The Holy Spirit, our Translator – 1 Corinthians 2:11-12

For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. – 1 Corinthians 2:11-12 NIV

The Holy Spirit is often the forgotten member of the Trinity, especially among the non-charismatic traditions of Christianity. Yet he plays a vital role in the life of the believer. In this passage we see one of the important activities he carries out. The Holy Spirit works to translate spiritual truths and realities in ways that I can understand.

I lived in Sicily for two and a half years while I was in the Navy. Communication was easy so long as I was on base, or hanging out with shipmates. But I ended up living out in one of the local towns and found myself needing to be able to talk to the people I rented and shopped from. They didn’t speak English. And I didn’t speak Italian, although I did eventually learn enough to get by. Communication was much more challenging. And adding to that was a culture that was foreign to me. I needed help to learn both the language and the culture.

The same thing applies to me spiritually. I am a finite human who cannot comprehend the infinite God. While he understands me, I am not capable of comprehending him; no matter how hard I might try. But the Holy Spirit comes to my rescue. He acts as my private interpreter, helping me to understand the things that come from God, as well as helping me to express myself to God (Rom. 8:26-27). To those without the Holy Spirit, God’s words to us are nothing more than gibberish. But with the Holy Spirit, they are precious and life giving.

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