience: The Holy Spirit knows the things of God (1 Cor. 2:11-12).
- Omnipresence: We cannot flee from the Spirit’s presence (Ps. 139:7).
- Eternal Existence: He is the “eternal Spirit” (Heb. 9:14).
- Omnipotence: The Holy Spirit was involved in creation (Job 33:4; Ps. 104:30).
- Without Error: The Holy Spirit is “the Spirit of Truth” (1 Jn. 5:6).
- Divine Wisdom: No one can counsel God’s Spirit (Isa. 40:13).
- Immutable: The Holy Spirit does not change (Isa. 11:2; 1 Pet. 4:14).
The Holy Spirit is divine. In essence, He has the same attributes and character qualities as the other members of the Godhead. As God, the Holy Spirit is clearly a person who disapproves of sin, is deeply grieved by it, and works to save sinners from its deadly influence.
Personage Of The Holy Spirit
While the Holy Spirit is powerful, He is much more than simply a force or an influence of God; He is a divine person. God is spirit; His personality need not require a physical body. We speak of the personage of a deceased individual, though he or she no longer inhabits a body. The Lord Jesus, speaking of the Jewish patriarchs, said that God was the God of the living, not the dead, meaning that their personage still existed after death, but in a non-physical domain (Mk. 12:27). The point is that it’s not necessary to have a body to be a person.
The Holy Spirit has a mind (Rom. 8:27) and an intellect, and is therefore capable of teaching others (1 Cor. 2:10-15). The Holy Spirit has His own will, which operates in unity and in conjunction with God the Father and the Son (1 Cor. 12:11). Although the Greek word pneuma – used to refer to “the Spirit” in the New Testament – is usually neuter in gender, the Greek pronouns associated with the Holy Spirit are masculine. For example the Lord Jesus said, “When the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me” (Jn. 15:26). The Greek noun pneuma is neuter, but the pronoun ekeinos, rendered “He” (referring to the Spirit) is masculine in gender.
A little later in the same dialogue the Lord Jesus told His disciples: “However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you” (Jn. 16:13-14). In this passage, the truth that the Spirit of God is a person is emphasized by the use of the masculine gender of the pronouns ekeinos (rendered as the first “He” in both 13-14) and heautou (translated as “His own authority” in 13), instead of the neuter gender, when referring to the Holy Spirit.
The remaining occurrences of “He” in these verses are translated from six verbs that are the action of the “He” (the Holy Spirit) referenced by the pronouns. This passage and others like it are a breach of normal Greek grammar; normally, the pronoun would be in the neuter because the word for “Spirit” is neuter gender. This violation of grammar rules is strong proof that the Lord specifically wanted us to consider the Holy Spirit as a “He” not an “it.”
A person is known by his or her personality, and the Holy Spirit is no different. He is conscious, He reasons and has a will, and thus is able to interact with other conscious beings. For example, He is able to teach (Jn. 14:26), to guide and lead (Rom. 8:14), to convict (Jn. 16:7-8), and to direct (Acts 8:29) others. He performs miracles as He chooses (Acts 8:39), bestows spiritual gifts to believers as He wills (1 Cor. 12:8-11), and makes intercession on the behalf of believers when they don’t know how to pray (Rom. 8:26). Obviously, these behaviors require interpersonal ability and personage.
According to J. B. Phillips, “Every time we say, ‘I believe in the Holy Spirit,’ we mean that we believe that there is a living God able and willing to enter human personality and change it.”
Besides the personal actions of the Holy Spirit, the Bible records the actions of others against the Holy Spirit; this also proves that the Holy Spirit has personality. For example, Ananias lied to the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit was offended by his action (Acts 5:3). Obviously, it is impossible to lie to an inanimate object or an impersonal force, therefore the Holy Spirit must be a person. Stephen stated that the Jews had resisted the convicting presence of the Holy Spirit (Acts 7:51). The Holy Spirit has emotions; He is grieved by the believer’s sin (Eph. 4:30; 1 Th. 5:19). The Holy Spirit can be blasphemed (Mt. 12:31) or obeyed (Acts 10:19-21). These actions demonstrate the Spirit’s personage and divine authority.
Let us not think wrongly of the Holy Spirit. We need His daily help and ministry of power and conviction in our lives!
By Warren Henderson
IS THE HOLY SPIRIT A REAL PERSON?
The fact that He can be grieved shows us that the Holy Spirit is a person, not a mere influence. It also means He loves us, because only a person who loves can be grieved. The favorite ministry of God’s Spirit is to glorify Christ and to change the believer into His likeness (2 Cor. 3:18). When a Christian sins, the Holy Spirit has to turn from this ministry to one of restoration. It grieves Him to see the believer’s spiritual progress interrupted by sin. He must then lead the Christian to the place of repentance and confession of sin.
— William MacDonald
With permission to publish by: Sam Hadley, Grace & Truth, 210 Chestnut St., Danville, IL., USA. Website: www.gtpress.org