Holy Spirit in Christianity, a Logical Discussion

It seems that the majority of Christians have a very incomplete concept of the essence of the Holy Spirit. A more complete understanding of this important subject could help all Christians walk more closely with the Lord. All this business of Three and One is rather confusing. The world's greatest scholars have struggled to understand and explain the central concept of the Trinity, and none have yet convincingly presented a clear case.

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The Trinity is the three distinct "Persons" that exist in our One, True, Holy God. The Father created and oversees the Universe. The Son, Jesus, helped us understand the multitude of connections between God and man, and the Love that He feels for us. The Holy Spirit is generally described as the member of the Trinity which interacts with each of us on a day-to-day basis. Little else is usually said regarding the Holy Spirit. (The Holy Spirit is also referred to as the Holy Ghost in some Churches.)

That is unfortunate. The portion of the Trinity which we most easily interact with, is treated as the vaguest in concept! Most Christians can personally have a visualization of Jesus, even without personal interaction with Him. Many can conceptualize the Father, if only by the enormous power that He wields. Few give much thought to the Holy Spirit. I hope and pray that the following will help.


All Christians know that mankind, and all of its individual members, are intrinsically evil, as a result of the Original Sin of Adam and Eve. That is true. We ARE each INCAPABLE of being good, on our own.

God generously provides the availability of the Holy Spirit to each of us humans to deal with this flaw. By accepting Jesus as one's personal Savior, in the action of becoming a Christian, (Salvation) a part of the Holy Spirit joins with the person. The person now not only has the original evil, flesh-driven personality. Now there is also a second, competing, moral presence, that of the Holy Spirit, forever indwelling within him/her. The person now becomes capable of EITHER good OR evil.

Nearly all Christians speak of the Indwelling Holy Spirit. Many references in the Bible refer to this situation. I Cor. 3:16; Rom. 8:9; Ezek. 36:27; I Cor. 6:19; John 14:17; II Tim. 1:14; I John 2:27; I John 3:24; Rom. 8:10; John 14:20; are some direct references to the fact that Christians carry an Indwelling Holy Spirit. There are many more. This word is used to describe the fact that the Holy Spirit has actually become a permanent part of the person.

From that point on, the person is able to see daily situations in either of two lights, and as a result, CAN respond in a moral, Christian manner. Unfortunately, that does not always happen. People often ignore these ethical, moral, positive thoughts, which were inspired by the presence of the Holy Spirit, and they respond in some selfish or lustful way (as their OWN original nature wants).

Long ago, God, with His infinite foresight, knew that this situation would occur. He knew that we would each need the continuing presence of the Holy Spirit, to practice and learn the proper behavior patterns. He knew that a single lesson would be lost on us. He needed to 'install' part of the Holy Spirit in each of us, in order to continuously combat the naturally evil tendencies of our humanness, and in order to continuously teach us proper Christian thoughts and behavior.

The action of accepting Jesus as personal Savior is technically called Justification. The ongoing existence as a Christian afterward is called Sanctification. This Sanctification is a continuous process, wherein the person gradually learns and practices concepts related to 'right' and 'wrong.' After an extended period of this learning from the Holy Spirit, the person becomes gradually 'conditioned' to acting in a Christian manner. It becomes second-nature to suppress the natural evil tendencies, and to behave in a Christian manner without any extended moral or ethical dilemma resolution. This does NOT mean that the natural evil human nature has vanished. It only means that the person has become so comfortable with acting AND thinking in a Christian manner, that the human nature becomes tremendously reduced in effectiveness. Never gone, just reduced.

It is interesting that many Christians whom I have interviewed are under the impression that they have only rarely been affected or influenced by the Holy Spirit. I think that it is important that they realize the continuous presence of the Indwelling Spirit and it's continuous availability to each of us.


What are the consequences of all this?

