Holy Spirit Versus Unholy Spirit


Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit is the pure power and essence of God. By the Holy Spirit of God the nature and works of God are made manifest.


The Unholy Spirit

Any essence or force not conforming to the nature of God.



*   Holy: Sacred, pure, and blameless

*   Spirit: The essential nature of a person or group. The vital principle or animating force within living beings. Consciousness without a body. An influential force.

*   Spirit in Hebrew: Strongs 7307. ruwach, roo'-akh; from H7306; wind; by resemblance breath

*   Spirit in Greek: 4151. pneuma, pnyoo'-mah; from G4154; a current of air, i.e. breath (blast) or a breeze.


Some Possible Synonyms for Spirit

*   Conscience

*   Consciousness

*   Awareness

*   Animating force or power

*   Life giving essence

*   Courage

*   Heart

*   Mood

*   Desire


Examples of common usage of the term “Spirit”

We speak of many types of spirits and we speak of them in many different ways. Before becoming more specific with regards to the Holy Spirit and spirit as used through out the Bible, let’s become more familiar with the term spirit and how we use it in ordinary life. Here are some examples.

*   We sometimes speak of having a burdened spirit.

*   We sometimes lose our spirit.

*   A team may not have any spirit.

*   A person is sometimes said to have a pleasant spirit or a troubled spirit.

*   A place is sometimes said to have a spirit of peace or joy or an evil spirit.

*   Alcoholic beverages are sometimes referred to as spirits.

*   A spirit is sometimes referred to as palpable (easily perceived or obvious), that is one can feel its presence.

In all of these cases we speak as if we knew what we are talking about and our listeners seldom question us about our meaning. There seems to exist a common understanding of the term and a common acceptance of its validity.


Examples of common usage of the term “Spirit” in the Bible

The Bible speaks frequently of “Spirit” and of different kinds of spirit.

(Gen 1:2 RSV)  The earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters.

(Gen 41:8 RSV)  So in the morning his spirit was troubled; and he sent and called for all the magicians of Egypt and all its wise men; and Pharaoh told them his dream, but there was none who could interpret it to Pharaoh.

(Gen 41:38 RSV)  And Pharaoh said to his servants, "Can we find such a man as this, in whom is the Spirit of God?"

(Gen 45:27 RSV)  But when they told him all the words of Joseph, which he had said to them, and when he saw the wagons which Joseph had sent to carry him, the spirit of their father Jacob revived;

(Exo 6:9 RSV)  Moses spoke thus to the people of Israel; but they did not listen to Moses, because of their broken spirit and their cruel bondage.

 (Num 27:18 KJV)  And the LORD said unto Moses, Take thee Joshua the son of Nun, a man in whom is the spirit, and lay thine hand upon him;

(Deu 34:9 RSV)  And Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom, for Moses had laid his hands upon him; so the people of Israel obeyed him, and did as the LORD had commanded Moses.

 (Judg 9:23 RSV)  And God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the men of Shechem; and the men of Shechem dealt treacherously with Abimelech;

(2 Ki 5:26 RSV)  But he said to him, "Did I not go with you in spirit when the man turned from his chariot to meet you? Was it a time to accept money and garments, olive orchards and vineyards, sheep and oxen, menservants and maidservants?

(2 Ki 19:7 RSV)  Behold, I will put a spirit in him, so that he shall hear a rumor and return to his own land; and I will cause him to fall by the sword in his own land.'"

(Job 17:1 RSV)  My spirit is broken, my days are extinct, the grave is ready for me.

(Psa 31:5 RSV)  Into thy hand I commit my spirit; thou hast redeemed me, O LORD, faithful God.


Holy Spirit in the Old Testament (holy Spirit)

Oddly, KJV and RSV do not capitalize Holy Spirit in the Old Testament but they do in the New Testament. NIV Capitalizes in both the Old and the new Testaments. I have know idea why the term shouldn’t be capitalized.

*   (Psa 51:11 RSV)  Cast me not away from thy presence, and take not thy holy Spirit from me.

*   (Isa 63:10-11 RSV)  But they rebelled and grieved his holy Spirit; therefore he turned to be their enemy, and himself fought against them. {11} Then he remembered the days of old, of Moses his servant. Where is he who brought up out of the sea the shepherds of his flock? Where is he who put in the midst of them his holy Spirit,

*   However …

In the New Testament the word Holy is only capitalized when it modifies the word Spirit (Holy Spirit)

*   (Mat 1:18 RSV)  Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child of the Holy Spirit;

(Mat 4:5 RSV)  Then the devil took him to the holy city, and set him on the pinnacle of the temple,


Back to spirit

(Mat 5:3 RSV)  "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

(Mat 12:43 RSV)  "When the unclean spirit has gone out of a man, he passes through waterless places seeking rest, but he finds none.

