Throughout our study of Romans 8, we have been examining the work of the Holy Spirit in God's children, those who have been justified and adopted in Christ. Paul's teaching in this chapter of Romans tells us much about the Holy Spirit, but the Bible has much more to say about Him. For the next week, we are pausing our study of the epistle to the Romans in order to consider the rest of the biblical witness to the Spirit, using Dr. R.C. Sproul's teaching series The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit to guide our study.
As we begin our consideration of the Holy Spirit, it is important for us to remember that when we are talking about the Spirit, we are not talking about some kind of impersonal force or power. Rather, we are talking about a person. The Holy Spirit loves and can be loved. He can be grieved (Eph. 4:30). At the same time, while the Spirit is a person Himself, He is not a person with an independent existence and a unique nature or essence. Instead, the Holy Spirit shares His essence fully with the Father and the Son. We worship a Trinity (Matt. 28:19-20), a God who has one essence but who exists in three persons. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit can be distinguished, but they cannot be pulled apart. Each one of Them is fully God and possesses all of the divine attributes. The Spirit does not possess a different omnipotence, for example, than the Father and the Son do. They all have the same omnipotence. The three persons subsist within the one divine being—They each have Their own particular existence and identity but Their essence is one and the same. This is a mystery, but the important thing to note is that Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are not three distinct gods existing alongside one another but three distinct persons who exist within the divine essence and share fully in all that makes God who He is.
Scripture teaches in a number of ways that the Holy Spirit is fully God. One key passage is Acts 5:1-11, where Ananias and Sapphira lie about the proceeds they derived from the sale of their property. They are said to have lied to the Holy Spirit and to have not lied to man but "to God" (v. 4). To lie to the Holy Spirit is to lie to God because the Spirit is fully and completely God. This is why grieving the Spirit is something to be avoided. When we persist in sin, we are grieving the Spirit, and by grieving the Spirit, we grieve God. It is not that we provoke the Lord to get depressed—which would be impossible—but that we turn ourselves away (albeit temporarily) from His empowerment and assurance.
That the Holy Spirit who dwells within us is God Himself points to the awesome privilege we have as the people of God, but it also points to a solemn responsibility. Although we are forgiven in Christ, the fact that the Spirit is God should heighten our resolve to mortify sin by His power. When we fail to do so, we are offending the Creator of all things, who is gracious indeed but who always wants us to remember the high cost for this grace—the death of the Son.