How do you explain the Holy Spirit?

Practical illustrations you can use today.


Sometimes called the “Spirit of God,” the “Angel of God” or even the spooky-sounding “Holy Ghost,” the third person of the Trinity can seem so confusing and mysterious that we don’t talk about Him very much. Ironically, the Holy Spirit is probably the most relevant person in our daily Christian life.

Cru president Steve Douglass explains that, "[Founder] Bill Bright once said that if he had to make a choice between sharing the gospel with a non-Christian and sharing the Spirit-filled life with a believer, he would do the latter, ‘because that would empower the believer to witness to many more non-Christians in the future.’”

Bill Bright focused on the Spirit-filled life because he knew it is impossible to live as God wants us to any other way. In his transferrable concept lesson he wrote about “Spiritual Breathing,” explaining how a Christian must constantly breathe out through agreeing with God about our sin and turning back to Him (John 1:9) and breathe in by asking the Holy Spirit to fill you once again.

This article digs even deeper into the Spirit-Filled Life, while the “Satisfied” booklet condenses the idea into a portable tool for use in random encounters like a Knowing God Personally booklet for Christians.

A few other analogies have been used around Cru to help bring clarity to our vital relationship with the Holy Spirit:

  • Getting Drunk – A concept more familiar to the college students we’ve worked with than we’d like, this article follows Ephesians 5:18 by comparing and contrasting the effects of the Spirit with the effects of wine and gives some practical steps for allowing the Spirit to have more of your life.
  • Chocolate Milk – Roger Hershey, one of Cru’s travelling speakers, says that being indwelt by the Spirit at the moment of salvation (Ephesians 1:13) is like squeezing chocolate syrup into a glass of milk. It's in there but, settled at the bottom, you can't necessarily see a changed life. Being filled, however, is a constant walk with the Spirit, stirring up the syrup until the milk is transformed and looks like the chocolate.
  • Dancing – Another speaker, Jim Rhodes, refers to the command in Galatians 5:25 to "keep in step with the Spirit" as a dance term. The Holy Spirit leads and following is not about knowing all the steps, or how hard we try, but simply keeping our eyes fixed on our partner.

If you would like to know more, searching “Holy Spirit” on CruPressGreen opens up even more resources, including this article that spells out a lot of the doctrine Cru is willing to stand up for and what it's not. The most important point that can be made, however, is that we can’t live the Christian life without the moment-by-moment help of the Holy Spirit.

Walking with God is not about “being good” or “trying harder.” Those things are as impossible as earning salvation in the first place. Only God can save us, and only He can make us holy.