Is the Spirit and 'It' or a 'He'?

Thursday, 03 April 2008 15:11

Is the Spirit of God an ‘it’ or a ‘he’? Most people refer to the Spirit as an ‘it.’ In John 16:13, the words of Jesus give an easy answer:

“But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth.” Big deal, right? Is it really of concern that most of us use ‘it’? Our use of pronouns reflects our perception of the Spirit of God. I’ve often seen the Spirit as a thing, a tool of God, void of feeling or emotion. The Bible paints a much different picture. God’s word shows the Spirit to be full of emotion and characteristics much more like a person than an object.

Thinking of the Spirit as an object leads to devaluing the Spirit. Consider what happens when people are treated as objects? Slavery stemmed from people being treated as objects. Pornography, immorality, and other sexual mistreatments stem from people being treated as objects. Our world exemplifies the misfortunes that occur when people get treated like a tool for work or pleasure. When we view the Spirit as simply a tool of God, the Spirit becomes less significant. As a result we don’t see the Spirit as someone to know or draw close to. We spend considerable time getting to know God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ. However, God displayed a third personality for us to explore and know. Without knowing the Spirit of God, we can not know the full nature of God.


The Spirit’s response to sin shows the Spirit’s personality. Isaiah 63:10 mentions how the Israelites rebelled against and grieved the Spirit of God. Hebrews 10:29 says that our rejection of God insults the Spirit of grace. Our sin impacts the Spirit of God. He is not void of emotion, but feels pain at the sight of our sin. James 4:4-5 says in the Living Bible, “Or what do you think the Scripture means when it says that the Holy Spirit, whom God has placed within us, watches over us with tender jealousy?” The Spirit living within us envies when we turn to other gods. Our car does not get jealous of us driving other vehicles.The Spirit is not an impersonal tool that feels nothing. The Spirit can be rejected, insulted, grieved, and envious.

Would you ever challenge someone for sinning against the Spirit? We may talk of how our sin impacts God or Jesus, but I personally have never considered sinning against the Spirit. Peter rebukes Ananias and Sapphira for deceiving the Spirit in Acts 5. Why did Peter mention the Spirit specifically? Was Ananias and Sapphira’s sin unique? No, all sin impacts the Holy Spirit, especially the sin of the saints (1 Corinthians 6:12-20). If we see the Spirit as simply a tool of God, then we will never speak of sinning against Him. However, if the Spirit is a personality, then we not only offend the Father and Son, but the Holy Spirit as well.

If we begin to see the Spirit as a personality rather than an object, then we will begin to value the Spirit more. We can get to know the Spirit and learn of His character. By viewing the Spirit in this way, we open a door to greater interaction with the Spirit of God. As Christians, we feel a special connection with the Father when we pray and commune with God. We can visualize and follow Jesus. We spend ample time in the Bible learning the characteristics of the Father and Son. Seeing the Spirit as a person to know will spur us to know the Spirit better. Who is the Spirit? What is He like? How does He interact with us? Seeing the Spirit as a person rather than an object allows us greater intimacy with the Spirit. After all, how can one “keep in step with the Spirit,” if one does not realize He is walking with us? (Galatians 5:25)

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