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One of the most often questions asked and one of the most difficult concepts to understand in the Christian faith is “Who is the Holy Spirit”?
Although I became a believer many years ago, this is one area that, to be quite frank, confused me. I understood (as much as a mere human could) who God is. I understood who Jesus is and what He did for me. But what or who is the Holy Spirit was a bit more difficult to understand. Is the Holy Spirit a person? Is the Holy Spirit God? What are the characteristics of the Holy Spirit? How can I understand who the Holy Spirit is?
As I began to study more on who or what the Holy Spirit is, I began to understand more and why the Holy Spirit is more than just a concept. The Holy Spirit is an equal member of the Trinity. Knowing who the Holy Spirit is is critical to our walk as Christians.
Let’s unpack who is the Holy Spirit and the 7 characteristics of the Holy Spirit.
Who is The Holy Spirit
Before we tackle who the Holy Spirit is, let’s uncover what the name “Holy Spirit” truly means. The name “Holy Spirit” comes from two Greek words-hagion, meaning “holy,” and pneuma, meaning “spirit.”
The Holy Spirit is known by a number of different names: “Spirit of God, “Spirit of Jesus,” “Spirit of Christ,” and “Spirit of truth.” Jesus called Him “Comforter” and “Helper.” (For praying the names of God, see this post).
Other titles that place him as a deity include:
- The Spirit (John 3:6-8)
- The Spirit which is of God (1 Corinthians 2:12)
- The Holy Spirit (Luke 11:13)
- The Spirit of the Lord God (Isaiah 61:1)
- The Spirit of the Father (Matthew 10:20)
- The Spirit of the Lord (Isaiah 63:14)
- The Spirit of the Living God (2 Corinthians 3:3)
- The Spirit of Jesus (Acts 16:6,7)
- The Holy Spirit of God (Ephesians 4:30)
- The Spirit of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:19)
- The Spirit of His Son (Galatians 4:6)
OK, so we know that the Holy Spirit has quite a few different names. Now, let’s explore who who He really is.
The Holy Spirit is not a vague, gaseous cloud or shadow, nor a detached force.
The Holy Spirit was given to us to live inside those who believe in Jesus, so that we might become more like God and live righteous lives. We can’t do this on our own. The Holy Spirit gives us love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control through Him. Christians are commanded to “walk in the Spirit” and be “filled with the Spirit”. It gives us the power to produce spiritual fruit that we could not produce on our own.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. – Galatians 5:22-23
The Bible tells us that the Holy Spirit is God in four distinct ways:
1. He is called God
In the second verse of the Bible, the Holy Spirit is called the Spirit of God.
Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. – Genesis 1:2
2. He is part of the Trinity and, therefore, equal in importance to God and Jesus
The Holy Spirit is mentioned several times in the Bible as a full and equal member of the Trinity or Godhead. Not man or not angels are ever mentioned as equal to God – only Jesus and the Holy Spirit are.
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, – Matthew 28:19
3. He has the characteristics of God (more on this below)
Scripture tells us that the Holy Spirit is everywhere, all-knowing, eternal and performs the work of God.
these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit. – 1 Corinthians 2:10-11
4. He does the work of God
Throughout scripture we read of the Holy Spirit doing the work of God. He teaches us, guides us, helps us, tells us the truth and so much more.
“for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.” – Luke 12:12
17 Things the Holy Spirit Does For Us (and in us)
What is the role of the Holy Spirit? There are many, many things that the Holy Spirit does for us. We’ll just cover a few of them here.
Even long-time Christians might not know of all of the things the Holy Spirit does for us. What blessings we are given by Him and how the Holy Spirit works in us. Although we know we’ve been saved, scripture tells us that the Holy Spirit came into us at that very moment. You might even know that, but do you know, truly know who the Holy Spirit is and why the Holy Spirit living in us is life-changing?
Fortunately, the Bible tells us everything we need to know about what the Holy Spirit does for us and in us.
Let’s take a look at eighteen of the things that the Holy Spirit does for us to help us understand who the Holy Spirit is.
(Click on the image below for a downloadable and printable copy of 17 Things The Holy Spirit Does For Us And In Us)
He helps us
Life is hard, my friend! We can’t do it alone. Thankfully, the Holy Spirit is here to help us. Of course, He can’t help us move that couch or pick up the kids from soccer practice, but He does help us in so many other ways.When life beats you down you can rest in the confidence that He is with you. He can comfort you, guide you, teach you and more.
When life beats you down you can rest in the confidence that He is with you. He can comfort you, guide you, teach you and more.
