The Holy Spirit: Indwelling and Empowering
We talk about the Holy Spirit all the time, but do we really understand what his job function is - and what about speaking in tongues?
Many of us speak about the Holy Spirit so frequently; at Catch The Fire we continually want to welcome this 3rd Person of the Trinity and be known as a church which really honours the Spirit. But sometimes I think we don’t know too much about him - his personality, his purpose here on Earth, his place in our lives: his job function.
Who is the Holy Spirit?
In 1 Corinthians 12 the Apostle Paul tells us not to be ignorant about the things of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the one sent to reveal Jesus to us and to represent him here on earth; He is the one who teaches us the truths of the Kingdom of God; He is our guide for our Christian walk; He intercedes on our behalf and pleads before God when we don’t know how to pray as we ought to; He empowers us to release God’s love; He is the one whose mighty strength and power was exerted in raising Christ from the dead and who now dwells, with that same power, in each believer.
He anoints us as sons and daughters of God to manifest His presence, and gives us particular spiritual abilities to build up the body of Christ and draw people to the Lord. He wants pour forth from us like a river (flood) continually, and we are to be continually filled with Him and lean on Him, claiming His power every day.
As you are continually filled with the Holy Spirit, the Bible comes alive, prayer becomes dynamic, your witness becomes effective and obeying God becomes a joy. We also begin to mature in our spiritual lives
The Holy Spirit is given to make the Christian life experiential. The Christian life is meant to be an experience , not just a religion, and the Holy Spirit helps to make Jesus real, not just in our understanding, but in our very day to day lives.
At the moment you become a Christian believer, through the miracle of a new spiritual birth, the Holy Spirit takes up residence in your spirit. He is the source of the on-going process of you being changed and transformed into being more Christ-like in your attitudes, emotions and actions. Every believer has the Holy Spirit dwelling within them and one’s growth in the Lord is an on-going process that lasts a life-time.
He is with you always; he goes where you go, he sees what you see, he hears what you hear. Your physical body is now a temple – a house, a dwelling, within which the Holy Spirit dwells. You don’t have to beg or plead or tarry for him to come, he’s already there if you are a believer.
Most of the time this happens without a dramatic experience. You don’t look any different, you don’t sound any different, you don’t “smell” any different and you don’t feel too different. As time passes you begin to see the changes the Spirit produces, but initially – when the Spirit comes you might not know anything had happened if you hadn’t read it in the word.
This is called the Indwelling Holy Spirit – the Spirit in you.
Now, in contrast to this, there is the Empowering of the Holy Spirit– which is almost always experiential. When the Spirit comes upon you in power you know something has happened. It is evident to you and it is evident to those around you. Jesus told his disciples, who already believed in him, to wait in Jerusalem until the power of the Holy Spirit came upon them. Soon after that, the Spirit was poured out in power on the day of Pentecost.
Receiving the Holy Spirit in this way allows him to use you as a vessel for signs and wonders, for miracles and healing and for prophecy and boldness in praying and witnessing - doing the works of the Kingdom! There will be a release of the various supernatural manifestations of the Spirit (as in 1 Corinthians 12): tongues, interpretation of tongues, prophecy, word of knowledge, word of wisdom, discerning of spirits, faith performing of miracles and gifts of healing.
You might say that the Spirit is in you – for you and on you - for others.
When we are baptised in the Holy Spirit, it’s as if he drenches us with his power. It’s like being at the sea and having a huge wave come and crash down on you – that’s really being drenched, soaked, inundated. This is not dependant upon maturity – that’s why you can see a very young Christian exercising great power because the experience is not dependant upon growth. God’s power is freely given to any of his children who truly seek and desire it. We can see that the Corinthian church was very immature in many areas but exercised the supernatural gifts.
God wants his people to have His power and He is willing to pour it out on all who will ask – and will continue to pour it out over and over again. Paul encouraged the believers in the Ephesian church to be “continually be being filled”.
Speaking in Tongues
One of the more obvious signs that a person has been baptised in the Holy Spirit is the ability to speak in tongues. This is one of those areas that Paul does not want us to be ignorant of.
The ability to speak in tongues is a large and often misunderstood topic. Lately, I have spoken with many people who have been questioning it’s use, perhaps having seen it misused at times. I want to give you just some highights of its purpose.
