Last but not least, let’s take a look at the third member of the Trinity, God the Holy Spirit (also known as the Holy Ghost). Actually, there are several titles for the Holy Spirit in the Bible. Here are a few: Spirit of the Father, Spirit of Christ, Spirit of the Lord, Spirit of truth, Comforter, Power of the Most High, Advocate, even Lord and God. All of these refer to the one Holy Spirit.
What the Holy Spirit is not
Before we discuss who He is, let me tell you what He is not. He is not a mystical force or an impersonal power. The Holy Spirit is also not a dove, although the Bible says that after Jesus was baptized, the Holy Spirit descended on Him like a dove. The Holy Spirit is not an “it.” These things the Holy Spirit is not. The Bible clearly tells us that the Holy Spirit–like God the Father and God the Son–is fully God, a divine person with a mind, will and emptions.
We are body, soul, and spirit
Before we continue talking about the Holy Spirit, let’s take a brief detour and talk about you. I think it is interesting that there is one God who manifests Himself in three distinct persons, because I would submit to you that each individual human has three parts to his or her being. Let me illustrate with a Bible verse from 1 Thessalonians, chapter 5:
23 May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Did you catch that? Allow me to reverse the order of the three parts of a human being: body, soul and spirit. Below is a brief description of each:
Body – Everything that can be seen or touched (inside of you and outside). Your “body” is everything physical. Everything that students in Anatomy class try to memorize is the body. Another term used for “body” in the Bible is “the flesh.” The body only collects information from the physical world. Our bodies are temporal (not eternal) and therefore naturally seeks two things: survival and pleasure. The body is said to have a “sin nature” because it is self-centered by nature.
Soul – Your soul is who you are. Not your looks, but the person on the inside. In other words your soul is your thoughts and your emotions. You might say that your soul is your mind (thoughts) and heart (emotions). Your soul has a connection to the physical world as well as the spiritual realm. Another way of saying this is that your soul receives information from your body and your spirit. It collects information from both and both the physical and spiritual realms are very real. Your soul is not temporal; it continues to exist when your physical body ceases to function.
Spirit – There are some who would say that the soul and the spirit are one in the same. I (based on Bible verses such as 1 Thessalonians 5:23) believe they are separate. Your spirit is your connection to God. It only collects information from the spiritual realm. This entity which is a part of you, seems to “wake up” when you receive salvation through Christ and you are connected to God from His Spirit to your Spirit. Your spirit is your relationship to God! I have heard it said that “Each human being is created with a God-sized vacuum in his heart, only to be filled by Jesus Christ.” Good stuff! This is a different way to describe one’s spirit “quickening;” at the moment she receives a pardon for her sins and that barrier between the person and a Holy God is removed. When this happens, you become “born of the Spirit!” The Bible describes you as being “sealed with the Spirit.”
The Holy Spirit’s role in our lives
Back to the Holy Spirit and His role in us our lives; take a look at Jesus speaking about the Holy Spirit (the Advocate) coming:
John 16 :7 But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.
It is startling at first glance that Jesus tells His followers, “It is for your good that I am going away.” How can God the Son say that? The people He is talking to have given their lives to Him and trusted Him with their very souls! Now He basically says, “It is better that I leave?” It might make more sense to think about it this way: if Jesus (God in the flesh) was our way to communicate with God, how many people would get to communicate with Him? When He became flesh, He could be in one place at a time. If Jesus (God in the flesh) was how we heard from God, how long of a line do you think there would be in Jerusalem to speak with Him? I bet it would be nearly impossible to get to see and hear from God! And we thought it was wild seeing people pre-order tickets to the most recent Star Wars movie…. Standing in line dressed in costumes…. What do you think a line to hear from God would look like? In essence Jesus is saying “it is better that I (physical me) go, so that My Spirit (Holy Spirit) can come, because He will be with all of my people (Christians) always!”
The Holy Spirit is our connection to God! He is how God speaks to us today. God’s Spirit speaks to our spirit. Have you ever heard one of those crazy Christians say something like, “God told me move to Dallas”? Or, “God told me to join this church…. take a certain job…. not get on that plane”…. Have you heard things like that said? Well, they actually may not be crazy. When you hear “God told me….” What Christians mean is the Holy Spirit communicated something to them. God does speak to Christians today. I will venture to say (without any statistics to back it up) that most of the time this is not an audible voice that people are hearing. Though I would not dare suggest that God can’t speak audibly or even that He never speaks to people audibly, I would say it is the exception rather than the rule.
Do you remember when I was talking about all that “body, soul and spirit” stuff? Do you remember when I said that our soul (your mind and emotions) has a connection to the physical and spiritual realm? I also said your spirit wakes up at the time of your salvation and your spirit is your connection to God? Bingo! God, a spiritual being, speaks to Christians through their spirits. Our souls receive this communication from God in the form of our thoughts! But God certainly isn’t limited to this. God may speak to your soul–through your spirit–when you read the Bible.
I have been reading the Bible before, when I realized “this is for me!” God is illuminating this passage and personally showing me things. That is the work of the Holy Spirit. I have been sitting in church and listening to a sermon when suddenly, the preacher begins talking about something and my spirit just seems to say to my soul “This is for you!” God speaks to us Spirit to spirit, through the bible, through other people…. In one Bible story, God even speaks to someone through a donkey! I know someone who looked at a painting and knew God spoke to her as she looked at the painting and then noticed the author’s name.
Hearing God is part of your relationship with Him and it is a skill that can be developed. I would love to get into how to develop this, but for now here is a good beginning: if you have been saved (said, “yes” to Jesus), a great place to start building this new relationship is simply by realizing that the Holy Spirit is with you. When you wake up, go to bed and everything in between, He is there. This means you are never alone. Perhaps you remember Jesus saying, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” He doesn’t! His Spirit is always present.
“God said” usually means “God communicated” or “the Holy Spirit impressed upon me.” He does this in many different ways.
The Flesh – When you hear this mentioned in church, it is likely referring to our sinful nature. In other words, we cannot live sinless and are prone to being self-centered.