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 (Q and A on Biblical Doctrines)
Chapter 10: Baptism of the Holy Spirit
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Q1 What did Jesus say concerning the baptism of the Holy Spirit?

Before His ascension, Jesus instructed the disciples to wait for the baptism of the Holy Spirit: “And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, ‘which,’ He said, ‘you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now’ ” (Acts 1:4–5). The Holy Spirit duly came down on the day of Pentecost and filled the disciples (Acts 2:1–4).

Q2 Who gives the Holy Spirit?

God revealed to John the Baptist that Jesus was the one who would baptize people with the Holy Spirit. John testified, saying, “I did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘Upon whom you see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit’  ” (Jn 1:33). These words were fulfilled after Jesus’ ascension, and Peter stood up to witness to an astonished crowd, saying, “Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He [i.e. Jesus] poured out this which you now see and hear” (Acts 2:33).

Q3 Which biblical prophecy was fulfilled at Pentecost?

From Peter’s sermon, which is recorded in Acts 2, we learn that the events at Pentecost fulfilled an age-old prophecy of Joel: “  ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, that I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, your old men shall dream dreams. And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; and they shall prophesy’ ” (Acts 2:17–18; cf. Joel 2:28–29). 

Q4 How did people react to the event at Pentecost?

When the Holy Spirit came down at Pentecost,  the disciples spoke in tongues. It was witnessed by a crowd of Jews who gave a mixed reaction: “So they were all amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, ‘Whatever could this mean?’ Others mocking said, ‘They are full of new wine’ ” (Acts 2:12–13). Peter stood up to refute the latter allegation, saying, “For these are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day” (Acts 2:15). He then proceeded to explain the truth of the matter and to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. 

Today, we continue to see mixed reactions to the speaking of tongues, ranging from fear to bemusement, highlighting people’s inability to comprehend this spiritual phenomenon. Jesus indicated as much when He told the disciples, “And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you”  (Jn 14:16–17). We will do well,  then,  to learn from those devout Jews at Pentecost who opened their hearts to the gospel and were able to receive salvation and the promise of the Holy Spirit for themselves (Acts 2:38–42). 

Q5 Is the baptism of the Holy Spirit meant only for the Jews?  

At Pentecost, Peter addressed his sermon to a crowd of Jews (Acts 2:14). However, from his concluding words, we understand that his message is relevant to everyone—to people of all races and cultures: “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in  the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of    sins;  and  you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call” (Acts 2:38–39). Here,  the  “gift of the Holy Spirit” refers to the baptism of the Holy Spirit. It is a promise for every person whom God calls through the complete and perfect gospel (Eph 1:13).

Indeed, Peter’s words were fulfilled not long afterwards, for the Gentile Cornelius and his household were blessed with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit as soon as they heard the gospel (Acts 10:44–48). Peter later testified, saying, “And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them,  as upon us at the beginning. Then I remembered the word of the Lord, how He said, ‘John indeed baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit’ ” (Acts 11:15–16).

Q6 Are the events at Pentecost still relevant to Christians today? 

The Bible says, “I know that whatever God does,  it shall be forever. Nothing can be added to it, and nothing taken from it. God does it, that men should fear before Him” (Eccl 3:14); “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning” (Jas 1:17). The baptism of the Holy Spirit is God’s promise to people near and far,  and of all generations. Since the time of Pentecost, people throughout the world have been receiving the Holy Spirit. However, we need to be aware that the Holy Spirit—the Spirit of truth—only abides where the truth is found (Jn 14:17). In other words, He will be poured out solely in the church that preaches the complete gospel of salvation.

Q7 Did anyone receive the Holy Spirit before Pentecost?

No, the Holy Spirit did not descend until the day of Pentecost. Before then, the Holy Spirit inspired God’s workers or came upon them for a time, as in the case of the judges, kings, prophets and other specially chosen people (e.g. Num 27:18; Judg 3:10; 6:34; 11:29; 14:6; 1 Sam 10:10; 16:13; Lk 1:41, 67; 2:25). However, these occurrences did not constitute the baptism of the Holy Spirit, for it was not until Pentecost that He came to “abide with [believers] forever” (Jn 14:16). 

During His ministry, Jesus spoke of the promised Holy Spirit, saying, “Nevertheless 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 depart, I will send Him to you” (Jn 16:7). Also, the Gospel of John records, “...For the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified” (Jn 7:39).

Soon after He resurrected, Jesus revealed the imminent coming of the Holy Spirit once again: “...He breathed on [the disciples], and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit’ ” (Jn 20:22). Then, before He ascended to heaven, He instructed the disciples to wait in Jerusalem, saying, “For John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now” (Acts 1:5). Jesus’ words were finally fulfilled on the day of Pentecost.

