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The Difference between the Spirit of Christ and the Holy Spirit

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Today we live in a world where people, even Christians, are running around seeking the Holy Spirit, but not necessarily seeking Christ. One such group is a group sometimes known as neo-pentecostals, or crazy pentecostals, who even equate the Holy Spirit to drunkenness or smoking drugs and speak about the Spirit in a loose and disrespectful way. Because they do not seek Christ they can receive a spirit of counterfeit or delusion. This may be in the form of an evil spirit which masquerades as the Holy Spirit, or their own subjective consciousness and feelings which they mistake for the Holy Spirit. It is easy to seek a "Holy Spirit" which has nothing to do with Christ. To be sure we are of the right spirit, we must seek none other than Christ. For this reason we should know the difference between the Holy Spirit and the Spirit of Christ.

There is and there is not a difference
On the one hand, there is no difference between the Holy Spirit and the Spirit of Christ as they are the one and the same third person of the Trinity. Let us make that clear from the start.
On the other hand, there is a difference. Sometimes the Bible refers to the Holy Spirit and other times the "Spirit of Christ" (Phil 1:19, Rom 8:9, Rom 8:10).
Why does the author of Scripture say "Spirit of Christ", why not just say "Holy Spirit" and be consistent? God's Word is precise, accurate and every word is there for a reason. "Spirit of Christ" is not merely a slang term for the Holy Spirit, it has a very definitive and specific meaning and reason for being there.

The difference
The term Holy Spirit says two things 1) holiness, and 2), spirit. As sinful human beings, a) we are not holy, and b) we are not spirit.
For this reason it can be very hard for us to relate to the Holy Spirit as He is described in the Old Testament.

The author of Scripture uses the term "Spirit of Christ", which is more relatable to us. Christ is the one whom we can relate to because He is God who came down to our level of humanity, yet being without sin. Only Christ is the mediator between God and man (1 Tim 2:5). The reason that Christ is qualifed to be the mediator is because He is both God and man. Jesus is the ladder in Jacob's vision upon whom angels ascended and descended (Genesis 28:12, John 1:51). The Bible also says that Jesus became a life giving spirit (1 Cor 15:45). The Spirit of Christ is the spirit of the man who is both God and man. The Spirit of Christ is the life giving spirit which the man Jesus Christ became (1 Cor 15:45). Therefore the Spirit of Christ, is the Spirit of the ladder which connects Heaven and Earth, and this is why the Holy Spirit must be involved in everything we do, especially prayer, because without the Spirit we have no access to Heaven.

To be accurate, Christians do not merely receive the Holy Spirit of the Old Testament but the Spirit of the New Testament, the Spirit of Christ. In the Old Testament, no one could receive the Holy Spirit into their being for regeneration because mankind is sinful and God's Spirit is Holy. The Spirit's influence was only acting upon specific individuals for acts of power or service (1 Sam 16:13). In contrast, the new testament reveals God's regeneration by the Spirit (2 Cor 5:17) which was prophesied in the Old Testament (Eze 36:26). But God could not just put His Holy Spirit within sinful man. Jesus Christ had to come to die, to bridge the gap between God and mankind. In fact, Christ Himself, His person, is the bridge, the ladder between God and man, as He is both the Son of God and son of man. Therefore the Spirit by which humans are regenerated is not merely the Holy Spirit of the Old Testament. The Spirit is in fact the Spirit of Christ, the mediator between God and man.

Again, I will re-iterate that the Holy Spirit and the Spirit of Christ is the same Spirit, the third person of the Trinity. However, to us regenerated, born again believers, the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of the person of Jesus Christ, who is knowable and relatable to us. For this reason, the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of Christ understands us completely and is even able to pray for us (Rom 8:27). The Holy Spirit understands our human pain and suffering and shortcomings, because He is the Spirit of Christ. The Holy Spirit knows what it is like to live a human life on the Earth, because He is the Spirit of Christ. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of the man who did not condemn (Rom 8:1, John 8:1-11). Unlike the Spirit of the Old Testament, the Spirit of the New Testament is fully qualified to be our comforter because He is the Spirit of Christ who went to the cross (John 14:16). The Holy Spirit was active and present with Christ on the cross. The Spirit knows what it is like to suffer and die on a cross and be resurrected again because He was there (Rom 8:11, 1 Cor 2:10). The Holy Spirit is more than able to be our comforter and relate to us in our human condition and human life. In fact, knowing Christ by the Spirit is no less advantageous than knowing Christ in the flesh, as the apostle Paul can testify (Gal 1:12), because the Spirit is the Spirit of Christ.

The Holy Spirit as the Spirit of Christ, connects humanity to God, or Earth to Heaven, like Jacob's ladder. Whenever we walk or live in the Spirit of Christ, we have a direct connection with Heaven, and even the angels ascend and descend to serve us (Heb 1:14, Psalm 91:11, Gal 5:16). No longer should we regard the Holy Spirit as merely the mysterious force or power of the Old Testament. He is in fact the very presence of Christ with us (Col 1:27, 2 Cor 13:5). If we genuinely seek Christ, we will receive the true Holy Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ, who brings God into man, and man into God, Earth to Heaven and Heaven to Earth. But if we seek anything or anyone other than Christ, we are bound to receive a spirit of deception.
 
