Who is the Holy Spirit?

By Sean Cole

One of the most famous lines from one of the most influential movies of all time is: “Use the force, Luke!” These venerable words from Star Wars are etched into our cultural psyche. Yet, when it comes to understanding the Person of the Holy Spirit, we often think of Him as a vague, mysterious “force” that floats through the atmosphere waiting to zap people with power or to gently nudge them into some type of religious action. Biblically speaking, that portrayal of the Holy Spirit is the farthest from the truth.

Who exactly is the Holy Spirit and what does He do. In Christian circles, sometimes the Holy Spirit is relegated as the “red-headed step child” of the Trinity and pushed to the fringes and never discussed. On the other extreme, the Holy Spirit is given a prominence and hype that Scripture will not allow. One newspaper article cannot even begin to scratch the surface of the person and work of the Holy Spirit, but I will set forth four very crucial descriptions of God, the Holy Spirit.

First of all, the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God and is thus fully divine. He is the third Person of the Trinity and shares equality and eternality with God the Father, and God the Son. In other words, the Holy Spirit was not created. And since He is a Person, He is not a mysterious force. He has personality. The Holy Spirit can be grieved (Ephesians 4:30). He can be resisted (Acts 7:51). He was present at creation as evidenced from the words of Genesis 1:2: “The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.”

Secondly, He is called the Spirit of Truth. John 16:13-14 says, “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.  He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.” The Holy Spirit guides believers into the truth of God’s Word through helping us understand what the Bible means. The Spirit also glorifies Jesus. He serves as “floodlight” on the side of a house that shines all of the attention on Jesus. Any group or ministry that puts more focus on the Holy Spirit than on Jesus Christ may be in danger of mistakenly elevating the Spirit to a role that He Himself has not been given.

Thirdly, the Holy Spirit convicts men of sin and then sovereignly regenerates them to spiritual life. The Apostle John again says in John 16:7-8: “Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment.” The Holy Spirit brings conviction upon the souls of men by awakening their consciences and showing their guilt in breaking God’s law. The only way sinners can flee from their sin and fly to Christ is through the power of the Holy Spirit in opening their blind eyes to see their need for a Savior. 

Those for whom God has chosen before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4), at a point in time, the Holy Spirit sovereignly overcomes their resistance by causing them to be born again. Those who have been dead in sin and trespasses (Ephesians 2:1), He makes alive through the working of regeneration or what is commonly called the new birth. Again, John writes in John 3:6-8, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’  The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” When the sovereign Spirit decides to blow new life into a lost sinner, He does it like the wind. You can’t predict it. You can’t plan it. You can’t program it. God is totally sovereign in the salvation of sinners and sends His Holy Spirit to give them new life by granting them the gifts of repentance and faith.

Finally, the Holy Spirit permanently indwells believers guaranteeing their eternal salvation and empowers them to boldly testify about Christ. Paul tells us in Ephesians 1:13-14:  “In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.” The moment of our new birth, the Holy Spirit takes up residence in us and by virtue of his continual presence, we can be solidly assured that heaven awaits us and that we can never lose our salvation.

In addition, the Holy Spirit also emboldens us for witnessing. If you trace the phrase “filled with the Holy Spirit” through the book of Acts, you will discover that once the Spirit filled a person, he or she boldly spoke the gospel. The only way we can ever be successful in spreading the glorious gospel to all the nations of the earth is from the promise found in Acts 1:8 which states, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”  The question we must all ask is this: Have I truly been born again by God’s Spirit and given the gifts of repentance and faith whereby I have trusted Christ personally for salvation as my Savior and Lord.


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