Q8 How does the Bible describe the baptism of the Holy Spirit?

The Bible uses a variety of terms to describe the same phenomenon:

• “Behold, I send the Promise of My [i.e. Jesus’] Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high” (Lk 24:49; cf. Gal 3:14).

• “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you…” (Acts 1:8; cf. 19:6).

• “...You shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).

• “And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them, as upon us at the beginning” (Acts 11:15).

• “...They sent Peter and John to them, who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit” (Acts 8:14–15).

• “ ‘For John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now’ ”
(Acts 1:5; cf. 11:16).

• “...Having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise” (Eph 1:13).

• “...He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior” (Tit 3:5–6).

Q9 Some Christians argue that we do not need to pray for the Holy Spirit as He has remained with the church ever since Pentecost? Are they right?

No, they are not. From the accounts in the Book of Acts, we see that, following the downpour of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost (Acts 2), Peter and John went to Samaria to lay hands on the believers so that they could receive the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:14–17). Later on, Paul did the same for the believers in Ephesus (Acts 19:6). These examples prove that the believers in the early church prayed for the Holy Spirit after Pentecost. It is not the case that the disciples in Jerusalem somehow received the Holy Spirit in a representative manner on behalf of all believers thereafter, as some Christians believe. Today,  if we wish to receive the Holy Spirit, we need to ask of God who gives graciously (Lk 11:13).

Q10 Ephesians 1:13 says, “In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise.” Does this verse mean that we receive the Holy Spirit as soon as we believe in Jesus?

Paul’s words constitute a general statement about the nature of the Christian journey: we receive the gospel, believe in Jesus Christ, and are sealed with the Holy Spirit—three steps. His statement does not indicate that we receive the Holy Spirit the moment we believe. 

The accounts of people receiving the Holy Spirit in the Book of Acts show that the timing varied between individuals: some received the Holy Spirit when they heard the gospel, some before water baptism, and others, after water baptism. For example, Cornelius and his household received the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues while they were listening to the gospel (Acts 10:44–45). In the case of the Samaritan believers, they did not receive the Holy Spirit even after water baptism; it was not until Peter and John were sent to them by the apostles in Jerusalem, to lay hands on them, that they did so (Acts 8:14–17). Saul (Paul) was chosen by the Lord on his way to Damascus, but did not receive the Holy Spirit until Ananias laid hands on him (Acts 9:17). Also, the disciples in Ephesus did not receive the Holy Spirit until Paul re-baptized them in the name of Jesus and laid hands on them (Acts 19:5–6). It is significant that, in this particular case, Paul had earlier asked the believers, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” (Acts 19:2). The answer was clear: “We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.”

These examples illustrate the fact that a person does not receive the Holy Spirit automatically when he accepts the Lord as his Saviour—or even during, or immediately after, water baptism. The timing rests with God.

Q11 What does the Book of Acts have to say concerning the baptism of the Holy Spirit?

The Book of Acts records the work of the Holy Spirit during the time of the apostles and details the establishment and growth of the early church. It describes how God poured out His Holy Spirit on the early Christians and provides the church today with the guidelines for discerning whether a person has received the Holy Spirit or not.

Some key points concerning the baptism of the Holy Spirit include the following:

• According to Peter’s testimony, it is both a visible and audible experience: “Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the  Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear” (Acts 2:33). 

• The primary sign is the speaking of spiritual tongues (Acts 2:4). On the day of Pentecost, 120 disciples received the Holy Spirit and spoke loudly in tongues, drawing the attention of a crowd (Acts 2:6). Later, Cornelius and his household also received the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues, praising God (Acts 10:45–46). In Ephesus, Paul was able to discern that twelve disciples had received the Holy Spirit, for they spoke in tongues and prophesied (Acts 19:6). 

• The spiritual tongues utter mysteries to God (1 Cor 14:2) and cannot be understood unless He opens a person’s ears to interpret them (1 Cor 14:5, 13). In Acts 2, we find such an example: 

            And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language. Then they were all amazed and marveled, saying to one another, “Look, are not all these who speak Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each in our own language in which we were born?”

            Acts 2:6–8

God enabled these people to hear the disciples “speaking in [their] own tongues the wonderful works of God” (Acts 2:11).

Q12 Does everyone speak in tongues when they receive the Holy Spirit?