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RJ

For my little brain I will still look at them as the same: Holy Spirit, Spirit of Christ, Jesus, Christ and God...all the same and at the same time all different; Just like Jesus was fully man and fully God!
 
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i agree, we have no idea of the amazing nature of triune God, we need to say "I just believe!"
 
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Yes I find this approach a little confusing too. When you say "Christians do not merely receive the Holy Spirit of the Old Testament but the Spirit of the New Testament" it sounds like there are two different spirits. My understanding is that there is one spirit - and the authors of the the bible use different expressions - Spirit of the Lord, The Holy Spirit, Spirit of Christ, The Spirit - depending on context and on the aspects of the Holy Spirit's nature that they needed to emphasise.

The Spirit that hovered over the waters in Genesis 1 is the same Spirit that with the bride says "Come!" in Revelation 22.
 
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The post touches upon why the authors of the Bible used different expressions, because there is a difference. Here is the difference - under the Old Covenant the Holy Spirit was the Spirit of God. But under the New Covenant the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God and the Spirit of the man Jesus Christ. In the Old Testament the Holy Spirit was given to few, because mankind was sinful and God was holy. In the New Testament the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of Christ, is available to all, because Christ is the mediator between God and man. This is why the Holy Spirit could not regenerate anyone under the Old Covenant - because the Spirit was not yet the Spirit of the man Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit and the Spirit of Christ being the same Spirit, confirms that Christ is God and equal to the status of the Father and the Holy Spirit.

Some people want to receive the Holy Spirit of God but want nothing to do with Christ. These people don't realize that they need the Spirit of Christ who is the mediator between God and man.
 
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RJ

The post touches upon why the authors of the Bible used different expressions, because there is a difference. Here is the difference - under the Old Covenant the Holy Spirit was the Spirit of God. But under the New Covenant the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God and the Spirit of the man Jesus Christ. In the Old Testament the Holy Spirit was given to few, because mankind was sinful and God was holy. In the New Testament the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of Christ, is available to all, because Christ is the mediator between God and man. This is why the Holy Spirit could not regenerate anyone under the Old Covenant - because the Spirit was not yet the Spirit of the man Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit and the Spirit of Christ being the same Spirit, confirms that Christ is God and equal to the status of the Father and the Holy Spirit.

Some people want to receive the Holy Spirit of God but want nothing to do with Christ. These people don't realize that they need the Spirit of Christ who is the mediator between God and man.
  • I just don't see much difference\
  • Light of God, Light of Christ, Christ within, That of God, Spirit of God within us, Light within, inward light and inner light are related phrases commonly used within the Religious Society of Friends as metaphors for Christ's light shining on or in them. ...
  • Romans 8:9 You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ
 
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Yes I find this approach a little confusing too. When you say "Christians do not merely receive the Holy Spirit of the Old Testament but the Spirit of the New Testament" it sounds like there are two different spirits. My understanding is that there is one spirit - and the authors of the the bible use different expressions - Spirit of the Lord, The Holy Spirit, Spirit of Christ, The Spirit - depending on context and on the aspects of the Holy Spirit's nature that they needed to emphasise.

The Spirit that hovered over the waters in Genesis 1 is the same Spirit that with the bride says "Come!" in Revelation 22.
Apologies for the confusion. There is only one Spirit, but between the Old and New Covenants there is a difference in how the Spirit relates to mankind, and the difference is all because of what Christ did on the cross. Under the Old Covenant the Holy Spirit is not the Spirit of Christ, but under the new Covenant the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Christ. Under the Old Covenant is a distant, even scary (Exo 20:18), Spirit available only to a specially chosen and faithful few (such as Moses, the Kings of Israel, the Prophets etc) and has nothing to do with Christ becoming a man to die on the cross. Under the New Covenant is a personal and close Spirit and comforter available to all, because He is the Spirit of Christ who went to the cross and died for our sins (Joel 2:28, John 14:16). Some people want to deny Christ and receive the Holy Spirit of the Old Testament, not the Spirit of the new testament who is all about Christ.
 
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  • I just don't see much difference\
  • Light of God, Light of Christ, Christ within, That of God, Spirit of God within us, Light within, inward light and inner light are related phrases commonly used within the Religious Society of Friends as metaphors for Christ's light shining on or in them. ...
  • Romans 8:9 You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ
On face value there is no big difference but there is a big difference between the Old and New Covenants and how the Spirit relates to mankind and our experience of the Spirit. The Spirit could not live inside anyone under the old covenant because the Spirit was not the Spirit of Christ. Under the new covenant the Spirit is all about Christ (John 16:14). The Spirit is all about Christ because it is the Spirit of Christ. Under the Old covenant, the Spirit is not referred to Christ in any way. For example, Moses's experience of the Spirit was different to ours, because Moses only knew the Spirit as God, the still small voice on the mountain, with the fire, lightning, earthquakes, that made all the people fearful. But we know the Spirit as the Spirit of Christ, the person who is both God and man, and we are not fearful of Him like the Israelites were, because He is the Spirit of a man just like us (but without sin).
 
