Who is the Holy Spirit? One might think that the Holy Spirit is merely a power, a force, or a strength from God. However, it is foundational to our faith in God to understand that the Holy Spirit is a Person, the Third Person in the eternal Godhead. As a person, we should experience His fellowship and His nearness to us.
While the Biblical teaching of the personality of the Holy Spirit can be developed along several lines, it might be good to begin by stressing that the Holy Spirit is continually referred to with masculine pronouns in Scripture. In John16: 7, Jesus said, “If I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.” Such masculine pronouns are used also in John 16:8, 13, 14. The Holy Spirit is not an “it”! He is Someone and not a “something.” Here are three powerful reasons to conclude that the Holy Spirit is a Person.
1. The Holy Spirit fulfills works that only a person can perform.
Various actions are attributed to Him which could not be accomplished by an impersonal “power, influence, or thing.” For instance, He teaches and brings to remembrance the things Jesus has done (Jn. 14:26). Jesus tells the Apostles that after He departs He will send another Comforter who is a distinctly different person than Jesus but who is One in essence with Jesus. This Comforter, who is the Holy Spirit, will draw alongside them and indwell them. The Holy Spirit is as much of a person as Jesus is. Further, He will bring important things to the remembrance of the Apostles. In this context, this relates to the Holy Spirit moving the Apostles to write the very Word of God. Those who wrote Scripture were inspired of God and wrote as they were “moved by the Holy Ghost” (2 Peter 1:21). We have the Bible because the Holy Spirit taught the disciples and brought to their memory those things that they were to write. “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you” (John 14:26).
He does many more works and too many to be mentioned, but we can remember that the Holy Spirit convicts us of sin, righteousness, and of judgment. He leads us into all truth, He directs us into ministry, and He intercedes for us in groaning grace (John 15:26; John 16:8, 13; Acts 8:29; Romans 8:14; Romans 8:26). Finally, He communes like a friend with His people and we enjoy His unending fellowship (2 Cor. 13:14). He is a Person who works on our behalf!
2. The Holy Spirit possesses the essential attributes of personality.
If you say that you like someone’s personality, you are indicating you like that unique combination of intellect, emotion and will of that person. These three elements are the attributes of personality and the Holy Spirit possesses each of them just as any person does.
Since the Holy Spirit has all the attributes of personality, we will love Him when we get to know Him. Romans 8:27 speaks of the mind of the Spirit and 1 Corinthians 2:11 says, “The things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.” While these verses emphasize His intellect, the Holy Spirit can be also grieved as well as quenched, and he loves, demonstrating that He has emotion (Eph.4:30; 1 Thess. 5:19; Romans 15:30). The Holy Spirit has a will in that He gives to each of His people spiritual gifts, “dividing to every man severally as He will” (1 Cor.12:11). May we learn to love the glorious personality of the Holy Spirit!
3. The Holy Spirit’s description in Scripture is like a person.
That is, many of the actions spoken of as performed upon or against a person are also possible things one can do to the Holy Spirit. This shows that He is a real person and not an impersonal power. For instance, you can lie to the Spirit: “Why hast Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost?” (Acts 5:3) In that same narrative where Ananias and Sapphira lie, Peter asks why they agreed, “Together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord?” (Acts 5:9) The Holy Spirit can be tempted just as God was tempted. Furthermore, the Holy Spirit can be resisted, blasphemed, and called upon (Acts 7:51, Matt.12:31, Ezek.37:9). The Holy Spirit is a person and the Bible describes Him as a person.
Thank God that the Holy Spirit is a glorious Person! Learn to enjoy His continuous presence and friendship in your life as He never leaves you or forsakes you! May we not ignore His loving presence indwelling us. As Evangelist John Van Gelderen writes in his book, Friendship with the Holy Spirit, communicate, appreciate, and give your loyalty to the Holy Spirit as you ever enjoy the “fellowship of the Spirit” (Philippians 2:1).