10 Tips on the Holy Spirit

Jason Micheli —  June 1, 2017 — 1 Comment

It’s cliche to whine that the Holy Spirit is the forgotten person of the Trinity or the most neglected. To the contrary, I think the Holy Spirit is the most manipulated member of the Godhead.

With Pentecost nearing it thus behooves me to lay down these tips.

Presumptuous,  I know. Let’s just the Spirit moved me:

1. The Fruit of the Spirit

The fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience etc.) are not ideal personality attributes that are inherent to all people or achievable apart from discipleship.

When the Apostle Paul speaks of the Holy Spirit, he most often means the “Spirit of the Crucified Christ.”

The fruit of the Spirit, therefore, describe the character and ministry of Jesus and are thus sown in us by the Spirit of the Crucified only as we follow after the Son.

2. Speaking in Tongues

Speaking in tongues is about mutual understanding amidst the differences of language and culture not ecstatic speech to exacerbate difference.

If your ‘gift’ of ecstatic speech does not lead to another’s understanding where before there was only misunderstanding- and thereby heal the fractures within creation- it’s not a gift from the Holy Spirit.

It’s about God undoing Babel.

Pentecost is God’s anti-war demonstration.

Just as Pentecost originally celebrated God’s revealing himself and creating the distinct People of Abraham in the world, the Holy Spirit arrives at Pentecost to begin making good on the promise to Abraham: that through his family all the peoples of the world would be blessed. (See: Acts, Book of)

3. The Holy Spirit is Not IN You

The Holy Spirit is God; therefore, the Holy Spirit is not a necessary, constitutive part of you. Otherwise you would be God.

But because the Holy Spirit is God, the Spirit is closer to you than you are to yourself.

The Holy Spirit is not the same thing as your conscience or your soul. The Holy Spirit is not to be confused with the imago dei, the part of you that is created in God’s image. The Holy Spirit is not the little voice in your head or your own private feelings of subjectivity.

The Holy Spirit is God and, as such, only comes to us from beyond us as sheer gift.

4. You Don’t HAVE the Holy Spirit

No person (or church!) has the Holy Spirit as though the Spirit were a possession or even a reliable guest. The Spirit’s presence cannot be predicted and, accordingly, the Spirit cannot be manipulated into appearing through prayer or liturgy.

The Spirit can only be invited to rest upon us.

Everywhere the Spirit is mentioned in the Old Testament, in fact, it’s with verbs.

The Spirit DOES such that we cannot render it passive as a possession.


5. The ‘Comforter’ is Seldom Comforting

Though called the ‘Comforter’ (paraclete) the Holy Spirit is the love of the Father and the Son, and, like the Father and the Son, the Spirit is seldom comforting.

The Spirit  works grace in us and grace- growing into ever greater Christlikeness, which we call ‘true humanity’- is always disruptive and even painful, for ours is world that responds to love with crosses. (See: Acts, Book of)

6. The Real Gift of the Spirit

The primary gift of the Spirit from which all over gifts properly flow is the gift of God’s own self. The Spirit gives us the same delight that God is God which God has for God.

The Spirit catches us up into the never-ending mutual and reciprocal love shared between Father and Son.

7. The Spirit Does What the Son Cannot Do

Again, the primary gift of the Spirit is to raise us up into the love shared between the Father and the Son. T

he Spirit has a gift to give that the Son cannot offer.

The Spirit gives us a share in God’s own life, the Son’s eternal friendship with the Father.

8. The Spirit is Not Spirituality

The Holy Spirit reveals the Son. Any inclination or desire we have towards Christ, any hunger or curiosity we feel for God, any half-mumbled prayer or half-hearted stab at faithfulness is the Spirit’s work not our own. (See: Acts, Book of).

As such the Spirit reminds us that ours is a revealed, mediated faith. The only way to get to God is not through our own initiative, spiritual introspection or self-discovery but through God.

Thus the Holy Spirit is the opposite of Spirituality, making Christianity not a religion which is, by definition, human seeking after God.

The Holy Spirit is God’s seeking after us.

9. The Spirit is holy

The Spirit is holy, meaning, literally, ‘different.’ The Spirit is not a spirit, of which there are many. The Holy Spirit is not to be confused with the human spirit, team spirit or patriotic spirit. (See: Acts, Book of)

Our interior feelings are not fruit of the Spirit nor should the Spirit be confused with our own subjectivity.

This means, of course, that how one form of worship or music makes you feel has nothing to do with the Spirit.

10. The Spirit is More than What the Spirit Does

The Spirit is the love expressed in and by the community we call Trinity. The Spirit is the dynamic movement, exchange of love between the Father and Son. The Spirit cannot be reduced then to a role, mode or function like ‘Sustainer.’

And because the Spirit cannot be reduced to a mode, what you can properly say about the Father or the Son you can likewise rightly say about the Spirit.

Thus: the Spirit creates or the Spirit redeems.


Jason Micheli


One response to 10 Tips on the Holy Spirit

  1. In your opinion, would you say that is inaccurate to say that one can feel prompted by the Holy Spirit in a particular direction/action? Are you saying that one cannot feel guided by the Holy Spirit?

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