2.20 The Holy Spirit is the Thinking and Power of God. It Works Through God's Word

2.20 The correct definition of the Holy Spirit is the thinking and power of God. It works through God's word. The Bible was written by inspiration of the Holy Spirit and is therefore God's word.

Read The Bible And Let It GuideYour Prayer Requests

The sort of things we ask for in prayer will be affected by this; and we will read God's word with real reverence and fervour, knowing that this really is God's voice speaking to us, and that this really is the source of God's Holy Spirit which can work in our characters to bring about that transformation we fain would see. The wonder of the Bible, as God's very own self-revelation, will remain with us. True response to belief in the inspiration of the word is that we will truly believe (Jn. 19:35), and we will see the secrets of our heart disclosed (1 Cor. 14:25). Likewise, if we grasp the reality of the cross, the thoughts of our hearts will be revealed (Lk. 2:35). The power of basics leads to real self knowledge and self examination. If His words abide in us, we will ask what we desire and receive it, because we ask according to the will of God revealed in Scripture- and will have made His will, our will. And thus we will enter a positive upwards spiral in our prayer life with the Father.

Freedom From Guilt

The incorrect definition of the Holy Spirit as a force which uncontrollably 'zaps' a person and takes them over seems to me to be a way of avoiding taking responsibility for our own feelings and behaviours. Such an incorrect definition of the Holy Spirit deciding ever issue of life for us can lead to unrealistic and simplistic approaches to life, giving us permission to avoid life's complexities and problems. It is a form of spiritual denial which provides pat solutions to our essential struggles. When it becomes evident that it hasn't worked, the individual excuses it by saying the Spirit left them or they have fallen into sin.

" The belief in the Holy Spirit, demons, and Satan removes responsibility for behaviour from the individual and places responsibility in the realm of spirits. A much healthier belief is that you are responsible for your own behaviour. Belief in external powers which invade and control is destructive" of the human person. Likewise a belief in Holy Spirit miracles as the solution to everything, at least in the way many Pentecostals express it, suggests that the power and responsibility to act exist somewhere outside the person. This results in fuzzy ego boundaries, confusion about what is self and what is separate from self, about who we are. Beliefs in Spirit or demon possession make us feel out of control. But consider how well Jesus knew Himself. In the wilderness He could speak to the 'devil' of His own temptations. He saw how clearly divided was the flesh and spirit within Him. This perhaps is why people could become so close to Jesus- for He was close to Himself, in touch with who He really was. And this, to me, is the great practical consequence of our understanding of the devil as being a personification for our inward sinfulness and tendency to sin. We know ourselves, we separate out what is us and what isn't, to the point that Paul could write what he did in Romans 7 about the separation of the two people within him. He understood clearly which one he identified with- " it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwells within me" .

Act Out Our Thinking

A caveat needs to be sounded about a definition of ‘The Holy Spirit’ as merely the power of God as naked power. Ancient civilizations understood the gods to be simply ‘power’. This idea led Plato to conclude that because they were power, they were without passion, as power is abstract. Aristotle took the idea further, by writing of “divine impassibility”- a belief that gods couldn’t be emotionally affected by anything outside them. And when apostate Christianity came to write up their creeds, they made the same mistake. The Council of Chalcedon (AD 451) condemned those who felt that God is “passible”, i.e. able to suffer in His feelings. And in 1646 the Westminster Confession of Faithstated that God is “without… passions, immutable”. This is awfully wrong. God has feelings . His power / actions reveal the passion of His thoughts and emotions. Israel often related to God as merely a ‘power god’ who would bring them victory. They made the same mistake; they didn’t perceive Him as a real, live, personal God. But the Spirit of God isn’t merely His power. Biblically, ‘spirit’ refers to both thoughts and power. The Spirit of God refers to how what He thinks and feels is actually revealed in His actions.

This is why the thoughts of God and the works of God are often paralleled- e.g. Ps. 92:5: “How great are thy works! And thy thoughts are very deep”. What God thinks, He does. He isn’t like so many of us, filled with vain, empty, powerless thoughts, which come to nothing in practice. And this is why His Spirit refers to both His thinking and the power which performs the actions which arise from this. And when we grasp the fact that His Spirit is to be our spirit, that we are to possess His Spirit… then the link between thought and action becomes a biting imperative for us too. We live in a world of empty thinking, of fine words and genuinely felt emotions as we consider grand ideas. But they don’t seem to issue in very much at all. One of the leading features of our conversations appears to be enthusiastic talk, about possible projects, ideas, ‘What’s really needed is…’ stuff… but I suspect that our generation more than any other fails to implement in practice even a fraction of what we speak about. Conversations between believers are so frequently like this. Yet God’s Holy Spirit is not to be defined as just thinking, not mere abstractions; it is a power of action in accordance with His thinking. And it means that although God could do anything He likes, He doesn’t. As Leonardo Boff put it, “God…is weak in power but strong in love”.

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