Some people believe the Holy Spirit is simply the influence of good—like the “good force” of the universe. But the Holy Spirit is actually a person—the third person of the Trinity (God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit). Jesus referred to the Spirit as a person when he said, “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth” ( John 14:16-17).
The Holy Spirit is one of the three persons of God. He has a mind and feelings. He makes choices. Scripture says, “He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit” (Romans 8:27 niv). Scripture also tells us that the Spirit can feel. We are not to “bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live” (Ephesians 4:30). He makes choices as to who will receive what spiritual gifts. “It is the one and only Spirit who distributes these gifts” (1 Corinthians 12:11). Also, the apostle Peter told a man named Ananias, “You lied to the Holy Spirit” (Acts 5:3). Ananias wasn’t lying to an influence; he was lying to a person. Peter added, “You weren’t lying to us but to God” (Acts 5:4).
When God sent the Holy Spirit, he became the interactive agent of God to us. When he was “poured out” on God’s people on the Day of Pentecost (see Acts 2) we might say the word “God” was not only a noun—it also became a verb. Rather than just learning who God is or following the teaching of Jesus impersonally, we experience God actually being brought into our lives by the Spirit. He is the active, moving God who impels us to action. God the Holy Spirit is about living, loving, responding, enjoying, embracing, comforting, supporting, accepting, encouraging, respecting, disciplining, growing, empowering, and a myriad of other such verbs.
The Holy Spirit is the dynamic, active, and ever-present person of God. We experience him in our everyday living. Further, he demonstrates himself in our capacity to love as God loves. “If we love each other,” John said, “God lives in us, and his love has been brought to full expression in us. And God has given us his Spirit as proof that we live in him and he in us” (1 John 4:12-13). The Holy Spirit is real. He evidenced himself powerfully on the Day of Pentecost two millennia ago. And his presence is additional proof that we belong to God, for the “Holy Spirit speaks to us deep in our hearts and tells us that we are God’s children” (Romans 8:16 nlt).
This chapter originally appeared in 77 FAQs About God and the Bible by Sean McDowell and Josh McDowell (2012). Used by permission from Harvest House Publishers.