Of all the nine supernatural abilities listed in 1 Corinthians 12, speaking in tongues is the most important one for you, personally. In using it you are talking to the Lord. Paul describes it in 1 Corinthians 14 as your spirit praying. You are talking to God – not to man.
It’s the God-given ability to speak in one or more languages that you don’t naturally know and have never learned - it’s a supernatural action and done at your will.
Paul encourages us to speak in tongues so that we may build ourselves up, strengthen ourselves and encourage ourselves in faith so that when the Spirit leads us we can exercise the other spiritual abilities which are operated only by faith. Jude 20 tells us to build ourselves up in our faith by praying in the Spirit.
May I encourage you who find yourselves on ministry teams or in situations where you are praying for someone else, that your “building yourself up” be done privately at home as a life-style habit, ahead of time before you ever get into ministry. You can pray or speak in tongues in the car, in the shower, while cutting the grass, while getting dinner etc. It is not a religious exercise – it’s a spiritual exercise! Then you’ll be able to receive from the Holy Spirit the revelation, the prophetic word, the release of healing needed and the ability to impart faith to another.
Let me be very forthright with you – when we have the habit of praying in tongues over an individual, the majority of the time it’s because we don’t know what else to do or say and we hope that by praying in tongues we’ll hit the nail on the head, like a lucky slot machine so to speak. When in fact we are only building ourselves up at someone else’s expense and they are not helped at all – unless you are prepared to interpret what you have said. If you are unsure about this, please read 1 Corinthians 14 – thank goodness for Paul’s guidelines.
Praying in the Spirit – in tongues – enhances your times of praise and worship. Paul says we give thanks well when we do this. It enhances our intimacy with God, as we are uttering mysteries to him. Personally, I can be quite limited in my natural expression of love and adoration. So much of the time it’s repetition - I can only say ‘hallelujah’, ‘praise the Lord’, ‘I love you God’ just so much but in tongues there’s an amazing release that can’t be experienced in English.
By speaking in tongues, we become built up in the inner man: “strengthened with might [in our] inner man” (Ephesians 3:16 NKJV). With it will come a purging and cleansing and we gain power over our flesh and the temptations that grab us so easily. It helps us sustain our walk and stand against falling.
It helps us with our ‘ignorances’, when we don’t know how to pray as we ought to for ourselves as we are being conformed to the image of Christ. In Romans 8:26-29 “help us in our ‘infirmities’” does not mean sickness or disease, it actually means ignorances. Someone once said it’s like power steering. It makes driving the car much easier.
Often there’s a sense of knowing what kind of prayer it is, e.g. joy, thanksgiving, praise, cleansing, sorrow, warfare – and it’s often preparation for ministry ahead in English. Tongues are also an expanded resource in prayer as we intercede for others – we begin praying according to the will of God and find that burdens are lifted.
Praying in tongues is also one way of sustaining /maintaining the fullness of the Spirit. A number of years ago I was made aware of another benefit of praying or speaking in tongues. I received an e-mail on the subject of tongues from a reputable acquaintance. The information made me truly rejoice as I realized the wondrous and intricate way God has fashioned His children.
“Dr. Carl Peterson of ORU in Tulsa, Oklahoma was a brain specialist and was doing research on the relationship between the brain and praying in tongues. Some amazing things were discovered. Through the research and the testing, Dr. Peterson found that as we pray in the spirit, or worship in the spirit, there is an activity that begins in our brain. As we engage in our heavenly language, the brain releases two chemical secretions that are directed into our immune system giving a 35 to 40 percent boost to our immune system. This promotes healing within our bodies.
Amazingly, this secretion is triggered from a part of the brain that has no other apparent activity in humans. It is only activated by our spirit-led prayer and worship.
Truly we are fearfully and wonderfully made and equipped for any obstacle that comes before us if we use our God-given weapons!”
Wow! With all those benefits – why not relinquish our will and control and voices to God in real surrender to him.
Whether you’ve already received the baptism in the Holy Spirit but are hungry for more of him; or you have been lazy in your walk with him and need to become enthused again; or whether this would be the first time you’ve asked him to fill you and come upon you with his power, let’s believe for a fresh and new encounter with him today.
Ask in faith, receive in faith and step out in faith to begin to communicate with him in a wonderful, brand new way.