The Holy Spirit Displays the Characteristics of Personality

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“It is a fundamental revelation of Scripture that the Holy Spirit is a person in the same sense that God the Father is a person and the Lord Jesus Christ is a person. The Holy Spirit is presented in Scripture as having the same essential deity as the Father and the Son and is to be worshipped and adored, loved and obeyed in the same way as God.”[1]

Personality, John Walvoord explains, “is commonly defined as containing the essential elements of intellect, sensibility, and will.”[2] We shall briefly look at each of those elements.

The Holy Spirit Displays Intellect

Intellect, or mind, implies knowledge. William Evans says in his Great Doctrines of the Bible, “The Holy Spirit is represented as searching the deepest and profoundest truths of God, and possessing knowledge of His counsels sufficiently to understand His purposes (1 Cor. 2:10, 11). Could a mere influence do this?”[3]

Charles Ryrie goes on to say, “The Holy Spirit knows and searches the things of God (1 Corinthians 2:10–11; compare Isaiah 11:2; Ephesians 1:17). He is said to possess a mind (Romans 8:27) and to be able to teach people (1 Corinthians 2:13). All these activities stem from and involve intelligence.”[4]

  • 1 Corinthians 2:10-11 – These are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.
  • Isaiah 11:2 – the Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord—
  • Ephesians 1:17 – I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.
  • Romans 8:27 – and he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.

The Holy Spirit Exercises His Will

The distribution of spiritual gifts is given as an example of the Spirit’s exercise of His will.   1 Corinthians 12:11 says, “All these are the works of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines” (1 Corinthians 12:11). Other translations read, “as He wills,” “as he chooses,” “gives what He wants,” “the Spirit… decides which gifts to give to each of us.”

Charles Ryrie explains that the Spirit’s will “is seen in His ability to direct the activities of God’s servants.”[5] We see several examples in Acts 16 in the ministry of the apostle Paul:

  • Verse 6 – Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatian, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia.
  • Verse 7 – When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to.
  • Verse 10 (although the Spirit is not mentioned by name) – After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.

The Holy Spirit Displays Emotions or Sensibility

Charles Ryrie explains, “The fact that the Scriptures show that the Holy Spirit has feelings is a further proof of His personality. For instance, it is said that the Spirit can be grieved by the sinful actions of believers (Ephesians 4:30: “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption”), a fact that would be meaningless if He were not a person (for an influence cannot be grieved).”[6]

  • Isaiah 63:10 – Yet they rebelled and grieved his Holy Spirit.
  • Ephesians 4:30 – And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
  • Romans 15:30 – I urge you, brothers and sisters, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me.
  • Hebrews 10:29 – How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?

The final word is from R.A. Torrey, who explains the precious truth of the love of the Holy Spirit. He says:

“But if it had not been for the love of the Holy Spirit, sent by the Father in answer to the prayer of the Son (John 14:16) leading Him to seek me out in my utter blindness and ruin and to follow me day after day, week after week, and year after year, when I persistently turned a deaf ear to His pleadings, following me through paths of sin where it must have been agony for that holy One to go, until at last I listened and He opened my eyes to see my utter ruin and then revealed Jesus to me as just the Saviour that would meet my every need and then enabled me to receive this Jesus as my own Saviour; if it had not been for this patient, long-suffering, never-tiring, infinitely-tender love of the Holy Spirit, I would have been in hell to-day.”[7]

Go Deeper

[1] John F. Walvoord, The Holy Spirit (Zondervan Academic. Kindle Edition), p. 8.

[2] Ibid., p. 9.

[3] William Evans, The Great Doctrines of the Bible (Public Domain Books. Kindle Edition), p. 87.

[4] Charles Caldwell Ryrie, The Holy Spirit (Moody Publishers. Kindle Edition), p. 14.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

[7] R.A. Torrey, The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit (Zellerz Publishing Co., Kindle Edition), p. 8.


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