The Holiness of the Holy Spirit

By: R.L. Wilson

In our programs with Anne Graham Lotz, she mentioned a seminary professor who confessed to being unaware that the Holy Spirit is, in fact, holy. While that may seem amazing to us, I am going to propose two possible reasons why we might be tempted to ignore or overlook the holiness of the Holy Spirit.

The first is that we tend not to think of the Holy Spirit as God. Anne herself mentioned that He is referred to as the “Third Person” of the Trinity, perhaps implying for some that He is less important. No, Anne explains, He is rather the third revealed—God the Father in the Old Testament, God the Son in the Gospels, followed by God the Holy Spirit revealed by Jesus, and most fully experienced after Jesus returned to heaven.

If you look for a verse that says, “the Holy Spirit is God,” you may be disappointed. However, one classic event offered as proof of His deity is the story of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5. Early Christians often sold property and gave the money to the church meet the needs of others. When Ananias held back a portion of the money he had received from a sale, but deceitfully indicated that he was giving the entire amount, Peter confronted him, saying, “you have lied to God” (Acts 5:3).  Three hours later, Sapphira made the same claim, and Peter accused her of conspiring to “test the Spirit of the Lord” (v. 9).

But I think there’s a deeper reason why we—okay, why I—tend to ignore the Holy Spirit’s holiness. It is simply that we are very uncomfortable with the whole concept of holiness.

We are very aware of our own unholiness, our own sinfulness. We are also very aware of God’s standard for us—“be holy because I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16). We recognize our own inability to meet God’s standard, and fail to recognize that we are not expected to do so in our own strength. As Wayne Barber was fond of saying, “I can’t, God never said I could. God can, He always said He would.”

“It is God who is working in you, enabling you both to desire and to work out His good purpose” (Philippians 2:13). What is that purpose? It is to be conformed to the image of Jesus (Romans 8:29).

God promised, “I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances” (Ezekiel 36:27). He promised, “when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth;…” (John 16:13).

The holiness of the Holy Spirit is not something to fear. Instead, we have the promise from God that “the Spirit of God dwells in us” (1 Corinthians 3:16) and that “we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, ‘I will dwell in them and walk among them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people’” (2 Corinthians 6:16).

As we allow the Holy Spirit to work in us, we learn what it takes to be “holy in all [we] do” (1 Peter 1:15).

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