The Personality of the Holy Spirit
Copr. 2017, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. If you normally receive this lesson by e-mail, but it is lost one week, you can find it by clicking on this link: http://www.GoBible.org. Pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit as you study.
Introduction: How many times have I written "It" when referring to the Holy Spirit? Too many times! Perhaps you have too. Perhaps you still do! Does "He" seem to be the correct term for someone who is compared to wind? Someone who can be everywhere at once? Someone who not only lives in you, but lives in Christians everywhere? It is hard to wrap your mind around these concepts. However, I think it is easier to understand that the Holy Spirit is a "He" if we focus on His personality, and not His form. Let's dive into our study of the Bible and learn more!
Read John 16:2-5. List all the things Jesus said that would cause the disciples to grieve? (They would not be able to worship in "church." People will kill them and think it is a good idea. Jesus is leaving them.)
Read John 16:6 and Acts 1:6. We cannot appreciate the full nature of the loss felt by the disciples unless we measure it against their lost hope. For what did they hope? (That Jesus would become King of Israel, He would defeat the Romans, and they would be His chief rulers.)
- Now, tell me how terrible a blow to their hopes is this list of losses?
Read John 16:6-7. What could possibly make up for the losses that we just listed? (The arrival of the Holy Spirit.)
- We have been looking at these verses in John from different angles recently. When we suffer loss and grief, we want to be comforted. We could use a counselor. What does it suggest about the personality of the Holy Spirit that Jesus would call Him "the Counselor?" (Only someone who understands loss and grief would make any sense as a counselor.)
Read John 14:16-18. What Jesus says here is much like His statement in John 16. Let's focus on verse 18. Jesus says that He will not leave the disciples as orphans. Explain that word picture to me. What is the need of an orphan? (Orphans have no parents, they need someone who will help and protect them.)
Will the Holy Spirit do the same for us? If so, what does that say about the personality of the Holy Spirit? (He has the kind of deep understanding you would expect of a parent. He is able to understand and help in times of grief and need.)
Do you think Jesus just picked the word "orphan" out of the air as a good analogy? Or, does it actually reflect the situation faced by the disciples? (Jesus referred to His "Father." The idea is that God is our parent who never dies, is always present. Jesus fulfilled that role with the disciples, and then the Holy Spirit took over that role. It means that the Holy Spirit is our main interface with the Trinity.)
Read John 15:26-27. The disciples share a task with the Holy Spirit: testifying about Jesus. How do you think the Holy Spirit does that?
How would you (how do you) testify about Jesus?
Ask yourself, "What would persuade someone to follow Jesus?" (The initial message would be that Jesus will give you hope for a better life and a better future. If that is the approach of the Holy Spirit, we see that He gives comfort and hope to those who are worried about the future.)
Guide For Life
Read Romans 8:1-3. How are we set free from eternal death? (By accepting what Jesus did for us on the cross. Jesus did what the law could not, He set us free from sin and death.)
- Look again at the last part of John 8:3. What is Jesus' attitude towards sin? (He "condemned sin in sinful man." Jesus does not approve of sin. He came to defeat sin.)
Read Romans 8:4. What does Jesus want from us that involves the Holy Spirit? (We see two opposing natures: the sinful nature and the life lived according to the leading of the Holy Spirit. We are told to live "according to the Spirit.")
Must we live a life in the Holy Spirit for "the righteous requirements of the law" to be fully met.)
What does this suggest about the personality of the Holy Spirit?
Read Romans 8:5. What is our role in right living? (We either set our minds on "what the Spirit desires" or "what the [sinful] nature desires." We need to set our minds on the desires of the Holy Spirit.)
Have you thought about having an obligation to choose on what you will set your mind?
- Is this a single choice that you make in the morning? (In my experience, it is a continual choice. I keep having to make this choice.)
Read Romans 8:6-8. How important is this choice? (We cannot please God if our mind is controlled by our sinful nature.)
- Must live according to the Spirit in order to enjoy grace? Is that what these verses mean?
Read John 5:24-25 and Romans 10:13. These two references tell me that if I call on God, if I believe that God sent Jesus, I will be saved. How do you reconcile that with the statements in Romans 8 that I must set my mind on what the Holy Spirit desires in order to please God?
- Notice that John 5:24 seems to refer to a single decision - that a person who hears and believes "has crossed over from death to life." How do you explain that? (My explanation is that Romans 8:5-7 describes what kind of decisions God desires of us. God wants us to continually call on Him. This is what it means to set our minds on what the Holy Spirit desires. It seems logical that if you truly believe in Jesus, then you have made the decision to live a life led by the Holy Spirit, and you will not live a life "hostile to God.")
Read Romans 8:9. Contemplate this for a little bit. What does this say about the personality of the Holy Spirit and its role in your life?
Read Romans 8:10-11. Let's work this through. When the text says, "your body is dead because of sin," what do you think that means? (We are sinners. The penalty for sin is death.)
Why did Jesus die? (He died for our sins. We see this parallel in these verses between our sins that bring death and our sins for which Jesus died.)
- What is the common cure for these death causing sins? (The power of the Holy Spirit. He gives life to us just as He gave life to Jesus.)
Read Romans 8:12-13. Given what we just discussed, what obligation do we have? (Paul just told us that the Holy Spirit gives us life, even though we were dead in our sins. Would you feel obliged to someone who saved your life? Of course! That obligation is to "put to death the misdeeds of the body.")
Do our works matter? (Yes. John 5:24 tells us that belief takes us across the line from death to eternal life. Romans says that the elimination of wrong deeds is an "obligation." You are saved and you are obligated.)
- How can we eliminate wrong deeds? ("By the Spirit.")
Read Romans 8:14-16. When you sin does it create fear in you? Fear that you will get caught? Fear that your circumstances will harm you? (This tells us that a life led by the Holy Spirit frees us from fear. It allows us the freedom that we enjoy as sons and daughters of God.)
- Let's step back a moment and consider this. We live in the midst of a controversy between good and evil. God has saved us and given us directions on how to live a better life now. Do our actions matter? Do our works matter? (Imagine you were in an actual war. Would it matter if you followed the instructions of your commander? Would it matter if you started shooting your fellow soldiers? Would it matter if you just started walking toward enemy lines? Of course these things matter. The idea that you claim Jesus once, and pay no attention thereafter, makes no logical sense.)
Re-read Romans 8:16. Does your spirit have a personality? (Your spirit is your personality.)
- What does the fact that the Holy Spirit "testifies with our spirit" teach us about the personality of the Holy Spirit? (The Holy Spirit is clearly not a bunch of wind. He is the active interface between the Trinity and your mind.)
Read Romans 8:26-27. In what other way can the Holy Spirit help us? (With our prayers. This tells us that the Holy Spirit "intercedes" for us "in accordance with God's will." The Holy Spirit will help with our feeble efforts to pray.)
- When I think of intercession, I think about what Jesus is doing for us in heaven (Hebrews 8-9), and I think of lawyers in a courtroom. How much skill does this take? What does this say about the Holy Spirit having a personality?
Friend, you desperately need the Holy Spirit in you. You need Him to comfort you, direct your actions, and guide and intercede for you when you approach God in prayer. Will you, right now, ask the Holy Spirit to live in you?
Next week: The Baptism and Filling of the Holy Spirit.