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Guest Post – So What is the Human Spirit?

icon - view of beachRecently, the Christian Community celebrated ‘Penetecost Sunday’, the day in the calendar when the Lord Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to His church, some 2,000 years ago.  It would have been quite a shock to see Him alive but to hear Jesus say He was going to leave them again …. it would have been confusing.  Jesus then told His followers to wait in Jerusalem until He could send the Holy Spirit, to be the Comforter and Teacher they needed.

With that as background, we have a special Guest Post.  We can talk about hearing God and how we respond to Him spiritually …… but what does that mean?  If we relate to God who is Spirit, we need tor elate to Him spiritually.  So let me present a very special friend and Pastor, sharing on the topic “What is the Human Spirit?”

During the times of waiting, God is at work within us.  When the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost, something was ignited or birthed in the followers of Jesus; they were profoundly impacted, even ‘turbo charged’. Before this time, they had been the destabilized, dismayed, disorientated disciples. …. but now, they were going to be a force that turned the known world upside down!

I believe their human spirit had a profound encounter with the Holy Spirit that ‘Pentecost’ morning.

In saying that, we need to know what is the human spirit? What is it’s purpose?  ….and what has our spirit got to do with the Holy Spirit?  In my studies of this topic, I have learned that we can understand the human spirit more by looking at the person and work of the Holy Spirit.


The word spirit in the Hebrew is ‘ruach’ and Greek is ‘pnuema’.  Both words translate as breath or wind.  In the New Testament, the translators differentiate between Holy and Human spirit by capitalizing the Holy Spirit as seen in Romans 8:16 “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children”.

We also know from the Bible that mankind is a tripartite  – a three part being: spirit, soul and body.  1 Thessalonians 5:23 puts it this way: “May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

We know our body has many parts, like arms, legs, organs, brain.

Our ‘soul’ also has parts all described in scripture as:

The Mind: that Paul says needs renewing

The Will: that can be submitted to God as did Jesus with his, “your will not mine”

Emotions: Jesus expressed his emotions freely, he wept, showed anger and frustration, sadness, joy.

The Conscience: Paul’s writings speak a lot about the conscience.

Then the Heart – mentioned 574 times in 545 verses.

….but our human spirit comes from God.

The Bible describes the human spirit:  “This is the word of the Lord concerning Israel. The Lord who stretches out the heavens, who lays the foundation of the earth, and who forms the spirit of man within him…” Zechariah 2:1.

It is interesting that this verse puts the formation of the human spirit in the same category as God stretching out the heavens and laying the foundations of the earth.

God breathed the spirit into Adam and he became a living soul –  but how does the spirit get into us?

We aren’t told and science sheds no light either.  There is anecdotal evidence that embryologists associated with IVF observed a phenomena that helped them distinguish the eggs that would become viable from those that wouldn’t something like a flicker of light at the point of conception was observed under the microscope conditions.

Then “the spirit returns to God who make it .…and the dust returns to the ground it came from and the spirit returns to God who gave it.” Ecclesiastes. 12:7   In their book, ‘Healing the Wounded Spirit’, John & Paula Sandford said it this way “Death is the final separation of our spirit and our body and occurs when our spirit can no longer retain it’s union with the body, to keep it alive as a functioning reality.”


Our spirit is the part of us that makes us completely different from every other person.  It is ‘the essential you’ that is totally unique and special.  In life we can encounter people on the three different levels of our being:

Body: through touch, body language, gestures and facial expressions.

Soul: we can communicate emotionally and on a mind level.

Spirit: we can also communicate on a much deeper level with our spirit.

Have you ever felt a ‘kindred spirit’?: when we meet someone for the first time and feel like we’ve always known them or for much longer than we have.  That can be an indication of a ‘spirit to spirit’ contact.

We communicate on this same deep level with God spirit to Spirit.  “….but he who unites himself with the Lord is one with him in spirit.” 1 Corinthians 6:17.

Another important thing to remember is that our human spirit can be in different ‘conditions’.  The Bible talks about ‘sleepy spirit’, ‘a broken spirit’, a crushed spirit’, a deceived spirit’ and so on.  So it is important to find out the condition of your spirit to be able to walk in the health and vitality He created us to know.

However, this is another topic for another day.  Susanne has included a workshett with this post to see what condition your spirit is now.



To understand the role and function of the human spirit we look at the role and function of the Holy spirit.  The Holy Spirit has a primary and secondary function that flow out of the primary function; so too does the human spirit.

The PRIMARY FUNCTION of the Holy Spirit:

1.  To Communicate life

From genesis to revelation, there are many examples of the Holy Spirit as the One who brings life:

Genesis 1:2 The Holy Spirit was hovering over creation ready to bring forth life.

In Luke 1:34, He was overshadowing Mary in the conception of Jesus.

John 3:5, the Holy Spirit was communicating new life into man’s spirit when we are “born of the spirit” or “born again” as Jesus described it to Nicodemus.

2.  To bring a new life when we connect with God.

When we come to Christ or are born anew, we don’t get a new body (yet), nor do we get a new soul (we don’t suddenly become brilliant or emotionally healed of all that has wounded us) but our spirit is renewed.   That is what it means to be born again, and what Jesus describes to Nicodemus.

In Acts 2, we see the Holy Spirit birthing the church.

Luke 23:46 tells us that Jesus gave up his spirit and died.

