God’s spirit is His power or breath by which His essential self, His
being and character, is revealed to man through the actions which that
spirit achieves. Thus “God is spirit”, as Jn. 4:24 should be properly
translated (see R.S.V., N.I.V.), because His spirit reflects His
God is described as being many things, e.g.
- “Our God is a consuming fire” (Heb. 12:29)
- “God is light” (1 Jn. 1:5)
- “God is love” (1 Jn. 4:8)
- “The word (Greek logos - plan, purpose, idea) was God” (Jn. 1:1).
Thus “God is” His characteristics. It is
clearly wrong to argue that the abstract quality of love is ‘God’, just
because we read that “God is love”. We may call someone ‘kindness itself’,
but this does not mean that they are without physical existence - it is
their manner of literal existence which reveals kindness to us.
The spirit being God’s power, we frequently read of God sending or directing His spirit to achieve things in harmony with His will and character. Examples of this are numerous, showing the distinction between God and His spirit.
- “He (God) that put His Holy Spirit within him” (Is. 63:11)
- “I (God) will put My spirit upon him (Jesus)” (Mt. 12:18)
- “The Father give(s) the Holy Spirit” (Lk. 11:13)
- “The Spirit descending from heaven” (Jn. 1:32)
- “I (God) will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh” (Acts 2:17).
Indeed, the frequent references to “the spirit of God” should be proof enough that the spirit is not God personally. These differences between God and His spirit are another difficulty for those who believe that God is a ‘trinity’ in which God the Father is equated with Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
Very importantly, a non-personal God makes a nonsense of prayer - to the point where prayer is a dialogue between our consciousness and a concept of God which just exists in our own mind. We are continually reminded that we pray to God who is in heaven (Ecc. 5:2; Mt. 6:9; 5:16; 1 Kings 8:30), and that Jesus is now at God’s right hand there, to offer up our prayers (1 Pet. 3:22; Heb. 9:24). If God is not personal, such passages are made meaningless. But once God is understood as a real, loving Father, prayer to Him becomes a very real, tangible thing - actually talking to another being who we believe is very willing and able to respond.