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RJ

There is a big difference between the Old and New Covenants. The Spirit could not live inside anyone under the old covenant because the Spirit was not the Spirit of Christ. To say that we receive the same Spirit as under the Old Covenant is basically to deny everything that Christ did on the cross, because the Spirit is all about Christ (John 16:14). The Spirit is all about Christ because it is the Spirit of Christ. Not that you are saying that, but as a hypothetical I say this. Under the Old covenant, the Spirit is not referred to Christ in any way.[/QUOTE
Ah.....but we no longer live under the Old Covenant do we, but the New Covenant is what we now live under! None the less, it has been and currently is all of God!
 
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Ah.....but we no longer live under the Old Covenant do we, but the New Covenant is what we now live under! None the less, it has been and currently is all of God!
Exactly, we receive the New Covenant Spirit, not the Old Covenant one. Apologies for editing my post, I hope it's clearer now.
 
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Anyway theological arguments about the nature of God and the Trinity aside...
the encouraging aspect of the revelation is that the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Christ and is no different to Christ other than the fact that He is Spirit whilst Christ is flesh.
Therefore the Holy Spirit is not merely the creative Spirit who hovered over the waters in Genesis, nor just the still small voice who spoke to Moses on the mountain in the midst of thunder and lightning. The Holy Spirit is in fact the Spirit of Jesus Christ, with all the same attributes and nature of Christ. This means that the Holy Spirit has all of the same attributes of love, comfort, healing, kindness, compassion, etc of Christ, and that the Holy Spirit has experienced everything that Christ experienced whilst on Earth including His death and resurrection (2 Cor 3:14). Therefore, having the Holy Spirit is superior to having Christ in the flesh as stated by John 16:7.
 
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Loyal
I have generally taken the "Spirit of Christ" to be like the spirit of Christmas. It isn't the 3rd person of the trinity (like the Holy Spirit) but rather.
Be giving, loving, caring, like Christ was.

I think there is a common misconception about the new covenant. Some people feel like it somehow got rid of the law, and the commandments, and the penalty of sin (death).
The new covenant didn't away with those things, it simply replaced how that debt was paid for (Jesus' sacrifice rather than the sacrifice of animals).
Yes Jesus' work on the cross is done, but ours is not. Whether we like it or not, we aren't simply judged by what we say we believe, we are also judged by our deeds.
 
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RJ

I have generally taken the "Spirit of Christ" to be like the spirit of Christmas. It isn't the 3rd person of the trinity (like the Holy Spirit) but rather.
Be giving, loving, caring, like Christ was.

I think there is a common misconception about the new covenant. Some people feel like it somehow got rid of the law, and the commandments, and the penalty of sin (death).
The new covenant didn't away with those things, it simply replaced how that debt was paid for (Jesus' sacrifice rather than the sacrifice of animals).
Yes Jesus' work on the cross is done, but ours is not. Whether we like it or not, we aren't simply judged by what we say we believe, we are also judged by our deeds.
Maybe a misconception for some but I have not seen any denial that Jesus didn't do away with the law but fulfiledl it. Also, for me, it is clear that there is but one spirit of God, Jesus or Holy Spirit...one in the same. As in Genesis with the spirit hovering over the waters during creation, the word and the word was God. The word is clearly Jesus, he was there in the begining and did all the creating...all that was created was created by him and in him. The same God, the same Jesus and the same Holy Spirit and all in one. They are in the beginning, in the middle and in the end to all eternity, the same!
 
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For my little brain I will still look at them as the same: Holy Spirit, Spirit of Christ, Jesus, Christ and God...all the same and at the same time all different; Just like Jesus was fully man and fully God!
 
Member
I love your definition thank you so much. I've actually been struggling with this topic for years. My question is if what you say is true what about the Holy Spirit landing on Jesus in the Jordon if Jesus and the HS are in fact the same can you explain this thank you
 
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I love your definition thank you so much. I've actually been struggling with this topic for years. My question is if what you say is true what about the Holy Spirit landing on Jesus in the Jordon if Jesus and the HS are in fact the same can you explain this thank you
A very interesting question to ask, i would like to understand more on the question asked. let me hear what other brethren say.
 
Loyal
Matt 1:20; But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.

Hard to conceive yourself and be your own Father.

Mark 1:10; Immediately coming up out of the water, He saw the heavens opening, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon Him;

Luke 3:22; and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in bodily form like a dove, and a voice came out of heaven, "You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased."

Hard to descend "upon" yourself.

Jesus Himself said ...

John 16:7; "But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.
(The Helper is the Holy Spirit)

John 14:15; "If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.
John 14:16; "I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever;


Jesus says "another Helper" (obviously not Himself). So that "He" (the Helper) may be with you... (while I'm in heaven).
 
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