“But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.” John 16:7
He convicts us of sin
Have you ever felt that nudging in your mind that what you are doing or have done is wrong? Or, perhaps you hear something in a sermon or see something on line which convicts you that you have sinned? That’s the Holy Spirit, my friend. In addition to helping us navigate life on this side of heaven, the Holy Spirit will convict us of sin and lead us to righteousness..
But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the 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
He permanently lives in us
Scripture tells us that the Holy Spirit comes to live in us as a permanent resident when we give our hearts to Christ.
In the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit would come and go from believers, maybe for a season or task, but not necessarily remaining with them (Judges 15:14; 1 Chronicles 12:18; Psalm 51:11; Ezekiel 11:5).
When Jesus ministered, he told His disciples that the Holy Spirit would reside in them. “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.” (John 14:17).
When an individual becomes saved, the Holy Spirit comes to dwell in them.
The Holy Spirit is God’s presence in the lives of believers.
Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? – 1 Corinthians 3:16
He seals us
In biblical times, a seal acted as a legal signature. Like signing a document would today. It validated the content of the document.
The Holy Spirit acts as our seal for our adoption papers as God’s sons and daughters.
And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, – Ephesians 1:13
He makes evangelists of us
One of the most important missions for believers on earth is to share the gospel.
Having the Holy Spirit in us means having power to be a witness. He gives us that power. We are to tell others about what Jesus did for us at Calvary, how he rose from the dead and reigns in victory!
It may be a bit frightening to share the good news, but it is what we are called to do. If you need some help with this, this post on sharing the gospel and let the Holy Spirit to empower you to make disciples!
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,” – Acts 1:8
He teaches us and gives us wisdom
The Holy Spirit will give you insight and wisdom and help you to apply God’s Word in your life. He will give you understanding and truth when you are still and reading scripture.
Have you ever had a Bible verse pop into your head at just the right time? That was the Holy Spirit giving you insight and wisdom and helps us to recall scripture we have read.
God gave His children the Holy Spirit so that we might know Him better. Since the Holy Spirit is also God’s Spirit, it knows the thoughts of God and reveals those thoughts to believers. The Holy Spirit opens believers’ eyes to the hope of salvation and the inheritance they have in Christ.
“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
He guides us into truth
I’m a talker. Ask anyone who knows me. I have a lot to say (that’s not always a good thing). There are also times that I can’t think of a thing to say or I simply can’t find the words I want to express. Often, during prayer when my heart is heavy. Thankfully, the Holy Spirit know exactly that is needed in those times.
I just need to be still and listen and allow Him to express to the Father what needs to be said.
The Holy Spirit is called the “Spirit of Truth” in John 16:13 because he guides believers into all truth. Jesus told his disciples the Holy Spirit would make known what he hears and would only speak what the Father speaks.
“But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the 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. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you” – John 16:13-15
He makes us more like Christ
Theologian Warren Wiersbe writes,
“Moses reflected the glory of God, but you and I may radiate the glory of God. When we meditate on God’s Word and in it see God’s Son, then the Spirit transforms us! We become more like the Lord Jesus Christ as we grow ‘from glory to glory.”
One of our main goals as believers is to be more like Christ and this happens only by the helping of the Holy Spirit.
“And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate[a] the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” – 2 Corinthians 3:18
He gives us hope
Hope. Such a beautiful word filled with promise, but sometimes it’s hard to conjure up, isn’t it? The Holy Spirit gives us hope that carries us through times of darkness and uncertainty. Hope gives us the power to keep going. Let the Holy Spirit give you all the hope you need.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” – Romans 15:13
He bears fruit in us
The Holy Spirit isn’t done blessing you! The closer you walk with God and spend time in the Word, the more the Holy Spirit will bear fruit in you. Jesus said that His Father is glorified when His disciples bear much fruit. Those who bear fruit will get a further training so that they bear more fruit. It’s a continuous cycle!
This is the process of sanctification through the Holy Spirit, which brings us to glory in Jesus. The power of the Holy Spirit strengthens our will to endure in this process so that we do not lose heart, but can stand firm until the end!
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” – Galatians 5:22-23
He comforts us (John 16:7)
To understand how He helps us, let’s look at the Greek word “allon parakleton” used, for example in 1 Peter 5:7. “Allon” means “another of the same kind.” “Parakleton” is translated as “one called alongside as a helper or advocate.” In this passage, Jesus is explaining that when the Holy Spirit comes upon us, we receive Him as another helper, counselor and friend.
Therefore, we have the comfort of the Holy Spirit, available to us, to comfort us and bring us peace, just as a friend would do. Just as Jesus does.
Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace and was strengthened. Living in the fear of the Lord and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it increased in numbers. – Acts 9:31
He equips us with spiritual gifts (1 Cor. 12:4-7)
Each of us are given different spiritual gifts to carry out the work of the Kingdom. There are different types of spiritual gifts, but each are given to us by the Holy Spirit. For example, there are different ways to serve, but we all serve the same God.
Spiritual gifts are given by the Spirit so that we can love and serve others. Some are given wisdom or knowledge. Others, faith that can move a mountain. Yet, others are given the gift of healing or the ability to perform miracles. Spiritual gifts might also include the ability to prophesy or speak in tongues.
” here are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them.,” 1 Corinthians 12
The Holy Spirit gives spiritual gifts to believers as they are needed in the Church. One person doesn’t receive every gift, but rather, the gifts are imparted throughout the church with each person receiving different gifts. The gifts that you receive will equip you for the calling God has placed on your life.
There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.
Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines. – 1 Corinthians 12:4-11
The Spirit brings unity and oneness to the body
The Spirit unites others. It is the Spirit that unites the Father and Son in the Trinity and it is the same Spirit that unites the member of the church body. When the Holy Spirit is operating in a group of people, He unites them in love and the work of the Kingdom can be carried out.
Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. – Ephesians 4:3
The Holy Spirit makes believers new and gives them eternal life
When we give our hearts to Jesus, the Holy Spirit comes to live in us. When He does this, we become new creatures. He works in us to renew, sanctify, and make us holy. Just as the Holy Spirit raised Christ from the dead, the Holy Spirit will give eternal life to believers in Christ.
“But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you” – Romans 8:10-11
He empowers us
One of the greatest “jobs” of the Holy Spirit is to disciple us. Disciple means to follow Christ and to learn to be like Him.
The Spirit disciples us to be transformed into the likeness of Jesus Christ. As humans, we can’t do this on our own. We can only do it through the power the Holy Spirit gives us.
Jesus said that His Father is glorified when His disciples bear much fruit. Those who bear fruit will get a further training so that they bear more fruit. (John 15:2,8) This is the process of sanctification through the Holy Spirit.The power of the Holy Spirit strengthens our will to endure in this process so that we do not lose heart, but can stand firm until the end.
“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and all of Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:8
He sanctifies us
To be “sanctified” means to be set apart as sacred. It means to be purified of sin and to spiritually mature to become more like Christ. This doesn’t happen overnight. It is a continual process for a Christian. We take off our old self and become a new person over time. We do become new once we are saved, but like a caterpillar, we undergo a metamorphosis during our walk with God.
The Holy Spirit is with us and helps us in this process of sanctification.
“But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God,” – 1 Corinthians 6:11
He helps us do the Father’s will
Throughout the New Testament we see the Holy Spirit direct people to do the will of God. He assists us in listening to God’s voice and, in faith, do what He is calling us to do. Be still and in prayer, ask the Holy Spirit to show you what God wants for you and what He wants you to do. Ask him, also to equip you as you carry out His will.
“Then the Spirit said to Philip, ‘Go up and join this chariot,’” – Acts 8:29
Holy Spirit Prayers
While I strongly encourage you to pray from your heart in your own words, sometimes we need a place to start. This prayer, from Crosswalk.com is a beautiful prayer to implore the Holy Spirit to work in you and your life:
You are God. I praise you because you are holy, and I thank you for dwelling in my heart. Thank you for working in my life. You guided me into salvation, renewed my dead spirit, and you opened my eyes to the Truth. Thank you.
Help me to see you more clearly – to recognize your movement in my life. Make me more sensitive to you so I can follow you more closely. Still, I know that I am selfish and rebellious. I need you to help me be obedient when I recognize your leading. I need you.
I ask you for your help and comfort today. You know my pain and anxieties very well. Thank you for praying over me. Help me to rest in your comfort today.
Help me to walk in you, the Spirit of God. Grow good fruit in my life. You are the one who produces these in me: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. I cannot live out these things on my own; I need you.
What does it mean to be filled with the Spirit?
Although we’re sealed and indwelt by Him when we’re saved, this is not the same as being filled. To be filled with the Spirit means we have surrendered our lives to Him, acknowledging that He owns us and has the right to lead us. When we are fully yielded and walking in obedience to His will, then He has full control and fills us with Himself.
Resources to learn more about who the Holy Spirit is
The first resource should always be the Bible, but if you want to learn more about how to understand what the Bible says about the Holy Spirit, I recommend the following resources:
What about you? Did question of who is the Holy Spirit is make you wonder? Do you have a better understanding of the Holy Spirit now? How will you take what you’ve learned (or have already known) and apply this to your life? Tell me in the comments below or shoot me an email to [email protected]
Because of Him,