Q: Are there degrees of the Holy Spirit?
A: My answer would be yes and no. When it comes to the Holy Spirit, people receive measures of Him. Luke 11:13 confirms this, “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?” He is a gift to be given to those who receive eternal life and a promise that can only be fully realized when the conditions are met (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4; 2:38).
The Holy Spirit is represented by air, water, and the dove in Scripture. In John 20:22 we are told, “And when he had saith this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost.” Jesus breathed the Holy Spirit on His disciples in preparation for their time of waiting when they would receive the power from on high, a greater measure of the Holy Spirit. We must have the breath of God in us to interact with the Lord. Breathing is natural but it is also an exercise. People take in air but some are known to be “shallow breathers” while others know how to breathe deeply. This is true when it comes to the Holy Spirit. Some people stay in the shallow arenas of religion, while others reach deep into the spiritual realm of the Spirit with the tools of God, His Word, prayer, and communion, to run the Christian race.
Keep in mind the Holy Spirit is eternal and is compared to Rivers of Living Waters in John 7:37-39. There are two things we do with water, 1) we drink it and 2) we can immerse ourselves in it for cleansing and baptism.
We know we are born again with the Spirit of God, making us His temples (John 3:3,5; 1 Corinthians 6:19). This experience points to the quickening of our spirit, but our souls must be regenerated and this entails the Lord uncapping the Living Waters in our souls to bring forth the new life that has been birthed in our spirits (Titus 3:5). We need to keep in mind, that we determine how much we will drink the water. We usually do not think of drinking until we become thirsty, but what people fail to realize is we must develop a thirst for such water. We can be dehydrated without knowing it, and it is up to us to drink even when we do not feel thirsty to ensure we keep our bodies properly hydrated while developing a healthy thirst for water.
We are told in Matthew 5:6, “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness; for they shall be filled.” This is where degrees come in and it has to do with our walk. We have to walk after the Spirit to come to places of sanctification, and be led by the Spirit into communion with God in order to grow in our relationship with Him as children. Finally, we must be immersed by the Spirit if we are to walk in the Spirit as a means to avoid giving way to the flesh (Romans 8:2, 14-17; Galatians 5:16-18). The Bible tells us we must be filled daily with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:17-21).
There is also the baptism of the Holy Spirit. We are told that Jesus is the One who baptizes us with the Spirit, and the main purpose for this baptism is to immerse us with power from above to walk out the Christian life and our calling as living witnesses and examples (Acts 1:5-8). Once again, we determine how much we expose ourselves to the Rivers of Living Water.
This is brought out in Ezekiel 47:3-5. The prophet was brought to the waters that were flowing from under the temple. He was led to the waters where he was ankle deep, then brought to where the water was knee deep and finally to the place where it was hitting his loins. Past that point the waters became impassable. When we start out in our Christian life it is natural to only wade into the matters of the Spirit ankle deep out of fear and uncertainty. Once we become comfortable with the work of the Spirit, we can venture out to feel the gentle flow of water around our knees. However, this allows us to remain in reach of the shoreline, but as we come to the place of our loins, we will begin to feel the undercurrents tugging at us. We have to make a decision if we are going to stop and go back or dive in and allow the full current to take us where it will. We are clearly deciding the measure of impact the Holy Spirit will have on our lives according to the degree we expose ourselves to His movement in and upon our lives.
Finally, He is the dove that on Pentecost brought forth power upon those tarrying in the upper room. This picture is a dichotomy. The dove is a gentle bird, but we see incredible power associated with the Holy Spirit. Even though there is much power coming forth, the meek dove represents that the power from above is under control and will be properly channeled to bring about a desired end. Power that is not under control is abusive. If it is not directed in the right way, it will leave devastation in its wake. Although God is all-powerful and can do what He so wills, it is clear in Zechariah 4:6 that the working of His power is not a matter of strength, but of His Spirit.
This brings us back to the question. God desires to give us greater measures of the Holy Spirit, but we decide the degree to which we receive Him and walk in light of His meekness, His work of sanctification, His anointing, and power.