The Spirit of God and the Spirit of Man
Pr. Saju Joseph
The Bible clearly teaches the difference between the Spirit of God and the Spirit of Man. Even when human being was created by God, he / she was endowed with that ability in him to know God and to relate to God. This faculty or system in human is the spirit of man. The Spirit of man is integrated to the human mind. At the time of regeneration, the Holy Spirit or the Spirit of God works in the human spirit and the spirit of man becomes alive and gets connected to God. Holy Spirit indwells in a regenerated human. “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children” (Rom.8:16). Here, the spirit which testifies is the Spirit of God and “our spirit” means the human spirit.
Holy Spirit is the Third Person of the Triune God. Wayne Grudem, the great theologian, summarizes Trinity as follows: God exists in three persons. Each person is fully God. There is only one God. This may be incomprehensible to many who rationalize. However there is a strong element of faith and miracle in the belief of the existence of God. The Biblical revelation of God in three persons is very evident both in the Old Testament and New Testament.
The doctrine of the Holy Spirit is a major biblical doctrine. We read of His ministry throughout the Bible. There is some unscriptural teaching around on this subject. Some place undue emphasis on certain aspects of His ministry, giving an unbalanced presentation of the teaching of God’s Word. What is needed is clear teaching that fully accords with scripture and "correctly handles the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). It is significant that the Apostle John gives us a clear outline of such teaching in his First Letter. He does not set out to give a complete body of truth on the person and work of the Holy Spirit, but having written so much about the Holy Spirit’s work in his Gospel, he now writes a much basic truth on this subject for our learning in his First Letter. Please also refer to 1 John 2:20, 27; 3:24; 4:2, 4, 13; 5:6-8,10. We learn the following from the above mentioned verses:
The Holy Spirit is a Divine Person who is one with God the Father and the Son in the Holy Trinity. We need to be clear about three basic truths concerning the Holy Spirit, all of which are emphasized by the apostle John in this letter:
1. The Holy Spirit is a Person. He is not just an influence. Notice the word ‘He’ in 1 John 4:4 (KJV) - not ‘it’; and compare the pronouns referring to the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit and the disciples in John 14:16-17,26; 15:26-27; 16:7-15. These verses speak of what He does - He teaches, reminds, testifies, bears witness, convicts, and guides, speaks, hears, shows, and glorifies Christ - all of these are characteristics of a person. In 1 John 2:20 and 27, we read that He is our teacher; in 1 John 5:6-8 that “it is the Spirit who testifies”; and in 1 John 5:10 (KJV) that He is the “witness” within.
2. He is a Divine Person. That is, He is God. The Holy Spirit, who proceeds from "the Holy One” (1 John 2:20) and who is called "the Spirit of God” (1 John 4:2 & Acts 5:3-4) where the Holy Spirit is also said to be God.
3. He is one with the Father and the Son in the Trinity. Several times in this epistle we read of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit (1 John 1:2,3; 2:1). The Holy Spirit is one with the Father and the Son in the unity of the Godhead.
The Holy Spirit is God’s Gift to every one of His children. The Holy Spirit indwells every one of God’s children. He is not only with us- He is in us. The Holy Spirit permanently indwells every child of God.
Does the Holy Spirit indwell the child of God and then leave him? In the old dispensation David prayed, “Do not… take your Holy Spirit from me”(Psalm 51:11); He who indwells us has come to ‘abide’, that is to stay, in us (John 14:16). When we sin we "grieve” Him (Eph. 4:30) and when we disobey Him we quench Him (1 Thess. 5:19). In both cases we restrict His operations in and through us; but we do not drive Him away.
The Holy Spirit is the source and supplier of all that we need for holy living and for effective service. Notice the three special ministries of the Holy Spirit referred to by John:
1. He assures us.1 John 5:10; 3:24; 4:13; and compare Romans 8:16; Galatians 4:6.
2. He teaches us. This wonderful truth is revealed in 1 John 2:20,27. This is the explanation of such promises as Psalms 25:12; 32:8; Isaiah 28:26; Luke 12:12; and read the testimony of the psalmist in Psalm 119:99. How wonderful to have this great Teacher with and in us!
