The subject of the Holy Spirit has historically been an area of much confusion, anxiety, controversy and disagreement within the Body of Christ. We want to remove that mystery to discover that God the Holy Spirit is a personal, close and relational God who wants to be our best friend, walking with us through life. As we increase our comfort level with the Spirit of God, we can relate to Him daily in a personal and powerful way.
- Read Acts 19.1–6.
Those in the church at Corinth—twenty years after the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost—had “not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit” (verse 2). Unfortunately, this response is the same that many in the church would give today. Many have not heard that that we can (and should) develop a dynamic relationship with the Holy Spirit, from which we can receive power for daily living. In order to get to know the Spirit of God more intimately, we must understand who He is and what He does.
Who is the Holy Spirit?
1. He is a person.
He is not some cosmic-mystical-spiritual force in the atmosphere. He is a person! The reason why some often see the Holy Spirit referred to as an impersonal “it” is because of the original translation of the word. The King James Version of the Bible refers to Him as the Holy Ghost—an impersonal, and even scary, image for most.
John 14.17 describes Him this way: “…the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.” He is referred to here as “him”, someone knowable and very close. It is important to view the Holy Spirit as a person because if we see Him as a force, we’ll relate to Him as something mystical and impersonal. If we see Him as a person, we’ll relate to Him personally!
Question: How do you talk about the Holy Spirit in your everyday language? Do you refer to Him as “it” or “Him”? How is your language a reflection of how you relate to Him? Do you refer to Him that way because it’s how you’ve heard Him talked about or because it’s how you talk TO Him?
2. He is not weird.
There have been some very weird things that people have attributed to the work of the Holy Spirit. On the contrary, the Bible describes Him as very good. Jesus says in John 16.7, “But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.” The Holy Spirit is such a good thing for us that Jesus actually said we would be better off if He (Jesus) left so the Holy Spirit could come—and be with us all the time!
3. He is God.
Most people can understand the concepts of God the Father and God the Son. They have human associations with whom we relate on an everyday basis. The Holy Spirit, however, falls in some sort of different category, as if He weren’t really part of the Godhead. But Matthew 28.19 calls us to make disciples of all men and baptize them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Again in Acts 5.3–4, we find Peter accusing Ananias of lying to God, the Holy Spirit. If lying to the Holy Spirit is lying to God, then rejecting, making fun of, or speaking negatively about the Holy Spirit is doing those things to and about God.
4. He is my best friend.
- Read 2 Corinthians 13.14.
In The Message translation, Paul’s prayer is that all would know the “intimate friendship of the Holy Spirit”. We can’t even know the Father or the Spirit without first knowing and coming through the Son—His grace is the door to the love of God and a dynamic relationship with His Spirit. Although we have been redeemed, while we’re here on Earth we need help to walk out our faith day-to-day, and the Holy Spirit is the One that’s present with us to do just that—to help and be a friend.
Question: Is the Holy Spirit a personal friend to you? How would you label His role in your life—a friend, teacher, counselor, judge, dictator, stranger, or something different? With what descriptions do you associate His work in your life? Is He mostly kind, gentle, happy, quiet, talkative, harsh, angry, indifferent, distant, or something different?
What will He do?
In John 14–16, Jesus tells us five specific things that the Holy Spirit will do. These are Jesus’ final words to His disciples just before He is arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane and later crucified. As the subject of his last conversation with His friends, Jesus must have deemed this topic highly important and significant.
1. He will be with me.
“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever” (John. 14.16). The word “counselor” is from the Greek “parakletos”, which means counselor, helper, intercessor, advocate, strengthener, standby. He is someone called to stand by us to help at all times. It is as if we are trying to drag a heavy log, and someone comes behind us to lift the log and help us carry it.
2. He will reveal God’s word to me.
“But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you” (John 14.26). When the Holy Spirit reveals God’s word, the power of the verses that we read begin working in us. They become alive. There is a big difference between memorizing the word and having revelation of the word. Memorization is the starting place; the revelation of the Holy Spirit gives it power. After all, it is the truth of the word of God that sets us free!
Question: Have you experienced the revelation of the Holy Spirit upon God’s word? How is it different than simply reading it? If you feel you haven’t experienced that revelation, take a few moments to ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the word of God to you.
3. He will help me share Jesus with others.
“When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me” (John 15.26). One of the Holy Spirit’s main functions is to empower us to fulfill our mission on Earth. He will help us and give us boldness to speak truth to people so they can know Jesus. We see this at work immediately after the Holy Spirit is given at Pentecost—3,000 people came to faith in Christ that day! God wanted to empower His church to fulfill a mission.
- Read Acts 1.8.
The purpose of the church is to live and walk in the power of the Holy Spirit and seek opportunities every day to make a difference in our world.
4. He will convict me.
“When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment” (John 16.8). The Holy Spirit’s work is different than the devil’s. The devil will condemn us; the Holy Spirit will convict us. Conviction is positive, not negative. It points us toward the way of life. Isaiah 30.21 says, “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying ‘This is the way; walk in it.’” God wants to redirect our lives to something that is better for us.
5. He will guide me through life.
“But when he, the spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.” (John 16.13) When we make the Holy Spirit our best friend, we have a supernatural advantage in every decision of life. We can be led! We all need this! When we know who the Holy Spirit is and how He works in our lives, there is no more mystery! The Holy Spirit is our best friend, if we will let Him be.
Question: In what ways does God lead you in your everyday life? Share with a friend this week about a time that the Holy Spirit led you in a certain way to make a decision, have a conversation, or do something out-of-the-ordinary that you normally wouldn’t do on your own.