The speaking of tongues is the primary evidence of receiving the Holy Spirit. From the Book of Acts, we see that, after the first downpour of the Holy Spirit on the disciples at Pentecost, subsequent believers also spoke in tongues when they received the Holy Spirit. Hence, when Peter witnessed Cornelius and his household receiving the Holy Spirit, he immediately related it to the disciples’ own experiences, saying, “Can anyone forbid water,  that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” (Acts 10:47; cf. 15:8). 

Some Christians claim that the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22–23) is sufficient evidence that a person has received the Holy Spirit. This assertion is true in part, as the bearing of the fruit of the Spirit pre-supposes that a person has received the Holy Spirit. However, we must be careful not to assume that all virtuous behaviour constitutes the fruit of the Spirit. If we return to the example of Cornelius,  we know that,  prior to believing in Jesus Christ, he was already “a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, who gave alms generously to the people, and prayed to God always” (Acts 10:2). In short, he possessed many virtues, but these did not constitute the fruit of the Spirit: at the time, he had not yet received the Holy Spirit (or even water baptism). His bearing of spiritual fruit would only come after he received the Holy Spirit and began walking in the Spirit (Gal 5:16, 25).

Q13 What are the effects of receiving the Holy Spirit?

Prior to the downpour of the Holy Spirit, the disciples exhibited various shortcomings: slowness to believe in the Scriptures (Lk 24:25), lack of faith and hardness of heart (Mk 16:13–14), fearfulness (Jn 20:19,  26),  selfish ambition (Mk 9:34;  10:37), and an inability to grasp the Lord’s teachings (Jn 16:12). Peter also denied the Lord three times (Mt 26:69–75). But all that would change, for Jesus promised: “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you...” (Acts 1:8). Indeed, starting from the day of Pentecost, they were transformed by the Spirit. The outcomes were spiritual renewal, enlightenment and empowerment for God’s ministry (Zech 4:6).

Q14 What happens when we receive the Holy Spirit?

When we receive the Holy Spirit, we will manifest the primary evidence,  which is the speaking of tongues. It is also possible that we might experience other signs, such as the movement of the body, the singing of spiritual songs, joy, and visions.

The Bible describes the baptism of the Holy Spirit as our being “sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise,  who is the guarantee of our inheritance...” (Eph 1:13–14).  In Paul’s words,  our body becomes the “temple of the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor 6:19). He will fill our spiritual void, satisfy our soul and lead us to eternal life. This is because Jesus promises, “But whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life” (Jn 4:14).

The Holy Spirit will also transform and renew us (Tit 3:5). God says, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them” (Ezek 36:26–27). In other words, the Spirit will empower us to overcome our weaknesses and to keep God’s commandments. The result is that we will grow in the likeness of the Lord: “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Cor 3:18). 

However,  our greatest transformation will occur when Jesus comes again,  for the Holy Spirit will change us into spiritual beings:

• “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body…” (Phil 3:20–21).

• “Behold,  I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed—in a moment,  in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption,  and this mortal must put on immortality” (1 Cor 15:51–53).

• “Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord” (1 Thess 4:17).  

Q15 What is the purpose of the spiritual tongues?

Spiritual tongues serve two functions,  which are praying and preaching:

Praying. The primary function of tongues is self-edification through prayer: “He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself…” (1 Cor 14:4). In this case, they are directed at God and cannot be understood: “For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God, for no one understands him; however, in the spirit he speaks mysteries” (1 Cor 14:2). Paul tells the church, “Do not forbid to speak with tongues” (1 Cor 14:39) and expresses a wish that everyone had this ability (1 Cor 14:5). This type of tongue is given to all those who receive the Holy Spirit and is the primary sign of baptism in the Spirit.

Preaching. The tongues for preaching are a special gift which the Bible calls “different kinds of tongues” (1 Cor 12:10). It is only given to some believers, as the Holy Spirit wills (1 Cor 12:11), for the edification of the church (1 Cor 12:7). For this reason, the tongues require interpretation (1 Cor 14:5). Paul advises, “But if there is no interpreter,  let him keep silent in church,  and let him speak to himself and to God” (1 Cor 14:28). In other words, when there is no one to interpret their meaning,  the speaker should refrain from using the tongues to address the congregation and should reserve them for prayer instead.

Q16 In 1 Corinthians 12:8–10, tongues are listed at the end of the spiritual gifts. Does it not indicate that they are the least important?

First of all, we need to understand that, in relation to spiritual tongues, there are two types of gifts. One type is the charismatic[1] gift mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12:10, which is given by the Holy Spirit for preaching and edifying the church (1 Cor 12:7). The second type is termed dorea in the original Greek, whereby the gift is the Holy Spirit Himself[2] (e.g. Acts 2:38). The spiritual tongue that is dorea is for prayer and personal edification. It is the primary evidence of baptism in the Spirit.  