(Mat 27:50 RSV)  And Jesus cried again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit.

(Mark 2:8 RSV)  And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, "Why do you question thus in your hearts?

(Mark 9:25 NIV)  When Jesus saw that a crowd was running to the scene, he rebuked the evil spirit. "You deaf and mute spirit," he said, "I command you, come out of him and never enter him again."

(Mark 14:38 RSV)  Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak."

 (Luke 13:11 RSV)  And there was a woman who had had a spirit of infirmity for eighteen years; she was bent over and could not fully straighten herself.

(Luke 24:39 RSV)  See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself; handle me, and see; for a spirit has not flesh and bones as you see that I have."

(John 3:6 RSV)  That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

(John 4:23-24 RSV)  But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for such the Father seeks to worship him. {24} God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth."

(John 6:63 RSV)  It is the spirit that gives life, the flesh is of no avail; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.

(John 19:30 RSV)  When Jesus had received the vinegar, he said, "It is finished"; and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

(Acts 7:59 RSV)  And as they were stoning Stephen, he prayed, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit."

 (Acts 16:16 RSV)  As we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit of divination and brought her owners much gain by soothsaying.

 (Rom 8:15 RSV)  For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the spirit of sonship. When we cry, "Abba! Father!"

(1 Cor 2:12 RSV)  Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is from God, that we might understand the gifts bestowed on us by God.

(1 Cor 4:21 RSV)  What do you wish? Shall I come to you with a rod, or with love in a spirit of gentleness?

 (1 Cor 6:17 RSV)  But he who is united to the Lord becomes one spirit with him.


Spirit filled

(Exo 31:2-3 RSV)  "See, I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah: {3} and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship,

(Micah 3:8 RSV)  But as for me, I am filled with power, with the Spirit of the LORD, and with justice and might, to declare to Jacob his transgression and to Israel his sin.

(Luke 1:15 RSV)  for he will be great before the Lord, and he shall drink no wine nor strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother's womb.

(Luke 1:41 RSV)  And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit

(Acts 2:4 RSV)  And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.


Animal Spirit

(Eccl 3:21 NIV)  Who knows if the spirit of man rises upward and if the spirit of the animal goes down into the earth?"


Fruit of the Spirit

(Gal 5:22-26 NIV)  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. {26} Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.


Source of Life

(Eccl 12:7 NIV)  and the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.


Baptism of the Holy Spirit

(Acts 1:5 NIV)  For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit."


Some Conclusions

*   God is Holy: (Lev 11:45 NIV)  I am the LORD who brought you up out of Egypt to be your God; therefore be holy, because I am holy.

*   God is Spirit: (John 4:24 KJV)  God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

*   God is Holy Spirit: (Eph 4:30 NIV)  And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. (Notice KJV doesn’t capitalize “Holy.”)

*   The “Holy Spirit” is not an entity distinct from God.


A Few Closing Thoughts

*   The Holy Spirit is present in us when we find our inclinations and our wisdom and our understanding and our knowledge have become pleasing to and in accordance with God, the Holy Spirit.

*   The fruits of the Spirit are evident in those that have received the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit.

*   Spirit in the Bible seems to be used in two ways, as a reference to an entity and as a reference to an influence. Here is an analogy that might help illustrate the differences. Consider the ocean as the totality of spirit. Then the following could be said.

*   An iceberg is a spiritual entity. The iceberg is just another form of water.

*   The movement of water is a spiritual influence. Consider tides and currents for examples.

*   The coldness caused in the vicinity of the iceberg is a spiritual influence caused by the iceberg.

*   The coldness caused will remain for some time even if the iceberg is removed from the ocean.

*   A wave would be an entity of another type, which is also influential.

*   The above analogy would be even better if we considered air as the totality of spirit. This is because it is more difficult to discern and because the word translated as spirit is more closely related to air.



One might think the battle between the Holy Spirit and the unholy spirit is a battle between God and satan. That battle is not much of a battle at all. God can defeat satan anytime with no effort at all. We can see that very clearly in Revelations. The real battle is the one we wage daily with ourselves. Will we allow God’s Holy Spirit to work in us or will we choose to follow our own desires. Will we listen and follow the Counsel of God or will we fall victim to the adversary, that liar, that serpent of old known as the dragon and satan, the devil? Personally I am not interested in doing it, “My Way” as Frank Sinatra boasted in his song. I want to do it His way as written in the Bible and in my heart by the Holy Spirit.