“Who is the Holy Spirit and does He make a difference in my life?”
It’s something I always wondered, but never fully understood. I’ll never forget the relief I felt in finally admitting this and deciding to learn more about Him. Maybe that’s where you are, too.
I remember coming across The Message paraphrase of these words from the apostle Paul and feeling like I was being punched in the gut.
“The amazing grace of the Master, Jesus Christ, the extravagant love of God, the intimate friendship of the Holy Spirit, be with all of you.” (2 Corinthians 13:14)
At the time I was reading Paul’s words, I was new to a life with Christ. I’d been brought up in a Hindu home but was learning what it meant to receive the grace of Jesus and grow in relationship with Him. The love of God was transforming my life in ways that continually proved that my Heavenly Father was real. But the intimate friendship of the Holy Spirit? I remember thinking, I don’t even know what Paul is talking about. Am I missing something essential?
I wonder if you can relate.
Is This What it’s Like For You?
Perhaps, Sunday after Sunday you’re standing up in church and affirming the Apostle’s Creed, hearing yourself say, “I believe in the Holy Spirit,” but knowing that those words reflect more of a desire than a reality.
Maybe you occasionally hear a sermon about the Spirit descending on a room full of ordinary people at Pentecost and think, “Okay, that must have been amazing! Too bad I didn’t live back then.”
Or could it be that you sometimes surf through certain channels on your TV and catch glimpses of people professing to be filled with the Spirit and think, “I’m pretty sure that’s fake. They are so weird.”?
Whether you grew up in church or apart from a Christian community, do you ever wonder what it means to live filled with the Holy Spirit?
You’re Not the Only One Wondering Who the Holy Spirit Is
You might feel relieved to learn that Nicodemus, a religious teacher, also wrestled in confusion with what Jesus meant when he said:
“I speak an eternal truth: Unless you are born of water and Spirit-wind, you will never enter God’s kingdom realm. For the natural realm can only give birth to things that are natural, but the spiritual realm gives birth to supernatural life! “You shouldn’t be amazed by my statement, ‘You must be born from above!’ For the Spirit-wind blows as it chooses. You can hear its sound, but you don’t know where it came from or where it’s going. So it is within the hearts of those who are Spirit-born.
Then Nicodemus replied, “But I don’t understand, what do you mean? How does this happen?” (John 3:5-9)
I feel you friend. It’s okay. This is a safe space where we can gather and grow as we explore the questions: Who is the Holy Spirit? And what difference does He make in our lives?
What Does the Bible Say About the Spirit?
I invite you to pull up a chair. Let’s open our Bibles and start where all good journeys begin:
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters. (Genesis 1:1-2 NASB)
You and I are introduced to the Holy Spirit in the first two verses of God’s story. Here, we see that the He plays an essential role in the creation narrative. Maybe this fact alone is an “Aha!” moment for you. Perhaps you’d never noticed His presence here before.
So let’s push pause for a second.
What are you picturing when you read these verses? Do you see the Holy Spirit as an object, like a bird, flame or cloud? Maybe you picture an impersonal force, like the wind?
Who is “He”?
Scripture writers often describe the Holy Spirit through manifestations and emblems like fire and the wind, but we must be careful not to let those images obscure our view of Him. Jesus himself identifies the Spirit as a coequal member of the Trinity. God is a mysterious reality. He can’t be completely understood, but He can be known. When we track this Holy member of the Trinity through the pages of the Bible, we see that He has all the attributes of personhood: mind, will, and emotion.
So one of the first things we learn is that the Holy Spirit is not an “it.” The Holy Spirit is a person.
A Relationship with the Person of the Holy Spirit
When that truth becomes a reality, we begin to see that intimate friendship with Him is possible through the same avenues we use to cultivate deep relationships with human beings.
Interest. Time. Trust. Communication. Vulnerability. What would you add to this list?
In the beginning of all that has been created, we see the Spirit of God interacting with creation. He moves over waters that are chaotic and empty and ultimately brings about order and fullness.
We catch a glimpse of the Holy Spirit doing the very same thing as human beings are created.
The Ruach of God at Our Creation
Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. Genesis 2:7
Can you see the Holy Spirit at work in these verses?
Picture Him picking up formless dust and shaping a human being, then breathing life into empty lungs.
Stop and take a long, slow breath, inhaling and exhaling deeply.
Our breath is a picture of the depth of intimacy we were created for with the Holy Spirit.
Utter and complete dependency.
How the Spirit Moves in Your Life
God’s story takes a tragic turn when man and woman decide to take their lives into their own hands, seemingly severing their relationships with their Creator.
Darkness descends while creation unravels. Chaos and emptiness ensue, and intimacy is replaced with isolation.
Where in your story can you identify with unraveling?
As we turn the pages of Scripture, we see the Spirit tirelessly continuing His ministry.
We witness the Holy Spirit moving in the lives of people like Noah, Abraham and Sarah, the Israelites, the prophets, Mary, Jesus, the disciples and the Church.
But here is the game changing reality: The ministry of the Holy Spirit still follows the same pattern in your life and mine.
Hovering. Forming. Filling. Moving.
The abundant, thriving life that Jesus speaks of in John 10:10 is initiated and sustained by the Holy Spirit. There is no life in Christ apart from the Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the means by which we experience the power and presence of the Father and the reality of Jesus, here and now.
If you want to know the Holy Spirit more, let us link arms and press in together, confident that God invites us to come to Him. And when we do, He will show us great and unsearchable things that we do not know (Jeremiah 33:3) and that He is pleased to give the Holy Spirit to those who ask (Luke 11:13).
Holy Spirit, will you show us who you are? And will you show us what You want to do in our lives?
A Study on Your Life in the Holy Spirit:
Want a More Intimate Relationship with the Holy Spirit?
Rica McRoy‘s full study on the Holy Spirit is designed to help you thrive through understanding the mysteries of the Holy Spirit and His role in your life.