Secondly,  we should not mistakenly believe that the Bible in some way ranks God’s spiritual gifts in order of importance. Elder James reminds us, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning” (Jas 1:17). Both the gifts of dorea and charisma are graciously bestowed by God, and we should esteem them both. 

Q17 What do the terms “guide”, “move”, “inspire”, “baptize” and “fill” mean in relation to the work of the Holy Spirit?

The Bible uses a variety of terms to illustrate the different ways in which the Holy Spirit works in a believer: 

“Guide”.  Jesus told His disciples that the Holy Spirit would “guide [them] into all truth” (Jn 16:13). The original Greek word for “guide”, hodegeo,[3]  means “to lead the way”.

“Move”. Peter says, “For prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Pet 1:21). The Greek word  phero[4] means “to bear” or “to carry”. 

“Inspire”. Paul says, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction,  for instruction in righteousness” (2 Tim 3:16). The Greek word theopneustos[5] means “God-breathed”. 

“Baptize”. Before His ascension, Jesus promised the disciples, “For John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now” (Acts 1:5). The Greek word is baptizo, meaning “to dip in”,  and carries the “sense of immersing”.[6]  

“Fill”. The Book of Acts describes believers who were “filled” (Gr., pletho[7]) by the Holy Spirit. This happened to the disciples on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:4), to Paul (Acts 9:17), and to the workers of God who were empowered and comforted (Acts 4:8, 31;  7:55;  13:9, 52). These examples reveal that God has the authority to give of His Spirit generously and without measure. Hence, apostle Paul encourages us to pursue the infilling of the Holy Spirit (Eph 5:18).

Q18 The Bible talks about the power of both water baptism and the baptism of the Holy Spirit to bring about spiritual rebirth. Do they do this in different ways?

The Bible explains how water baptism and the baptism of the Holy Spirit lead to spiritual rebirth:

Water baptism. Paul says that water baptism signifies the death and burial of our old sinful self and our resurrection to a newness of life (Rom 6:3–11; Col 2:11–12). Hence, after water baptism, we become a new creation in Christ (2 Cor 5:17; Gal 6:15). However, this is but the first step in a lifelong process; thereafter, we need the Holy Spirit to renew us continuously.

Baptism of the Holy Spirit. Jesus told the disciples, “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you...” (Acts 1:8). When the day of Pentecost arrived,  they were transformed into powerful vessels of God, in fulfilment of Isaiah’s prophecy: “Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall, but those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint” (Isa 40:30–31).

 Jesus refers to the Holy Spirit as “living water” (Jn 4:10) and as “a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life” (Jn 4:14) that can satisfy and sustain us. Through Him, we can be “strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man” (Eph 3:16) to live an abundant and victorious life.

Both water baptism and the baptism of the Holy Spirit are essential for spiritual rebirth and salvation. This is why Jesus says, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (Jn 3:5).

 Q19 Some churches discourage their members from praying for the Holy Spirit in case they receive evil spirits. Others claim that speaking in tongues is a sign of demon-possession. Are they right?

No,  they are not.  Sadly,  many churches object to the speaking of tongues and praying for the Holy Spirit due to their misunderstanding of the Bible and a lack of spiritual experience. Hence, their criticism of Christians who practise otherwise and,  worse,   their accusations of demon-possession. However, in doing these things, they are in danger of opposing God and blaspheming the Holy Spirit (Mk 3:28–30). 

Telling believers not to pray for the Holy Spirit is wrong for a number of reasons. Firstly, it is contrary to the teaching of Jesus who encourages us to ask the heavenly Father for the Holy Spirit (Lk 11:13). Secondly, it goes against the practice of the workers in the apostolic church who actively supported the believers in praying for the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:14–15;  9:17;  19:6). Thirdly, it is contrary to the promise of God, as revealed by the Old Testament prophets: “Ask the Lord for rain in the time of the latter rain. The Lord will make flashing clouds; He will give them showers of rain, grass in the field for everyone” (Zech 10:1). The fact is, we are now in the time of the latter rain, and we can ask God to send us “showers of rain”—His Holy Spirit—to relieve the spiritual drought within our hearts. 

Q20 Is there any possibility that we might receive an evil spirit when praying for the Holy Spirit?

Elder John says, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 Jn 4:1). In other words, we need to be aware that the devil can take the opportunity to work—even among the believers of God. We learn, for example, that Satan entered Judas after he had the notion to betray Jesus (Jn 13:27) and that he filled the heart of Ananias to make him lie to the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:3).