A person continually is faced with choices. If that person becomes a Christian, new, moral options are also available. The more dearly the person treats his/her Christianity, the more effective the Holy Spirit is likely to be in helping that person learn proper behavior and thoughts. As a result, the person's Christian Walk gradually becomes closer and closer to the Lord. In addition, the person's behavior and thoughts show marked ethical and moral improvements. Over a period of time, this person develops such an admirable personality that God winds up having another ambassador to the world! He LOVES this!


Actually, He has made the Holy Spirit even more broadly available than this suggests. Whenever someone even considers the possibility of becoming a Christian (this is often called Conversion), the Spirit is available as Teacher and Guide, during the person's Seeking. In addition, many Churches believe that He has automatically provided for children with something that used to be called Household Salvation. Briefly, this provided availability of the teaching and guidance of the Holy Spirit to small children up to the age of decision. Generally, this was considered to be about 8-13 years old, depending on individual maturity and the social mores of the local denomination and the local society. It enables an environment where small children are able to learn what Christianity involves, so they can later choose to be Saved.

This continuous, active presence of the Holy Spirit has broad and wonderful consequences. We all see in the news occasionally where someone has recovered from some untreatable, terminal illness. I believe that this can be a result of the effects of that person's indwelling Holy Spirit (and Jesus), and ONLY this cause for cure. People sometimes claim all sorts of reasons for such 'cures'. Sometimes, 'healers' claim credit. They are wrong! Even if they somehow participated in bringing it about, the Holy Spirit ACTUALLY did the miracle!

We are also regularly aware of a broad variety of phenomena which science cannot explain, and which many Churches try to ignore. Religious miracles, personal charismatic abilities (tongues, healings, etc.), and MANY other phenomena are certainly direct and true manifestations of the actions of the Holy Spirit indwelling in one or more individuals. Science has always claimed that such individuals cannot repeat such miraculous phenomena under laboratory conditions. That is true! Do you see why that is so? The Holy Spirit wouldn't choose to work these miracles under such circumstances. First of all, it would seem demeaning to 'dance' for an audience. The actions of the Holy Spirit are NEVER for 'show'; there is always some deeper intent. And, second, if the Spirit would allow scientific confirmation of such Christian miracles, the need for FAITH would seem to vanish. EVERYONE would believe in Jesus, because it was documentable, not because they each had Faith in Him. That situation would be terrible. It could never be allowed, and so, no Christian miracle could EVER be documented to rigid scientific standards.


This suggests that the Holy Spirit ALWAYS offers EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US wonderful treasures of happiness. No matter how hopeless a situation seems, the Spirit could help to sweep the adversities away in an instant. Do you see?? This is VERY CLOSE to the subject of the MEANING OF LIFE which philosophers always struggle with. If each of us lived life with the realization and the implied moral imperative of the continuous indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit in each of us (Christians and Seekers), we would each automatically lead more moral, ethical lives. And if our society (including business and government) equally carried themselves with this insight, the 'rules' of modern life would again automatically become more upright. (I see this as Christ- centered, but would be willing to back off on semantics if this understanding led to an improvement in the quality of life for all of us.)

There is ALWAYS HOPE. ALWAYS. There is ALWAYS good reason for thinking and acting in a Christian manner. The resultant benefits come back to us and also 'spill over' onto those around us. THIS is what Jesus desires of us.

There is one addditional benefit from all of this. Say you received in the mail an Invitation to Queen Elizabeth's 85th birthday celebration. Would you (currently) be 'elegant' enough not to make as fool of yourself in such an environment? Probably not. You probably would need to attend some 'Finishing School' so you knew which spoon to use for the soup, and you would learn the correct way to meet and address some Member of Royalty. Our Church believes that the Holy Spirit has a function to 'provide a Finishing School' for each person, such that, when in the later Presence of the Lord, or of Moses or Abraham, the person would know how to act and speak appropriately!


First Published on the Web: Oct 25, 1998

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C Johnson, Pastor,
A Christ Walk Church