3.  The human spirit’s primary function is also to communicate life to our mortal bodies.  James 2:26 tells us that “….the body apart from the spirit is lifeless.”


1.  The Holy Spirit Comforts and strengthens.

The Karre language of equatorial Africa was difficult for the translators of the New Testament, especially when it came to the word Paraclete (the Greek word that describes Him as comforter).  How could they describe the Holy Spirit?

One day the translators saw a group of porters going off into the bush carrying bundles on their heads.  They noticed one didn’t carry anything.  They assumed he was the boss, who was present to make sure the others did their work.  However, they discovered he was not the boss.  Rather, he was present so that, should anyone fall over with exhaustion, this man would pick up the man’s load and carry it for him.  This porter was known in the Karre language as “the one who falls down beside us”. The translators had their word for Paraclete.

The human spirit communicates comfort and strength to our human soul and can also comfort and encourage others – from the inside out.  Our spirit encourages hope for future, compassion  empathy for others.

2. The Holy Spirit is the Communicator of truth.  Jesus calls the Holy Spirit “the Spirit of truth, guiding us into truth not speaking on His own but what He hears” in John 16:13.  The human spirit is the place of “intuition” or “knowing” – you know that you know that you know, or your “knower”.

“The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.” Remember when Jesus had a conversation with the Samaritan women He said “God is spirit and his worshippers must worship him in spirit and in truth”. The Holy Spirit  testifies with our spirit about truth, Romans 8:16.

Our human spirit is that part of us that emphasis and is shown truth because of the Holy Spirit. It is designed to filter truth – if we listen. The ‘umpire of peace’ is to reign in our hearts as a safety switch from God. 

3.  The Holy Spirit is the One who convicts: John 16:8 Jesus says “The Holy Spirit convicts the world in regards to sin, righteousness and judgment“.  Sometimes we think it’s our job to convict others but only the Holy Spirit can convict.  When we try, it tends to look more like condemnation than conviction.

Our human spirit has a role in helping us when we are convicted of sin.  Our spirit works with our conscience in  converting the lessons of life into our character

4. The Holy Spirit is the One who creates. We’ve already talked about the Holy Spirit’s involvement in creation of the world.  He is also involved in the creation of us.  Job 33:4 says “the Spirit of God made me and the breath of the Almighty gives me life”.

The human spirit is a vehicle for creativity, drawing inspiration from God’s creation.  The spirit gives an outlet for the creative nature with in us.  Being made in God’s image, we have a creative side that needs expression.

5.  The Holy Spirit helps us worship God, who is Spirit, sense His presence, bringing an awe and inspiration from the beauty around us. As the great Teacher and Guide, the Holy Spirit can lead us into deeper understanding of God’s nature and plan in our lives.

Our spirit was designed to worship.  If we do not have God as the centre of our being, the spirit will replace other things, people or events to be worshipped.  That’s why idolatry is such a big issue when walking with our Creator.   The spirit brings an awareness of the spiritual dimension around us, either God’s or Satan’s kingdom.

6.  The Holy Spirit is the One who empowers (to make powerful).  The Old Testament is full of examples of those empowered by the Holy Spirit to accomplish amazing things e.g Samson, Elisha, Gideon.

Our personal spirit helps to keep our body alive and functioning.  Our human spirit brings the courage, strength and determination to live life, providing power and strength to the body and soul.  As the spirit is ’empowered’, we develop staying power and stamina.  This includes giving a ‘buoyancy’ to the immune system.   The spirit helps us ‘throw off’ physical complaints, thus protecting the body against sickness and physical ailments.

My friend had a baby that was born with a life threatening condition and in fact died and was revived.  Her future was uncertain and was an hour by hour prospect.  Certainly I believe God had a hand in her recovery but we all agreed that she has a fighting spirit one that didn’t give up against all odds.  It continued to show itself in different areas  of her life as she has grown into the healthy 17 yr old she is today.

7. The Holy Spirit is the one who facilitates; He translates God’s plans into actions.   We see this in Jesus’ incarnation, ministry and resurrection.

Again to a lesser extent the human spirit mirrors this work of the Holy Spirit as being facilitators of God’s purposes on earth.  It is the Holy Spirit working through the human spirit that helps establish the Kingdom of God on earth.


The human spirit can be defined as the fundamental, intangible life force or principle of life that animates the physical  body.  It is that part of us that will  live forever, Matthew 25:41, 46, Gal. 6:8.   It was given by God and will return to God upon the body’s physical death, Ecc 12:7.

We have gained more of an understanding today of the origin, nature and function of our human spirit by focusing on the Holy Spirit the part of the Trinity.  Many Christians (and I include myself) struggle to understand this part of our humanity that is actually extremely important for a whole lot of reasons – only some have we touched on today.

This morning is just a brief outline of this topic and I hope it has stimulated a desire in you to know more about something that is a part of you.  God bless you as you learn more about your own spirit, Pastor Sharon White.


Thanks Sharon for your insightful Guest Post.  Sharon is one of the Pastor’s who work with a team at Northern Circle Church of Christ in High Street Preston, Victoria, Australia.  We do have little understanding in our ‘mind oriented’ culture what the human spirit is and does in our life.  We hope this has helped our readers understand more.  It is important to have some understanding when we come to learning how to hear from our Creator!

Please see the following post for the Worksheet Sharon mentioned on finding the condition of your spirit!

Susanne Fengler,  blog editor

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