The way to guard against the devil’s work is firstly, to pray for the Holy Spirit in the church that preaches the gospel according to the Bible. This is because the Bible says that God will give His Spirit to those who obey Him and keep His commandments (Jn 14:21; Acts 5:32)—but we can only obey Him properly when we have received the truth.

Secondly, we need to make sure that we have pure motives, a clear conscience, and that we ask God with faith, humility and patience. Elder James encourages us, saying:

            But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

            James 1:6–8

It is important that we believe in the promise of Jesus, who assures us,  saying,  “If you then, being evil,  know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” (Lk 11:13).

Thirdly, when we pray, we should do so in the name of Jesus as it is the Lord’s promise that He will answer our prayers when we do (Jn 14:14). Finally, we can say “Hallelujah” which is a word of praise and power (Rev 19:1–6).

Q21 How can we discern whether a spirit is from God?

The advice of elder John is to “test the spirits, whether they are of God” (1 Jn 4:1). We do this by referring to the Bible for guidance and by using the spiritual gift of discernment (1 Cor 12:10).

• Jesus says, “You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles?” (Mt 7:16). Here, the “fruits” refer to a person’s attitude, words and deeds. It follows that someone who has received an evil spirit will bear bad fruit, while someone who has received the Holy Spirit will bear good fruit.

• The Bible says, “And every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world” (1 Jn 4:3); “Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son” (1 Jn 2:22). These words remind us to be aware that any person who denies the Lord, His resurrection, ascension to heaven, and second coming cannot claim to have the Holy Spirit.

• Elder John says, “They are of the world. Therefore they speak as of the world, and the world hears them. We are of God. He who knows God hears us;  he who is not of God does not hear us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error” (1 Jn 4:5–6). In other words, those who have received the “spirit of error”—the evil spirit—will manifest an unwillingness to listen to the workers of God or to submit to the truth of the Bible. Instead, they will follow and preach a message that belongs to the world, because the source of their spirit is the devil, who is the god of this world (2 Cor 4:4).

• The Bible says, “Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons” (1 Tim 4:1). In the end time, the devil will make use of deceptive philosophies that are based on human tradition—the so-called “depths of Satan” (Rev 2:24)—to capture people’s minds and lead them away from the truth (Col 2:8). Today, within Christianity, we are witnessing the fulfilment of this prophecy: false teachers have emerged with destructive heresies (2 Pet 2:1), perverted the gospel (Gal 1:6–7), distorted the Bible (2 Pet 3:16), and strayed from the doctrine of Christ (2 Jn 9). 

• Demon-possessed people are likely to hurt themselves and others. Examples from the Bible include the demoniac from Gadara who cut himself with stones (Mk 5:2, 5), and an evil spirit which caused a man in Ephesus to attack those around him (Acts 19:13–16).

• Evil spirits stir up ill-will and dissensions. The Book of Revelation records a prophecy of evil spirits agitating the world to war in the end time: “For they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty” (Rev 16:14).  

• Evil spirits entice people to submit to the lusts of the flesh (2 Pet 2:18). Revelation records this lamentation: “And he cried mightily with a loud voice, saying, ‘Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and has become a dwelling place of demons, a prison for every foul spirit, and a cage for every unclean and hated bird! For all the nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth have become rich through the abundance of her luxury’  ” (Rev 18:2–3).

• Satan can masquerade as an angel of light (2 Cor 11:14). However,  his work will be evident,  especially to those who have the gift of discernment. The Book of Acts gives an account of a slave girl who followed Paul, shouting, “These men are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation” (Acts 16:17). Realizing it was the work of the devil behind the seemingly innocuous message, Paul cast out the evil spirit in the name of Jesus (Acts 16:18).

• Believers who receive the Holy Spirit will speak in tongues and may sometimes shed tears of emotion, laugh, sing and move about. However, their actions will be orderly and controlled, for God is a God of order, not of confusion (1 Cor 14:33). In contrast, people who receive evil spirits often fall down, shout, lose consciousness, and may even harm themselves or others (e.g. Mt 17:15; Mk 5:5; Lk 9:39). 


© 2012 True Jesus Church.

[1]      From the Greek word charisma, meaning “gift”. Strong’s reference no. G5486.

[2]      Strong’s reference no. G1431.

[3]      Strong’s reference no. G3594.

[4]      Strong’s reference no. G5342.

[5]      Strong’s reference no. G2315.

[6]      Strong’s reference no. G907.

[7]      Strong’s reference no. G4130.

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