Who Is the Holy Spirit?

Note from Randy: Costi Hinn has seen close-up the hyping of the Holy Spirit for personal gain. Acutely aware of the dangers of false doctrine, he carefully grounds his new book Knowing the Spirit in God’s Word. If you’re looking for a biblical and pastoral treatment of the Holy Spirit, His person, His works, and His importance in the Christian life, you’ve found it! Hope you enjoy this excerpt from the book.

I clicked the play button on the video of a woman sitting in a chair on a stage, microphone in hand, seemingly ready to share something from the Bible to a crowd of eager listeners. She was a well-known singer and songwriter, so the crowd undoubtedly was on the edge of their seats in anticipation. The video began: “The Holy Spirit, to me, is like the genie from Aladdin.”

The crowd responded immediately with laughter, engaged with her right from the start. I tried hard to fully understand what she was saying and not be hasty to judge her. Perhaps she was just attempting to have a little fun and bring levity to a theological subject. As she went on, however, no well-intentioned motive could account for what she said, and my concern deepened because of how much confusion abounds in the church today when it comes to the Holy Spirit.

She continued, “That’s who He is to me. He’s funny, and He’s sneaky, and He’s silly. He’s wonderful. He’s like the wind. He’s all around.”

When studies show that only 6 percent of professing Christians have an accurate Christian worldview, and nearly 60 percent of those who identify as Christians do not believe the Holy Spirit is real, likening Him to a chaotic Disney character is the last thing a professing Christian with a microphone should be doing.

The truth is that the Holy Spirit is not funny and definitely is not silly. If He is sneaky, it’s because you can’t predict Him or because in His sovereign power he does incredible things that you never see or know about. He’s not at all like the genie from Aladdin, for He’s not some magical force you can coerce and control with just the right phrase. He is active and powerful, and Scripture has made it possible for you and me to know enough about Him that we need not be lured away from the truth by comical versions of Him.

When it comes to the Holy Spirit, we need to make sure everything we believe lines up with Scripture. I’ve often heard this quote attributed to Charles Spurgeon (though I can never find the original source) that says, “Discernment is not knowing the difference between right and wrong. It is knowing the difference between right and almost right.”

You and I must get our understanding of the Holy Spirit right if we love the truth and want to glorify Jesus Christ with our lives.

The Holy Spirit Is God

First and foremost, we need to understand that the Holy Spirit is God and that He is an equal and active part of what we call the Trinity. While few people who claim to be Christians would argue against God the Father or Jesus the Son being God, there is widespread confusion among us regarding the divinity of the Holy Spirit. Is He just an expression of Jesus in spirit form? Is He a less than divine force that God uses to express His power? Is He an angel?

The Bible answers these questions with absolute clarity.

Several key passages from both the Old and New Testaments give us evidence that the Holy Spirit is an equal part of the Trinity: which is God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. In Christianity we understand that God is one, yet He exists in three persons. This may seem a bit confusing to the human mind, but God is infinite, beyond our comprehension, and outside of the limits that creation is bound by. That God is three in one is possible because he is God, though it’s a mystery to us. When you think that such teaching is a contradiction to logic, remember the words of renowned theologian R. C. Sproul, who wrote, “The doctrine of the Trinity is not a contradiction but a mystery, for we cannot fully understand how God can exist in three persons.” The word trinity is not found in the Bible, but we use the word to describe the triunity of God because in the Bible we clearly see the three persons of God in action, equally divine and unified.

The Holy Spirit is seen as operating as God in a number of passages in the Old Testament, including:

  1. Hovering over the waters before creation (Gen. 1:2)
  2. Filling certain men under Moses (Exod. 35:30–35)
  3. Empowering Joshua to lead Israel (Num. 27:18)
  4. Coming upon Gideon (Judg. 6:34)
  5. Coming upon Samson (Judg. 13:25)
  6. Rushing upon David when he was anointed as king (1 Sam. 16:13)
  7. Departing from Saul (1 Sam. 16:14)
  8. Carrying along the word of the prophets (2 Peter 1:21)
  9. Enabling Ezekiel to prophesy (Ezek. 2:2)
  10. Prophesied to one day rest upon the Messiah (Isa. 61:1)

Anyone confused about where the Holy Spirit was in the Old Testament can rest assured that He was very much present and active before what is commonly known as Pentecost (Acts 2). While Jesus did promise that the Holy Spirit would come and move powerfully in the life of the church from Pentecost onward, that incredible moment was not the first time the Holy Spirit was revealed as an equal part of the Trinity.

In the New Testament, the Holy Spirit is undeniably present and divine. He moves from coming “upon” believers in the Old Testament to entering “into” believers under the new covenant through Christ. The Holy Spirit is God, and we can see this in a number of passages in the New Testament, including:

  1. He is mentioned almost one hundred times in Matthew, Mark, and Luke.
  2. He conceived Jesus in Mary’s womb (Matt. 1:20).
  3. He was present at Jesus’ baptism (Matt. 3:16).
  4. He was sent by the Father (John 14:16).
  5. He teaches the disciples all things and reminds them of what Jesus taught (John 14:26).
  6. He is God, and believers are baptized in his name (Matt. 28:19–20).
  7. He is eternal (Heb. 9:14).
  8. He has the power to seal believers so that nothing can steal their salvation (Eph. 4:30).
  9. He dwells within believers and makes them his temple (1 Cor. 6:19–20).
  10. He has the power to make believers new and washes away sin (Titus 3:5).

It’s not hard to find in Scripture the Holy Spirit operating as God. The Holy Spirit is everywhere. You could probably add twenty more items to each list in no time at all.

Knowing the SpiritOne of my favorite slam-dunk pieces of evidence for the Holy Spirit being God is in Acts when a husband and wife named Ananias and Sapphira put on an elaborate show of generosity when actually they had lied to God about the money they were giving to the church. The apostle Peter confronts them, saying, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back some of the proceeds of the land?” Peter goes on to say, “You have not lied to men, but to God” (Acts 5:3–4). If the Holy Spirit is not equally God, why would Peter say that Ananias lied to the Holy Spirit and refer to Him as God?

These passages were pivotal to my understanding of the Holy Spirit years ago, and I hope they help you grasp the remarkable truth about who He is. According to Scripture, our God is three in one, the Holy Spirit is equally God, and the Holy Spirit is distinctly God (meaning that He is not merely an expression of Jesus in spirit form). As you study what the Bible teaches about the Holy Spirit, you will find that this is essential doctrine, which is why I want you to know the Spirit in a deeper way.

Photo: Unsplash

Costi Hinn is a church planter and pastor. He is also the president and founder of For the Gospel, and the author of several books, including God, Greed, and the (Prosperity) Gospel; More Than a Healer; and Knowing the Spirit.