who is the holy spirit?

The Holy Spirit is God:

1 John 5:7 (NKJV) says, “For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one.”

One of the fundamental truths of Christianity is the fact that we serve one God, not multiple gods. However, one of the most difficult concepts of the faith that many people struggle to understand is that our one God is also God in three persons—God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit—otherwise known as the Trinity. Although the word Trinity is not found in the Bible, the doctrine of the Trinity is present from Genesis to Revelation. It is important for us to understand that the Trinity is not comprised of three different personalities of God but rather of three persons who are individually God and together form one God. They exist in perfect unity to form the triune God. It is the mind-blowing reality of the God we serve, a reality that exceeds our human comprehension.

The Holy Spirit, then, is usually referred to as the third person of the Trinity. In the Hebrew, the word translated as Holy Spirit is ruach, which means “breath,” “wind,” or “spirit.” He is fully God, not just a subordinate personality, but His role is distinct from the Father and the Son. In this article, we will explore the person of the Holy Spirit and His function in the godhead as well as His operation in our lives as the children of God.

He Is Our Paraclete and Teacher:

The Holy Spirit plays a special role in the life of every believer. In the New Testament, the Holy Spirit is referred to as the Paraclete, which translated means “advocate” or “helper.” In John 14:16, Jesus promised His disciples that He would send the Advocate or Paraclete in His stead following His ascension to Heaven. Then in verse 26, He goes on to explain that “the Advocate, 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.”

As our advocate and helper, the Holy Spirit is responsible for coming alongside us as we walk with Christ to teach and help us. He teaches us “all things” and directs our knowledge towards Christ. This explanation of the Holy Spirit’s role in teaching us, as believers, highlights the fact that the Holy Spirit will never confuse us with messages and teachings that are muddled and out of alignment with the Gospel of Christ and the truth of God’s Word (1 Corinthians 12:3). This, therefore, is one of the ways in which we can test the source of the messages we receive from others who claim to speak on behalf of the Holy Spirit (1 John 4:1-6). Is what was spoken/done in alignment with Christ’s teachings—with the Word of God? If it isn’t, then the Holy Spirit was not the source of that message or directive.


He Is the Seal of Our Salvation:

In Ephesians 1:13, Paul explains, “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.”

Like a mark used to identify ownership or belonging, the Holy Spirit is given to every believer at the moment of their salvation as a seal of their new identity in Christ. This means then, that the Holy Spirit is not just given to some Christians and not to others. He is not exclusive to some “special” group of people, and therefore no one can boast about having “more” of the Spirit. We also don’t have to “tarry” at an altar, as some teach, begging for certain gifts (usually the gift of speaking in other tongues) as a sign that we have received the Holy Spirit. The gifts of the Spirit are not the definitive sign of our salvation; the actual presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives is the one divine, unifying, equally distributed seal that marks us as believers in Christ and recipients of salvation.

He Aligns Us with the Will of the Father:

In Romans 8:26 (NLT), Paul reveals to us a profound truth. He says, “And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words.” In other words, God understands that we are weak and limited, and there are times when we will go before the Father in prayer and not know “what God wants us to pray for.” Therefore, in His divine providence, the Holy Spirit intervenes and actually begins to pray for us—on our behalf—so that what comes forth from our spirit is in perfect alignment with the will of the Father. This principle goes beyond just prayer, of course, and impacts every area of our lives. For example, Jesus told His disciples that whenever they were brought to trial before rulers, they need not worry what they would say to defend themselves, because the Holy Spirit would intervene when it came time for them to speak and teach them what to say (Luke 12:11-12).

He is always with us, which means His presence is meant to steer us—our speech, our actions, our prayers, our worship—so that we are positioned and operating in the centre of God’s will. By extension, then, He also works diligently to steer us away from anything that is not in the will of God for our lives and urges us to flee from sin.

He Gives Us Spiritual Gifts:

One of the many functions of the Holy Spirit is to give believers spiritual gifts. You can read a list of these gifts in 1 Corinthians 12:7-11. These are important and special abilities that the Holy Spirit bestows upon our lives as He works in and through us. These are not simply talents that we share with people in the world but are specific giftings given to us by the Spirit because Christ’s work in our lives. Therefore, since we cannot choose what gift we are given, and since every believer is given at least one gift, there is no reason to boast about our gift or idolize our gift as though it were more important than the actual giver of the gift. Furthermore, there is no gift that we should esteem more highly than another, for it is the same Spirit that gives each gift, and so the source of every spiritual gift is holy. As such, we must use the gift(s) the Holy Spirit bestows upon us with humility and reverence, understanding that our spiritual gift is only one aspect of our relationship with the Holy Spirit.

For a more detailed explanation of the Spiritual Gifts, see our PDF resources.

Through Him We Bear Good Fruit:

Galatians 5:22-23 tells us that “the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!” Here, Paul lists nine godly characteristics, labeled as fruit, that every believer is expected to produce in their lives. However, these characteristics cannot be produced by sheer will or by personal strength and determination, because the flesh can never produce this kind of fruit in the fullness to which they are expected to be expressed. In fact, the unregenerate heart is utterly incapable of ever truly replicating these godly characteristics. Therefore, it is the Holy Spirit and He alone who can work in the Believer to produce Christ-like character that progressively grows to resemble our Lord as we are increasingly sanctified.

Surrender to The Holy Spirit:

In conclusion, the more we surrender to the operation of the Holy Spirit in our lives, the more He works in us to accomplish the will of the Father (Philippians 2:13). Be encouraged that you will know it is the Holy Spirit leading you and working in you if you are continually being transformed into the image of God and if what you are being led to do brings glory to God (and not to yourself or others). God the Holy Spirit is with us always. He is the seal of our salvation given to everyone who believes, and He works in us to sanctify us, teach us, and lead us in the paths of righteousness.

Additional Scriptures About the Holy Spirit

  • Matthew 28:19 — “Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.”
  • Luke 3:21-22 — “When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”
  • John 14:16-17 — “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 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 16:7-8 — “But in fact, it is best for you that I go away, because if I don’t, the Advocate won’t come. If I do go away, then I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world of its sin, and of God’s righteousness, and of the coming judgment.
  • Acts 1:8 — “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
  • 2 Corinthians 1:21-22 — “It is God who enables us, along with you, to stand firm for Christ. He has commissioned us, and he has identified us as his own by placing the Holy Spirit in our hearts as the first installment that guarantees everything, he has promised us.”
  • 2 Corinthians 13:14 — “May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” (2 Corinthians 13:14)
  • Ephesians 4:4-6 — “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”
  • 2 Peter 1:20-21 — “Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”

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