The character of the Holy Spirit
At Jesus' baptism, the Holy Spirit hovered
over him like a dove
|The Holy Spirit is surely the most difficult part of the Holy Trinity to get our heads round! Perhaps because we can imagine the human face of Jesus, and many of us have a mental picture of a bearded God on a cloud (however wrong that may be!).
But in the Bible, the Holy Spirit is presented so mysteriously—flames, rushing wind, water, a dove, even a lawyer—that it’s hard to picture his face. And we humans like to know who we’re dealing with!
So if we don’t know what he looks like, what is his character like? Well, because he’s part of God, he shares the same characteristics as the other two members of the Trinity. However, the way we experience him is something special, and gives us insights into the many facets of the character of God.
With the coming of Jesus, and particularly at Pentecost, we moved away from the OT way of the Holy Spirit being an external power (who only came upon certain people at certain times, in order to achieve certain things), to his dwelling permanently within Christian believers.
Before his death, Jesus promised he would ask God to send us another ‘counsellor’, in the person of the Holy Spirit. Other Bible versions translate this as friend, comforter, helper, intercessor (one who pleads for you before God), advocate (advisor), and strengthener. All of these are aspects of who the Holy Spirit is.
So, if he dwells within Christians, what can they expect to experience? Well, he is definitely their best friend. How can God ever be distant if he’s right there inside you? God is always present for Christians: they can never be truly alone.
He is a great encourager. He will make you want to draw closer to God, and will remind you of how much he loves you. He will encourage you to pray and read the Bible, and to seek out Christian fellowship.
It’s not all cushy, though! He will also challenge you—to live your life by Christian principles, and to increase your focus on God. Just as you already have an emotional conscience, he will bring you a spiritual one, so that you become conscious of not wanting to hurt God through your sins. He will tell you when you do, and will remind you to say sorry!
He is an incredible comforter. Since he’s inside you, he’s intimately aware of your every feeling; he’ll hold you close, and bring you that peace beyond all understanding.
He is the generous giver: he wants to pour out the gifts of the Spirit upon you, and he is an artist—always at work on the canvas of your character, bringing forward the fruits of the Spirit in your life. And there is so much more to him, because all good things come from God.
He is also unimaginably powerful. He does amazing things in Christians, and through them, and he should never be underestimated or ignored.
Talk to the Holy Spirit. Pray to Him. Ask him to get to work in your life—and prepare for something special!
Pray: Holy Spirit, I want to have an encounter with God. Please come into my life and reveal yourself to me. Help me to be comfortable about this idea, and not afraid—I know you would never harm me, but I don’t know what to expect. Amen.
Read about the Holy Spirit as comforter
Read about what the Holy Spirit can do in you
Read more about the Holy Spirit’s characteristics
Read about the Holy Spirit’s gift of rest and comfort
Watch a video clip of how people encounter the Holy Spirit through prayer or worship
Read the book Can I really know the Holy Spirit? By Anne Simpson
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