Perhaps one of the hardest things to explain, and yet it bears unpacking when understanding the personality of Holy Spirit, is the truth that He has a will. This is one of the distinct characteristics of any personality, and the Holy Spirit is not an exception.
In 1 Corinthians 12 verse 11, we read:
“But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.”
We find this passage in the early parts of the great discourse from Paul on spiritual gifts, as Paul paints the picture not of an impersonal force randomly blowing through the church but a conductor of sorts, knowing the need and heart of every man and distributing the necessary prescription. You notice that Holy Spirit does this as He wills, not in response to the correct input.
Holy Spirit is a person with a distinct will, yet a will that is always in line with the Father and the Son. The will of the Spirit, though unique, is not at war with the will of the Son or the Father. Understanding how the will can be altogether separate and yet the same is where the mind may struggle to compute. Yet this is the reality of the Trinity, three distinct, co-equal, co-eternal persons in One Being.
We know from the life of Jesus that the Son and the Father had distinct wills, as we can hear Jesus praying in Gethsemane:
“Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.”Luke 22:42 NASB95
Though this is a prayer of submission to the Father, there are clearly two wills present. They are distinct, and yet Jesus models to us the perfect harmony that exists in our Triune God. He had His own will, yet He was perfectly in line with the Father’s will.
There are many roads we could take from this thought, but I want to leave it there because the point is made. Just as Jesus had a will distinct and yet perfectly “in line” and submitted to the Father, so the Holy Spirit is as well. With this in mind, know that Holy Spirit is not leading you to do something in contrast with the will of the Son or Father. If Holy Spirit is distributing to each one individually as He wills, you can bet that that will aligns with the will of the Father and the Son.
So how does this factor into fellowship with Holy Spirit? It is foundational!
If the Spirit is an impersonal force, then I can use and bend Him to my will as needed. Getting the “results” of the Spirit is then a matter of developing a stronger will. This then muddies the waters of how faith works, thinking it in terms of quantity (how much faith) rather than surrender (to the Object of my faith).
Yet the Spirit is not an impersonal force sent to earth to carry out my will. Fellowship with Holy Spirit requires acknowledging that He is a person with a will and a superior one to my own. As He is the Agent of the Will of God on earth at this moment, so we too, in Jesus-like surrender, submit to the will of the One who is God.
Holy Spirit demonstrated His superior will in fellowship with Paul and Timothy in Acts 16, “forbidding” and “not permitting” them to enter certain areas. This was not a matter of physical force, as though Holy Spirit restrained them like a wind, but of relational submission. Paul and Timothy, in fellowship with Holy Spirit, discerned a very clear “no” from Holy Spirit as you would in a relationship with a person. Just a chapter before, in the Jerusalem Council, the Apostles explained, regarding their decision that “it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay upon you no greater burden than these essentials…” Did it seem good because an impersonal force acted upon them and gave them goosebumps? I submit that this is way too shallow. Or what about Acts 13, which clearly states that the Holy Spirit dictated the terms of the first missionary journey?
“2 While they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 3 Then, when they had fasted and prayed and laid their hands on them, they sent them away. 4 So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia and from there they sailed to Cyprus.”
If we want to have fellowship with Holy Spirit, we must understand that this is the Spirit of the LORD. We look to discern His will, and we adjust. I am glad that I don’t get to use Him according to my will, which is flawed and fallible, but rather that I get to be used by Him whose will is perfect and in harmony with the majestic Trinity.
R.A. Torrey said it well:
In fellowship with Holy Spirit, I don’t minister and hope for Him to come to help me out. I let Him apprehend me and seek to do what He’s doing. I submit to the One who distributes to each one individually as He wills. Let Him conduct. Let Him lead. He’s God!
Holy Spirit, help me to discern Your will. I give you full permission to use me as You see fit and I recognize your Lordship. Fill me again and lead the way. Amen.
This blog is part of a series on fellowship with Holy Spirit. To read the intro, go here.
I am a Pastor, Author, and Teacher based out of Kansas City, MO. I am passionate about the message of the Kingdom, Grace, Healing and the renewing of the mind. I have been following God since age 18 when I was radically transformed and inserted into revival. I have learned some hard lessons and seen some wonderful fruit in the Kingdom, and my goal is to impart wisdom and grace to you to walk in fullness. I have a walking miracle for a wife and three amazing boys.