Is The Holy Spirit Personal?

It seems as though the doctrines which are most sacred to Christians are those which are blasphemed most thoroughly. The most significant truths about God are those which are distorted so abundantly. But God will not be mocked, so he says, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord,” (Romans 12:19). There are those who want to say that the Holy Spirit is not God. Muslims will say that when Jesus spoke of a comforter (John 14:26), he was actually referring to Muhammad. They will say that the Holy Spirit is the angel Gabriel. Jehovah’s Witnesses want to say that the Holy Spirit is an impersonal force. Thus, the New World Translation renders Genesis 1:2, “God’s active force was moving about over the surface of the waters.” These various interpretations beg the question, who is the Holy Spirit? Is the Holy Spirit personal?

I would like to point out that when I say person, I do not mean human being. The Holy Spirit is not a human being. I am talking about the doctrine that the Holy Spirit is an impersonal force. They will say that he is merely a description of the power of God, but is not personal. So is the Holy Spirit personal? The only Christian answer is yes. One cannot deny the Holy Spirit and still be a Christian. The Holy Spirit is God and is personal. The Holy Spirit is not merely God’s active force but is a person and is God. Thus, any who wants to deny the personality and deity of the Holy Spirit grieves God and should grieve any Christian who loves the Lord.

It seems as though there are countless blasphemies of the Holy Spirit even within Christendom. They will treat the Holy Spirit as though he were a Pagan deity, attributing emotional experiences to him, like uncontrollable laughter, animal noises, chaos, confusion, fake healing, sporadic twitching and so forth. These people provide false worship to the Holy Spirit. On the other hand, we have those who want to deny the Holy Spirit entirely, blaspheming him in a completely different way. The severity of this sin cannot be understated. Those who say that God is not God are not Christians.

How does one sin against an active force? Why should anyone care when they have broken the moral law? Suppose you find a list of rules on the ground in the middle of the woods. You do not know who put it there. You just sort of found it. I would like to suggest that you would not worry about obeying the rules on the list. There must be a person behind the rules for us to care to obey them. Thus, we care about the moral law because it is God’s moral law. We do not care about sinning against a rock, or a tree, or a piece of paper in the middle of the woods. We do not care about sinning against impersonal entities.

But the Bible describes men as sinning against the Holy Spirit. Using God and the Holy Spirit interchangeably (Acts 5:3-4), Peter accuses Ananias of lying to the Holy Spirit, and for that sin, he is deserving of death. But if the Holy Spirit is an impersonal force, why is it so abominable to lie to it? It is sort of like lying to the wifi network. In the same vain, Jesus said, “Everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him.” (Luke 12:10). If Jesus is a person, and the Holy Spirit is not a person, it should be a greater sin to sin against Jesus, rather than the Holy Spirit. But the greater sin is against the Holy Spirit.

We do not worry about our sins against rocks. We worry about our sins against persons. Since we worry about our sins against the Holy Spirit, it follows logically that the Holy Spirit is a person.

Who or what provides comfort? Suppose I approached you and told you that I was going through something difficult in my life. A loved one died and I was suffering. I added that I had rejoiced because somebody helped me. Somebody gave me comfort. When you asked who that was, I opened a drawer and pulled out a rock and revealed it to you. This rock has comforted me. It was this rocks will that I would be comforted. This rock is my healer, my helper, my counselor. You would think that I had lost my mind, because a rock is an inanimate thing. It is impersonal. It cannot give comfort, have a will, heal, help, or counselor. But these attributes are given to the Holy Spirit.

Jesus said, “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever.” (John 14:16). The Holy Spirit, in this context, is a helper. He convicts (John 16:8), he testifies (John 16:14), he teaches (Romans 8:26-27), he speaks (1 Corinthians 12:3), he strengthens (Ephesians 3:16), and he comforts (Acts 9:31). These personal characteristics are attributed to the Holy Spirit because he is a person. These are not things that a rock could do, because a rock is impersonal. Is the Holy Spirit personal? Since these actions are personal, it follows that he is.

In response, the Jehovah’s Witnesses will say that the Bible sometimes uses neuter pronouns when referring to the Holy Spirit. They will cite their New World Translation rendering of John 14:17, which reads, “the spirit of the truth which the world cannot receive, because it neither sees it nor knows it. You know it, because it remains with you and is in you.” But this is not what the Greek says or what the normal translations will say. This is a theologically motivated rendering. It is agenda driven and not based on the text.

Is The Holy Spirit Personal? Yes. One is not concerned with sinning against a random list of rules that one finds on the ground. For it mean something, the sin must be against a person, and not an impersonal entity. That is precisely how the Bible describes the Holy Spirit: attributing to him characteristics that only a person could have.

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