I am hesitant to expound too much upon this topic because of a lack of understanding or perhaps a conflict of understanding between what I have tended to believe and what I am reading in some of the sources of my current Bible study. This is where I look to some of you who are more adequately studied in this than I. I hope I can get some answers from my readers or that I will be further enlightened as I go through my lesson.
Today's verses are from Galatians 5:16-25:
16 So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. 17 For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.
19 The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.
Galatians 5:16-25 (New International Version)
The meaning of these verses seems pretty clear to me. Human nature is inclined toward sinfulness. If we are going it alone our tendency will be to defy God's commandments and be subject to God's judgment of our actions. However, Jesus Christ died to provide salvation from the punishment of the exacting of the law. Through our faith in Jesus Christ, we belong to Him and He absolves us of our sin. To give us strength to resist sin and temptation God has given us the Holy Spirit to live within us. The "acts of the sinful nature" must be resisted for this Spirit to do its work in us. If we resist temptation and sin, then the Spirit will produce "fruits" that are listed in verses 22 and 23.
Here's where I need some clarification. I know there are different schools of thought on this so my confusion is not unique. My sense is that the Holy Spirit is a power from God and of God, a distinct personage with attributes that can be defined in human terms. Whereas, the source upon which my Bible study has been based seems to indicate that the Holy Spirit is an actual person. This does not sound logical to me unless I'm just misunderstanding the semantics in what is being presented. If my source is saying that the Holy Spirit is a personage metaphorically speaking, then maybe they and I are on the same page. But if they are saying that the Holy Spirit is a distinctly one tangible person like Jesus Christ I am not getting it.
If the Holy Spirit is a corporeal entity, that is a tangible object that exists in the physical world then how can the Holy Spirit live in all of us? I do believe that the Holy Spirit can manifest itself in a physical form just as evil spirits can. If evil spirits are said to be able to do this, then certainly the Holy Spirit could do the same. Spirit comes from the Latin word for breath which is typically thought of as invisible. Where exactly is the Holy Spirit?
Next week I'll have some additional verses on this topic. For now though I want to see how much more insight I can gain on this topic. In my Sunday morning study group I will see what ideas come up there. Then I'll put that knowledge with whatever I can learn from you, any additional points of view I gain in the upcoming week's research, and whatever is revealed to me by the Holy Spirit.
God bless you all.