The One Lie Millions of Christians are Believing about the Holy Spirit
When the devil wants to hijack the advancement of God’s people, he introduces subtle, yet destructive deceptions. Deceptions that are easy for us to embrace as truth, even though they are not presented in Scripture… anywhere! I want us to consider one of these deceptions and its severe implications to every single Christian or church who has bought into the lie.
that we tolerate, at best, and ignore, at worst. This should not be so!
Satan hates Holy Spirit intensely for one key reason. The Christian who fully embraces the revelation that he or she is actually filled with the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead becomes a spiritual Joshua or Caleb who enters into and releases the promise land of Heaven on Earth. We begin thinking, speaking, and acting like people who are, quite literally, possessed
by God. Surely, this throws a wrench into Satan’s diabolical plans.
This is why the enemy so persistently perpetuates lies about the Spirit. He’s done this since the beginning of church history, causing division about how equal (or non-equal) the Holy Spirit is to God the Father and God the Son. Controversy has continued all the way up into our modern era, where everything from speaking in tongues to the continuation of miracles to being “slain in the Spirit” is on the table for theological debate and division. Yet, while Christians are dividing over the Spirit, darkness is gaining ground. This must stop if we are going to see a great world- wide revival prior to the Second Coming of Jesus.
The Lie that is Impacting Millions
There is a lie that is being widely circulating in the evangelical (and yes, even the Charismatic) church that shuts down expectation concerning the Spirit’s movement. In many ways, this lie is robbing the people of God from embracing (let alone sustaining) the supernatural culture that is the inheritance of every single believer. So, what’s the lie?
Have you ever heard someone say, The Holy Spirit wouldn’t do that… remember, He’s a gentleman. That’s the lie right there. “He’s a gentleman.” We’ve taken this to mean that the Spirit of God will not move with unusual power or force. He won’t make us uncomfortable. That’s a lie. You know how I know? Because God’s chief concern is not mankind’s comfort; it’s His Kingdom. Jesus never seemed to consider comfort when he healed the sick or drove out demons. These Kingdom-advancing activities always brought great freedom, while simultaneously attracting significant reproach from the religious community.
This false idea about the Holy Spirit has put a ceiling on what we are expecting from God in our lives, church services and in our world today. As C.S. Lewis wrote of Aslan, “He’s not a tame lion, but he is good.” Yes, the Holy Spirit comes to faithfully represent King Jesus who is kind, compassionate, gentle and caring. Yet, this Jesus is also a King, Warrior and Conqueror. He is Lamb, yes, but also Lion. He blesses little children one moment and casts out devils in the next. I don’t want a containable, in-a- box Jesus. Likewise, why should we place the same expectation on Holy Spirit?
I’m most concerned about the definition we’ve assigned to “gentleman.” While I don’t believe th Holy Spirit forcibly causes us to experience something we don’t want to, my concern is how we have lowered our expectations of what He can do, will do, or wants to do. Even Charismatic communities tremble at the prospect of “opening the service up” to the Spirit, in fear of what He might do.
Is there risk? Always. Is there potential for disorder? Certainly. As long as human beings are involved, you will have those who behave out of order. Is it worth it all to watch God crash in and transform people’s lives forever? Ask John and Carol Arnott, pastors of the Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship during the Toronto Blessing. Ask John Kilpatrick as he pastored the Brownsville Revival. Ask Steve and Kathy Gray, leaders of Smithton Community Church. Ask Randy Clark and Heidi Baker. Ask Bill Johnson and Leif Hetland. Ask Dr. Michael Brown and R.T. Kendall. The answer is yes. To pay the price of risk and experience the move of God in exchange is always worth it.
Consider the multiple Scriptural accounts of how the Holy Spirit moves. In the Old Testament, he comes upon the judges and prophets with great power, anointing them for supernatural exploits. Even from His grand entrance on the Day of Pentecost, it’s quite obvious that He’s not tame. He invaded that upper room as a mighty rushing wind (Acts 2:2-3) and it’s been His will to bring Heaven’s mighty transformation ever since. So why aren’t we seeing it as much today?
Dealing with the Tension
More and more, Christians are gripped by the tension between what currently is and what should be, according to the Bible. Scripture says one thing, reality says another. Jesus gives us one model to follow, while the body of Christ is discovering new and more “relevant” strategies. The reason we are not seeing more of what happened in the Gospels, the Book of Acts, and early church history is because we are exchanging the supernatural power they cherished for relevant principles they knew nothing about.
Of course the New Testament community had strategies to help facilitate its growth. Relevant and contemporary principles are not harmful; they’re often healthy. And yet, even something that is healthy and beneficial can become a tool in the devil’s belt when we exchange the presence and power of the Holy Spirit for man-made tactics. Yes, let’s be contemporary, edgy and committed to excellence. But never at the expense of welcoming the fullness of the Holy Spirit’s presence.
The Supernatural Challenge of Scripture
Time after time, the Bible confronts us with realities so strong, so powerful, so gripping, that in order to deny them, we need to redefine them.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.” - John 14:12, ESV
Are we performing the same works that Jesus did… and pressing in for the “even greater” works?
“Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask me[e] anything in my name, I will do it.” - John 14:13-14, ESV
Is the body of Christ more known for its supernatural power… or unanswered prayers?
The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. - Romans 8:11, NLT
Can people look at the church and see a community that is filled with and
possessed by the Spirit of the resurrected Christ?
Listed above are three Scripture passages (among many) that give the modern church legal right to pursue a culture where the supernatural is natural.
When God Comes Down…
He comes? Yes. But how could they not? To believe that we shouldn’t expect a reaction when God Himself enters our time and space, and touches human flesh, is to try and put the Almighty in a box.
Scripture makes it clear that:
The mountains melt like wax before the LORD, before the Lord of all the earth. (Ps. 97:5, ESV)
He looks at the earth, and it trembles; He touches the mountains, and they smoke. (Ps. 104:32, NASB)
Tremble, earth, at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the God of Jacob… (Ps. 114:7, NIV)
When God comes down, things tremble and move. Creation shakes. If created order responds to the movement of God, we need to be okay with people trembling, shaking, jerking, falling down, laughing, and other such phenomena as the Spirit touches them. Why these reactions are marginalized and considered offensive is truly astounding, when we have no qualms with
how fellow Christians respond during sporting events. This is not a dig against being entertained by sports; it’s a call to value and pursue the superior pleasure of God’s manifest presence.
It’s Time for Us to Embrace the Spirit’s Movement
If we address this lie, I believe we are on the road to identifying solutions to many unanswered questions in Christianity today.
- Why aren’t we seeing more healings and miracles in Western society?
- Why does God seem to be moving more overseas than He does in America?
- Did the age of miracles end with the last apostle or the canonization of Scripture?
Could it be that these questions cannot sufficiently answered with some theological blanket statement like “God’s sovereignty.” I believe that we will begin to experience what we hunger for and expect. Our invitation? Let’s remove the limits from Holy Spirit, stop using this un-Biblical “gentleman” language, and pursue Him in His fullness. For those who have used this language, describing the Holy Spirit as a gentleman, don’t worry—I’ve been there. I’m not criticizing you; I’m identifying the concept. I believed it too.
But now, my heart cries out to experience Him without religious restraint. Truly, this is not something that should scare or spook us. It should bethe great thrill of every believer’s life to see the omnipresent God manifest Himself in time and space through the wonderful Holy Spirit.
Let’s press past our discomfort and cry out for more!