• The personality of the Spirit


    IN this series of studies, we wiII attempt tocome to grips with the biblical doctrine ofholiness. By the very nature of our subject,it will be necessary to make continuousreference to the third Person in the Trinity,
    God the Holy Spirit. Perhaps we shouldcommence by meeting Him in the pages ofScripture.Our third article of faith states: We6slfpue that there are three Persons in theGod,head, the Father, the Son and, the HolyGhost, undtiuid.ed in essence and co-equal inpou.ter ond glary. Yet, how many of us thinkoi the Spirit as an influence, a force or apower? No doubt much of our confusionsprings from the fact that we so oftenthinkof a person in terms of a body: hands, Iegs,arms. But surely there are deeper qualities
    which change this lump of clay into aperson! Let us then examine the New Testamentand seek to discover some of thecharacteristics or attributes of the HolySpirit which give Him personality.
    (a) Intelligence: The Spiri,t searcheth aUthings, gea the ileep things of God (1 Cor.2:10). In Romans 8:27, Paul speaks of themind ol the Spirit. Thus it is through theHoly Spirit that we know God's truth. He
    knows the truth and reveals it to us in theScripture.
    (b) Feeling: Gricue not the Spi.rit (Eph.4:30). Some years ago there was a popularsong which contained these signifcantwords: "You always hurt the one you love."The Scriptures reveal that, just as a parentis hurt by the disobedience of a child, so theSpirit is hurt by our disobedience. Heknows our every thought, word and deed,and is grieved when in any of these areaswe reveal an unchristlike spirit.
    (c) Will: In another lesson we are goingto consider the "gifts of the Spirit" and inthis connection will examine 1 Cor. 12:11:But all these utorketh that one ond the selfsameSpirit, divi.d,ing to euery man seuerahIy as Hewill.The Holy Spirit distributesgifts among the believers as He desires, andnot as we choose.
    (d) He can be lied to: Recall, for example,the story of Ananias and Sapphira as recordedin Acts 5. Instead of giving their all,they kept back part of the price, but pretendedto give all. And Peter said: Anantas,
    whE hath. Satan fillcd thine heart to ltip tothe HoIE Ghost? (Acts 5:3).
    (e) Personal acts belong to the Spirit: Iwonder if you have ever noticed the verbsin John 16:13-14 and John t4:26 - guid.espeak- hear - shoul - SlnrifA - receiue- tea,ch - bring to Eour remembrance.These verbswould not be linked with an influenceor force. but are rather the expressionof personality.
    (f) Prays: Likewise the Spirtt also helpethour infirmities: for ute know not what weshould, praE for asweought: but the Spirititself maheth intercession for us witlt. groaningsuthi,ch,c onnot be uttered, (Rom. 8:26).He does not simply impel us to pray: Heprays for us. Every believer in Christ has
    two divine persons praying for him everyday. First, the Son, our advocate with theFather who ever liveth to make intercessionfor us at the right hand of God in glory (1John 2:1: Heb. 7:25). Then we have theSpirit who prays through us down here onearth.
    (g) Described by personal pronouns: Iwould remind you that the word Spirit inthe Greek is neuter in gender. Thus to begrammatically correct, the New Testament
    writers should have referred to the Spirit asit, (Hence Romans 8:16, 26 - the Spirit
    itsel). ln these cases, the Spirit's personalityis not being denied, for the workascribed to Him in each instance is personal.Here the writer was simply following therequirements of correct grammar. In contrastto this, however, are the large numberof references where the personal pronoun isemployed. For example, John 14:16, 26 andJohn 16:8 use the personal pronoun I/e torefer to the Spirit.
    (h) The Spirit is often associated with theFather and Son:1: In the great commission: Go Ae - inthe nome of tlte Father, ond of the Son, and,of the HolE Ghost (Matt. 28:19).2: Pauline benediction: The gro,ce of the
    Lord Jesus Christ, and the lnue of God, ond,the communbn of the HolE Ghost be withyou all (2 Cor. 13:14). On occasion, He isequated with God. Refening again to theincident in Acts 5 when Ananias lied to theHoly Spirit, Peter added Thou hast not l;ipdunto men, but unto God (Acts 5:4). LikeGod, He is eternal (Heb. 9:14); omnipresentor everywhere present (Psalm 139:7-10)omnipotent or all-powerful (Luke 1:35);omniscient or all-knowing (John 14:26).
    (i) Loves: For the bue of the Spirit(Romans 15:30). He not only influences us tolove. but loves us Himself. The Father soloved that He gave (John 3:16); the Son soloved that He gave (John 10:18). But it was
    the Spirit who in love sought us out and Iedus to the place of availing ourselves of thisgreat gift. Thus our salvation depends aslove of the Father and Son.But let me now move from the classroomto the conflict. It could be that, to some, allwe have suggested sounds rather technical,academic or theological. Others may gofurther and ask if it really matters verymuch whether the Spirit is regarded as aninfluence or power rather than as a person.Is the question really related to life? Why isit so important?Well, of course, a child sustains a verydifferent relationshin to his parents than hedoes to electricity. And our- relationship tothe Spirit differs drastically depending uponwhether or not we think of It as a power orHim as a person. Let me remind you of justtwo areas of life where this distinctionbecomes important.
    (a) Necessary to our worship: Lovereachingdownward is grace; outward is fellowship;upward is worship. Do we reallyworship the Holy Spirit? I suppose we do sotheoretically, for we sing:Prutse God frorn u:hom all blcssings flttu.t;Praise Him, all creatures here below;Praise Him aboue, ge heaoenlg host;
    Prarise Father, Son and, Holy Ghost.(Thomas Ken)Yet, if we think of the Spirit merely as animpersonal influence or power, we rob Himof the worship, the love, the faith, the surrender,the obedience which are His due, forwe worship a person, not a power.
    (b) Necessary to our witness: If we thinkof the Holy Spirit as a power, we may ask:"How can I get more of the Spirit and useit?" If, however, we think of the Holy Spiritas a person, we may ask: "How can theSpirit get more of me and use me?" Thisdistinction is deeply significant, for throughoutour studies we are going to find that itisn't a case of getting more and more of theSpirit, but rather the Spirit getting moreand more of us. Because the Spirit is aperson, He isn't given out piecemeal. He iseither in our lives or He isn't.If we own Christ as Saviour, the HolySpirit is residing in our lives (Romans 8:9).However, it is one thing to be residing andquite another to be ruling. For example,there are some homes into which I can enterand feel quite comfortable. However, Iwould not feel at liberty to go moving thefurniture around to suit my own tastes. Icertainly would not feel free to go to therefrigerator and help myself to what wasthere. In my own home, I feel perfectly freeto do both of these things. But the factremains, I am equally in both homes. SoGod is in my life or He isn't. In many heartsHe is "resident" but longs to be "president."