As Seen on Sunday: The Ghost in Our Bones

As Seen on Sunday: The Ghost in Our Bones

Then she got lost in the days. The smile Rainey depended on dusted away, the arms that held him were no more his home. He lay at night his head pressed to her chest listening to the ghost in her bones.
— - Bruce Springsteen in "Black Cowboys"

The Holy Spirit - or the Holy Ghost, as some may reference, is often the most misunderstood member of the Triune God. His power and influence is either overly diminished or unashamedly abused for the corrupt benefit of man. I suppose the same could be said of the other members of the Triune God as well, but the historical incarnation of Jesus and the Old Testament Yahweh as Father offer an easier grasp on their being and role. The Holy Spirit is present throughout all Scripture but he is less a character in the narrative than the one that makes the narrative move forward. He isn't even the narrator of the book as he seemingly settles for well-timed cameos. 

But let's not be fooled. The Holy Spirit is in many ways the most intimiate member of the Godhead for he is the one that dwells in us. In many ways, he is the Ghost in our Bones. 


What does he do, who is, and why does it matter?

What does the Holy Spirit do? His works are ineffable in majesty, and innumerable in quantity. How can we even ponder what extends beyond the ages? What did He do before creation began? How great are the graces He showered on creation? What power will He yield in the age to come? He existed; He pre-existed; He coexisted with the Father and the Son before the ages. Even if you can imagine anything beyond the ages, you will discover that the Spirit is even further beyond.
— St. Basil the Great

Even the great Church fathers ask a question and fail to adequately answer it.
St. Basil asks, “What does the Holy Spirit do?” and his answer in summation is simply. “He existed.” 

Thoughts on this may go very deep but sometimes it does not get us very far.  We want answers that connect to us personally - and the matter of the existence of the Holy Spirit, while accurate, doesn’t necessarily satisfy the longing of our souls.  And really, for what other reason, do we go to church, study the Word, sing songs, and meet together, then to ultimately find some satisfaction to the longing of our souls. 

But for us to recognize the Holy Spirit as God we have to recognize his power, or ability to do, to act, to change us, to make us new. 

And for any relationship to grow there has to be presence. He has to be there. 

For God to have any real transformative meaning to us, he has to become personal to us. 

The Person of the Holy Spirit: 

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.
— John 14:16-17

In our reading today we are looking Jesus telling the disciples about the Holy Spirit. He is setting the expectations for the time of his departure.  He tells the disciples that when he goes away that the Father will send the Holy Spirit to help them, to know them -and for them to know him - and to dwell and live with them and in them. 

Jesus was telling the disciples that the same relationship that they had with him is the same relationship they can expect to have with the Holy Spirit. 

If that is the case than we can’t be tempted to think of the Holy Spirit as some impersonal aura or emanating force that works in the background to bless and curse those who love or hate God. 

Jesus is clear, though, those who are not saved won’t understand and can’t comprehend the nature of the Spirit. They won’t be able to study him or dissect him. But believers will know the Spirit because he has become personal to them - he dwells in them. Not as a dictatorial overlord that turns us into robots. 

How do I know this?

Look at the words used to described the Holy Spirit: 

  • Comforter
  • Counselor
  • Advocate (how can you advocate on someone’s behalf if you are controlling all they do?)
  • Convicter of sin (once again why convict if you control?)
  • Guide
  • Revealer of Truth
  • Witness 
  • Teacher

These are words that describe personal relationships. The Holy Spirit is always described in terms that are most beneficial to us - and not the other way around. 

Really, what benefit do we really offer God? And yet he still acts on our behalf and for our ultimate benefit. 

The Presence of the Holy Spirit:

even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.
— John 14:17

The term “God-shaped hole” is usually traced back to an idea that Blaise Pascal  wrote in 1670, He says,

What else does this craving, and this helplessness, proclaim but that there was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace? This he tries in vain to fill with everything around him, seeking in things that are not there the help he cannot find in those that are, though none can help, since this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object; in other words by God himself.” 

And the idea of a god-shaped hole relates to us. It relates to us because of our constant struggle with dissatisfaction - our constant need for fulfillment. 

But, according to Scripture, before all lives our surrendered to God there is already something lodged in our God-shaped hole.While It may be the presence of a spirit - but not the Holy One. 

This spirit of sin and evil wreaks havoc on our lives. Sure we may not all be murderous rapists and take on society’s label of “evil.” But we once were dead, following the spirit of the prince of power of the air. Paul says it like this in:

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.
— Ephesians 2:1-3

This God-shaped hole cries out, not because it is empty. It cries out because that which dwells is really incompatible with our true spiritual nature.  And the evil we do, the sin we feel, is, perhaps, our bodies (mind, will, emotions) instinctively knowing that something is not right.  And we are dissatisfied, disgruntled, discontent, dissociative, and we are becoming slowly dismantled.  All because we have the wrong spirit at the center of our being. 

Quite plainly the Holy Spirit only indwells those who have a genuine repentant attitude toward God and have placed their faith in Jesus. He is unknowable otherwise - and no intellectual pursuit, no empirical data will make God known to us. Those avenues may help align our hearts and minds, but they will never be enough on their own. 
But to those who believe and are repentant, the Holy Spirit is with you. He indwells you. He sweeps out the old and makes all things new. He is our foretaste of eternity, our seal of redemption. 

We need no longer to deal with all the “disses” - The Holy Spirit’s presence unchains us from the destruction of malcontent souls.  At the core, that is the true power of the Holy Spirit. 

The Power of the Holy Spirit.

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.
— John 14:26

The power of the Holy Spirit - boy are there a lot of things that get labeled the power of the Holy Spirit. Maybe one day we’ll talk more about that, but today let’s focus in on what Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would do: 

But first, notice the term here. Jesus refers to the Holy Spirit as Helper. A helper must be more empowered than the one he is helping in order for any actual help to be given. 
Take note of two things the Holy Spirit will help us with: 

  • He teaches all things (revelation)
  • He brings to remembrance what Jesus has said and taught  (recollection)

Notice it doesn’t say that the Holy Spirit will help you help you pass a test so he can get all the credit for it. (wink: Kristal)  He is helping you. Its not for his benefit. Its for ours. 
He reveals the truth and helps us recall the truth - the Truth, as we learned last week is Jesus. (I am the way, the truth, the life). 

So What?

What’s in it for me?  What’s in it for you.  We can think that we are fine just the way that we are. We are not “evil” Maybe not, but we are dead and any signs of life are merely our malfunctioning.  We are restless, stressed, overwhelmed, angry, disgruntled - our lives suck, and according to social media, everyone else’s life does too. 

We have no peace. Perhaps we have no peace because we have not truly believed the promise of Jesus - 

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. 

If you haven’t put it together yet, let me help you out - The peace we are seeking, the one that overcomes the world, the one that is beyond human comprehension - His peace is the Holy Spirit - Peace is walking in the promise of the power, presence, person of the Holy Spirit.  If we can grasp THAT:


  • then Christianity becomes real, 
  • then our lives change
  • then our relationships change
  • then our futures change
  • then our presents change
  • our past is redeemed
  • our sin is forgiven

If we can grasp the promise of the Holy Spirit we will no longer feel dead inside, be dead inside. 
We will be made alive. 

H About the Author | Josh Schaidt TwitterFacebookInstagram
I love cookies and I still buy music one album at a time. @EmptyChurch is one way I live empty, talk faith, and opt in to follow Jesus.

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