Jesus told a Samaritan woman he met at Jacob’s well, “God is spirit and those who worship him must worship him in spirit and truth” (John 4:24). The term spirit, or in the Greek pneuma (pnyooˊ-mah), refers to God as an immaterial being. Jesus also used the word pneuma to refer to the Holy Spirit. Jesus said, “It is the Spirit who gives life, the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life” (John 6:63). John later explained that those who believed in Jesus received the Holy Spirit, but not until after Jesus was resurrected. John 7:37-39 states:
On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.
Jesus associated being filled with the Spirit with quenching your thirst and indicated that the Holy Spirit provided an abundant source of spiritual nourishment and capability. “The Holy Spirit prompts one to do or restrain from doing particular actions (Acts 8:29, 39; 13:2, 4; 15:28; 16:6, 7)” and “serves the medium of divine communications and revelations (Acts 7:55; 11:28;21:4; Ephesians 3:5)” (G4151). The Spirit and God the Father are used interchangeably in some passages of Scripture to refer to God as a spirit being (Acts 5:3, 9 [cf. 5:4]; Ephesians 6:17).
Paul talked about receiving wisdom from the Holy Spirit in his first letter to the Corinthians. Paul said:
Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But, as it is written,
“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
nor the heart of man imagined,
what God has prepared for those who love him”—
these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. (1 Corinthians 2:6-11)
Paul referred to God’s wisdom as a secret and hidden wisdom that is revealed through the Spirit. Paul was talking about the spiritual communication that takes places between a believer and God after a person has been born again. Jesus told the Jewish ruler Nicodemus, “Unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus said to him, ‘How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?’ Jesus answered, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit; he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit’” (John 3:3-6).
Paul indicated that God reveals things to believers through the Spirit. Therefore, it is not only necessary for believers to be indwelt by the Holy Spirit, but also to remain under his constant influence. God’s grace, or what is called in the Greek charis (kharˊ-ece), refers in a figurative or spiritual sense to “the divine influence upon the heart and its reflection in the life” (G5485). King David is an example in the Old Testament of how God communicated with believers before they were indwelt by the Holy Spirit. After David committed adultery with Bathsheba and killed her husband, Uriah in order to conceal his sin, the LORD sent Nathan to David. “Nathan used his parable (2 Samuel 1-4) to skillfully bring David to condemn himself, and David painfully realized the consequences of his sin” (note on 2 Samuel 12:1-14). At the end of Nathan’s parable, 2 Samuel 12:5-9 states, “Then David’s anger was greatly kindled against the man, and he said to Nathan, ‘As the Lord lives, the man who has done this deserves to die, and he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity.’ Nathan said to David, ‘You are the man! Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, “I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you out of the hand of Saul. And I gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your arms and gave you the house of Israel and of Judah. And if this were too little, I would add to you as much more. Why have you despised the word of the Lord, to do what is evil in his sight?”’” David seemed to be unaware of what he had done until Nathan’s parable stirred up his righteous indignation. At the point when David felt contempt for the man who had stolen his neighbor’s sheep (2 Samuel 12:4), Nathan gave David’s conscience a spiritual jab by stating, “You are the man” (2 Samuel 12:7).
Spiritual communication is a two-way exchange of information between God and believers. Not only does God reveal things to believers through his Spirit, but he also listens and responds to us when we pray. David spoke to the LORD the words of a song that is recorded in 2 Samuel 22. David said:
“In my distress I called upon the Lord;
to my God I called.
From his temple he heard my voice,
and my cry came to his ears.
“Then the earth reeled and rocked;
the foundations of the heavens trembled
and quaked, because he was angry.
Smoke went up from his nostrils,
and devouring fire from his mouth;
glowing coals flamed forth from him.
He bowed the heavens and came down;
thick darkness was under his feet.
He rode on a cherub and flew;
he was seen on the wings of the wind.
He made darkness around him his canopy,
thick clouds, a gathering of water.
Out of the brightness before him
coals of fire flamed forth.
The Lord thundered from heaven,
and the Most High uttered his voice.” (2 Samuel 22:7-14)
David called to the LORD. The Hebrew word that is translated called, qara (kaw-rawˊ) can mean to summon or call aloud, addressing a person by name (H71721). David said of the LORD, “he heard my voice, and my cry came to his ears…He bowed the heavens and came down; thick darkness was under his feet. He rode on a cherub and flew; he was seen on the wings of the wind” (2 Samuel 22:7, 10-11). David’s depiction of the LORD coming to his rescue was intended to convey spiritual activity that was undetectable to the natural senses. David imagined the LORD riding on a cherub and flying on the wings of the wind, but in actuality, the LORD was engaging with David in his mind through the Holy Spirit.
Paul explained in his letter to the Corinthians that God’s thoughts are transmitted to believers through the Holy Spirit who speaks to us in our hearts or minds. Paul said, “For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him. So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual” (1 Corinthians 2:10-13). The Greek word that is translated interpreting, sugkrino (soong-kreeˊ-no) means “to judge of one thing in connection with another, i.e. combine (spiritual ideas with appropriate expressions) or collate (one person with another by way of contrast or resemblance)” (G4793). The Holy Spirit makes it possible for us to see God in a way that makes sense to us as human beings. David’s description of the LORD riding on a cherub and flying on the wings of the wind made sense to him from the perspective of God being able to transcend the distance between heaven and earth and to be with David in a brief moment of time.
The Greek word sugkrino is derived from the words sun (soon), which denotes “union; with or together,” and krino (kreeˊ-no), which means “to judge in one’s own mind as to what is right, proper, expedient” (G2919). Krino also refers to discriminating between good and evil. When the Holy Spirit is at work in believers, he is helping them to discriminate between good and evil. The Holy Spirit communicates to believers what is the right, proper, expedient thing for them to do based on God’s will for their lives. Paul talked about this in the context of the renewal of the Holy Spirit, which is the adjustment of the moral and spiritual thinking to the mind of God. “In Titus 3:5, ‘the renewing of the Holy Spirit’ is not a fresh bestowment of the Spirit, but a revival of His power, developing the Christian life, stressing the continual operation of the indwelling Spirit of God” (G342). Paul concluded his discussion of wisdom from the Spirit with the statement, “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14). Spiritual discernment is the result of the Holy Spirit interpreting spiritual truths. Therefore, unbelievers to not have that capability. Paul said the things of the Spirit of God are folly or absurdity to the person that has not been born again, as was demonstrated by Nicodemus when he asked Jesus the question, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” (John 3:4). With regard to spiritual communication, Jesus likened the influence of the Holy Spirit on a person’s heart to the wind that causes things to move without any physical evidence of its presence. Jesus said, “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit” (John 3:8).