3. He fortifies us. The indwelling Holy Spirit is greater than the Devil or anything outside us - as 1 John 4:4 tells us! The Devil is certainly great in his power - a real, diabolical personality, the enemy of God and of God’s children (John 8:44; 12:31; 2 Corinthians 4:4). Compare 2 Corinthians 11:14; 1 Peter 5:8 - but the Holy Spirit within us is greater! The power to live a life of holiness, victory and service, which is glorifying to the Lord, lies not in us but in Him, the Person of God the Holy Spirit (compare Isaiah 59:19 with Zechariah 4:6.)
As one who has believed in Christ, have you ever wondered, “How can I get to know the Lord Jesus more? How can I know Him in my daily life?” The Lord has provided a wonderful answer. The answer is our human spirit. Our human spirit is the key to experiencing Christ and to living a normal Christian life. When we believed in Christ, we received forgiveness of our sins, and we were delivered from God’s eternal judgment.
But even more, we received Jesus Christ Himself, the most wonderful Person, into us. This wonderful Person came to live in our deepest part, our human spirit, to be our life and enjoyment today. We find mention of the human spirit throughout both the Old Testament and the New Testament. For example, 2 Timothy 4:22 says this, "The Lord be with your spirit.”
In this verse, “be with” is for the present. This means the Lord being in our spirit is something we can experience right now. This also indicates that to know and enjoy Him, we really need to know our spirit. From the very beginning of the Bible, we can see that God made us with this human spirit. Genesis 2:7 says, “Jehovah God formed man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul.” Now, where is the human spirit in this verse? We can see that “the dust of the ground” becomes the physical body and “a living soul” refers to the soul, which is the psychological part of a person, their mind, emotion, and will. But what is “the breath of life”? "The breath of life” refers to the third person of man, the human spirit. We have confirmation of this in Proverbs 20:27, which says, “The spirit of man is the lamp of Jehovah.”
The same Hebrew word used for “spirit” (neshamah) in this verse is the word translated “breath” in Genesis 2:7!
Relation between Holy Spirit and Human Spirit
We must remember that the real meaning of regeneration is not an outward change or the soul and the body being stimulated, but it is the spirit receiving life. Regeneration is a new event which takes place within the human spirit. It is the enlivening of the deadened spirit - which happens as it receives new life. But the most important point is that when we receive a new human spirit or a renewed spirit, the Spirit of God begins to dwell and work within us. The phrase "put within you" occurs twice in Ezekiel 36:26-27 and indicates that the place where the Holy Spirit dwells is the human spirit.
The whole being of a redeemed man or woman is the holy temple of God. "Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?" (1 Cor. 3:16). What the apostle means is that because believers are the temple of God, the Holy Spirit dwelling in us is just like God was dwelling in the holy temple of the people of Israel in the past. In both the tabernacle and the temple, although the entire tabernacle or the temple signifies the presence of God and is the dwelling place of God, the actual place of God’s dwelling is in the Holy of Holies. The Holy Place and outer court are only places for God to work and move according to His presence in the Holy of Holies. The renewed spirit in a New Testament believer is signified by the Holy of Holies where the Holy Spirit dwells.
The nature of the dweller and the dwelling place are the same. After man’s regeneration, only man’s regenerated spirit is an adequate dwelling place of the Holy Spirit. But the presence of Holy Spirit permeates the mind, emotion, will, and body of a regenerated one. The Holy Spirit is the Builder and also the Dweller. He cannot dwell before He builds. He builds because He wants to dwell. He can only dwell in the place which He has built.
Before regeneration the entire human being, regardless of which part, in its totality is called "flesh" in the Bible. Therefore, the Holy Spirit cannot dwell in man’s flesh. This also indicates clearly that the Holy Spirit cannot dwell in man’s mind, emotion, will, or body. It means that the Holy Spirit cannot dwell in any part of man’s soul or body and He cannot dwell even in man’s unregenerate or dead spirit. “For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh” (Gal. 5:17); He has no other relationship with the flesh. Therefore, unless something different from the flesh exists in man, there is no way for the Holy Spirit to dwell in man. Therefore, the regeneration of the spirit is very important because the Holy Spirit dwells in the new spirit, which is different from the flesh.
How do we know that we have been saved through regeneration and are the children of God? We know because our spirit has been made alive and the Holy Spirit lives in our spirit. Our spirit is a regenerated and renewed spirit, and He, who dwells in us, yet is distinct from our spirit, is the Holy Spirit. He bears witness with our spirit within us. Let’s continue to have a renewed spirit where Holy Spirit lives always!